All right, Apple — it's now your move. With the Galaxy S8 and all of its new features now available, 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 June 22)
• iPhone 8 Arriving in October: An analyst report contends that Apple is still looking at a way to fit the Touch ID fingerprint sensor onto the bezel-free front of the iPhone 8. That's likely to mean the new iPhone won't ship until at least October. Earlier a leak from an iPhone supplier also pointed to an October release for the phone.
• A Potential Preview of the iPhone 8's New Look: Accessory makers often provide the best clue as to what design changes are in store for a phone. And a UK accessory site called MobileFun posted an image of an iPhone 8 screen protector that hints at a phone with a virtually-bezel free display. Apart from cutouts at the top for the front camera and earpiece, the iPhone 8's screen extends from one edge of the device to the other in this render.Credit: Olixar/MobileFun
When Is the iPhone 8's Release Date?
Increasingly, it looks like iPhone fans are in for an October surprise when it comes to the iPhone 8's release.
Apple is expected to release three new iPhone models this year — more on that below — with more modest upgrades to the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus arriving alongside the iPhone 8. Typically, Apple holds its iPhone launch event in September, and 2017 may follow that script. But a growing number of analysts (including respected Apple watcher Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities) are expecting the iPhone 8 to land in October.
The latest analyst to back that theory is Cowen & Co.'s Timothy Arcuri; according to a report in Barron's, Apple's efforts to fit its Touch ID fingerprint sensor on the front of the iPhone 8 could push the launch back a month or two. Likewise, a report in Axios says that an iPhone parts supplier also indicated an October launch for Apple's new phone.
How Many iPhones Will There Be?
In recent years, Apple has unveiled two iPhones at its fall launch — the regular iPhone alongside a larger Plus model going back to 2014. That seems likely to change this year, based on a November 2016 report by KGI's Ming-Chi Kuo and seconded more recently in a very thorough report by Bloomberg on Apple's iPhone 8 plans. In this scenario, Apple releases the iPhone 7s and 7s Plus, which will feature modest improvements from last year's models, while also rolling out an iPhone 8 packed with more eye-catching changes.
iPhone 8 Concept by TechconfigurationsFor a dissenting voice, Chinese blog Micgadget.com reports that Foxconn has only received orders for two devices — an iPhone 8 and an iPhone 8 Plus. In this rumor, both phones would have dual rear cameras, but only the Plus would adopt an OLED display. However, MacRumors, which spotted this report, thinks the rumor is pretty questionable, and we tend to agree.
What Size Will the iPhone 8 Be?
Let's assume the Three New iPhones rumor is a go. We can assume the 7s and 7s Plus would feature the same size as the current iPhones — 4.7 inches and 5.5 inches, respectively. That leaves the iPhone 8. 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.
Credit: SlashLeaksWhatever size the iPhone's display is, don't expect it to dwarf Apple's existing lineup. MacRumors spotted leaked images of molds posted at SlashLeaks that show an iPhone 8 only slightly bigger than the rumored iPhone 7s. The 7s Plus will remain the largest phone in Apple's lineup. Leaked images of new iPhone cases also back up that theory.
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. 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. (In 2018, though, every iPhone will get an OLED panel, according to an ET News report out of Korea.) Work has apparently started on the OLED panels for this year's phones, according to a report out of Korea.
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. Production has started on the A11 processor, according to a subsequent Digitimes report.
That A11 could be a pretty speedy chip if a leaked benchmark spotted by SlashLeaks is accurate. In that benchmark, an iPhone running an quad-core A11 processor at 2.74-GHz posted a single-core score of 4,537 and a multi-core score of 8,975 on the Geekbench 4 benchmark. Both of those numbers are much higher than what we saw when we tested the Galaxy S8.
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. Research firm TrendForce, in a note spotted by BGR, reports that the iPhone 8 may have just 3GB of RAM, similar to the iPhone 7 Plus.
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. Digitimes says the iPhone 7s and 7s Plus could adopt the all-glass form, too.
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.
