Underwhelmed by 2016's iPhone 7 update? Apple could have something big in the works for 2017, which just happens the 10 year anniversary of when its smartphone first debuted. Apple's not one for big anniversary celebrations, but given the iPhone's importance to Apple's business — smartphone sales account for roughly two-thirds of the company's revenue — the company has plenty of incentive to blow us away with its next iPhone.
And based on the rumors we've been hearing for the last few months, the iPhone 8 may do precisely that. 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 and wireless charging. Apple could even roll out three new iPhones, packing the major features into a high-end version that might cost as much as $1,000.
Here's everything you need to know about the iPhone 8 and what you can expect.
Latest News and Rumors (Updated Feb. 21)
• A Big Camera Innovation: KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, one of the most highly-regarded Apple watchers thanks to his insight's into the company's supply chain, expects big changes to the iPhone 8's camera. Specifically, in a new research note obtained by MacRumors, Kuo says the front-facing camera on the new phone will be made up of three modules to allow for 3D sensing capabilities.
• Laser Scanning on Its Way to the iPhone?: Related to the rumor about the iPhone's front-facing camera, the next iPhone is expected to add facial-recognition technology. Adding that capability would allow Apple to remove the Home button from the front of the iPhone, possibly in favor of an on-screen function area that would provide access to iOS system controls. Fueling the facial-recognition rumor is a report that Apple has bought RealFace, an Israeli company specializing in facial recognition.
• More Signs of a 5.8-inch iPhone: TrendForce, a market research firm in China, forecast the specs for this year's iPhone update, and it confirms a lot of what we've already heard: Apple will come out with three new phones, including a high-end version with a 5.8-inch AMOLED screen. That high-end phone will feature 3GB of RAM and storage options of 64GB and 256GB, while the other 4.7- and 5.5-inch models will feature 2GB and 3GB of memory, respectively.
When Is the iPhone 8's Release Date?
Right now, expect Apple to stick to its usual release schedule: a September press event, followed by the release of the phone a week or so later. Apple could throw us a curve ball here — 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.)
iPhone 8 Concept by TechconfigurationsMORE: Best iPhone Innovations from the Last Decade
There's a more recent precedent for Apple releasing a new phone earlier than the fall: Last year, it introduced the 4-inch iPhone SE in March. 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.
Still, don't expect Apple to deviate from its usual iPhone schedule, even if production on the new phones may be starting earlier than usual. (That's likely to address supply issues that have surrounded iPhone launches in recent years.) Apple could hold an event in March — Japanese blog Macotakara says the company will — though new iPads are expected to be the focus at that event. Still, Macotakara says Apple could launch a red version of the iPhone 7 and a 128GB version of the iPhone SE at that event.
What Size Will the iPhone 8 Be?
It looks likely the iPhone will come in three models, based on a report by KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo first published by MacRumors. 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.
But the latest 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.
Because Apple's expected to go with a wraparound display, though, the iPhone 8 could wind up being the same size as the 4.7-inch iPhone 7, even if its screen is slightly large as it will curve around the edges of the device.
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||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'll 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.
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.)
The new iPhone could offer more RAM than the iPhone 7, and might have more storage. There's also room for Apple to increase the RAM in next year's iPhones. 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. Of course, Samsung is thought to be working on the same thing with the Galaxy S8 and Xiaomi has already released the Mi Mix, whose front is dominated by an edge-to-edge screen.
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 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. That new place could be right under the glass.
Credit: SynapticsIn December, Synaptics unveiled a new line of optical fingerprint sensors that include biometric technology and can go under the glass of smartphones. This would let phone makers, including Apple, use all-glass fronts that can extend from one edge of the handset to the other. Another Ming-Chi Kuo research note spotted by 9to5Mac suggests that Apple will opt for an optical sensor so that it can go with the bezel-less design; if that feature's not ready in time for the iPhone 8, Kuo says Apple could opt for some form of facial recognition to authenticate iPhone users. For what it's worth, AppleInsider reports that Apple just got a patent for technology that allows for reading fingerprints on a display panel.
Another possibility: Kuo's new report claiming that the Home button will make away for a series of virtual buttons comes to pass.
• 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.
• An AR-Ready Phone: Apple has made no secret of the fact that it's bullish on augmented reality. The next iPhone could reflect that, according to tech blogger Robert Scoble, with that commitment to AR potentially impacting the phone's design. Specifically, Scoble says in his forecast of what to expect in the next iPhone that the device could use a a clear piece of glass that essentially creates a see-through design. Scoble speculates that Apple would go in this direction to create a phone better suited for augmented reality headsets.
That prediction isn't as far-fetched as it might seem. Business Insider reports that there's an effort underway at Apple to integrate augmented reality features into the company's products, starting with AR capabilities for the Camera app in the next version of iOS. Adding AR features would allow you to point your iPhone camera at a real-world object or peerson, with the app able to recognize it and manipulate it, Business Insider says.
• 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.
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.
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?
Details are slim on how much Apple might charge for its next iPhone, especially if it introduces a third iPhone as expected. Although 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 to $769. 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. That may seem steep, compared to the $649 an iPhone 7 will set you back, but rumors have the Galaxy S8 fetching a similarly high amount.
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. One of our favorites 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 AbovergleichAnother compelling version comes from concept designer Venjamin 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 displays on both sides of the device.
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.
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. Reducing the amount of bezel around the screen would be one way to deliver on that goal. 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.