All right, Apple — it's now your move. With Samsung unveiling the Galaxy S8 and all of its new features, the pressure is now on Apple to meet (or beat) Samsung with its next smartphone update. And with this year marking the 10-year anniversary of the original iPhone, expect Apple's future smartphone plans to come under greater scrutiny.
It's a good thing for Apple, then, that the rumors brewing about the iPhone 8 suggest that Apple has something big in the works. Apple's next phone will reportedly feature a completely new design with an all-glass enclosure, an OLED display (finally), a revamped Touch ID feature, new augmented-reality capabilities and wireless charging. Apple could even roll out three new iPhones, packing the major features into a high-end version that might seriously break the bank.
Here's everything you need to know about the iPhone 8 and what you can expect.
Latest News and Rumors (Updated April 24)
You Could Be in For a Wait for the iPhone 8: Rumors of Apple possibly delaying the iPhone 8's release beyond September aren't exactly new, but they're taking on new weight after a well-regarded analyst suggested Apple might not ramp up production on its new phone until October or possibly even November. Under this scenario, Apple would announce three phones in September, but only the modestly updated iPhone 7s and 7s Plus would be available right away.
Dueling iPhone Schematics: In the past week, we've seen a pair of iPhone renders based on leaked schematics — one eye-catching, the other not so much. The good-looking render, purportedly based on a leak from where the iPhone is assembled, shows off a glass iPhone with a stainless steel frame. The less appealing leak depicts an iPhone with a rear fingerprint sensor, amid reports that Apple is having a hard time fitting the Touch ID sensor beneath the iPhone 8's extended OLED screen.
When Is the iPhone 8's Release Date?
Right now, expect Apple to stick to its usual release schedule: a September press event. What happens at that point is anybody's guess though.
iPhone 8 Concept by TechconfigurationsWith Apple expected to release three iPhones in 2017, the company could roll out more modest upgrades in September, with a premium phone shipping later in the year. Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities is the latest Apple watcher to predict this approach, citing the many custom components Apple plans to include in the iPhone 8. But a number of rumor sites have talked about the possibility of a later-than-normal release for Apple's flagship phone, including Digitimes, iGeneration and Macokatara.
Apple could throw us a curve ball — 2017 will be the 10th anniversary of the iPhone’s debut, after all, and that first iPhone hit the market in June 2007. (We've already passed the 10th anniversary of Steve Jobs pulling the first iPhone out of his pocket at the 2007 Macworld Expo.) Remember that Apple introduced the 4-inch iPhone SE in March last year. For what it's worth, Apple just announced its Worldwide Developer Conference would kick off on June 5, and June happens to be the month when the original iPhone started shipping.
With Apple already releasing a Product (Red) version of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus along with boosting the base capacity of the iPhone SE to 32GB, it seems like any additional iPhone news Apple has planned will wait until the fall.
What Size Will the iPhone 8 Be?
It looks likely the iPhone will come in three models, based on a report by KGI's Ming-Chi Kuo first published by MacRumors and seconded in a very thorough report by Bloomberg on Apple's iPhone 8 plans. In addition to 4.7- and 5.5-inch versions like the ones Apple currently sells, with a third size joining the mix. Here's where the rumors differ, though. One school of thought, led by reports from Barclays Research and Digitimes, suggests Apple will go big with its third iPhone, adding a 5.8-inch display. Recently posted renderings on the Chinese site iFanr, supposedly based on leaked schematics from Apple suppliers, back up the 5.8-inch phone theory.
Credit: iFanrBut a report from Kuo, who's wired into the Apple supply chain, suggests the iPhone 8 will have a 5.1-inch screen. A follow-up report clarifies that discrepancy a little bit. Kuo thinks Apple will replace the Home button with a function area with virtual buttons offering what AppleInsider describes as "a set of always-on, static system controls into iOS." In this scenario, while the actual size of the OLED screen would be 5.8 inches, the active display area would be closer to 5.1 inches. A more recent report in Nikkei claims the iPhone 8 will have a "bendable" 5.2-inch OLED panel.
