Apple might have something big in store for consumers in 2017 to mark the 10th anniversary of the iPhone. There's a growing consensus that the next big iteration of Apple's flagship smartphone will be named the iPhone 8, and will likely coincide with the standard "s" model upgrades this fall. That means there might be an iPhone 7s, iPhone 7s Plus, and iPhone 8 models released at the same time.
With the iPhone 8's tentative release a little less than a year away, we rounded up some of the most noteworthy rumors surrounding Apple's golden egg-laying goose, and we'll update this guide as new rumors and developments occur.
The iPhone 8's release date is still very much up in the air. Some reports indicate that Apple will release the iPhone 8 around September 2017, which is consistent with the recent alternating release schedule for their main smartphones and "s" versions since 2011. However, the announcement could come as early as June 2017 (during Apple's annual WWDC) to coincide with the iPhone's 10th anniversary (the first four iPhones were all announced in June).
Multiple sources indicate that Apple will release the 10th Anniversary Exclusive iPhone 8 alongside its more traditional "s" designated brethren. While the 7s and 7s Plus will look exactly like its 7 predecessors with upgraded specs, as per Apple's tradition, the 10th Anniversary Exclusive iPhone 8 will sport an edge-to-edge 5.8" OLED screen, similar to the Galaxy S8.
While the iPhone 7 and 7S Plus now sport a total of six color options, rumor has it the iPhone 8 will only come in three. This rumor appears to have originated from an investor note from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, according to MacRumors.
You can see the three rumored colors — black, white, and copper — in the photos below, which were posted to Weibo.
According to AppleInsider, the upcoming iPhone 8 will be using an OLED screen, which should make the next iPhone's display much more vivid than past models. In addition to sharper visuals and improved power consumption, OLED screens are a lot thinner and significantly more flexible than current LCD displays.
Using OLED gives Apple more room for designing a thinner (and potentially curved) device. If the above rumors are to be believed, the curved OLED screen would only be available on the 10th Anniversary Exclusive iPhone 8, with the other two models sporting traditional LCD panels.
Bloomberg reports that Apple is currently in talks with several manufacturers, most notably Sharp, for supplying OLED screens for its 2017 model. Sharp has already invested $566 million in its facilities specializing in OLED production, with official production starting in June 2017.
A report from Korea Herald further lends credence to this rumor, stating that Apple placed a huge order of 60 million OLED panels for $4.35 billion from its rival Samsung to use on its own upcoming handset.
The iPhone 8's 5.8-inch screen will encompass almost all the phone's front surface. This ultra-thin bezel design will make the handset remarkably compact, coming in as roughly the same size as 4.7-inch iPhone 7.
What's even more intriguing is the latest report from KGI analyst Ming-Chi Quo that suggests Apple's upcoming flagship will completely forgo its iconic home button, replacing it instead with a MacBook-esque Touch Bar that'll run across the bottom of the phone. The Touch Bar will also house a fingerprint scanner that, along with its placement, will make it very intuitive to use for any iPhone owner that chooses to upgrade to the iPhone 8.
The extra headroom afforded by the addition of an OLED display might very well have some practical usage itself. Reports indicate that the iPhone 8's screen will basically be a miniaturized pane of bulletproof glass, comprised of alternating layers of glass and polycarbonate for significantly improved shatter resistance and durability.
Another report states that the iPhone 8 could use a polycarbonate plastic screen to ensure that a minor drop won't shatter your display. Either way, the days of broken iPhone screens could very well be numbered.
If this is true, this means that owners might be less likely to pay for AppleCare+ protection, which could potentially be lots of lost revenue for Apple, not counting the replacement cost for each broken screen. So we're not entirely sure on this one just yet.
There's also news that TSMC will be Apple's sole supplier of its upcoming A11 processor. The successor to the iPhone 7's A10 Fusion chip will reportedly feature a 10 nanometer die size, with significantly higher speeds than its predecessor. It's reported that the upcoming A11 chip will have an increase of 20% in processing muscle while consuming 40% less power over iPhone 7's A10 fusion chip.
For the first time since the iPhone 4s, Apple might possibly go back a glass-centric design. According to KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, a reputable source for Apple predictions, the 2017 iPhone will sport an all-glass enclosure in addition to an OLED screen. Kuo also speculates that the new handset will drop aluminum for stainless steel.
Kuo's speculation seems to be gaining traction. A recent report from Digitimes indicates that Apple has come up with a new stainless steel forging process that's 30%-50% cheaper than traditional CNC machining and plans to incorporate it into its upcoming flagship. The move away from machined aluminum to forged stainless steel will give the upcoming glass-encased iPhone added structural rigidity, enhancing its resistance to shock and bending. Steel also costs significantly less than aluminum, giving Apple the ability to potentially cut costs without cutting corners.
Jony Ives himself famously envisioned the iPhone to ultimately resemble a smooth, single sheet of glass. Apple's upcoming flagship handset may very well be the closest iPhone yet to realizing Ives' dream.
