What you need to know about the iPhone 8
The iPhone 8 is less than a year from launch, but there's no shortage of leaks, rumours, and news. Here's what we know about the iPhone 8 release date, specs, features, and price.
Update (8 December 2016): Throwing a spanner in the works is a new rumour out of Japan that suggests Apple will leave the iPhone 8 until 2018, with next year's handsets tipped to be stamped with iPhone 7S and iPhone 7S Plus branding. Read on to find out why we're not convinced by this latest report.
The iPhone 8 may be a long way off, but the rumour mill waits for no man. In fact, it's already been mooted that the iPhone's components – like the A11 chip and OLED display – have already been finalised. So it already seems clear that 2017's iPhone 8 is going to bring in some significant changes.
Ming-Chi Kuo, a reputable industry analyst at KGI Securities, has already given us some clues about the new phone. Probably the most interesting titbit is that the phone may feature a new 'all-glass design'. Meanwhile, a Barclays analyst recently speculated that the iPhone 8 will finally add wireless charging – that would be a first for Apple phones.
Fortunately, we don't need analysts to get a rough idea of what the iPhone 8 will look like. The smartphone industry is cyclical (and thus predictable) so we're already fairly confident about what's in store for Apple fans next year.
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Here’s what to expect:
Latest iPhone 8 News:
When does the iPhone 8 come out? Approx. September 2017
What’s new about the iPhone 8? Rumoured: New glass body, A11 processor, Intel modem
How much will the iPhone 8 cost? £539 (possibly)
Related: Best iPhone Games 2016
iPhone 8 Release Date UK & US – When will the new iPhone 8 come out?
While we can’t pin down an exact iPhone 8 release date just yet, it doesn’t take a crystal ball to predict a launch window with reasonable accuracy. Apple tends to launch flagship phones in September, usually leaving about a week-and-a-half gap between the announcement and release.
Here’s a look back at previous iPhone launches:
- iPhone 7: Revealed on September 7 (Wednesday), released on September 16 (Friday)
- iPhone 6S: Revealed on September 9 (Wednesday), released on September 19 (Saturday)
- iPhone 6: Revealed on September 9 (Tuesday), released on September 19 (Friday)
- iPhone 5S: Revealed on September 10 (Tuesday), released on September 20 (Friday)
- iPhone 5: Revealed on September 12 (Wednesday), released on September 21 (Friday)
Based on those dates, we’d expect Apple’s iPhone 8 event to take place on either Tuesday, September 12, or Wednesday, September 13. In 2017, obviously. And the iPhone 8 release date would likely fall on either Friday, September 22, or Saturday, September 23.
Of course, we won’t know for sure until much closer to the date. Apple generally announces its launch event a couple of weeks prior to the big day, so keep an eye out in late August or early September.
Interestingly, an Apple staffer recently revealed to Business Insider that Apple is developing hardware for the iPhone 8 in Herzliya, Israel. The site is reportedly responsible for producing chips, storage, cameras, and wireless technologies. Of course, we can't verify this information, so take it with due caution.
Related: WWDC 2016 – What to expect
iPhone 8 or iPhone 7S – What will the next iPhone be called?
Apple has always adopted a tick-tock approach to iPhone launches. One year we get a major overhaul, and the next year we get a slightly tweaked ‘-S’ variant. In 2015, we had the iPhone 6S. This year, we've had the iPhone 7. And next year, as tradition dictates, we’ll see the iPhone 7S, right?
Maybe not. According to a MacRumors report, Barclays analyst Mark Moskowitz speculated the following:
“There might be no 'S' cycle in C2017. Our conversations with industry participants suggest Apple could skip the “S” cycle next year and instead jump to IP8.”
Moskowitz says that the high number of significant improvements that have been rumoured – like an OLED display and wireless charging – could “drive a mega cycle”.
In a similar vein, Japanese news agency Nikkei reported that Apple had moved to a three-year cycle for major iPhone upgrades back in May. According to the publication's source, the decision was made due to slowing growth in the smartphone market, making it much more difficult to create a buzz around upgrades.