Credit: Sonny Dickson
Initially, rumors suggested Apple was running into bottlenecks gettingan under-the-screen fingerprint reader to work, and leaked prototypes raised fears that Apple might move the sensor to the back of the phone. Subsequent renders, like this leaked CAD render tweeted by Twitter user OnLeaks shows an iPhone 8 schematic without that rear fingerprint sensor.
Cowen & Co.'s Timothy Arcuri, who earlier raised the possibility that Apple might have to settle for a rear fingerprint sensor, now thinks Apple's plans to keep Touch ID on the front of the phone are on track. A Barron's report on his analysis outlines three possible scenarios for a front-facing fingerprint sensor. Meanwhile, a newly awarded patent suggests another possibility: putting the fingerprint sensor on the side of the phone in the form of a button. However, it's unclear if that patent, which Patently Apple spotted, affects the design of this year's phones.
• 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.
We know that iOS 11, the next version of Apple's operating system, is going to be friendlier to AR, thanks to the ARKit developers tool that will help app makers build AR experiences into their apps. Since ARKit works on any phone powered by an A9 processor and running iOS 11, these AR-friendly apps won't necessarily be restricted to the iPhone 8, but iOS 11's AR-friendly feature does emphasize Apple's interest in adding these capabilities to its devices.
• 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.That feature was essentially confirmed by Robert Hwang, CEO of iPhone assembly firm Wistron. According to Nikkei Asian Review, Hwang said "Assembly process for the previous generations of [iPhones] have not changed much, though new features like waterproof and wireless charging now require some different testing."
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. The company may include a nice freebie with the iPhone 8 — wireless AirPod headphones. That's according to a JPMorgan report that 9to5Mac found.
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.
Credit: KK Sneak LeaksIf Apple is serious about adding AR to the iPhone, that could mean a change to the layout of the dual rear cameras. iFanr's renderings showed an iPhone with dual lenses stacked vertically, prompting Creative Strategies analyst Ben Bajarin to tweet that such a change would be helpful toward support the AR features rumored for the iPhone 8 since it adds some distance between the lenses. A subsequent leaked image of a rumored iPhone 8 case posted by KK Sneak Leaks also shows vertically stacked cameras.
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 $1,000, since Apple will be paying up for OLED screens on that model and RAM prices are going up. A Goldman Sachs report echoes that number, according to MacRumors, with higher-capacity models costing as much as an Apple laptop. 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?
We may finally have a firm idea of what the iPhone 8 looks like, thanks to a series of leaked images. The latest comes from a Reddit user named Kamikasky, who posted images that he claimed were from a "friend in the industry." They show a phone with a display that takes up most of the front panel; the rear panel features a vertically stacked dual-lens camera and no visible fingerprint sensor.Credit: Kamikasy/Reddit
That leaked images matches the look of another purported iPhone 8 mock-up found by BGR. The mock-up is based on leaked iPhone 8 schematics, the site says.Credit: BGR
Engadget, meanwhile, published a render which it says is based on a source in the accessory industry who provided a CAD file of the iPhone 8 chassis.
Credit: EngadgetiDropNews commissioned a render from Benjamin Geskin that shows off how the rumored function area of the iPhone 8's expanded screen might work. The renders show the always-on options at the bottom of the screen changing depending on which app you're using — Safari controls when you browse a web page, for example, or a set of playback controls for listening to music.
But why stare at static images when you can watch a quick video? Benjamin Geskin pops up again with a video that shows a 5.8-inch phone with a button-free front and vertical camera bumps on the rear.
Israeli news site Walla posted a video of what appears to be an iPhone 8 dummy unit. It features minimal bezels on the front of the phone and vertically aligned camera lenses on the back.A still from a Walla video showing what's reportedly a dummy iPhone 8 (left) next to an iPhone 7 Plus. (Credit: Walla)A new iPhone usually inspires a bunch of artist interpretations of what the phone could look like, and the iPhone 8 is no exception. We've collected some of the best iPhone 8 concept designs to see if any stir your imagination.
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. Certainly, a delay into 2018 would be terrible news.
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.