A few months ago, we rounded up everything that had been rumored about this year’s flagship iPhone. Since then, however, things have changed. Some new details have emerged, some old rumors have been squashed, and more.
As we inch closer to the announcement of the tenth anniversary iPhone, we’re starting to narrow down what exactly the device might feature. It can get overwhelming with all of the contradicting reports, so read on for our full, updated breakdown of 2017 iPhone rumors…
Display + Function Area
Originally, it was believed that the iPhone 8 would feature a 5.8-inch OLED display. We’ve now learned, however, that some of that display will be taken up by a new function area, making the usable screen real estate somewhere between 5-inches and 5.15-inches, though the display as a whole will come in at 5.8-inches. While there were rumors that Apple would introduce a 5-inch iPhone, it now seems as if those rumors were referring to the same flagship 5.8-inch model, but not counting the function area towards the total screen size.
Following a report from KGI’s Ming-Chi Kuo, we dove a little bit deeper into the math of the iPhone 8’s screen resolution and came to the determination that the device, if rumors hold true, will feature a 521 pixel-per-inch display. This number is significantly higher than the 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch iPhones, which have 325 PPI and 401 PPI, respectively.
The area of the screen dedicated to the apps and interface is expected to be 2436×1125, which makes for a 21:9 aspect ratio, roughly. This could spell trouble for watching content that is 16:9, but would bring the iPhone up to par with competing Android phones in terms of screen resolution and pixels-per-inch.
In terms of display technology, it is still believed that the iPhone 8 will be the first iPhone to make the jump to OLED. This, however, seems to be one of the most uncertain aspects of the device right now and really depends on Apple’s ability to source enough of the component.
As for the function area, it is said to take up the bottom portion of the display and offer navigation buttons and more. Specific details are still somewhat unclear, but it sounds awfully similar to the Touch Bar on the new MacBook Pros, allowing for contextually aware buttons and controls.
Read below for all of the details we know thus far on the iPhone 8 display and function area:
- Latest report suggests iPhone 8 screen features higher 521 PPI density, 3x Retina scaling like Plus models
- KGI: iPhone 8 to feature new ‘function area’ in place of Touch ID, 5.15-inch usable screen space
- Apple again said to be releasing iPhone 8 w/ 5.8-inch OLED display
- Report: Apple iPhone 8 to feature plastic, curved, OLED display
- New profile sheds light on Apple’s push to switch to OLED displays with iPhone 8
- Apple reportedly sourcing 5.8-inch AMOLED panels for next iPhone exclusively from Samsung
Not much has changed in what we expect the iPhone 8 to feature in terms of design. It’s expected to feature an all-glass design with metal casing around the sides, similar to what we saw with the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4s. The ideal setup here is the beautiful design of the ‘Jet Black’ iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, but instead of the scratch-prone gloss that it uses, we’ll get a more sturdy glass design.
In terms of overall size, it has been said that the iPhone 8 will be around the same physical footprint as the current 4.7-inch iPhone, but that the larger screen is possible because of the nearly bezel-less design that the iPhone 8 will incorporate.
We’re still expecting the device to feature 2 cameras on the back, much like the current iPhone 7 Plus. The cameras could, however, be vertically aligned as opposed to horizontally, which would allow for more advanced 3D and sensing technology, but more on that later.
Read all of the design rumors for the iPhone 8 below:
- KGI: OLED iPhone 8 to be similar physical size to 4.7 inch iPhone 7, with significantly larger battery
- Nikkei: iPhone 8 will introduce 5-inch version, all-glass backs across lineup
- Apple to revamp iPhone lineup in 2017 w/ iPhone 4-like design, AMOLED screen, 5.8-inch model
- Apple to drop aluminum iPhone casing in 2017 in favor of new ‘all glass’ enclosure with AMOLED screen
- KGI: ‘Increasing likelihood’ iPhone 8 will feature glass front and back, stainless steel metal for premium models
- New report supports glass design for iPhone 8, with iPhone 4-style stainless steel frame
Home Button + Touch ID
The addition of the function area and nearly bezel-less design means we will likely see the demise of the Home button as we know it this year. Apple paved the way for this change last year with the solid-state Home button, but this year we expect an entirely new embedded Home button. The Home button is expected to be embedded in the display itself, meaning that it will no longer be a separate button at the bottom of the front of the device.
