What you need to know about the iPhone 8
The iPhone 8 will mark the 10th anniversary of Apple smartphones, so it’s going to be huge. In this article, I’ll cover:
- What’s the latest iPhone 8 news?
- What is the iPhone 8 release date?
- What’s new about the iPhone 8 design and specs?
- What’s the iPhone 8 price?
- Should you wait for the iPhone 8?
Update (20 March 2017):Apple is reportedly plotting new augmented reality features for the iPhone 8, with a team supposedly dedicated to developing handset-based depth-sensing technology.
Apple released the very first iPhone way back in 2007, re-shaping the landscape of mobile phones forevermore. Now 10 years on, Apple is reportedly planning a major revamp of the iPhone line-up – and it’s tipped to be called the iPhone 8.
We weren’t exactly thrilled by the iPhone 7, seeing it as an incremental upgrade that failed to deliver on battery life. But the hope is that Apple is pulling out all the stops for the iPhone 8, a theory which recent rumours and leaks appear to back up.
Read on to find out all about the iPhone 8. Or alternatively, if you’re just looking for a brief overview of the iPhone 8, scroll down to the summary at the bottom of this page.
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iPhone 8 News: The latest News and Rumours
Here’s a breakdown of the most recent iPhone 8 news, as it happened.
January 10, 2017 – Stainless steel chassis, glass design: Rumour has it that we’ll see a metal iPhone 8 frame, with one model getting an all-glass design to allow for wireless charging.
January 16, 2017 – IP68 certification: Apple could make the iPhone 7 IP68-certified water-resistant, meaning it could be submerged for 30 minutes at a depth of 150cm.
February 9, 2017 – iPhone destined for wireless charging: Apple rumoured to add wireless charging to just one iPhone 8 model.
February 16, 2017 – Function area coming to iPhone: Apple could get a dedicated “function area” on the bottom of the screen, emulating the MacBook Pro Touch Bar.
February 28, 2017 – OLED screen and USB-C: A report claims Apple will introduce OLED displays to the iPhone for the first time, as well as support for USB-C connections.
March 9, 2017 – Component shortage affects release: Apple is reportedly struggling to procure 3D camera for the iPhone 8, which could affect release by “months”.
March 12, 2017 – No curve after all: The iPhone 8 will use a flat display on all models, rather than the curved screen we'd been expecting to feature on the top-end iPhone 8 variant. That's according to KGI Securities' Ming-Chi Kuo, a prominent Apple analyst with a good track record for iPhone leaks.
March 15, 2017 – New touch sensors: Apple is reportedly procuring new touch sensors for the rumoured OLED iPhone 8 model, which will supposedly cost around 50% more than the old touch sensors.
March 20, 2017 – Apple planning AR features: A Bloomberg report detailed how Apple currently has a team working on augmented reality applications for the iPhone, and is developing depth-sensing technology that would enable this.
Watch: iPhone 8 – What to expect
iPhone 8 Release Date: When does it come out?
Rumours about an exact iPhone 8 release date are light, but Apple is fairly predictable. That’s why we can take a ruddy good guess at when the iPhone 8 will launch.
First off, here’s a recap of recent iPhone launches:
- iPhone 7: Wednesday, September 7 (reveal) | Friday, September 16 (release)
- iPhone 6S: Wednesday, September 9 (reveal) | Saturday, September 19 (release)
- iPhone 6: Tuesday, September 9 (reveal) | Friday, September 19 (release)
- iPhone 5S: Tuesday, September 10 (reveal) | Friday, September 20 (release)
- iPhone 5: Wednesday, September 12 (reveal), Friday, September 21 (release)
Based on those dates, we’d expect the iPhone 8 reveal date to be either Tuesday, September 12, or Wednesday, September 13.
And we think that the iPhone 8 release date will be either Friday, September 22, or Saturday, September 23.
Of course, we’ll probably see some accurate release date leaks emerging in the summer, as Apple begins making preparations for the event.
iPhone 8 Design: What’s new?
The biggest change we’re expecting to see from the iPhone 8 is a massive ramping-up of the handset’s screen-to-body ratio. That ratio describes how much of the phone’s front is occupied by display, and having an all-screen front is the next big trend in smartphones. LG already debuted such a design for the LG G6, and the Samsung Galaxy S8 is almost certainly going to follow suit.
