Apple’s next iPhone isn’t supposed to arrive until much later in 2017, but that hasn’t stopped legions of fans from fervently speculating about it. Things may be a little different this year, as it’s the 10th anniversary of the iPhone. Rumors suggest we may see up to three models — the iPhone 7S, the 7S Plus, and the iPhone X (aka, the iPhone 8). The latter is expected to be an expensive, technical showcase phone released as a celebratory model.
If you want to learn more about the iPhone 7S and 7S Plus, head over here. A lot of this information out there is up in the air, but what we’re hearing is keeping us interested. Very interested. Here’s what we’ve learned so far about the iPhone X.
Naming, release date and price
Despite being referred to as the iPhone 8 in many rumors, the phone may come alongside the iPhone 7S and 7S Plus in late 2017. This may confuse things for 2018, when an iPhone 8 would be more logical based on Apple’s usual naming traditions.
Still, recent rumors indicate that while Apple may have been considering a 2017 release for the phone, the company will instead wait for 2018. Why? According to a research note, a number of supply chains have noted technical challenges in manufacturing the new device. Deutsche Bank also claims that sources from Foxconn are only expecting Apple to order parts for the iPhone 7S and 7S Plus, according to a report from Business Insider. It’s possible that instead of waiting until 2018 to announce the new phone, Apple will announce it this year and start shipping to customers in 2018.
An alternative name that is reportedly being considered is the iPhone X. Cool, right? This comes from anonymous sources who spoke to Fast Company and also claim that the device will have a 5.8-inch OLED screen, no bezels, and a body made of stainless steel. The glass back from older iPhone models may make a return, and the familiar home button may disappear under the screen. Even the volume and sleep/wake keys may be replaced with touch-sensitive panels instead. All of these new features may come at a steep price in excess of $1,000.
Apple traditionally launches a new iPhone every year in September, but the latest reports indicate things may be a little different this year.
Bloomberg reported earlier that supply constraints may delay the iPhone X until “one or two months after” the typical fall introduction.
According to an analyst’s research note for investment banking firm Drexel Hamilton that was obtained by MacRumors, the iPhone X may be delayed several weeks after the September reveal due to challenges around its 3D-sensing technology — though it will still be available in time for the December holidays.
“Since it is only April, this situation could improve,” the analyst said, according to MacRumors. “Essentially, our contact believes customers will be able to pre-order the new 5.8-inch iPhone X, along with the new 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch iPhones, in September; however, the 5.8-inch iPhone X will not be available for delivery until several weeks later.”
This lines up with previous reports from Economic Daily News, which said the new iPhone X won’t be delivered until October or November.
And now, there’s even more reason to believe that we’ll have to wait a bit longer than usual to see the newest iPhone. As per a report from Apple analyst KGI Ming-Chi Kuo, the restricted supply of a number of “cutting-edge components” needed for the highly anticipated handset will delay the iPhone to October or November. The firm asserts that “significant hardware upgrades” in the iPhone 8, including its custom OLED display panel, custom Apple A11 10-nanometer SoC, newly designed 3D touch module, and 3D sensing cameras, are all contributing to the bottleneck.
And this isn’t great news for Apple. According to KGI, a delay of even a couple months could hurt Apple sales, especially if competitors launch ahead of time.
There has been some disagreement over whether there will indeed be a total of three iPhone models released this year. As per a new rumor posted on April 20 by Chinese tech blog Micgadget.com, there will be just two handsets released this year. “Rumors say that Apple will release two iPhone 7S and one iPhone 8 (or iPhone Edition) models,” the blog post reads. “Today we can tell you, that it’s not true. This fall, we can see only two models with new technology. Very interesting that rumors leaked new iPhone 8 and big iPhone 8 Plus will have similar dual cameras.”
Take this with a grain of salt, however. Micgadget.com apparently has a rather inconsistent track record when it comes to Apple and its plans, and this singular report certainly flies in the face of the majority of other reports.
