iPhone 2018 Rumors: What to Expect from Apple's Next Phone

It hasn’t been that long since Apple took the wraps off the iPhone X, but it’s clear that the release of this $999 phone has opened a new chapter in Apple’s smartphone story. The smartphone ditches the physical home button and Touch ID, opting instead for a revamped design with an OLED screen that covers nearly its entire front. Wireless charging and facial recognition, which unlocks the phone and enables iMessage animoji, also set the iPhone X apart. But new reports indicate that the new iPhone isn't as popular as predicted, which could lead Apple to shake up its smartphone lineup.

Apple's 2017 iPhone lineup figures to change next year. (Credit: Tom's Guide)Apple's 2017 iPhone lineup figures to change next year. (Credit: Tom's Guide)Now that the iPhone X is on store shelves, the rumor mill is turning its attention to the 2018 slate of iPhones, including possible follow-ups. And if the reports are accurate, it's likely Apple will use iPhone X feedback to make this year's phones even better.

Here’s a look at all the latest rumors surrounding the 2018 slate of iPhones.

When Can We Expect Apple to Update Its iPhone Lineup?

Considering this year’s iPhone releases are still fresh in the memory, it’s a safe bet Apple’s not planning any big announcements in the first half of 2018. Apple typically holds off on major iPhone updates until September, and there’s no reason to believe it will deviate from that pattern.

MORE: How to Use the iPhone X - A Guide to New (or Improved) Features

One possible exception: apart from a boost in capacity, Apple hasn’t updated the iPhone SE since that phone arrived in March 2016, so a new version could be in the works for early 2018. However, given that the SE is Apple’s effort to offer a midrange phone, you’re unlikely to see iPhone X features trickling into that lower-priced model.

Latest Update: Jan. 29

  • Get Ready for Three Models: Well-known KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says Apple is planning three models this year, including one with a 6.5-inch screen.
  • Apple Ups the Power: Don't look for Apple to stand still on the power front. Instead, the company could deliver the A12 in this year's handsets.
  • Faster Connectivity, Too: With chip makers creating faster LTE modems, Apple is eyeing ways to bundle those components in this year's iPhone. That could all mean faster LTE connectivity with any wireless network.

Three iPhone Models, Perhaps?

Apple is planning to release three new iPhones in 2018, according to KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. It's believed that one of those models will come with a 5.8-inch screen to match the iPhone X, but it'll be flanked by another featuring a 6.1-inch display. The largest of the bunch could deliver a display size of 6.5 inches, according to Kuo.

Recently Kuo shared additional details surrounding the rumored 6.1-inch model, including pricing and specifications. He says this variation will be the least expensive of the three new devices, and will incorporate an LCD display instead of an OLED one as found on the others. He also says this iPhone will only utilize a single lens for the rear camera, an aluminum body in place of glass, and lack 3D Touch. Under the hood, the 6.1-inch model could omit the iPhone X's stacked logic board and uniquely-shaped battery for more conventional designs. Kuo estimates this device will cost between $700 and $800, which would make it far less expensive than the $999 iPhone X, but still potentially pricier than the iPhone 8. The report comes by way of MacRumors.

What Will Apple Call Its 2018 Phones?

That’s up in the air, too. It’s unclear if the iPhone X moniker is a one-off that Apple used to mark the 10th anniversary of its smartphone lineup or that all future phones featuring the new design will be part of the X family. That’s something we expect to become more clear as we get deeper into 2018.

What Features Can We Expect in the Next iPhone?

Bring On the Augmented Reality: Apple has made it clear that it’s committed to augmented reality, and there are now reports that the company will double down on the technology in the coming years.Bloomberg reports that Apple plans to deliver new laser sensors in a future iPhone X that will be capable of mapping the 3D environment around a person and using that information to inform augmented reality applications.

MORE: Best AR Apps for iOS (So Far)

However, that same report also targets that feature for 2019 iPhones. The 2018 version will get small improvements to its sensors in a step toward a bigger and better augmented reality experience.