If Apple did decide to move straight from the iPhone 7 to the iPhone 8, it would be a serious break of habit. However, it’s been speculated for a while that Apple could eventually drop the numbers in the iPhone branding entirely, instead just calling 2017’s handset: iPhone. It’s not without precedent; Apple’s third-generation iPad – the iPad 3 – was marketed as ‘The new iPad’, to help simplify Apple’s tablet branding.
However, not all rumours are in agreeance. Throwing a spanner in the works is Japan's specialist Apple blog Mac Otakra, which claims that Apple will release an iPhone 7S and iPhone 7S Plus next year. The information is sourced to an anonymous tipster in the Taiwanese part of Apple's supply chain, and says the new handsets will feature the "same basic design" as the iPhone 7, with the only major update being the introduction of a new A11 chip. But given Mac Otakara's mixed track record for leaks, and the consistency of rumours to the contrary, we're inclined to doubt this report.
Do you think Apple should finally get rid of the numbers in the iPhone branding? Let us know in the comments.
iPhone 8 Features – What’s new about the iPhone 8?
Despite the iPhone 8 being months away, we’ve already seen a significant volume of rumours about the handset. Enough to warrant this article, anyway. So what’s expected to change? Here are a few of the rumoured features:
- All-glass design
- Wireless charging
- OLED/AMOLED display
- 5.8-inch screen
- A11 chip
- Intel 7360 LTE modem
- iOS 11 software
- No home button
Unfortunately, analysts at KGI Securities believe some of these new features – like the OLED display – could be reserved for a select variant of the iPhone 8 Plus.
We’ll update this article with newly rumoured components as and when the leaks arrive, and you can read on below for more information about exactly what the iPhone 8 will look like.
Related: Best iPhone Apps 2016
iPhone 8 Design
The iPhone 8 could herald a new age of Apple design, as rumours of an all-glass iPhone emerge.
A new report claims that Hon Hai Precision Industry – better known as Foxconn in the west – is working on a “glass casing” for Apple, in a bid to replace the standard metal chassis. Taiwan’s Foxconn is a key supplier of metal chassis for Apple already, and aims to develop the new glass body to “boost weakening demand and to see off stiff competition from rivals”, according to a new report by Japan’s Nikkei news agency.
(Image credit: Herman Haidin/Behance)
A person with knowledge of Apple’s supply chain in Taiwan is reported as saying: “Foxconn has been trying glass chassis since last year.”
Meanwhile, another source commented: “It is only natural that Foxconn is trying to come up with glass chassis as the capabilities to provide more components will bolster its standing within the supply chain and help with more orders.”
The report claims that the new glass body will be developed in time for the 2017 launch of the iPhone 8. Apple has long been expected to make sweeping changes to its flagship smartphone next year, as 2017 marks the 10th anniversary of iPhone.
However, in October 2016, Nikkei published a report that claimed Apple is still “tentative” over whether the iPhone 8 will feature the rumoured glass back. It also suggested that there will be three different size variants of the iPhone 8: 4.7-inch, 5.5-inch, and a new 5-inch model.
But new materials aren't the only change on the agenda. On August 2016, a Bloomberg report that cited a "person familiar with the matter" claimed that Apple would be removing the home button from the iPhone for the 2017 model – that's the iPhone 8. The report was written by long-time Apple scoop machine Mark Gurman, who explained:
"Apple is already at work on a major redesign of the iPhone for 2017 that focuses more heavily on the display by removing the Home button."
Then in September, the New York Times posted similar claims, suggesting that Apple is going to scrap the Home button for the the iPhone 8, and integrate a “virtual” alternative into the display instead. According to the report, next year’s iPhone will feature a “full-screen face” – i.e. bezel-free – with a new under-screen fingerprint scanner. The report reads:
“Apple is likely to continue making iPhones without headphone jacks, and next year’s iPhone will have a full-screen face with the virtual button built directly into the screen, according to two people at the company who spoke on condition of anonymity because the product details are private."
