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Everything we expect from Apple's iPhone 8

Daniel Howley
Technology Editor

Apple’s (AAPL) 10th anniversary iPhone is already one of the most important products in the company’s history, and we’re still a number of weeks away from its expected September launch.

As usual, the tech giant isn’t keen on dropping any hints about unreleased products, but a recent leak has given us a decent idea of what we can expect from the smartphone.

A woman looks at the screen of her mobile phone in front of an Apple logo outside its store in Shanghai, China July 30, 2017. REUTERS/Aly Song

So what kind of features are we likely to see in the next iPhone? Well, how about an edge-to-edge display, improved camera and … no more Home button?

The iPhone 8

First thing’s first, we don’t know what the next iPhone will actually be called. The going theory is that Apple will call it the iPhone 8, but there have been reports that it could be named the iPhone X, since this will mark the 10th anniversary of the company’s first handset. I’m sticking with 8 for now, though.

So what can we expect from Apple’s next smartphone? Plenty, according to the endless flow of leaks coming from Apple’s supply chain and a recent firmware update for the company’s HomePod.

A firmware update for Apple’s upcoming HomePod seems to have included key details about the iPhone 8.

That update, which was for a device that isn’t even on the market, revealed a number of big features we might see in the iPhone 8. When developers including Guilherme Rambo and Steven Troughton-Smith mined the firmware update, they uncovered a number of files that seem to back up prior reports that the iPhone 8 will include some kind of facial recognition technology.

That feature may end up replacing the iPhone’s popular fingerprint reader. According to a slew of rumors, Apple’s iconic Home button will be removed from the iPhone 8 in order for the company to equip the handset with an edge-to-edge-style display. That would seem to kill the phone’s fingerprint sensor, though, there is a chance Apple could instead place that under the handset’s display.

Part of the HomePod’s firmware seemed to back up the idea of an edge-to-edge panel, as it included what looks like a phone with such a display, The Guardian reports.

As far as the iPhone 8’s actual screen technology goes, Apple has long been rumored to have landed on using an OLED, or organic light emitting diodes, panel, rather than the traditional LED screens used in past iPhones.

Apple’s iPhone 7 uses and LED display, but the iPhone 8 is expected to come with a more vibrant OLED panel. (Reuters/Stefan Wermuth)

The reason for the upgrade is that OLED displays offer far richer colors and deeper blacks than LED screens, which should mean a better overall viewing experience. Unfortunately, they also tend to wash out in direct sunlight. Knowing Apple, though, the company likely has a solution to that issue in mind already.

The iPhone 8 should also get a new, improved rear camera, with some renders showing a dual-lens setup in a vertical orientation rather than the iPhone 7 Plus’ current horizontal orientation.

With Apple’s huge push into augmented reality at its Worldwide Developers Conference, you can expect some optical improvements to the iPhone 8’s camera as well.

Three versions

The iPhone 8 might not be the only smartphone Apple debuts in September, though. As Bloomberg previously pointed out, the Cupertino, California-based company could roll out two additional handsets. According to CNET, those devices, dubbed the 7s and 7s Plus, will likely be upgraded versions of the existing 7 and 7 Plus.

And while they won’t get the same amount of improvements as the iPhone 8, the 7s and 7s Plus could offer improved performance, as well as better water proofing and perhaps even wireless charging.

If the company does, in fact, roll out three different versions of its smartphone, it runs the risk of confusing consumers with too many options. Sure, three handsets isn’t a huge number, but if they all share the iPhone name consumers who don’t frantically devour every bit of Apple news might not understand the difference between them save for their pricing.

While Apple would never confirm any of these leaks, we do know for sure that this will be a high-stakes debut for the company. Apple’s stock price has been steadily chugging along thanks, in part, to the hype surrounding the iPhone 8. If Apple can pull off half of what the rumors promise, the new phone could be a major hit for the smartphone maker, and prove that the tech giant isn’t done innovating when it comes to handsets.

If the phone disappoints, though, it could be disastrous for the company.

Which will it be? We’ll find out in Septmeber.

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Email Daniel at dhowley@yahoo-inc.com; follow him on Twitter at @DanielHowley.