If Apple does everything right, the iPhone 8 will deliver on expectations that have been building for years. Sure, the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus were undoubtedly among the best phones of 2016. They delivered speedy performance, robust storage capacity, water resistance, exceptional cameras (especially the 7 Plus) and a host of other terrific features.
But despite CEO Tim Cook‘s prerelease promise that the iPhone 7 would provide “things we can’t live without,” it was instead an incremental upgrade at best — an evolutionary step rather than the revolutionary leap many of us were hoping for. In fact, with the omission of the headphone jack, the iPhone 7 straight up lacks a thing some of us can’t live without.
All of this fueled a widespread sentiment that Apple was holding back its more impressive hardware and software innovations for the upcoming 10th anniversary release. After all, it wasn’t so long ago when we could count on Apple’s newest iPhone to thrill us with boundary-breaking innovations.
And some early rumors suggest that the iPhone 8 could be a throwback to the Apple of 10 years ago — a remarkable breakthrough that will once again redefine what a phone can do. Can Apple possibly deliver on such lofty expectations? We anticipate the debut to come in the fall of 2017 — early September, if Apple sticks to its usual schedule. Until then, we’ll keep track of the iPhone 8 rumor frenzy below.
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Specs we might see on the iPhone 8
- Apple’s next-generation processor (perhaps the A10X or A11)
- Ceramic or glass body (iPhone 4 flashback!)
- Extended or edge-to-edge display
- Wireless charging
- Virtual home button (or perhaps no home button)
- Enhanced water resistance
- Dual-lens camera-enabled AR capabilities
- Support for the Apple Pencil
- Iris scanner as alternative to Touch ID
- A heftier price tag, which could exceed $1,000
Will it even be called the iPhone 8 — or the iPhone 10, the iPhone X, or something else entirely?
We don’t know exactly what Apple will call the next iPhone, and its haphazard approach to model numbering is to blame. In 2016, we got the iPhone SE — a minor, midcycle update closely based on a previous design — and the iPhone 7. Our expectation is that Apple will forgo the midcycle “S” refresh in 2017, and make this next phone a major update — perhaps the iPhone 8. That noted, Japanese blog Macotakara has reported that the next model could be called the iPhone 7S. And Apple could always hit us with something from left field, like the iPhone X in the tradition of Mac OS X (X being the Roman numeral for 10, of course).
Aluminum no more?
Apple may shift away from the aluminum body used for the iPhone 7 and iPhone 6S, according to a rumor reported by Digitimes. Manufacturers Foxconn and Jabil are allegedly building the next phone’s body with two reinforced glass panes — one for the front and one for the back — held together by a stainless-steel bezel and frame. The report’s sources claim that this new construction could reduce Apple’s costs by 30 to 50 percent and provide better quality control.
Unlock the iPhone with your eye
German site Handy Abovergleich and others have suggested that the iPhone 8 could have an embedded iris scanner that would let you unlock the phone by looking at it — a nifty alternative to Touch ID. Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 was among the first phones to come equipped with an iris scanner — and it’s worth stating that that particular feature had nothing to do with that phone’s explosive reputation and subsequent retirement.
An iPhone Pro for creatives
Handy Abovergleich has also illustrated the concept of multiple iPhone 8 models — a standard edition, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone 8 Pro. Even more interesting is the site’s theory that Apple could follow the path forged by the iPad, with an iPhone Pro that would support the Apple’s Pencil stylus, that gives artists and handwriting enthusiasts a more manual way to create, take notes, and manipulate photos and images.
Red iPhone could be in the works
New colors would be an easy way for Apple to mark the significance of the 10th anniversary iPhone. In December 2016, a video surfaced purporting to show a “Jet White” iPhone 7. Macotakara reports that Apple may add to its recent palette of white, black, and mellow metallics and introduce red to the lineup — a callback of sorts to the less expensive iPhone 5C’s rainbow of options.
Can Apple take it to the edge?
There have been rumors about the possibility of an iPhone with an edge-to-edge display since the run up to the iPhone 7. In November 2016, The Wall Street Journal reported that the next iPhone could include a curved and/or OLED screen — a possibility echoed by veteran Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. Of course, neither move would be all that innovative. Samsung has been stretching the boundaries of its displays for some time — there is a rumor that the front of the forthcoming Galaxy S8 could be 90 percent screen — and the Xiaomi Mi Mix‘s 6.4-inch screen nearly covers its entire face.
You might not be able to go ‘home’ again
One way to extend the display would be to ditch the home button. In 2015, Apple filed a patent for a transparent fingerprint sensor. And with the iPhone 7’s solid-state button, pressure-sensitive screen, and the increasingly capable Siri, do we even need a physical home button anymore?
With all that extra real estate, Apple could slim down the top and bottom bezels and squeeze a larger screen into the same size body. Of course, Apple doesn’t commercialize even a fraction of the patents it files — so this one is far from a slam dunk.
Will the iPhone get wireless charging?
Apple’s wireless AirPods may have been just the beginning. Next year’s iPhone could do away with the iPhone’s sole remaining traditional connector — the Lightning cable — and charge up wirelessly instead.
The analyst and tech press have been making lots of noise about this one: The Verge reported that Apple has been staffing up on wireless-charging experts and the Nikkei Asian Review reported that Foxconn, one of Apple’s main manufacturing partners, is making wireless charging modules for the 2017 iPhone. It’s worth mentioning that Samsung’s top-tier phones have supported wireless charging since 2015’s Galaxy S6, and some Lumia phones (both under Nokia and Microsoft) had it back in the day, too.
A more toilet-proof iPhone
Of course, if Apple ditches the Lightning port, it would ostensibly make the phone that much more resistant to water and other intrusive substances. In fact, The Korea Herald reports that the next iPhone will have a higher water resistance rating — IP68 compared with the current generation’s IP67, for those keeping score. Again, in this category, Apple would be playing catch up: Samsung’s Galaxy S7, from 2016, is IP68 certified.
Cameras as a portal to augmented reality
Apple CEO Tim Cook is talking a lot about dual-lens cameras these days. Probably because they can help a device place virtual things in your real-world view. (Other phones in the Google-sphere are already doing this — albeit badly.)
It’s possible that the next iPhone could come equipped with a dual-lens camera that could scan the world and overlay 3D objects onto it with great accuracy. For example, such an iPhone could recognize people or objects when you point the camera in their direction. (Apple already does something a little like this with iOS 10’s facial-recognition software.)
Now that sounds like a more useful application for advanced optical technology than selfies.
How much will it cost?
Fast Company reports that the 10th anniversary edition of the iPhone could cost more than $1,000. Note that this is based on an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink interpretation of expected features and components including a virtual home button, AR capabilities, an OLED display — we remain particularly dubious of this one — and a significant memory upgrade. And by the way, for context, today’s top of the line, 256GB iPhone 7 Plus costs $969 off the shelf.
We’ll update as more rumors and stories surface during the long lead up to the launch. This story was last updated February 8, 2017.