Speculation that Apple could ditch aluminium in favour of ceramic with the iPhone 8 started thanks to a particularly nerdy Quora post, which makes for fascinating reading if you've got a degree in Metallurgy.
While it's not at all impossible that the iPhone 8 will feature a radical new finish – we're fairly sure it's getting a significant aesthetic overhaul of some kind – a new deep dive by product designer Greg Koenig on his Atomic Delights blog (H/T The Overspill) highlights a number of reasons why ceramic won't feature in the refresh.
Central to his argument is the fact that Apple is heavily committed to aluminium machining as its primary hardware platform. Koenig writes:
"At peak production, Apple is manufacturing roughly 1 million iPhones per day. More importantly, every single one of those phones is sculpted to 10 micron tolerances, from a single block of aluminum, as is every Mac, iPad, Watch and many of the accessories.
"It is difficult to convey to folks without a manufacturing background how insane this is..."
In other words, it's not quite as simple as Jony Ive waking up one morning and saying, "Hey, let's make a ceramic iPhone!"
The firm's entire hardware line-up and production apparatus is built around aluminium machining, so to make the iPhone 8 from ceramic would require a sweeping strategic overhaul on Apple's part.
"For Apple to bring a whole new long-cycle time process online for the next iPhone (now 10 months from launch), they would need warehouses with thousands of machines already in situ, with thousands more in production.
"Teams of analysts would have been reporting on such a move for months already."
There is a significant caveat worth mentioning here. Currently, we're talking about what it would entail to the make the iPhone 8 entirely from ceramic, the same way the iPhone 7 is made solely from aluminium, with both its "external shell and internal structure" built from the metal, as Koenig points out.
Another possibility exists, in that Apple could give the iPhone 8 a high-quality ceramic 'skin'. Koening highlights that many smartphone manufacturers employ a similar design process with their handsets, applying an aluminium "applique" to "bog standard plastic guts".
A veneer or superficial finish, in other words.
Such a device, he concludes, would obviously sell by the bucketload, but be at odds with Apple's prevailing "honesty of materials" design ethos. It might sound like PR guff, but the iPhone's 'pure' aluminium construction is backed up by teardown after teardown.
No, you're not getting a ceramic iPhone 8 in 2017 – or any time for that matter. Unless Apple is happy to bin 10 years of iPhone history, that is.
iPhone 8 Screen – Will it use OLED?
Apple’s screen sizes have always been a contentious issue. When Apple moved from 4-inch screens to the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus, there was an uproar from small-handed gadgeteers. That’s partly why Apple is now selling a 4-inch handset once again – the iPhone SE.
But those fond of 4-inchers might want to look away now.
Apple is rumoured to be working on a 5.8-inch iPhone, according to a pre-publication Digitimes article that was posted by The Motley Fool in March 2016. The report noted that Apple had a view to launch the phone “in 2018 or even earlier in 2017”.
That particular rumour was based on an alleged order for 5.8-inch AMOLED display panels. That’s larger than the 5.5-inch screen featured on the iPhone 6S Plus, which remains Apple’s biggest iPhone to date.
According to the report, Samsung’s display division is the prime candidate to supply the larger AMOLED panels. However, it notes that LG Display and Japan Display will be “joining in later” to help mass-manufacturer the screens. The supply chain sources cited in the article say Apple is hoping to acquire at least 50 million panels within the first year of the iPhone’s availability.
In March 2016, Nikkei also reported that Apple had brought forward plans to ditch LCD displays in favour of OLED screens. The report suggested that the first OLED iPhone would arrive in 2017, contrary to other reports at the time pointing to a later 2018 launch. At the time, it was alleged that Apple was courting both LG and Samsung for the contract.
Then in April, The Korea Herald reported that it was Samsung that managed to bag the manufacturing contract. This deal was reportedly valued at $2.59 billion, and conscripted Samsung to supply 100 million 5.5-inch OLED panels per year, starting from 2017.
Samsung's Galaxy S7 features a Samsung-built AMOLED display – could the iPhone 8 feature this too?
Shortly after, a June report from Asian news site Nikkei claimed that Samsung has plans to increase the production of OLED smartphone displays by over 50% this year, reportedly in an effort to supply Apple with panels for next year’s iPhone 8.
