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iPhone 8 Mystery Solved with Rumored 'Function Area'

When it come to iPhone 8 rumors, there's been a pretty big contradiction of late. Some reports have pointed to a 5.8-inch screen, while others say Apple's 10th anniversary phone will sport a 5.1-inch to 5.2-inch panel.

The answer could be: both.

The iPhone 8 could have a function area with virtual buttons. Credit: TechDesigns

(Image credit: The iPhone 8 could have a function area with virtual buttons. Credit: TechDesigns)

A new report from Apple Insider, citing KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, claims that the iPhone 8 will replace the Touch ID button with a new "function area" that would give the device a set of "always-on, static system controls into iOS."

The iPhone 8's front would indeed be covered by a 5.8-inch OLED screen, but somehow also be as compact as the iPhone 7. The actual display area, though, minus the function area, would be closer to 5.15 inches.

That seems like a lot of real estate for virtual buttons, so we're hoping that this function area would automatically turn off when you're binge watching Netflix or playing games. Otherwise, the function area will be like a MacBook Touch Bar you can't get rid of.

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The report goes on to lend more weight to the iPhone 8 costing $1,000. Kuo estimates that this would be the starting price, which sounds a bit obscene. You can blame that sticker shock on the "50 to 60 percent bump in production costs," compared to today's LCD-based iPhones.

Back in September, as Apple Insider notes, The New York Times reported that the next iPhone would likely have a "full-screen face" with an embedded "virtual button," but it now looks like there will be more than one button.

Having a function area could open up interesting possibilities for developers, but it remains to be seen how the implementation would be different than the virtual buttons already available in apps today. Perhaps Apple will be taking a page from Samsung with its Edge app shortcuts on the S7 Edge, which are always just a swipe away.

  • genz
    The basic idea here I can see is the touchbar coming to all devices. Makes a great deal more sense than it did on the Macbook, but I can't help feeling all the actual work of making the new iPhone a better device get's shifted to the developers who come up with alternatives to the one button that will likely be the only thing shown by current apps. Whew.
    Reply
  • Mark Spoonauer
    The function area could have potential. But Apple had has mixed results trying to change way we interact with phones. I barely use 3D Touch, for example.
    19305675 said:
    The basic idea here I can see is the touchbar coming to all devices. Makes a great deal more sense than it did on the Macbook, but I can't help feeling all the actual work of making the new iPhone a better device get's shifted to the developers who come up with alternatives to the one button that will likely be the only thing shown by current apps. Whew.

    Reply
  • Daekar3
    So... what are we supposed to get out of this new configuration, exactly? It's rumored Samsung is going to do the same thing, and others already have (I believe, anyway), but what are consumers going to get out of losing our buttons?
    Reply