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The iPhone launch might be months away, but the leaks and rumors are already swirling, and with WWDC 2018 just around the corner, the unveiling of iOS 12 might give us some clues as to what Apple might have in store for us.
So what do we know about the next iPhone?
Well, the first mystery is the name.
iPhone 11 seems the most likely pick (for now, at any rate), following in the footsteps of the iPhone X (where X is pronounced "ten," although given how many people I know call it "X," there's clearly a lot of brand confusion out there). But I've come across a number of other possible names:
- iPhone XI
- iPhone Xs
- iPhone X Plus
Another possibility is that Apple simplifies the line-up and switches to calling the new iPhone simply iPhone.
What about the release date?
Well, the timeline that we were used to was a September launch. However, last year Apple launched the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus in September, but the iPhone X didn't land for another month. The consensus this time around is that Apple won't be staggering releases this year, so we can expect the new iPhones to land in September.
Now let's move on to the interesting stuff.
How many iPhones will Apple release?
According to a report by Bloomberg, Apple has three new iPhone handsets in the works:
- A super-sized iPhone with a display "close to 6.5 inches," codenamed D33
- An updated version of the iPhone X, codenamed D32
- A cheaper version of the iPhone X that will feature an edge-to-edge display and Face ID
Both the D33 and D32 will feature OLED displays and use a new A12 processor.
The report claims that Apple is also considering adding a gold color option for the D33 and D32, a feature that was allegedly abandoned for the iPhone X because of production issues.
Another rumor contained in the report is that the larger option could ship with dual-SIM card options, something that's popular in European and Asian countries.
Despite selling 77.3 million iPhones over the last quarter, the hype didn't live up to analyst expectation, and it's clear that Apple needs to work harder than ever to sell iPhones if it is to keep up with what investors are demanding.
Taking the features present in the iPhone X and rolling them up into a cheaper iPhone is certainly a no-brainer. That said, when Apple rolled out the budget iPhone 5c in 2013, the thing clearly tanked, because it never saw an update.
While it's early days, and there's no hard evidence, there are rumors that Apple is working on developing an iPhone that features a curved OLED display. But rather than curve horizontally like the display on flagship Samsung Galaxy devices does, this would curve vertically, top-to-bottom.
Why? No idea. Maybe there's some logic to some logic to it, or maybe it's just a trick Apple is working on to differentiate itself from the competition.
As for other specs
It's likely that a new chip, likely called the A12, will power the new iPhones, and if past performance is anything to go by, we can expect both processing power and graphics performance to double.
As far as who will make the chip, the smart money says that TSMC has horned Samsung aside, and will be using its 7-nanometer process, which will be a big improvement over the current 10-nanometer process used for the A11 Bionic chip found in the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X.
And since someone is bound to ask, as for how much RAM, I don't know. The current crop of iPhones come with 3-gigabytes, while the Sansung Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus come with 4- and 6-gigabytes, respectively. Apple generally doesn't go adding components just to put on the spec sheet -- primarily to keep costs down -- so I wouldn't be surprised if this year's iPhones come with 4-gigabytes.
What about pricing?
In a note to subscribers sent out last month, Apple analyst Neil Cybart of Above Avalon suggested some aggressive pricing for the new iPhone line-up:
- 6.5-inch OLED - $1,199
- 5.8-inch OLED - $999
- 6.1-inch LCD - $849
Bear in mind that these are starting prices, and higher storage capacities will bump the prices up.
Cybart justifies the pricings by saying that the "narrative of disappointing iPhone X demand due to a high price is off the mark" and that "Apple has room to go even higher in iPhone pricing as long as there is additional tech or value attached to the higher price."
As for the older devices, Cybart predicts the following pricing structure:
- 5.5-inch iPhone 8 Plus: $699
- 4.7-inch iPhone 8: $599
- 5.5-inch iPhone 7 Plus: $569
- 4.7-inch iPhone 7: $449
- 4.7-inch iPhone 6 or 6s in select markets: $349
- 4-inch iPhone SE (an update is still likely at some point in 2018): $299
This pricing structure looks aggressive to me, because it bumps up the price of the cheapest new iPhone by yet another $50, following a similar bump this year. The gap between $699 for "last year's" model with a 5.5-inch display and the cheapest "new" iPhone also feels like quite a leap. Pricing the 6.1-inch LCD model at $799 and perhaps rejigging the prices of the handsets below that by $50 or so might make everything look more palatable to price-conscious buyers.
Either way, I think that a starting price of $1,199 for an iPhone X with an OLED display is highly likely. Apple is not going to be keen on cutting the price of the 5.8-inch iPhone X on its first upgrade, and OLED panel pricing and yields really don't offer the firm much in the way of wriggle room to do so anyway.
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