According to the report, Samsung plans to spend around 8 trillion won ($6.91 billion/£4.72 billion) this year in a bid to boost manufacturing capacity. The company reportedly aims to churn out an incredible extra 200 million AMOLED panels as a result of this investment.
AMOLED displays are superior to the LCD panels currently used in Apple’s iPhones. That’s because rather than requiring a power-hungry backlight, an OLED-based screen lights up individual pixels when necessary. This also means that you get true black – i.e. a pixel is turned off – rather than the faux black created by a backlit LCD screen. Samsung already uses AMOLED screens in its Galaxy S-series smartphones, and Apple has been long-rumoured to jump ship soon too.
On May 23, 2016, a Bloomberg report claimed that Apple really is planning a move to OLED for 2017 (read: the iPhone 8). According to the article, the first evidence of the decision is hidden in latest earnings call of Applied Materials Inc., which saw the firm report "an almost fourfold leap" in orders for equipment to make OLED displays. This suggests that producers are "retooling" their manufacturing lines to produced OLED screens. The article quotes reputed Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster as saying:
"Some tooling or machinery orders now set up suppliers for the fall of 2017. It sets up the iPhone in the fall of 2017 to be more of an impactful upgrade than the fall of this year."
Then, on July 13, 2016, another Bloomberg report said that LG plans to 'jack up investment' in OLED screens in hopes of securing a prized OLED display manufacturing deal with with Apple. The report said that LG is keen to beat out Samsung's display arm, which is reportedly in talks with Apple over the deal.
LG has been manufacturing OLED screens for years, seeing huge success in the TV market. But rival Samsung has made significantly greater headway in OLED smartphone screens. Speaking to Bloomberg, Han Sang Beom, CEO of LG display, said:
"It's true that we were late in OLED investment for smaller electronics devices compared to that of televisions. It's undeniable that fliexible OLEDs are now the mega-trend in the mobile segment and we will have to embrace that."
On August 19, 2016, it emerged that Apple could release a “specialised” version of the iPhone 8 that features an OLED display, leaving other iPhone 8 models using traditional LCD screen technology. That’s according to Hendi Susanto, a research analyst at Gabelli & Co, who issued advice to investors after conversations with OLED maker Universal Display.
Hendi thinks that although OLED is coming to Apple smartphones, we may see “partial adoption”, i.e. only the iPhone 8 Plus (should it exist) will get the feature. Here’s the quote in question, as published by Barrons:
“Speculation regarding the potential adoption of OLED displays by Apple continues to dominate major discussions with investors. The current speculation anticipates Apple’s adopted of OLED displays in its iPhone in 2017 or 2018. We believe that Apple can adopt OLED displays sooner rather than later by pursuing a partial adoption and incorporating it in a specialised edition of a new iPhone version."
But perhaps the most conclusive evidence of an OLED iPhone 8 comes from Tai Jeng-wu, President at Sharp. He revealed that Apple would be switching to OLED displays with the next handset, as rumoured. Speaking at Tatung University (via Nikkei Asian Review), Tai said:
“The iPhone has been evolving and now it is switching from LTPS (low-temperature poly-silicon) to OLED panels. We don’t know whether Apple’s OLED iPhones will be a hit, but if Apple doesn’t walk down this path and transform itself, there will be no innovation. It is a crisis but it is also an opportunity.”
Furthering the display rumours, a November 2016 report notes that Apple appears to be securing OLED panels ahead of the likely launch of the iPhone 8 in September 2017. JP Morgan has dived deep into Apple’s most recent Securities and Exchange Commission 10-K filing, and uncovered a purchase order for what may be OLED panels. The order extends for an entire year, and is valued at around $4 billion.
What’s interesting is that the purchase order coincides with an ‘off-balance sheet obligation’ for the same amount fro Q3, which – as AppleInsider notes – analysts believe may be related to Apple’s sourcing of panels from Samsung’s display division. Unfortunately, there’s still no guarantee that any of this means the iPhone 8 will use an OLED screen.