The thinking is that you’ll be able to fit a 5.5-inch screen (á la the iPhone 7 Plus) in the form factor of a 4.7-inch iPhone (á la the iPhone 7). This will almost certainly require the removal of the Home button from the front of phone, to slim down the handset’s bezel. There are some rumours that suggest we'll see a curved screen on the most premium iPhone 8 model, but there's no clear consensus among leakers and analysts that this'll be the case.
In August 2016, a report from Bloomberg written by long-time Apple leaker Mark Gurman reads: “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 2016, the New York Times wrote: “Next year’s iPhone will have a full-screen face with the virtual button built directly into the screen."
According to prominent KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple will be using a glass body (like the one seen in the iPhone 4), and will built this around an aluminium or stainless steel frame. However, some sources (MacOtakara, Digitimes) believe that only the biggest of the three rumoured iPhone 8 variants will feature the new glass design.
The handset is also tipped to retain the water-resistant design that we saw introduced with the iPhone 7. However, this may be increased to a more water-tight IP68 rating, to fall in line with rivals like the Samsung Galaxy S7.
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iPhone 8 Specs: What’s new?
Screen: The big news this year is that Apple is expected to finally introduce OLED displays on the iPhone. It’s a widely accepted theory, having been reported by the likes of The Korea Herald, Nikkei, Bloomberg, the Wall Street Journal, and even Tai Jeng-wu, President of Sharp.
Unlike conventional LCD displays, the pixels on an OLED screen produce their own light. That means the screen doesn’t need a backlight, saving power. But it also means that individual pixels can be turned off, allowing for truer blacks – thus improving dynamic range and widening the colour gamut.
Despite rivals like Samsung having adopted OLED screens long ago, Apple has steered clear of the tech – possibly due to the fact that Samsung controls the lion’s share of phone-sized OLED screen manufacturing.
Apple is reportedly plotting three display sizes for the iPhone 8: 4.7-inches, 5.5-inches, and 5.8-inches. It’s believed that only the latter of the three will get the OLED upgrade.
Also, by virtue of the fact that the Home button may be disappearing, analysts at KGI Research believe that the bottom of the iPhone 8’s screen may be portioned off for functions. This new display function area at the bottom could potentially provide custom controls depending on the app you’re using, a little bit like the Touch Bar on the new MacBook Pro.
Performance: Apple is also highly likely to introduce a new system-on-a-chip (SoC) for the iPhone 8, as is always the case with major iPhone releases. The iPhone 7 runs on the new A10 Fusion chip, but the iPhone 8 will utilise a newer SoC – probably the unannounced A11 processor.
A Digitimes report on July 18, 2016 suggested that Taiwan’s TSMC had won the contract for the new chip: “The Taiwan-based foundry will continue to be the sole supplier of Apple’s next-generation A11 processor that will be built on a 10nm FinFET process.
For the unaware, “10nm" describes the manufacturing process used to create the chip. The lower the number, the more densely transistors can be packed in. Transistors are what allow computing to get done, so the more transistors you have, the more processes can be completed simultaneously. This means you can increase power efficiency, or offer boosted performance.
Apple has never used a 10nm chip; the iPhone 7’s A10 Fusion was created using a less efficient 16nm process. So we should see some serious power gains (or battery life improvements) from the iPhone 8.
Photography: As far as the camera goes, KGI Securities believes that Apple will carry over the dual-lens camera from the iPhone 7 Plus, although it’s not clear whether this will be available on select models. The only specific change mentioned is that both lenses (wide-angle and telephoto) will feature optical image stabilisation; currently, only the wide-angle lens features OIS.
The analysts also believe that the iPhone 8 will use a “revolutionary” front camera that features 3D-sensing capabilities. This could be used to determine depth and location of objects in a 3D space, allowing for interesting augmented reality applications in the future.
Regarding the latter, Bloomberg published a report in February that claimed Apple was planning AR features for the iPhone, citing "people with knowledge of the company's plans". The report details how Apple has "built a team combining the strengths of its hardware and software veterans with the expertise of talented outsiders".
