The word is out: 2017 is Apple’s big iPhone 8 redesign year. The changes are radical (and expensive) but - as always - Apple is unlikely to be able to please everyone, especially with news that two of its most exciting changes may have bitten the dust…
Cancellation #1: Curved OLED Displays
This one will hurt those who had their heart set on Apple catching up to Samsung’s popular ‘Edge’ smartphone designs. According to research firm TrendForce:
“Apple will not implement the curved display design for the high-end iPhone because there are issues with the 3D glass in terms of production yield and drop test results. Thus, the next high-end iPhone is expected to have the same 2.5D glass for display cover as the current models.”
iPhone 8 concept based on the latest leaks. Image credit: Tech Driven Times
For my money the biggest blow here is to marketing. Curved/Edge displays look brilliant in marketing shots, but in practice can be fiddly and register a lot of accidental touches to the sides of the screen. Certainly that has been my experience with Galaxy Edge phones up to now.
As for why Apple can’t get the yields it needs, that’s because - despite Galaxies being their closest commercial competitor - iPhones still ship in far greater numbers and with Samsung making giving all its premium phones Edge displays this year (plus a number of Chinese smartphone makers), I suspect the supply chain simply can’t handle Apple stepping in as well.
The second potential blow comes via financial services firm Cowen and Company, which says the long range wireless is now off the table for the iPhone 8.
In a research note obtained by AppleInsider, Cowen and Company says Apple is instead going to base its wireless charging on the more conventional contact-based Qi or Airfuel wireless charging standards - as seen in rival phones (again including Samsung’s Galaxy S and Note ranges) for some time. This also follows on from Apple’s decision to recently become a member of the Wireless Power Consortium, the body behind the Qi standard.
iPhone 8 concept showing short range wireless charging. Image credit: Tech Driven Times
For those still hopeful that a long range wireless charging Hail Mary is still possible, there have been several mysterious Apple devices that have gone through FCC testing in recent months. Some think they could be long range wireless charging add-ons (via Apple’s deal with Energous), but the smart money is on these devices being a new model of Apple TV.
Ultimately long range wireless charging will inevitably come at some point, but all the signs suggest that will not be in 2017.
The Big Picture
As disappointed as some Apple fans will be by this one-two punch, I’d argue Apple is still on track to deliver an iPhone unlike any previous model.
Removing the home button (and fingerprint scanning), will dramatically change how owners will interact with their iPhones. The iPhone 8 (some say it will be called the iPhone X) also looks set to mimic the Galaxy S8’s super thin bezels, bump up storage, introduce an ‘all glass’ chassis and quick charging.
As such I believe the biggest question won’t be whether iPhone fans will want the iPhone 8, but rather whether they can afford the increased asking price...
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