Editors' note, August 25: This article was originally published on February 16, and we'll continue to add new rumors and stories as they emerge.
We may finally have a date.
According to tech blog Mac4Ever, citing French telecom sources, Apple will introduce three new phones -- the flagship iPhone 8 and the iPhone 7S and 7S Plus -- on September 12, 2017. Note that all of this, including the names of the phones and the date, is unofficial and unconfirmed; Apple did not respond to our inquiries.
Even if the 12th turns out not to be the big day, it shouldn't be too far off. Apple traditionally debuts its new phones on a Tuesday or Wednesday during the first or second week in September, and then puts them on sale at the end of the following week. Mac4Ever predicts the new lineup will hit store shelves this year on Friday, September 22. Also making the rounds is an alternative theory that Apple introduces the phones on September 6 and releases them on September 15.
So, assuming all of those rumors about delays, postponements, and panic in Cupertino were overblown, we should see Apple's 10th anniversary iPhone sometime in the next 20 days or so. We'll continue to count down the days, assembling all of the iPhone 8 rumors below.
iPhone 8 specs we might see:
- Three new models including two minor "S" upgrades and an all-new iPhone 8
- Curved, edge-to-edge OLED display with True Tone technology and/or Ion-X glass
- Virtual home button
- Facial recognition alternative to Touch ID
- "Wireless" charging (i.e. inductive charging) and/or faster USB-C charging
- Dual-lens camera, possibly in a vertical configuration
- AR capabilities featuring rear-facing 3D laser for enhanced depth perception
- Support for the Apple Pencil
- Stainless steel and glass body
- Multiple color including a reflective, mirror-like finish
- Upgraded storage and memory, possibly starting at 64GB and 3GB of RAM
- Intel or Qualcomm modem
- iOS 11 (preview)
- Enhanced water resistance or waterproofing
- Higher quality earpiece for louder, clearer audio
- Apple's next-generation processor (the A10X or A11)
- Priced between $999 and $1,200 in the US, available in limited quantities to start
Counting down the days
Despite months of rumors about turbulence in Cupertino and manufacturing issues in the supply chain, it appears we can now once again expect to see three new iPhones in early September, as usual. The evidence: August 1's reassuring earnings call and a series of reports from credible sources that all three models are in mass production. The presumption is that Apple will deliver a plentiful supply of the two LCD models, while the OLED iPhone 8 may be more difficult to come by, at least initially.
Could $1,000 = entry-level?
The New York Times reports that the "premium model" iPhone 8 will start at roughly $999. That squares with earlier predictions from Morgan Stanley, Fast Company and Goldman Sachs, who have suggested that the new flagship could cost as much as $1,200 in the US (roughly £950 or AU$1,450), which would account for upper-end models with more storage capacity (more on that below). Earlier this year, a UBS analyst reported that Apple could price the 64GB iPhone 8 as low as $850 (roughly £655 and AU$1,110) to better compete with the Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus. The iPhone 7S and 7S Plus are expected to be priced comparably with the current generation 7 and 7 Plus, so $649 (£500 and AU$850) and $769 (£580 and AU$980), respectively.
Pencil support for the iPhone 8?
Apple could undercut one of the Samsung Galaxy Note 8's greatest strengths by adding Pencil support to the iPhone 8. The long-simmering iPhone stylus rumor boiled up this week, as Apple filed new patent applications connecting the Apple Pencil with the iPhone (via PatentlyApple). We think this one's a long shot for the iPhone 8 -- there hasn't been much chatter or photographic evidence to support it -- but inevitable in the long run.
The game-changer: Face ID
According to developer Steve Troughton-Smith, the HomePod firmware leak confirms the existence of the iPhone 8's facial-recognition technology; if true, you'll be able to use your face to unlock the iPhone 8, pay for stuff and much more. Mark Gurman, the Bloomberg News technology reporter with a strong record on Apple stories, says that the company's pitch will be that "Face ID is quicker, more secure, and more accurate than Touch ID."
Face-seeking cam on the front
To support the new facial-recognition technology, Apple has arranged the front-facing cameras in a new configuration within a cutout atop the new edge-to-edge display. According to veteran Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, the setup will support AR and 3D modeling with a trio of components -- a front-facing camera, infrared transmitter, and infrared receiver.
Dual cams on the back
The growing consensus among the rumor watchers is that the iPhone 8 has two rear cameras arranged vertically with an LED flash in the middle. Fast Company has reported that Apple has developed a rear-facing 3D laser system that supports AR depth detection and autofocusing.
Virtual home button
After months of rumors about a virtual home button, the HomePod firmware has clarified things somewhat. Troughton-Smith has tweeted that the iPhone 8 will have a virtual home button, which can change its size or disappear entirely, depending on the app or task.
Touch ID RIP?
Ming-Chi Kuo has long insisted that the iPhone 8 would have a virtual home button but not Touch ID. It can be done: In June, Qualcomm unveiled its underscreen fingerprint-sensing technology in a Vivo phone at Mobile World Congress in Shanghai.
And yet developers have also found evidence of continued Touch ID support in iOS 11, so it's not totally clear whether Face ID is a 100 percent substitute or complement for the iPhone 8, or if it will remain the primary biometric security protocol for just the iPhone 7S and 7S Plus. But, at this point, it feels safe to rule out a fingerprint scanner on the back of the phone, as was suggested in early rumors and leaked images.
