We’re six or so months away from the launch of the next iPhone, and the rumour mill is going into overdrive.
Speculation and reports are swirling over what will be in the next hotly anticipated phone from Apple, from an edge-to-edge screen to an advanced 3D camera with augmented reality capabilities.
2017 will be the tenth anniversary of the launch of the first-ever iPhone, launched way back in 2007. And accordingly, Apple is believed to have some big plans for its flagship device to mark the big one-zero.
The Cupertino technology giant is notoriously secretive, almost never commenting on upcoming products before their official announcement – so don’t expect it to confirm or deny any of this. But with that in mind, here’s what is rumoured to be included in the next iPhone…
There will be three iPhones.
Normally, Apple releases two iPhones – the regular version, and the larger “Plus” model. But this time around, there is believed to be three in the works.
First, there’s the iPhone 7s and 7s Plus. These will be relatively incremental upgrades on 2016’s iPhone 7, following Apple’s tick-tock release cycle for phones (update the design one year, then keep the same design and soup up the internals on the s-year).
But in addition to the iPhone 7s, Apple is expected to be launching a higher-end device as well, with some much more radical changes included. This is the handset that everyone is getting so excited about.
(Throughout this piece, we’re focusing on the more interesting higher-end device.)
It will have an edge-to-edge screen.
The iPhone 8 is expected to have a major redesign – including an almost edge-to-edge screen with curved edges. In this respect, rival Samsung beat Apple to the punch. It released the Galaxy S8, with a similar screen design, earlier this year.
By cutting down drastically reducing the size of the iPhone’s bezels (the inert areas around the screen on the face of the device), you can pack more screen into less space. This could let you have an iPhone 7 Plus-sized screen on a device the size of an iPhone 7 overall.
This screen is believed to be OLED – a type of screen technology that uses less power than the LCD screens Apple has traditionally used, and allows for darker, truer blacks.
Wave goodbye to the home button.
The new, larger screen will also mean an end to a physical home button. Instead, it will be replaced with on-screen buttons, similar to many Android devices.
But this creates a new problem. What happens to Touch ID? Apple’s fingerprint-scanning tech has been previously been integrated into the home button, so killing it off will force Apple to locate it elsewhere.
According to analysts at Cowen and Company, Apple has been trying to build it directly into the screen instead. But this is producing technical difficulties, and is reportedly the “biggest bottleneck” in production.
The design may be a call-back to the iPhone 4.
Many Apple fans believe that the iPhone 4, with its glass front-and-back and metal sides, was the best-looking smartphone Apple has ever made.
Well, those people may be in for a treat. According to a report from Bloomberg, the new device will have curved glass on the back as well as the front, and include a stainless steel frame – “similar conceptually” to the iPhone 4.
But there’s one key difference, according to leaker Benjamin Geskin. He says the stainless steel will be polished black, like some Apple Watch models, giving the device a sleek design.
Stainless Steel will be polished black.
Just like this. pic.twitter.com/nIL3jh1SZa
— Benjamin Geskin (@VenyaGeskin1) April 23, 2017
The iPhone 8 might get augmented reality features.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has made no secret of the fact he’s enamoured with augmented reality – technology that inserts virtual objects into the real world. He has even said that one day, it will be as commonplace as “eating three meals a day.”
There are reports that Apple is looking at including augmented reality functionality in some form to the iPhone 8. Bloomberg reported the company has “explored adding” the tech, while veteran Apple analyst-turned-investor Gene Munster told Business Insider he expects the next iPhone to include augmented reality.
The camera might be getting a shake-up.
Leaked renders and photos of what are allegedly iPhone 8 dummy units show a change in design on the back of the device. The dual-lens design introduced in the iPhone 7 Plus is back – but this time around, they’re orientated vertically rather than horizontally. (It will allegedly still have a camera bump, however.)
— Benjamin Geskin (@VenyaGeskin1) April 23, 2017
Apple is also rumoured to be including a second lens on the front-facing selfie camera.
It might have a different name.
There are competing rumours as to what the next high-end iPhone (not the 7s) will be called. Some believe it will be the iPhone 8, others say the iPhone 10 (or iPhone X). The iPhone Edition is another possibility – similar to the luxury $17,000 gold Apple Watch Edition the company produced.
Performance will be getting a boost.
Every year, Apple boasts that it has built its fastest and most powerful iPhone ever, so it’s a safe bet that the iPhone 8 will pack some powerful technical improvements under the hood. It is reportedly going to be using faster chips that use a “10-nanometer process” – boosting efficiency compared to the “16-nanometer process” currently in use.
When it comes to storage, meanwhile, UBS analysts say they expect it to come in 64GB and 256GB options.
Wireless charging may be coming.
Earlier this year, Apple joined an industry group, the Wireless Power Consortium – a hint that wireless charging might be coming to the next iPhone. It already exists in the Apple Watch, and some other Android smartphones. Rumours are swirling that the tech will make its way to the iPhone 8.
It won’t be cheap.
If this all sounds pretty excited, don’t get your wallet out just yet. The iPhone 8 won’t come cheap, with some reports pegging it as much as $1,000 (or £1,000 in the UK). Some analysts dispute that it will cost this much – but whatever the precise cost, the iPhone 8 should be more expensive than the less-advanced iPhone 7s.
The launch could be later than normal.
Traditionally, Apple releases its new iPhones on an annual basis around September. But the latest reports suggest the release of the iPhone 8 might come later in the year.
Ming-Chi Kuo, a reliable Apple analyst, has said that “while we believe the announcement and launch time of the new iPhones will be similar to previous ones, production ramp up of OLED iPhone could be delayed to as late as October-November compared to the usual ramp up period of August-September, due to increased production difficulty … In other words, severe supply shortages may persist for a while after the new models are launched, capping total shipments of new iPhones in 2H17.”
In short: Apple is having difficulty building the iPhone 8, so it might announce it in September alongside the 7s, but not release it until a month or two later. And even when it does launch, expect serious shortages for a while.