That said, there is another report suggesting we may not see three iPhones this year, though this one claims that it’s the iPhone 8 that will be late to the party. According to unsubstantiated gossip from iPhone manufacturer Foxconn, Apple won’t be able to release the iPhone 8 in 2017. Apparently, the leak from within Foxconn claims that Apple has only ordered the iPhone 7s and iPhone 7s Plus, though packaging material for those handsets are said to arrive in factories as early as June.
Apple has long been rumored to be working on wireless charging for a future version of the iPhone, and we now have even more evidence to support those rumors. According to a note from JPMorgan that was picked up by CNBC, Broadcom will supply the chips for wireless charging — which is somewhat surprising considering previous rumors that noted Apple would be building its own wireless charging tech. It’s possible that Broadcom will simply manufacture the chips that will be designed by Apple.
Just because Apple suggested it would use its own self-built tech, that doesn’t mean third parties won’t develop their own wireless charging accessories for the phone.
In fact, after Apple joined the Wireless Power Consortium, popular wireless charger manufacturer Powermat said it will work to support whatever wireless charging standard the new iPhone uses. Some reports suggest the device will support Qi charging, while others indicate it may use a modified version of Qi that won’t work with standard Qi chargers. Reuters reports that Apple has at least five different groups working on wireless charging technology.
The Wall Street Journal said in February that Apple will ditch the iPhone’s Lightning port in favor of USB Type-C, the industry standard connector for smartphones, laptops, and chargers. It isn’t clear from the report if Apple means to replace the iPhone’s Lightning port with a Type-C port or if it will simply adopt Type-C for the phone’s wall charger, and retain the Lightning port on the iPhone X itself.
A separate report by KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claimed the iPhone X will have a more expensive logic board design, allowing for longer battery life, according to MacRumors. The new logic-board design would allow for the OLED iPhone to have dimensions similar to a 4.7-inch iPhone, but it could offer comparable battery life to a 5.5-inch iPhone.
Kuo expects the iPhone X to have a 2,700mAh L-shaped two-cell battery pack. The OLED display could also allow the device to be more energy-efficient, meaning it could have better battery life than previous 5.5-inch iPhones.
If the iPhone X is made to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the iPhone range, then it’s logical to expect Apple to make it look very special indeed. Throughout the many months of speculation, it has been rumored the iPhone X will have a bezel-less screen, which may result in other alterations to the overall design of the phone.
Our latest look at the possible design is a Twitter leak, showing a transparent case with a large, vertically orientated camera cutout, speaker cutouts that closely resemble the iPhone 7, and an oversize sleep/wake key cover. These aspects all match previous rumors about the phone, but the source of the case isn’t clear, or if the case is a prototype built only on leaked specifications — which may not end up being accurate. For now, it’s an interesting look at how rumors are shaping our perception of the iPhone X, rather than solid proof this will be the final design.
Before this, photos of a “CNC dummy unit,” were posted on Twitter by @VenyaGeskin1. Geskin has also been responsible for other iPhone X leaks. The source isn’t confirmed, but the dummy phone was apparently obtained from a Foxconn employee. Such a device would be used during the design and development process, but isn’t proof of the final design. Other companies, such as those that make accessories, may also make this type of dummy phone based on rumored dimensions, so don’t take it as final evidence of a future iPhone design.
According to the leak, the screen takes up the front of the phone, but still has 4mm bezels. The images show dual front cameras, glass on the front and back, and a metal frame. On the rear is a vertical camera arrangement, similar to that seen in other rumors, along with a larger power button on the side. It’s speculated the final version will be black, rather than silver as seen here, and this has been visualized in a considerably more attractive concept render created by Instagram user le.pich.
The images are close to previous rumors, but in a report from iDropNews citing a Foxconn employee, Apple is supposedly working on two different versions of the iPhone X concurrently, but will ultimately choose just one for release. It’s not certain whether the one we’re seeing in these leaks will go on to be released.