LCD or OLED displays?
Both. The 7S and 7S Plus are expected to stick with the iPhone's current LCD technology. The next flagship is almost certain to have an OLED. (We've also heard that the entire iPhone lineup could go OLED in 2018.) Ironically, those OLED screens will almost certainly be supplied by archrival Samsung, which is said to control around 98 percent or more of current phone-sized OLED manufacturing capacity.
iOS 11 + iPhone hardware = big leaps in AR
We know iOS 11 is going all-in on AR. Apple delivered the public beta of the next generation mobile operating system in June (here's how to install it) and the HomePod leak has expanded the list of cool stuff we've discovered. Beyond facial detection, highlights include a smarter, more capable Siri, screen recording and AR software that will overlay the virtual world on to the physical one. Read more about iOS 11 in our preview.
Three phones, three colors
Kuo reports that each the three new models will be available in three colors -- black, silver and gold. This runs counter to previous reports of an expanded palette of options that included a mirror-like, reflective finish, jet black, and rose gold.
Troughton-Smith has now refined his initial leak of the iPhone 8 glyph with some precise measurements of the front of the device, with a camera cut-out along the top edge. An increasing number of images and video of dummy phones and molds show an iPhone 8 that's bigger than the iPhone 7 ($820.00 at Amazon Marketplace) and smaller than the 7 Plus ($899.99 at Amazon Marketplace); the iPhone 8's display, rumored to extend from edge to edge, with very narrow bezels, would likely be more comparable with that of the 7 Plus. The iPhone 8 is likely to feature a combination of curved glass and stainless steel, according to Bloomberg.
Ming-Chi Kuo reports that all three new models, both the iPhone 7S and 7S Plus as well as the flagship, will support faster "plugged-in" charges, though you'll need an add-on USB-C power adapter to take advantage of it. Noted Apple watcher John Gruber tweeted in July that "wireless" charging -- that is, an inductive charge pad accessory, which, technically, still has wires -- may be "sold separately" and not until later in the year, as part of a future iOS 11 update, similar to Apple's rollout of the iPhone 7 Plus portrait mode in 2016.
The iPhone TBD
Apple usually doesn't label its phone models, so despite an accumulating pile of authentic-looking images, we still don't know officially what the new ones will be called. But it's highly likely that we'll get an iPhone 7S and iPhone 7S Plus in addition to the next-generation flagship. As to the name of the 10th anniversary model itself, leading candidates include the iPhone 8, the iPhone 10, the iPhone X, the iPhone Pro and the iPhone Edition.
According to analysts at JPMorgan (as reported by MacRumors), Apple may equip the iPhone 8 with an "enhanced receiver," which is housed within the slit on the front of the phone where you put your ear during calls. This upgrade would ostensibly deliver louder, clearer audio as well as superior waterproofing .
AirPods included? Don't bet on it
JPMorgan has also postulated that the iPhone 8 will come with AirPods included. These Bluetooth-enabled headphones currently sell as a $159 accessory (£159 in the UK and AU$229 in Australia). And so this one is a stretch. But if Apple prices the new phone high enough, there could be margin enough to make it happen. Which brings us to...
One area the iPhone 8 may end up trailing the Galaxy S8 is cellular network speed. The Samsung phone features Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835 processor or, in some markets, Samsung's own Exynos 8895 chip -- both of which support Gigabit LTE. According to CNET's Roger Cheng, Apple uses Qualcomm and Intel modems and, at the moment, the Intel version can't deliver Gigabit LTE speed. This could force Apple to slow down the Qualcomm version to ensure all iPhones are on the same footing.
Return of the headphone jack? Nope
A Barclays analyst (reported by MacRumors) has suggested that Apple will stick with its Lightning connector -- and include a 3.5 mm headphone jack adapter -- for the next phone. Highly doubtful. Despite the shade being thrown by competitors like OnePlus, whose new newest phone has the legacy connector, Apple is very unlikely to reverse its position on this one.
That same Nikkei Asian Review article also claims that at least one of the forthcoming iPhones will be waterproof. This follows earlier rumors, reported by the Korea Herald and others, that the next iPhone will have a higher water-resistance rating of IP68 compared with the current generation's IP67, meaning it could be immersed in water for longer and to greater depths.
The iPhone 8 is expected to run on Apple's A11 CPU. There's a rumor that the company is developing its own graphics chips, too. But the time frame for phasing out its current supplier is 15 to 24 months, so it's unlikely that an Apple-manufactured GPU will make it into the next iPhone. We're probably looking at 2018 or 2019 for this one.
According to a listing on Chinese blogging site Weibo, Apple may dump its 32GB model, at least for the iPhone 8, and offer three storage tiers: 64GB, 256GB, and 512GB; this is consistent with an earlier rumor reported by TrendForce. These reports also suggest that the company will boost the amount of memory to 3GB, though the 7S and 7S Plus will get only 2GB. These incremental bumps for the flagship would follow last year's precedent of Apple ditching its outcast 16GB model when it released the iPhone 7.
And what about the iPhone 9?
From the outer frontier of the iPhone hype cycle, The Bell (via Korean site The Investor) reports that Apple will supersize its future phones, with the iPhone 9 featuring two variations with an OLED display -- a 5.28-inch model and a 6.46-inch one. And Nikkei Asian Review suggests that all of next year's iPhones could adopt new screen technology, not just the most high-end model.
( Cnet )