iPhone 8: Everything we think we know
iPhone 8 seems to be the name bubbling up to the top the most, along with iPhone 10 and iPhone X or iPhone Edition.
However, I'm still going to go with iPhone Pro, not only because it has a better ring to it but also because it would redefine the device as a completely new class of iPhone.
What will the iPhone 8 look like?
It's impossible to tell, but French gadget leaker Steve Hemmerstoffer, who goes by the Twitter handle of OnLeaks, put together a video based on a factory CAD drawing he came across, and gives us probably the best look at the next-generation iPhone to date.
The screen on the front is only interrupted by the earpiece hole, while the back features twin cameras in a vertical orientation (this is for better depth sensing for AR). The placement of the physical buttons such as the mute switch, the volume controls, and power button are similar to that of the iPhone 7, but the Touch ID sensor is built into the front display.
How many iPhones will Apple unveil?
We've come to expect Apple to release two handsets -- a regular iPhone and a super-sized Plus version. However, this time around it seems that there will be a regular and a Plus (expected to be called the iPhone 7s and iPhone 7s Plus) and the OLED iPhone 8.
However, some of the more questionable supply chain chatter suggests that Foxconn has only received orders for two handsets, and that the Plus handset will actually feature the OLED display.
It's been reported that the top-spec version will set buyers back well over $1,000.
That sounds steep, but bear in mind that the top-spec iPhone 7 Plus with 256GB of storage already costs $969.
When will the iPhone 8 ship?
The usual pattern that Apple has followed as of late is to unveil the new iPhone on the first or second Tuesday or Wednesday of September, and then ship the iPhone second Friday following the event, or, as was the case with the iPhone 6s in 2015, the third Friday.
However, the current rumormill is suggesting that while the iPhone 8 will go on pre-order in September, it won't be ship until October or perhaps even November.
This would allow Apple to not only get the regular and Plus iPhones out of the door, but also gauge demand for the iPhone 8, as well as catch up on shortages due to low component yields.
Touch ID embedded into the display
In order to make the Galaxy S8 bezel-free, Samsung moved the fingerprint reader to the rear of the device.
Think that's crazy (plenty of reviewers think it's a bad idea)? Well, there have been a number of rumors that have suggested Apple will do the same.
However, the rumor that's now gaining the most traction is that Apple will embed the Touch ID sensor into the actual display of the iPhone 8. This means that Apple can simultaneously save on bezel space and keep the position familar for existing users.
Virtual home button
A physical Home button has graced the front of the iPhone since it was first released a decade ago, and while the Touch ID sensor has been added, it still remains a physical button taking up space on the bezel.
But a recent patent awarded to Apple outlines how the Touch ID sensor could be embedded into the display, allowing for virtual buttons on the display so Apple could finally do away with the physical button.
A number of data points suggest that this feature is inbound, from the reports that the aluminum back on the iPhone is being swapped out for a glass back (wireless charging doesn't play well with a metal case), that Foxconn has the contract of making the wireless charging modules, and Apple's joining of the Wireless Power Consortium.
Then there's the fact that this is a feature that's been present on many top-end Android handsets for a few years.
Vertical dual cameras
The dual-cameras on the iPhone 7 are horizontal, but several rumors suggest that Apple will change this to a vertical layout for the iPhone 8. Why is unclear. Perhaps it helps eliminate parallax issues with zoom, or maybe it's linked to the new built-in AR functionality.
What about a ceramic iPhone 8? Or sapphire display?
Highly unlikely. First off, it would add to the price significantly, but it is also doubtful that Apple would either want to or even be able to scale up production of either material.
Doubly so after suffering sapphire yield problems for the iPhone 6 Touch ID display a few years back.
A super-sized 5.8-inch OLED display won't come cheap, especially considering the fact that Apple will have to retrofit the display with a graphite layer to protect the 3D Touch sensor film from the additional heat generated by the wireless charging feature.
If Apple wants OLED displays, the only supplier that can accommodate the demand is Samsung, which means not only that the two biggest smartphone players once again become entwined, but also means that Apple is reliant on a single supplier for a critical component.
Apple's been working hard to improve the iPhone's camera over the past few years, and reports suggest that the camera will be leveraged to offer owners a new way to unlock their iPhone -- iris scanning. Again, it's nothing new -- Samsung's ill-fated Galaxy Note 7 was one of the first smartphones to feature this technology -- so it's more a case of Apple playing catch-up.
It's also likely that we will see facial recognition finally come to the iPhone (although both iris scanning and facial recognition seem to be far more or a hassle on the new Samsung Galaxy S8 than using a fingerprint reader).
It's important to know that AR doesn't have to mean glasses or goggles. A heads-up display in a car or holding up a smartphone and having the display show information on your surroundings are both valid examples of AR (Think Pokémon Go).
Apple's ecosystem currently revolves around the iPhone (yes, iPhone, not Mac). A new class of product that sits outside of this would be a distraction unless Apple were almost guaranteed of its success. Strategically, it doesn't make much sense for Apple to crowd the marketplace with a new product. It makes far more sense for Apple to bolt AR onto the iPhone as a new feature than try to carve out a new product line.
The current iPhone is rated as water resistant, but Samsung's Galaxy S7 has a higher rating -- IP68 compared with the iPhone's IP67 (an explanation of the IP rating can be found here).
So again, an example of Apple playing catch-up with Samsung.
Apple Pencil support
While a stylus isn't for everyone, the iPad's Apple Pencil has its fans, and it's a feature I hear people asking for on a regular basis.
And on the plus side, it would allow Apple to sell more $99 accessories.
Possible tech spec
- Apple's next-generation quad-core A11 processor
- Glass and stainless steel chassis
- Wireless charging
- Dual-lens camera-enabled AR capabilities
- Edge-to-edge display
- Virtual home button
- Touch ID sensor embedded into the display
- Improved water resistance (IP68)
- Support for the Apple Pencil
- Iris scanner
- 3GB of RAM
- Storage ranging from 64GB to 256GB
- $1,000+ price tag