This is no ordinary year for Apple or its customers. In previous years, rumors about an upcoming iPhone would start about half way through the product cycle – spring of that year. However, rumors about the iPhone 8 began almost immediately after the iPhone 7 came out.
A lot has changed between then and now. Rumors that once looked absolutely ridiculous are now coming to fruition, and rumors that seemed to make sense last year don’t make sense anymore. While Apple hasn’t confirmed anything yet, and likely won’t until September, it’s worth breaking down what seems plausible and what’s a stretch for the upcoming iPhone(s) in 2017.
Three New iPhones – Likely
It sounded pretty odd at first, didn’t it? This one is shaping out to be the most likely one of them all. While the naming isn’t down just yet (more on that in a bit) it looks fairly certain at this point that Apple will introduce three new iPhones.
The new iPhone 8 is probably going to cost near or above $1,000.
The first two will keep similar designs to the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus with some decent new features and spec bumps. These new devices will be essentially equivalent to something like an iPhone 7S and iPhone 7S Plus. Whether those are the names remains unknown.
The third iPhone will be something closer to an iPhone 8 or other name like the rumored iPhone Pro. This new model will introduce an ultra high-end component to Apple’s family of iPhones for the first time. It’ll be a technology power house with breakthrough and innovative new features targeting only the most elite of Apple’s loyal fans.
Abnormally Expensive Price – Likely
While the two new lower-end iPhones should stay around the same price as always, the new iPhone 8 is probably going to cost way more than that – near or above $1,000. There are two reasons for that.
The first is all of the high-end technology. Costly components mean Apple of course has to sell the phone at a higher price to maintain profit margins. This is going to be a premium iPhone and it needs to be positioned as such in the market.
The second is an interesting issue of supply and demand that John Gruber details wonderfully on Daring Fireball. Apple doesn’t just have the standard issue of too much demand and not enough supply. The usual solution is to just create more supply. The iPhone is so massively popular that it genuinely might not be possible to create a technologically advanced iPhone 8 to scale. Apple sells hundreds of millions of iPhones every year. Doing that with all new parts would be unfathomably difficult.
It’s pretty likely the phone won’t be called the iPhone 8 at all.
So what’s the solution? Bump up two iPhone models with a similar design, yet compelling new features for mainstream consumers to buy up. Then create a separate third iPhone at a high price to target a slightly more niche market so supply can better meet demand.
Smaller iPhone, Larger OLED Screen – Likely
This upcoming iPhone 8 will also very likely have a new form factor. The device as a whole is said to be smaller than the iPhone 7 Plus, but the screen is apparently larger. That’s due to the potential removal of the Home button, which in fairness has been rumored for years. The larger screen will eliminate bezels around the sides of the iPhone so that it doesn’t require such a large phone. That screen is also probably OLED – one of the main reasons for the aforementioned supply constraints.
Augmented Reality FaceTime – Likely
FaceTime hasn’t received any new features since its debut all the way backn in 2010. There’s no group FaceTime, no special effects, nothing. That might change come this September. Since Apple touted augmented reality (AR) features with iOS 11, there’s a good chance the rumor that FaceTime will get AR is true. Unfortunately, the feature could be limited to the new iPhone mod
Touch ID Built Into Display – Uncertain
The removal of the Home button brings about a new issue: what happens to Touch ID? Some have suggested Apple will move the sensor to the back of the phone as with some Android phones like the Google Pixel. I’d be shocked if this is the case. That means every time you want to unlock your phone while it’s laying on a table, you’d have to pick it up. I hope Apple is smarter with design than that.
The other rumor is the introduction of Touch ID technology that overlays the display. This would be ideal, but remains uncertain because no one knows for sure whether this technology is ready. Such a breakthrough would allow fingerprint recognition merely by touching the screen instead of through a separate sensor.
iPhone “Pro” – Uncertain
Throughout this article, you’ll see me refer to this majestic and mysterious new high-end iPhone as the iPhone 8. However, it’s pretty likely the phone won’t be called the iPhone 8 at all. The problem is there’s no certainty about its name at the moment. Some suggest it could be the first ever “iPhone Pro.” Maybe it’s the “iPhone X” or “iPhone Lux.”
Note: In fairness, it’s pretty uncertain what the iPhone “7S” models will be called too. All three are anyone’s guess.
Time will certainly tell, but hopefully a credible leak comes out before September.
Wireless Charging – Uncertain
Try as I might, I can’t figure out any significant benefits to wireless charging over just plugging in a Lightning cable. Still, wireless charging has been rumored for the iPhone 8 practically since rumors began. It seems awesome in theory, but wireless charging still requires bulky wireless charging pads. These also mean you can’t charge your phone in any position other than laying it flat, and these pads will probably be costly and hard to travel with.
The only legitimate argument I see for wireless charging would be to ditch Lightning and use that space for extra tech or battery. I don’t see Apple ditching Lightning though because that would completely alienate all wired headphone customers.
Sure, wireless charging is quicker, but it’s less practical. We’ll see if Apple finds the trade-offs worth it.
Facial Recognition to Unlock Phone – Not Likely
Fingerprints are still the way to go, sorry to disappoint. Replacing Touch ID with facial recognition would mean Apple would have to completely perfect the tech to work in all lighting and at all angles. If you want to unlock your iPhone from a foot away on the table, this would be nearly impossible. The same is true in complete darkness.
Multiple New Colors – Not Likely
Last but not least, the iPhone is not likely to suddenly sport of a bunch of new, vibrant colors. It’s possible we’ll see one new color as Apple tends to do now and then, but for the past 10 years they’ve generally stuck in the realm of black, gold, and silver. The iPhone 5c is the one exception, but that didn’t end up going well.
Ultimately, we have probably less than two months until Apple announces this radical new iPhone. Stay tuned to Guiding Tech for all the coverage.