Then in late November, the Wall Street Journal reported that Apple had asked its suppliers to produce thinner OLED panels. But what’s interesting is that Apple has reportedly asked for manufacturers to “submit prototype screens with better resolution than ones from Samsung”.
iPhone 8 Specs – How powerful will it be?
New 10nm processor? – The most likely improvement we’ll see on the iPhone 8 spec sheet is a fancy new processor. Apple designs its own SoCs (system-on-a-chip), and tends to debut a new chip with every major iPhone release. The latest chip is the A9, which powers the iPhone 6S. The iPhone 7 is runs on the new A10 Fusion chip, although details on its inner workings are still light. And the iPhone 8 will, more than likely, feature an A11 chip.
A recently leaked ARM presentation seemed to show that the company is working on reference designs for CPUs built on a highly-efficient 10nm manufacturing process. Apple bases its own chips on ARM’s reference designs, and tends to outsource manufacturing of its processors to either Taiwan's TSMC or South Korea's Samsung. Both TSMC and Samsung have now successfully achieved 10nm manufacturing, so this is definitely a possibility.
On May 6, 2016, a report from technology industry news site DigiTimes claimed that TSMC had "recently begun to tape out the design" for Apple's A11 chip. The report cited "industry sources" that suggested the processor would be built on a 10nm FinFET manufacturing process.
The report went on to reveal that TSMC will achieve certification for Apple's A11 chip in the fourth quarter of 2016, and would provide product samples to customers – like Apple – for validation in the first quarter of 2017. Following that, TSMC is said to be planning "small-volume production" for the Apple A11 chip as soon as the second quarter of 2017, with mass-manufacturing kicking off in the third quarter. According to sources, TSMC is set to win around two-thirds of Apple's entire 10nm A11 chip orders. The remaining third could go to another prospective 10nm chip supplier like Samsung.
By contrast, the A9 chip is built using a less-efficient 16nm manufacturing process. As such, a 10nm A11 chip would be faster and more power-efficient than its predecessors. While we can’t say for certain, it looks highly likely that the iPhone 8 will feature an SoC built using this 10nm process.
However, on July 18, a report by Digitimes seemingly confirmed that Samsung will play no part in the production of the A11 chip. The report claims that TSMC has won the contract, and will build the A11 chip on a 10nm FinFET process. Of course, bear in mind that the following information is not verifiable, so take it with due caution:
"TSMC is already the exclusive manufacturer of Apple's A10 chip which will power the upcoming iPhone series slate for launch in September 2016. The Taiwan-based foundry will continue to be the sole supplier if Apple's next-generation A11 processor that will be built on a 10nm FinFET process."
Given the fact that Samsung is already manufacturing Qualcomm's new Snapdragon 835 chip on a 10nm process, we're not surprised by this rumour at all.
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Modem – We’d also expect the iPhone 8 to feature an improved modem, although it’s not clear what model the handset will feature just yet. Here’s why.
Apple has historically used US chip-maker Qualcomm – the market leader for phone chips – to supply the modems in the iPhone. But for this year, Intel is rumoured to be courting Apple for the job in an attempt to shut out Qualcomm.
Intel reportedly has over 1,000 employees building its 7360 LTE modem with the hope of having the chip feature in the iPhone 7 – we're still waiting on confirmation here. If Apple turns to Intel this year, and likes what it sees, Qualcomm could lose out on the iPhone contract for the foreseeable future. That means an iPhone 8 could very well feature an Intel modem, likely the successor to the to the 7360.
But if Intel doesn’t bag the contract, what modem will the iPhone 8 use? There’s a good chance that it might feature the Snapdragon X16, Qualcomm’s sixth-generation LTE modem, which was revealed earlier this year.
The Snapdragon X16 is built using a 14nm manufacturing process, and supports “fibre-like” LTE Cat. 16 download speeds. That’s far better than the Cat.6 modem featured in the iPhone 6S, and better still than the X12 modem built into the Snapdragon 820 SoC – that’s the one used in the LG G5 and some Samsung Galaxy S7 models.