What Are the Rumored Specs of the iPhone 8?
|Model||Screen Size||CPU||RAM||Base Storage||Max Storage|
|iPhone 7s||4.7 inches||A11 Fusion||2GB||32GB||256GB|
|iPhone 7s Plus||5.5 inches||A11 Fusion||3GB||32GB||256GB|
|iPhone 8 or X||Either 5.2 or 5.8 inches||A11 Fusion||3GB||64GB||256GB|
The most noteworthy spec on the iPhone 8 will be that display, as Apple should finally replace the LCD screens it's used on recent models with an OLED panel. Reports from the likes of Bloomberg suggest that Apple has lined up suppliers for OLED panels, even as it deals with a display shortage. It looks like Samsung will initially supply Apple with OLED panels, while other suppliers step up production, the Wall Street Journal reports. As a result, the switch to OLED from LCD may only impact one of the new iPhone models, with the iPhone 7s and 7s Plus seeing more modes upgrades, according to a report from Japanese blog Macotakara.
OLED panels offer richer colors and better viewing angles. They could also allow Apple to go with a curved design for the iPhone 8, which is exactly what the Korea Herald says that Apple will do with its OLED-equipped iPhones. However, MacRumors keeps quoting a growing number of Apple Watchers — including IHS Markit analyst Wayne Lam, research firm TrendForce and, most significantly, Ming-Chi Kuo — who suggest that Apple won't match the curved displays Samsung offers with its flagship phones.
If a Barclays research note is correct, the new iPhone could also adapt one of the iPad's best features. That note, obtained by Apple Insider, claims the iPhone 8 will feature a True Tone display. That would allow the phone to better control the color temperature of its OLED panel.
Most of the current rumors surrounding the iPhone 8 have focused little on internal components. All we know right now is that the iPhone 8 will likely come with a more powerful processor — the A11, if Apple sticks to the naming conventions for its processors. (An A10 Fusion CPU powers the iPhone 7.) Digitimes has suggested that the A11 processor being produced by Taiwan Semiconductor will appear in all new iPhones coming out this fall. That means the iPhone 7s and 7s Plus will run on the same chip as the iPhone 8.
The new iPhone could offer more RAM than the iPhone 7, and might have more storage. The iPhone 7 reportedly has 2GB of RAM at a time when 4GB is fairly standard for flagship smartphones.
What Features Will Appear in the iPhone 8?
Based on the rumor mill, here are the most likely features coming to the next iPhone.iPhone 8 Concept by TechDesigns
• An All-Glass Design: Rather than rely on a metal case, the next iPhone could come in an all-glass enclosure, a rumor from a Ming-Chi Kuo research note first picked up by 9to5Mac. (Presumably, this would be the 5.8- or 5.1-inch model, depending on which rumor pans out.) The result could be a smartphone with a continuous glass case that adds a level of elegance and design appeal.
The move to a glass design — which resurfaced in a Digitimes report — would be a return to form for Apple, which used glass in the iPhone 4 and 4S before transitioning to metal with the iPhone 5 after customers suffered ugly cracks after a spill. Hopefully this time around, Apple can offer stronger glass to prevent those problems. Reportedly, Apple is going to use a stainless steel frame for at least one version of the phone, according to reports from both Kuo and Digitimes. A recent Macotakara report also touted a glass-and-steel design for the iPhone 8.
Apple may turn back the design clock even further, if a report in China's ETNews is to be believed, with sources claiming the iPhone 8 could adopt a curved back — also known as a water-drop design — as an homage to the original iPhone on its tenth birthday.
• A Redesigned Fingerprint Sensor: If the iPhone's display is going to stretch from one end of the phone to another, Apple's going to have to find a new place to put the home button and the TouchID sensor that live beneath it. Initially, it was thought that would be under the glass whether Apple used one of Synaptics' new optical fingerprint sensors or its own technology, as suggested by a Digitimes report.
Now, it seems Apple is running into bottlenecks getting an under-the-screen fingerprint reader to work if a report from Cowen and Company analyst Timothy Arcuri is accurate. Arcuri's research note, published by MacRumors, suggests that Apple may have to move the sensor to the back of the phone, and recent schematics published by leaker Sonny Dickson and SlashLeaks have shown an iPhone with a sensor just below the rear camera.
Credit: Sonny Dickson
• Facial Recognition Technology: Another feature that would allow Apple to ditch a physical TouchID button is the addition of facial recognition features to the iPhone 8. According to a research note from JP Morgan's Rod Hall that MacRumors obtained, Apple could add a 3D laser scanner to the front of its phone to give you another way to unlock the device. A Times of Israel report says that Apple has bought facial recognition firm RealFace, whose software could fuel that technology; it could also aid in features such as identifying your best photos using facial recognition capabilities.
Specifically, Business Insider has reported that there's an effort underway at Apple to integrate AR capabilities into the Camera app in the next version of iOS. According to that report, you would point your iPhone camera at a real-world object or person, with the app able to recognize it. Subsequently, Bloomberg has reported that the iPhone should gain AR-friendly features as part of a company-wide effort to incorporate the technology into its products.
