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The 8 features we want in the iPhone 8

Daniel Howley
Technology Editor
Apple’s next iPhone needs to be more than your average update.

Apple’s (AAPL) next iPhone is always an absurdly important product for the tech giant. No matter how well the company’s services arms — Apple Music, iCloud, etc. — perform, the iPhone is Apple’s make-or-break product.

So if the upcoming 10th anniversary iPhone — expected to launch this September — is going to succeed, it has to be more than a simple update of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. Fair or not, consumers expect the next-generation iPhone to be a wholly new device unlike any Apple has produced before.

That goes double for analysts, who are raising their stock price estimates for the tech giant ahead of the handset’s launch. Citi Research’s Jim Suva believes the iPhone 8 will see greater than normal sales, otherwise known as a “super cycle.”

But if Apple is going to meet those lofty expectations, it’s going to have to ensure it does a few things differently with its next device.

Edge to edge screen

A number of reports have indicated the next generation iPhone — whether it’s called the iPhone 8, iPhone 10, iPhone X, or something else entirely is still up in the air — will sport a full-screen or curved display. And while those are still rumors, if the company doesn’t deliver on either of these features, it could hurt the iPhone’s sales.

The LG G6 Is a basically a screen with a smartphone attached to it.

Importantly, LG recently announced its new G6 smartphone, which features a full-screen display and, according to leaked images, Samsung’s upcoming Galaxy S8 will offer a similar edge-to-edge panel with curved edges.

Interestingly, if Apple is going to offer a full-screen display, it will have to eliminate a large amount of space on its top and bottom bezels, which means replacing the venerable Home button for, perhaps, an on-screen button.

Larger battery

Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus certainly has a long-lasting battery, but the smaller iPhone 7 isn’t quite as robust. With more companies adding larger, more powerful batteries to their handsets, it behooves Apple to outfit both the standard and Plus editions of its next iPhone with high-powered batteries that will meet the demands of users who continue to use more apps, stream more movies and generally bury their faces in their phones more often.

Without a sufficiently long-lasting battery, or one that falls behind the kind of battery life that Samsung’s next handset offers, Apple could see consumers move away from its smartphones.

Fast charging

Outside of battery life, the second most important power feature Apple needs to implement with its next iPhone is some kind of fast charging capability. Most high-end Android smartphones, like Samsung’s Galaxy S7, Google’s Pixel, LG’s G6 and Motorola’s Moto Z, can suck up hours of juice using special chargers in just 15 minutes and, in some cases, top off their tanks in a little more than an hour. Apple’s iPhone, meanwhile, still takes quite a while to recharge.

If Apple’s upcoming iPhone is going to be a truly next-generation handset, it has to include fast charging technology. Besides, it’s no fun to have your smartphone’s battery die and have to wait for it to recharge for longer than you’d like.

Wireless charging

While we’re on the topic of batteries and charging, it would be wise of Apple to include some form of wireless charging with its next handset. Sure, LG and Samsung, as well as a number of other smartphone manufacturers, already use wireless charging in their handsets, but Apple is never one to shy away from rebranding an existing technology as its own.

Samsung’s Galaxy S7 resting on the company’s wireless charger.

The signs are already there that Apple is willing to include the tech in its next iPhone, too, as the tech giant recently joined the Wireless Power Consortium, the organization behind the Qi wireless charging standard. Now it’s just a matter of the iPhone maker confirming our suspicions.

Improved camera

The iPhone 7 Plus arguably has the best smartphone camera around. Its built-in dual-lens technology and optical zoom, not to mention its image clarity, puts it at the top of the heap. But Google’s (GOOG, GOOGL) Pixel comes with a camera that’s nearly as a powerful as the iPhone 7’s and you can be sure Samsung’s Galaxy S8 will be outfitted with a shooter that’s every bit as sharp and capable as Apple’s.

The iPhone 7 Plus and its dual-lens camera.

In other words, the iPhone, once again, needs to push the limits of what we expect from a smartphone camera. So, you know, no big deal.

More storage options or use microSD cards

When Apple announced the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus would come with base storage configurations of 32GB rather than 16GB, the internet lit up with glee. Well, the nerdier side of the internet did, at least. But the next capacity up is 128GB and costs an extra $100. It would be nice to see Apple offer a 64GB option at a lower cost.

Barring that, it would be incredibly helpful if Apple added a microSD card slot to its next iPhone. Samsung’s smartphones have offered the feature for some time now, ditto LG’s handsets. Google, however, is in the same boat as Apple, offering just 32GB and 128GB storage capacities and no microSD card compatibility. If Apple really wants to stick it to the Big G (I think I just coined that nickname) it will offer more storage options or a microSD card slot on the next iPhone.

A more durable screen

Hey, you know what sucks? Breaking your phone. I’ve been there more times than I care to admit. And chances are if you own a smartphone, you’ve been there too. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Motorola, for example, offers what it calls shatterproof screens on its Moto Z line of handsets.

The Moto Z features one of the toughest smartphone screens around.

What’s more, Motorola doesn’t sacrifice clarity and quality over durability. The company’s displays are beautiful and strong. Imagine if Apple offered a similarly durable panel. Consumers would be ecstatic.

Then again, not needing to replace a busted phone is one less reason for someone to buy an iPhone.

Augmented reality

Augmented reality, the technology behind apps like Snapchat’s filters and “Pokemon Go,” could be the key to making the iPhone 8 a truly different smartphone. Tim Cook has already expressed interest in the medium, saying in an interview with The Independent that the tech is “a big idea like the smartphone.”

Llamas points out that by adding augmented reality to the next iPhone, Apple could set itself apart from the current crop of smartphones that force users to plug their phones into separate devices to experience virtual or mixed reality scenarios.

Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait until September to find out what Apple is cooking up with the next iPhone. Fall can’t get here soon enough.

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