The primary difference between the two models appears to be the placement of Touch ID. The company’s more forward-looking proposal features a fingerprint sensor underneath the display, while a more conservative plan places it at the back, similar to many Android phones.
The version with Touch ID below the screen is said to have the same dimensions as the iPhone 7, with a 5.8-inch OLED screen that runs over the entire surface of the device and 4mm bezels on every side. The display matches the contours of the phone, with heavily rounded corners, and also conceals the front-facing camera. The report also mentions a large power button with two points of contact, but did not clarify its purpose. The render for that device is shown here.
As for the backup plan? Apple’s other rumored version of the iPhone X trades those more ambitious features for more conventional ones. The purported schematics for this model have appeared on SlashLeaks, and they show a device that actually looks quite similar to the LG G6, at least from the front. This iPhone X would be larger than the other (as well as the iPhone 7) in every dimension, with more pronounced bezels and the top and bottom, and a conventional display that ditches the rounded corners. With the larger bezels, the front-facing camera can return to its current position along the top of the phone. Touch ID, on the other hand, is relegated to the middle rear, below the Apple logo.
Both models appear to feature a vertically arranged dual-lens camera. If Apple encounters problems testing the iPhone X that it really wants to launch, or supply constraints with the fingerprint sensor and OLED display make it unfeasible, as has been speculated, the backup plan could see the light of day.
Before this, a report from market research firm Cowen and Company suggested the iPhone X’s earpiece, FaceTime camera, and Touch ID fingerprint sensor would be embedded into the screen, allowing for a seamless edge-to-edge front panel. It said Apple may switch to Synaptic’s optical-based fingerprint reader for the new Touch ID, citing it as “currently the only workable solution” for detecting a fingerprint through a smartphone screen.
But the designs are posing a challenge for Apple’s suppliers. According to Apple Insider, yields of the under-screen Touch ID sensor are low — so low that Apple may consider alternative designs if the production problems can’t be solved.
For some time now, we’ve been hearing rumors the iPhone X will have a curved edge-to-edge or bezel-less screen, potentially with OLED technology. However, this may have changed following the completion of the iPhone X’s early developmental stages.
According to Bloomberg, Apple is testing a screen that covers the entire front of the device. It will reportedly result in a display that is larger than that of the iPhone 7 Plus, but with an overall size closer to the iPhone 7.
Having tested various models, Apple decided to adopt a flat OLED screen on the iPhone X, according to anonymous sources talking to MacOtakara. The screen will be underneath a 2.5D piece of glass, and mounted inside a stainless steel chassis, with another piece of glass on the rear.
It might be curved. Bloomberg reports that Apple is testing prototypes with glass that slightly slopes on the front and back (the new OLED screen itself is flat, while the cover glass curves into a steel frame).
The screen may or may not be curved, but it’s likely to still be bezel-less. An image created by designer Benjamin Geskin on Twitter shows how the phone may look with a full-length screen and is based on sketches apparently made by a factory employee with knowledge of the iPhone X’s design. The screen stretches all the way to the bottom of the phone’s front panel, and a bezel at the top contains several sensors and a dual-lens front camera. On the rear is another dual-lens camera, but this time it’s mounted vertically.
Many reports suggested Apple is still finalizing the design for the new iPhone, such as this one from Mac Otakara which states that while there was a prototype built without a home button, it may not end up being a part of the final design. The site subsequently published another rumor on this subject, indicating Apple has chosen the designs which will move forward to the next stage of development.
A patent discovered by Apple Insider suggests that Apple has considered moving the front-facing sensors to underneath the display. For a closer look, you can check out U.S. patent No. 9,466,653, titled “Electronic devices with display-integrated light sensors.” These reports corroborate rumors brought to light by Daring Fireball’s John Gruber, who was among the first to say the iPhone X also may not have a single bezel — that plays well with the idea of a single sheet of glass. The entire front of the device could be one giant display, and the Touch ID sensor would be embedded in the screen itself. This has been reiterated in The New York Times, which sourced two anonymous Apple employees.