Pulling that off will require some hardware changes, which could mean a 3D camera sensor headed for the iPhone 8, according to a separate Business Insider report. That's backed up by claims from UBS analyst Steven Milunovich who suggests Apple has a dedicated team in Israel working on an AR-related project that could find its way into the next iPhone. Barron's Asia reports that Himax Technologies is going to supply Apple with 3D sensing components that could support the facial recognition and AR features rumored for the next iPhone while the Wall Street Journal notes that other 3D sensor suppliers could be involved in the iPhone 8 supply chain.
Credit: iFanrThose iFanr renderings offer another clue about Apple's AR ambitions. A rendering of the back of the phone shows the iPhone's dual lenses stacked vertically — a change from the iPhone 7 Plus design. Creative Strategies analyst Ben Bajarin tweeted such a change would be helpful toward support the AR features rumored for the iPhone 8 since it adds some distance between the lenses.
• AI Improvements: Apple has been pretty upfront about its feelings toward artificial intelligence, with CEO Tim Cook saying AI will be a huge focus for the iPhone. Specifically, Cook told Nikkei Asian Review that artificial intelligence will help with everything from finding your parked car to recommending what music to stream. Intriguingly, Cook also suggested that AI could increase the iPhone's battery life, though he didn't provide any details.
• Wireless Charging: Moving to an all-glass design would make it easier for the phone to support wireless charging, which is exactly what Ming-Chi Kuo forecasts will happen. Nikkei Asian Review says that Foxconn, the company that puts the iPhone together has tested out wireless charging modules while Digitimes reports that a Taiwanese firm that makes components for fast wireless charging is now part of Apple's supply chain for the next iPhone.
Credit: ConceptsiPhone (YouTube)
While some had hoped that Apple might go with over-the-air charging in the next iPhones, that's unlikely to happen with this year's lineup. Instead, AppleInsider reports that the new phone will support inductive charging. At least, wireless charging is expected on all new iPhone models, according to KGI's Kuo, including the iPhone 7s and 7s Plus.
Will the iPhone 8 Have a Headphone Jack?
Credit: Jeremy Lips/Tom's GuideThe iPhone 7 famously dropped the 3.5mm headphone jack, forcing you to either use an adapter that plugs into the phone's Lightning port or go with wireless headphones. If you were holding out hope that Apple might reverse course, the latest sales figures for the iPhone, in which Apple sold a record number of devices, seems to suggest that Apple will stick to its guns. And that Apple Insider report on wireless charging also contends that Apple won't include a headphone jack adapter with future iPhones.
Apple could usher in yet another radical change with the iPhone 8, if a Wall Street Journal report proves accurate. While also suggesting the next iPhone will have a curved screen, the Journal says Apple could get rid of its Lightning jack in favor of a USB Type-C port.
Will the iPhone 8 Feature Fast Charging?
Apple leaker Sonny Dickson told Forbes that the iPhone 8 will offer a Tap to Wake feature similar to what you see in some Android phones. Dickson also expects the new phone to feature fast charging, thanks to a Tristar 3 Hydra chip inside the phone.
What Will the Cameras Be Like on the iPhone 8?
With the iPhone 7 Plus, Apple added a second camera to the back of the phone. According to Ming-Chi Kuo's forecast, the company could put the emphasis on the front camera this time around, adding 3D-sensor capabilities.
MacRumors explains how this would work in a summary of Kuo's research note. In addition to the existing front camera, Apple would add infrared transmitting and receiving modules to the iPhone. That would allow the front camera to sense the location and depth of anything in front of it. Such a camera would provide the iPhone 8's rumored facial recognition features, but 9to5Mac points out that it could also generate 3D selfies that could be used with augmented reality. Business Insider's report on Apple's augmented reality plans, says the iPhone 8's camera will add a 3D sensor that will allow the phone to detect distance, helping it to figure out where to overlay virtual objects onto real world views.
Other camera rumors suggest Apple could be working on a multisensor camera capable of producing "super resolution" images. That's based on some patents Apple has won that would improve the iPhone camera's ability to capture light, resulting in higher quality images.
Credit: USPTOShould Apple add a third to the iPhone lineup, as analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has predicted, look for the two larger models to feature two camera lenses on the rear. Kuo expects the 4.7-inch iPhone 8 to retain a single camera on its back.
How Much Will the iPhone 8 Cost?