"One of the features Apple is exploring is the ability to take a picture and then change the depth of the photograph or the depth of specific objects in the picture later; another would isolate an object in the image, such as a person's head, and allow it to be tilted 180 degrees,” the report explained. "A different feature in development would use augmented reality to place virtual effects and objects on a person, much the way Snapchat works.
It continued: "The iPhone camera features would probably rely on a technology known as depth sensing and use algorithms created by PrimeSense, an Israeli company acquired in 2013. Apple may choose to not roll out these features, but such additions are an up-and-coming trend in the phone business."
Power: There’s also plenty of speculation that Apple will finally add wireless charging with the iPhone 8. For a start, Apple joined the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC) back in February. The WPC is in charge of developing the Qi wireless charging standard, which is the one used for Samsung’s Galaxy S7. Pair that with the fact that there’s a glass body rumoured for the iPhone 8, and suddenly wireless charging looks very likely. Unfortunately, the fact that the glass body may only appear on select iPhone 8 models may mean wireless charging won’t be available on all devices.
The other big rumour circulating is that Apple may ditch the Lightning port for USB-C. However, Ming-Chi Kuo believes that won’t actually happen; instead, he thinks the USB-A portion of the charging cable will be replaced by USB-C, while the other end will remain as a Lightning connector. This means you wouldn’t need fancy new dongles to charge your phone, but you’d still benefit from the advantages of USB Type C:
“We believe all three new iPhones launching in 2H17 will support fast-charging by the adoption of Type-C Power Delivery technology (while still retaining the Lightning port),” wrote Kuo. “A key technical challenge lies with ensuring product safety and stable data transmission during a fast charge."
iPhone 8 Price: How much will it cost?
Apple’s iPhone 8 will definitely be expensive, because that’s just how Apple operates. But how expensive? Well, here’s a brief rundown of historical iPhone pricing, for a start:
- iPhone 7 – £599
- iPhone 6S – £539
- iPhone 6 – £539
- iPhone 5S – £549
- iPhone 5 – £529
As you’ll no doubt remember, the iPhone 7 broke the trend of low-£500 Apple smartphones, pricing at a pound shy of £600. The general thinking is that the UK’s post-referendum currency woes caused Apple to jack up the price, mitigating the lowered value of Sterling when traded against the dollar. Unfortunately, unless there’s a dramatic turnaround in the fortunes of Britain’s economy, it’s likely that the iPhone 8 will be similarly (if not more) expensive.
Should you wait for the iPhone 8?
There are plenty of reasons to wait for the iPhone 8, so here's our advice:
If you're using the iPhone 6S (or something older) then you'll definitely want to wait for the iPhone 8. Apple's next handset will usher in a major redesign, and so if you're coming to the end of a two-year contract, it's absolutely worth waiting until September to see what's in store.
If you've got the iPhone 7, you probably won't need to upgrade. Unless you're a die-hard Apple fan who needs to be at the bleeding edge of Cupertino tech, it's probably not going to be worth the leap. Even considering the fact that the iPhone 8 will certainly offer big changes, the iPhone 7 is still a capable handset by modern standards. We'd recommended hanging around for whatever 2018 brings.
Consider the alternatives, including Android devices. Just because there's a new iPhone coming out doesn't mean the smartphone industry shuts down. There are plenty of great phones out there, including the Samsung Galaxy S7, LG G6, Huawei P10, and Google Pixel. That's not to mention upcoming (but unreleased) phones like the Samsung Galaxy S8, OnePlus 4, and HTC 11. Consider all alternatives before settling on a long wait for the iPhone 8.
iPhone 8: Summary
In summary, here’s what you should expect:
iPhone 8 release date: We reckon the iPhone 8 will debut on September 12 or 13, while the release date is more likely to occur on September 22 or 23.
iPhone 8 specs: There’s plenty rumoured, but the major additions tipped to be added include: OLED screens, powerful 10nm A11 chip, wireless charging, a 3D-sensing front camera, and an “all-screen front” design.
iPhone 8 price: The entry-level iPhone 8 is probably going to retail for at least £599, and could rise close to (or even beyond) £1,000 for the top-end model.
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What would you like to see from the iPhone 8? Let us know in the comments.