The Same Design Concept: Apple’s slate of 2017 iPhones are decidedly different. There are two devices — the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus — that come with a traditional iPhone design, and the iPhone X has the company’s next-generation look and feel.

According to a report from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, however, Apple is planning to ditch the old-school design in 2018 and will instead opt for an iPhone X-like design across all its handsets next year. That means the controversial notch will be coming to all the handsets.

However, Kuo later claimed that that Apple will discontinue the 5.8-inch iPhone X in favor of a larger iPhone X Plus. Potential buyers, particularly in China, were reportedly turned off from snagging an iPhone X because they were under the impression that the the phone's display was smaller than the iPhone 8 Plus. The phone actually has a larger display despite its smaller footprint, but Kuo said the notch is dampening demand, leading to lower sales. It's unclear how Apple will retain the sensors in its edge-to-edge display without the notch, but that will be the company's challenge in 2018.

Screen Size Talk: Apple made the switch to OLED for the iPhone X while still using LCD screens on the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, in part to differentiate the phones but also because OLED panels were in short supply. As early as this past summer though, news outlets were already reporting that all of Apple’s phones would feature OLED screens by 2018.

Kuo had previously said that Apple is planning two OLED-based iPhone models next year. And although one of those will be the second-generation version of its 5.8-inch iPhone X, a second model would deliver a massive 6.5-inch screen.

Contradicting supply chain reports that Apple is committed to OLED from here on out, some rumors suggest a third iPhone model in 2018 that would sport a 6.1-inch LCD screen.

The Fate of Touch ID: Apple’s Face ID will certainly be a part of the 2018 iPhone line, but Touch ID might make a comeback, too.

In a note to investors in September, Kuo said that Apple is still working on a Touch ID fingerprint sensor that could be baked into its smartphone display. The feature, which Apple couldn’t get to work this year, would allow you to decide whether you want to use Face ID or Touch ID to authenticate yourself, make purchases, and access software.

However, Kuo seems to be hedging, saying that if users really like what they find in Face ID, Apple will ditch its Touch ID plans.

A More Powerful Processor: Longtime Apple supplier Taiwan Semiconductor (TSMC) is believed to have gotten the contract to manufacture the processor inside the next line of iPhones. According to a report in BGR, that chip will be known as the A12 and will deliver substantially more power than the A11 Fusion Chip you can find in the iPhone X and iPhone 8 line. It's unclear, however, whether all iPhone models this year will come with the same processor.

Faster LTE Connectivity: Apple has apparently already told its manufacturing partners that it wants to take advantage of improved LTE chips. The move, which was earlier reported on by MacRumors, would mean that your 2018 iPhone would be capable (on paper, at least) of delivering faster connectivity over wireless networks. But exactly how fast is unknown at this point.

What About the iPhone SE?

It seems that we won't see a successor to the iPhone SE anytime soon. Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has a pretty solid track record, suggested in a research note that Apple doesn't have the capacity to release one right now.

"With three new models in the pipeline for the second half of 2018, we believe Apple may have used up its development resources," he wrote. "Also, we think the firm will do all it can to avoid repeating the mistake of a shipment delay for the three new models. As such, we believe Apple is unlikely to have enough spare resources to develop a new iPhone model for launch in 2Q18."

Previous rumors suggested a new iPhone SE would launch with wireless charging.

More to Come

It’s early days still for 2018 iPhone rumors, which is not surprising since the iPhone 8, 8 Plus and X still have that new smartphone smell. Expect to hear about the next iPhones’ specs, features and whether that $1,000 price tag is also here to stay as 2018 continues to unfold. We’ll regularly update this article with any information that emerges as to what Apple has planned for its future iPhones.

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  • carlandkathie
    What part of touch I D does Apple not understand, people want a phone that their significant other can answer if they are out of the room or in the yard etc. with face only one person can use the darn thing ....