Expect to pay a lot for the iPhone 8. While Apple typically keeps iPhone pricing the same from year to year, the company bumped up the price on its iPhone 7 Plus by $20 over the iPhone 6s Plus. It's possible, therefore, that with a big update to the iPhone 8, Apple could similarly charge a premium for its next update. That scenario could become even more likely, should Apple make only modest updates to the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus while releasing a third iPhone model with more impressive features.
In fact, a report in Fast Company suggests that a high-end iPhone 8 could command as much as $,1000, since Apple will be paying up for OLED screens on that model and RAM prices are going up. Other reports from Apple Insider and CNBC suggest a less dramatic price hike. Those reports, based on a UBS note to investors have the iPhone 8 starting at $850 to $900. A 256GB version of the phone might run you $950 to $1,000.
To put that number in context, Samsung's newly unveiled Galaxy S8 starts at around $750; the larger Galaxy S8+ costs $850.
What Will the iPhone 8 Look Like?
With iPhone 8 rumors heating up, some designers have started floating concept designs based on reported features for the next iPhone. The most recent ones claim to be based on leaked schematics, such as a render from Benjamin Geskin that shows a glass-and-steel design, with the rim around the iPhone echoing the Apple Watch as a polished space black band.Credit: Benajmin GeskinOne of our favorite concept designs comes from German website Handy Abovergleich and shows off an iPhone with an all-glass front that's missing a physical home button. A virtual bezel appears where the TouchID sensor would go, along with some other virtual buttons.
Credit: Handy AbovergleichArtist Oscar Luna Martinez has also come up with a pretty compelling iPhone 8 mock-up first highlighted by Forbes. That render stacks up an iPhone 8 concept design alongside the original iPhone, complete with the original's clownfish wallpaper.
Credit: Oscar Luna MartinezAnother compelling version is an earlier design from Benjamin Geskin, who posted a YouTube video (first spotted by BGR) that highlights an edge-to-edge OLED display. Other features highlighted in the video include such rumors as a Quad HD display, integrated Touch ID capabilities and a virtual Home button directly on the screen.
Imran Taylor posted a sleek looking concept on YouTube that features glass on the front and back connected by a stainless steel band around the middle; there's also a vertical dual lens camera on the back — a change from the iPhone 7 Plus's horizontal setup — and what looks like a Smart Connector.
Credit: Imran Taylor
Thadeu Brandão deserves a tip of the hat for making an iPhone 8 concept video that could pass for an Apple TV ad. In addition to the large screen with a home button moved underneath the display, Brandão's video also incorporates a Touch Bar-style interface into the iPhone, with what looks like displays on both sides of the device.
A video from YouTube user "incriptor" also used the back of the phone for display purposes, with a tiny screen displaying icons for quick access to your apps.
Designer Martin Hajek's concept video, posted by the German site Computer Bild, blends old and new with an edge-to-edge display on front and a black strip on the back that recalls the original iPhone's look.
What We Want
The iPhone 7 is a fine device with important upgrades that help Apple keep pace with some of its competitors. However, Apple hasn't quite been able to break from the pack and overcome the challenges presented by Samsung and Google in their Galaxy and Pixel lines, respectively.
That's why we would be disappointed if Apple merely trots out an iPhone 7s and 7s Plus in 2017; we hope the company is planning at least one model with some big changes, such as that rumored 5.8-inch iPhone (or the 5.1-inch model, if you prefer) with the upgraded OLED screen. And we hope that model is ready for its usual September release.
We think an OLED screen is a must for at least iPhone model. It would be even better if Apple can bake Touch ID into the screen itself. The feature would effectively deliver a screen technology that can cover the iPhone's entire face and innovate how users interact with Touch ID.
It'd also be nice if the next iPhone offered a brand-new design that doesn't look so similar to the iPhone 7 (and the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6s), and comes with that oft-mentioned all-glass enclosure. That's why we hope the analysts betting against a curved iPhone screen are wrong. And if Apple can deliver more improvements to its iPhone's camera — whether it's the multi-sensor camera described in recent patents awarded to Apple or some other innovation — no one will complain.
Ultimately, power users will also want to see some bulking up to the iPhone's power and an A11 processor that helps the Apple smartphone stand out in a crowded market overrun with powerful competitors. Adding a bit more RAM could also go a long way in helping the iPhone maintain its performance edge.
Oh, and Apple, if you're reading this, don't forget about better battery life. It improved in the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, but it's an area where other phone makers have outpaced Apple. Adding wireless charging — particularly if it goes beyond the charging pad other phone makers use — would be welcome as well.