The Wall Street Journal corroborated other rumblings about the iPhone X’s display, home button, and more. The iPhone X will reportedly feature a curved OLED screen similar to those on Samsung’s Galaxy S8 devices and it will also do away with the physical home button. And it will launch alongside two other smartphones. Analyst Ming-Chi Kou agreed, saying the iPhone X could see the elimination of the iconic home button and Touch ID sensor in favor of “virtual buttons” at the bottom of the screen. MacOtakara’s sources have also said the iPhone X will have a software home button, inside a so-called function area along the bottom of the phone.
The screen size of the new iPhone has been the subject of some debate, but it seems as though most reports agree to the size of 5.8 inches (like the Galaxy S8). Previously, Nikkei Asian Review suggested that the display would instead be 5 inches, however, the outlet, which is known for iPhone leaks, has since changed its tune in a revised report.
Kuo reports that the virtual buttons will take up part of the iPhone X’s screen, a rumored 5.8-inch OLED panel with a resolution of 2,800 x 1,242 pixels — a figure now agreed upon by Nikkei. And he believes the phone “will come with other biometric technologies that replace the current fingerprint recognition technology.” Kuo notes the overall footprint would be comparable to the 4.7-inch TFT-LED iPhone, though with a measurably larger display size and battery life.
Although going back to glass may seem like an odd retro move for Apple, it would also open up possibilities like wireless charging, which is nearly impossible to achieve with an all-metal device. Moreover, Kuo suggests that higher-end models of future iPhones will likely use stainless steel in their cases — so look out, world. We’re about to get real fancy.
One rumor that constantly crops up is the possible use of an Organic LED (OLED) screen on the iPhone X. OLED screens can offer deeper blacks and are often thinner than LCDs, and Apple has used this technology before with the Apple Watch. AMOLED is a different type of OLED, and Samsung, as well as many other manufacturers, have been using it on Android smartphones for years.
Using OLED on an iPhone is increasingly likely thanks to an April report from Nikkei and Bloomberg claiming Apple placed an order for between 70 million and 100 million OLED panels from Samsung. According to the publication, the South Korean company will be the sole producer of screens for the device. Nikkei attributes the news to one of Apple’s suppliers and said Samsung could produce as many as 95 million panels for the new iPhone before the end of 2017. Still, Apple is reported to be testing both OLED and LCD panels, curved and flat, as recently as the beginning of March.
Not only could the display be OLED, but it could also be True Tone, according to a report from MacRumors citing Barclays bank. The only Apple device with a True Tone display is the 9.7-inch iPad Pro. True Tone basically changes the white balance of the display depending on the ambient light. If you’re in a room with an orange light bulb, the screen will change a little to match the scene. It’s very similar to Night Shift, which adjusts the color to cut out blue light at night. Apple’s Touch ID technology could also be revamped to complement the bezel-less device, in that it may be replaced by a facial recognition system. As there are a lot of technical challenges to the technology, the company may use a combination of fingerprint and facial recognition technology.
If the iPhone X does come with an OLED screen, it’ll likely be expensive, possibly beyond $1,000. The Wall Street Journal reports the displays are costly to produce. However, the same report notes that Apple could decide against the OLED model altogether. There’s precedent for such a 180: Last year, a global shortage of sapphire glass forced Apple to abandon the material for the iPhone 7.
Every year, Apple upgrades the processor in its new iPhone. The iPhone X, like the 7S and 7S Plus, will likely get the new A11 chip. DigiTimes reports the chip will use a 10-nanometer manufacturing process, like Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 and Samsung’s Exynos 8895. The chip should be even faster than the A10 Fusion processor, which has been heralded by critics as the best mobile phone processor.