For contrast, Cat.12 LTE support means your phone could theoretically download at 600Mbps speeds, assuming your network can supply such nippy downlink. But the Cat.16-friendly Snapdragon X16 supports breakneck download speeds of up to 1Gbps.
That means a 4K movie – estimated at 100GB average file size – could be downloaded in just over 13 minutes. And a Blu-ray movie, which averages at around 20GB, could arrive in a quarter of that time.
Manufacturers are already sampling the Snapdragon X16 right now, and the first products to feature the chip are “expected in the second half of 2016”, according to Qualcomm. As such, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Snapdragon X16 featured in the iPhone 8.
iPhone 8 Battery Life – Will it have a bigger battery?
Apple’s iPhones have generally shipped with smaller batteries than their Android counterparts. That’s generally thought to be because Apple controls all aspects of the iPhone – hardware and software – which makes it easier to ensure its devices are very battery efficient. It also means that Apple can keep its devices nice and trim.
But battery sizes on Android devices are ballooning, and you’ll find plenty of customers willing to testify against the battery life on iPhones. Poor battery life is increasingly a cause for concern amongst consumers, and Apple is under pressure to keep improving.
The iPhone 6S features a 1,715mAh lithium ion battery, which Apple says offers 14 hours of talk time, 11 hours of video playback, and 10 days of standby time. In our review, we wrote that the iPhone 6S “consistently managed 15 to 17 hours” of life per day.
But the battery in the iPhone 6S was actually downsized from the iPhone 6 cell, which had a 1,810mAh capacity. That’s partly because Apple had to cram in the Taptic Engine for 3D Touch, which shows that Apple isn’t afraid to introduce new features at the expense of battery capacity.
We haven’t heard any rumours about the exact iPhone 8 battery life just yet, so we wouldn’t feel comfortable putting exact numbers down. All we know for certain is that Apple is willing to bring battery size both upwards and downwards with new releases, so there’s no guarantee the iPhone 8 will improve battery life.
Fortunately, battery life isn’t entirely dependent on battery size. It is also affected by improvements to the processor and GPU, the screen technology (OLED, anyone?), and a host of other components. So just because the iPhone 8 might have a smaller battery cell doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be cabled to the mains all day long.
Related: Samsung Galaxy S7 vs iPhone 6S
In other battery-related news, a report from an analyst claims that wireless charging will be introduced with the iPhone 8. Sun Changxu, an analyst at ESM-China, claims the new feature – a first for the iPhone – was revealed by Apple's mobile supply chain. Changxu also notes that the feature won't be available on the iPhone 7 (correct), and that the iPhone 7S name will be skipped over for iPhone 8 next year.
Perhaps the most unexpected iPhone 8 battery life rumour came straight from the mouth of Apple CEO Tim Cook. Speaking to Japanese news agency Nikkei, Cook explained that the company’s new Yokohoma research and development facility would be used to work on “deep engineering” for artificial intelligence, adding that AI “is horizontal in nature, running across all products”.
The key tidbit is that Cook said Apple wants “the AI to increase your battery life”, hinting that future iPhone handsets may feature some kind of AI-assisted battery-saving technology.
iPhone 8 Camera
We're expecting big things from the iPhone 8 camera after the impressive showing from this year's iPhone 7 Plus. And thanks to a new leak, we have a better idea of what next year's Apple snapper might look like.
According to the Korea Economic Daily, Apple is getting ready to partner with LG to fit the iPhone 8 with a 3D camera. Citing "sources close to the situation", the KED reports that the 3D camera would allow iPhone 8 owners to recognise physical objects in the real world, and even utilise augmented reality technology. The report reads: "Since LG Innotek also has its own 3D camera and related technologies, such joint efforts will likely bear fruit sometime within next year."
iPhone 8 Software and iOS 11
Apple’s smartphone software is cyclical, so we’re fairly confident that the iPhone 8 will run on iOS 11. That might sound pretty crazy, since iOS 10 isn’t even out yet. But a new iPhone has always heralded a new version of iOS, and iOS 10 – which debuted on the iPhone 7 – will be old news once the iPhone 8 starts shipping.