In a development seemingly out of left field, a report is out that Apple might ditch its venerable Lightning port and adopt the increasingly common USB Type-C port for the upcoming iPhone 8. According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, the flagship will finally cave-in to industry standards and use the same reversible USB Type-C connectors as a growing majority of Android phones do.
However, this would be a surprise to most everyone if it actually happens. The company isn't known for making significant hardware changes such as charging ports with their intermediary "s" models, and it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to give the two models differing charging ports, as it'll present a logistical nightmare. Also, Apple has always had a proprietary port on their iPhone models, and the Lightning port is slightly smaller than USB Type-C, so it wouldn't slim down the design any.
While it's true that USB Type-C connectors are present on current Apple MacBook models, they are laptops at the end of the day, with their own separate division for R&D, completely separate from Apple's smartphones. What's likely to happen, if anything, is that Apple with change the design of their Lightning USB cable, turning the USB Type-A side into USB Type-C, and that means the wall adapter will also become USB Type-C.
At any rate, it's very fascinating to see what Apple ultimately decides on, whether it stays the course or veers into something completely different. We'll keep you updated as this develops further.
Wireless charging may finally be realized in the upcoming iPhone 8. Back in November, Kuo claimed that there would be multiple manufacturers making the wireless charging modules for the 2017 iPhone models. Apple has already perfected wireless charging with Apple Watch, so incorporating some form of it in their 2017 handset makes logical sense, especially if they go for the all-glass design.
A new report even goes further, suggesting that the upcoming iPhones will come equipped with smart connectors for AR and wireless charging. If this rumor proves to be true, it bucks the trend of having an exclusive wireless charging pad embedded underneath the rear glass panel of the phone as found in many Android devices like the Galaxy S8. It's also an ingenious solution that effectively kills two birds with one stone, as it gives Apple precious breathing room with regards to design and logistics, by having one component handle multiple functions.
The iPhone 8's front camera can potentially be a game changer. It's rumored to come with infrared sensors that can scan faces so accurately it can tell identical twins apart. According to Kuo, Apple's flagship will be able to not only analyze faces in depth for security purposes, but render captured images in 3D thanks to its advanced infrared sensors. He goes on further, claiming that the iPhone 8 will do away with Touch ID in favor in favor of the new facial recognition-based security measure.
There's also substance to back up Kuo's bold claim. RealFace, an Israeli company that specializes in developing cybersecurity and facial recognition/biometrics software, was bought by Apple earlier this year for an undisclosed amount.
According to a report by DigiTimes, Xintec, an affiliate of TSMC, will start mass production of iris recognition chips in 2017. If the timing is right, these iris scanners could be implemented on the iPhone 8.
An iris scanner would complement Apple's already proven Touch ID scanner, and could be used in various ways—from unlocking phones to paying bills online. Like a fingerprint, irises are unique to each individual, so the added security could go a long way towards locking down a device that is already incredibly secure.
Robert Scoble, tech guru currently at UploadVR, posits that Apple's upcoming flagship device will come optimized for augmented reality.
The next iPhone will be, I am told, a clear piece of glass (er, Gorilla Glass sandwich with other polycarbonates for being pretty shatter resistant if dropped) with a next-generation OLED screen (I have several sources confirming this). You pop it into a headset which has eye sensors on it, which enables the next iPhone to have a higher apparent frame rate and polygon count than a PC with a Nvidia 1080 card in it. Thanks to foveated rendering. The clear iPhone will put holograms on top of the real world like Microsoft HoloLens does.
The phone itself has a next-generation 3D sensor from Primesense, which Apple bought. Apple has 600 engineers working in Israel on just the sensor. It's the 10th anniversary of the iPhone. It's the first product introduction in Apple's new amazing headquarters.
If this rumor proves to be true, Apple's iPhone 8 can possibly revolutionize and bring AR more towards mainstream acceptance than any other handset before it.
The iPhone 7 series phones were the first phones by Apple to be officially rated for water and dust resistance. The 7 and 7 Plus are both rated IP67, meaning that they can stay underwater at a depth of 1 meter (~3 feet) for 30 minutes. According to Korea Herald, Apple's iPhone 8 will be given a higher rating of IP68, increasing its water resistance depth to 1.5 meters within the same time frame.
Unfortunately, Apple's upcoming 10th anniversary iPhone 8 might come with a very hefty price tag. Forbes reports that the new OLED-equipped handset could cost as much as $1,000-$1,200, depending on storage. Price ranges for the lower-tier iPhones are currently unknown.
That's all the important rumors regarding Apple's upcoming handset as of now. As exciting as these rumors are, they are just that, so take them with a grain of salt. Nonetheless, we will keep you posted as more newsworthy snippets bubble up to the surface. So make sure to bookmark this page and come back when you need your iPhone 8 rumor fix.