New reports indicate that the new A11 chip is set to soon enter production, according to Economic Daily News, which notes that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) will begin production of the new A11 chip in April, and will aim to produce 50 million chips before July. Not only that, but the firm will reportedly produce 100 million chips before the end of 2017. iPhone sales, in fact, are estimated to hit astronomical numbers of 220 to 230 million units. And in order to supply this demand, ADI, Broadcom, Cirrus Logic, Cypress, NXP, Qualcomm, STMicroelectronics, and TI are reported to be making Apple’s chips.
According to Chinese research firm Trendforce, the upcoming iPhone’s will have plenty of internal storage as they may come in 64GB and 256GB configurations.
Apple is also looking to build its own graphics processor for the iPhone, though we may not see this technology until later models.
Rear dual camera setup and “revolutionary” 3D front camera
The camera has always been a strong feature on the iPhone, so what have we heard about the iPhone X?
For the front camera, Apple’s testing dual lenses. That’s according to Bloomberg, which reports that the company using camera components from Sony.
A dual-lens rear camera is expected on the rear, a la the iPhone 7, but it may shift orientation to a vertical layout. This has been seen in several schematics based on rumor, and according to MacOtakara. In a later rumor, the site says the cameras are likely to have similar functionality to the existing iPhone 7 Plus, but adds the vertical layout may be to enable better use inside a virtual reality headset.
Rumors have also suggested the iPhone X will have a thing or two in common with Microsoft’s depth-sensing Kinect sensor. According to a report published by Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, the upcoming iPhone’s front camera boasts a “revolutionary” infrared sensor that can sense the three-dimensional space in front of it.
It’s said to be aimed at taking selfies. According to Kuo, the front sensor merges depth information with 2D images for features like facial recognition in tandem with Touch ID. It could be used to replace a video game character’s head with that of the user or to generate a 3D selfie that would integrate seamlessly with virtual reality applications. The technology is being developed by PrimeSense, the company behind Microsoft’s Kinect; and Apple is likely to open these 3D scanning capabilities to third-party developers.
This front-camera may also be used to power iris-sensor technology, like Samsung’s Galaxy S8.
According to a report from The Korea Economic Daily, Apple is collaborating with LG to create a dual-camera module that would allow for 3D photography. While Apple previously patented 3D-object and gesture recognition, it’s unclear whether the upcoming iPhone will bring these patents to life.
Better water resistance, and glass, ceramic, steel?
iPhone 7 Plus
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
Sources tell Bloomberg that the Apple tested an ambitious prototype with a slightly curved front and steel frame, but a glass back with more dramatic curves on the top and bottom like the iPhone design from 2007. Supply problems may prevent the company from shipping it, though.
Apple’s reported “backup” design is a simple frame with an aluminum back and slightly larger dimensions.
KGI Securities Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo suggests that Apple may experiment with either glass, ceramic, or plastic backs on the iPhone X. But new rumors suggest that Apple may go with a stainless steel frame instead. If the report from DigiTimes is true, it would mark a return to the material for Apple — it was last used in the iPhone 4S. Subsequently, a stainless steel chassis with glass front and rear has been rumored by MacOtakara, quoting anonymous sources familiar with the project. The metal used may be an evolution of the metal used on the Apple Watch.
The iPhone 7 was the first device in the iPhone family that could be submerged up to a meter underwater for 30 minutes. Naturally, rumor has it that Apple’s going to take it a step further with the next iPhones, ramping up the IP rating from IP67 to IP68 and putting it on par with the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge and Galaxy S8. That rumor comes from the Korea Herald, which cites “multiple sources.” Most people will hardly notice a difference, to be fair. The IP68-rating allows submersion up to about 1.5 meters for 30 minutes, a minor improvement over the 1-meter depth for IP67-certified devices.
Article originally published on 07-25-2016 by Kyle Wiggers. Updated on 05-02-2017 by Christian de Looper: Added research note suggesting new iPhone may be delayed to 2018.
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