While iOS 11 is likely to arrive in September, we’re sure to see a beta version for the software far earlier. Apple will probably reveal this at its Worldwide Developer Conference, which we’d expect will take place in June 2017.
But is iOS 11 guaranteed? Maybe not. After all, Microsoft skipped Windows 9, instead releasing Windows 10 and calling it the “last version of Windows”. Could Apple follow suit and create a lasting, cross-device OS that works on iPhone, iPad, and even Mac devices? We’ve got no idea, but it’s a fun thought.
iPhone 8 Price – How much will it cost?
Putting an exact figure on the iPhone 8 price is impossible at this point. In fact, pending a miracle leak, it will be impossible until Apple’s September 2017 launch event.
But we can take a pretty good guess. Here’s how much Apple was charging for its previous flagship phones at launch:
- iPhone 5 – £529
- iPhone 5S – £549
- iPhone 6 – £539
- iPhone 6S – £539
- iPhone 7 – £599
Based on those figures, it’s clear that the average is around £539, but iPhone 7 threw a spanner in the works with a lofty £599. Ouch. Expect more of the same in the future.
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Apple Patents – The future for the iPhone 8?
Apple is constantly filing patent applications, which makes it easy to get an idea of what sort of technology the firm is exploring for the future.
There have been rumours of a curved-screen iPhone floating around for years now, but they appear to be solidifying around next year's iPhone 7S – or iPhone 8, as the case may be. That seems to have been strengthened by the recent news that Apple's old patent application for a curved, wrap-around phone display has been approved.
Related: iPhone SE vs iPhone 6S
It should be noted that this patent goes beyond a merely cosmetic curved display (like the Galaxy S7 Edge). Instead, the patent details a screen that goes right around the phone, enabling even the side buttons to be replaced by virtual equivalents.
Of course, this patent shouldn't be taken as design intention. There's every chance that Apple may never incorporate a wrap-around display into the iPhone.
Another recently published patent filing reveals Apple's continuing curved OLED display ambitions. The patent, as reported by Patently Apple, details a new flexible OLED display with bent edges – a feature that could make its way onto the iPhone 8. As the report notes however, Apple's patent filing doesn't limit the design to phones specifically. The technology could also be applied to iPads, iPods, a device embedded in eyeglasses, wearables, and MacBooks.
The patent, titled 'Flexible Display Panel with Bent Substrate', was submitted back in January, and published in July 2016 by the US Patent and Trademark Office. In the text, Apple writes: "To minimise the amount of the inactive border area of display #14 that is visible to a user, one or more edges of a display may be bent."
Ever tried to steal an iPhone? Good – us neither. But for those planning to in the future, you may want to rethink.
The US Patent and Trademark Office has published a patent that describes a new iPhone feature that could see biometric information and photos of would-be thieves stored to strengthen security.
The patent – titled 'Biometric capture for unauthorised user identification' – describes a system by which an iPhone or iPad's Touch ID module, camera, and other sensors would retain information on any unauthorised user trying to gain access to the device. It details how a device could capture a photo and fingerprint after one failed access attempt, or, more interestingly, how the function could use machine learning to determine when to capture biometric information.
What's more, the security feature could use extra information, such as device location, audio data, and time stamps to back up the biometric data. It could also make a note of the unauthorised user's keystrokes to try to determine what the person was trying to do when using the phone.
As it stands, users have five attempts to unlock their iPhone with Touch ID, after which they are required to enter a passcode. Apple's patent application was submitted in April and, as with all patents, there's absolutely no guarantee the feature itself will ever make it to a consumer product.
In-display fingerprint scanning
Apple has been awarded a patent for a technology for an in-display fingerprint sensor, which, incidentally, is one of the most prominent iPhone 8 rumours.
Speculation is rife Apple remove the Home button on the iPhone 8 altogether and reveal a handset with an edge-to-edge display. This makes a patent filing entitled "capacitive fingerprint sensor including an electrostatic lens" all the more interesting.
Within the patent filing Apple says the patent addresses “an interest in avoiding assigning valuable surface space exclusively to an component that may only be used briefly during the process of identifying the user". According to the patent, such a solution would enable authentication anywhere on the display of the iOS device. To make it work, Apple plans to use an electrostatic lens in order to eliminate the blurring of the electric field caused by the display and other internal components. The lens would use one or more conductive layers, which could bend around the user’s fingerprint and provide an accurate reading.
A new patent has us almost convinced that one particular rumoured feature will make it to Apple's next handset: an edge-to-edge display.
Talk of Apple including such a display have been doing the rounds for some time now, with early unofficial renders showing a completely bezel-less phone, and several patents hinting at the new design. But Apple's latest patent (via AppleInsider) shows the company is seriously considering an edge-to-edge display and how to get around the problems that such a design will bring.
Patent No 9,466,653 for "Electronic devices with display-integrated light sensors", details how Apple could embed light sensors directly into a device's display. Such sensors are usually embedded into the upper bezel on a phone, but the new technology would enable the firm to place them on display layers with the conductive traces needed for power.
The patent, granted on Tuesday, explains several ways of implementing in-display light sensors, with one method detailing how the sensor could be overlaid on a display layer in an OLED or LCD screen stack. It also describes how the sensors could be placed on the edge of the display, where touch sensitivity is disabled, enabling the sensors to work without being disrupted by the user touching the screen.
While several methods are described for adding sensors to a new display layer, in each case the display and sensor circuitry will come with a glass or plastic transparent encapsulation layer, to protect the circuitry.
Should I wait for the iPhone 8?
Should you wait for the iPhone 8? That’s a tough question, since we’re so far from launch, and solid information about the device is hard to come by.
Perhaps the best argument for holding off on buying a new phone before the iPhone 8 is that the handset is rumoured to be a major overhaul. It’s expected to be very different than previous iPhones, and should feature significant improvements when compared the new iPhone 7.
But as ever, the iPhone 8 will be facing off against stiff competition. While we don’t know for certain, we’d expect that the following phones will be available to buy when the iPhone 8 goes on sale: Samsung Galaxy S8, Samsung Galaxy Note 6 (and maybe Note 7), LG G6, HTC 11, Moto X (2017), and new Sony Xperia devices. It’s also likely that the iPhone 8 will shortly be followed by a new Google Nexus handset(s).
If you're in the market for a new phone a little sooner, you might want to check out:
- Samsung Galaxy S7 – 10/10 – Buy on Amazon (£549) | Amazon.com ($644)
- iPhone 6S – 9/10 – Buy on Amazon (£529) | Amazon.com ($659.99)
- LG G5 – 8/10 – Buy on Amazon (£399) | Amazon.com ($419)
- HTC 10 – 9/10 – Buy on Amazon (£511) | Amazon.com ($594)
- Google Nexus 6P – 10/10 – Buy now on Amazon (£369) | Amazon.com ($479.99)
Realistically, though, we can’t advise waiting such a huge amount of time for a phone that may not even exist yet. If you want a new phone now, you’ve got plenty of choice with 2016’s formidable roster of flagships – and the iPhone 8 isn’t one of them.
iPhone 8 videos, images, and concepts
As the iPhone 8 release date edges closer, we're sure to see an abundance of videos, images, and concepts for the new device. Here's what we've seen so far...
All-new iPhone 8
This video was created by ConceptsiPhone, and depicts a concept iPhone 8 – surprise, surprise. It was uploaded on August 10, 2016, and shows a phone that's 30% thinner, with features like a glass body, an E-SIM, wireless charging, stereo speakers, and a new display size to fit 16:9 resolution.
A digital artist called Veniamin Geskin, of Riga, Latvia, has created a concept video for the iPhone 8, based on all of the rumours and leaks we've seen so far:
He also posted a few more renders to Twitter, off the back of rumours that Apple would introduce a new 5-inch iPhone variant next year, to sit in between the existing 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch models:
Watch our iPhone 6S review:
What would you like to see from the iPhone 8? Let us know in the comments.