As for Touch ID, it seems likely that Touch ID will also be embedded in the display. Apple has a patent that theoretically allows for such a technology. Instead of the capacitive solution that Touch ID uses today, an embedded solution would use ultrasonic imaging technology that is believed to be much more accurate:
The most accurate but least common finger-scanning technology is ultrasound imaging. In this type of sensor, two transducers are placed on the x- and y-axes of a plate of glass–one each for receiving and transmitting–for propagating ultrasound waves through a glass plate; when the finger is placed on top of the glass, the finger impedes the waves and the receiving transducer can measure the alteration in wave patterns.
This type of scanner is very new and largely untested in a variety of conditions, but initial results show promise for the technology. It combines the large plate size and ease of use of the optical scanners with the ability to pervade dirt and residue on the scanner, an advantage of capacitive scanners.
Read all of the Home button and Touch ID rumors below:
- Bezel-free iPhone a step closer as third Apple patent published for Touch ID sensor embedded in display
- NYT corroborates rumors of ‘full-screen face’ 2017 iPhone with embedded Home button
- Apple again said to remove Home button with iPhone coming in 2017
- Latest Apple patent appears to show fingerprint recognition almost anywhere on the screen
- Report: iPhone 8 to feature Apple-custom ‘built-in’ fingerprint sensor
One of the biggest iPhone 8 expectations that has changed recently relates to wireless charging. Originally, it was widely rumored that the iPhone 8 would feature a long-range wireless charging technology. This would have been a major technological achievement on Apple’s part, but according to more recent reports, the iPhone 8 will feature inductive wireless charging.
Most reports have suggested that Apple will sell the wireless charging technology separate from the iPhone 8 itself. This likely refers to something like a charging pad or mat. Even though it is expected to be using an inductive solution, it is believed that Apple has been working on its own inductive solution with Broadcom.
It’s unclear how much Apple could potentially sell its wireless charging technology for, but you can read all of the latest wireless charging rumors below:
- Apple said to be working on wireless charging solution with Broadcom
- Report claims Apple will sell iPhone 8 wireless charging tech separately
- Apple joins Wireless Power Consortium/Qi, lending weight to rumor of wireless charging for iPhone 8
- Report suggests hopes of Energous-based long-range charging in iPhone 8 may be dashed
USB-C or Lightning?
Well, both. While one Wall Street Journal report suggested that Apple would make the jump to USB-C with the iPhone 8, that doesn’t necessarily appear to be the case. Instead, it seems like the iPhone will stick to the smaller and proprietary Lightning connector, but rather start including a Lightning to USB-C cable in the box with a USB-C wall adapter.
Doing this will allow for owners of recent MacBooks and MacBook Pros to plug their iPhone directly into their laptop, while USB-C charging would also be faster than Lightning to USB-A.
There are several reasons as to why Apple likely isn’t switching to USB-C all around this year. For one, regulating USB-C accessories is much harder as it is an open standard. Lightning, however, is Apple’s own standard and thus it can more strictly regulate what type of accessories are produced using the connection. Apple also, of course, collects royalties on all certified Lightning accessories.
- WSJ: iPhone 8 to replace Lightning connector with a USB-C port
- KGI reports Apple iPhone 8 will not switch to USB-C, internal upgrades will support fast charging over Lightning
3D Sensing + AR Technology
Apple’s plans for 3D sensing and augmented reality are a bit more unclear, but it’s widely believed that Apple has a relatively large team working on the technologies. Apple has also made a number of acquisitions in this area.
Most recently, it has been reported that the iPhone 8 will feature a revolutionary 3D-sensing front camera that detects depth for games and facial recognition. This type of technology also lends itself to face recognition for unlocking the iPhone, providing another secure biometric way of doing so.
We also recently outlined the two ways 3D depth-sensing could work on the iPhone 8, both of which can be seen in the image above. The first way:
The simplest way to sense 3D space is to use what the note calls Time of Flight (ToF). An emitter transmits a signal (for example, in infrared) and times how long it takes to bounce off an object in front of the iPhone and return to a sensor. From a series of timed returns, the iPhone can build up a 3D image of what is in front of it.
The other, more advanced, technology:
Known as Structured Light, a known pattern such as a grid is projected onto whatever is in front of the iPhone. This grid will be distorted by the 3D shape of the object it hits, and the iPhone can then analyze this deformation to calculate the shape of the object.
Tim Cook has continually spoken fondly of augmented reality, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Apple is working diligently on implementing it into the iPhone. Read all of latest AR/sensing iPhone 8 reports below:
- KGI: OLED iPhone 8 to feature ‘revolutionary’ 3D-sensing front camera, detects depth for games and facial recognition
- Here are the two ways 3D depth-sensing could work on the iPhone 8
- iPhone 8 could introduce facial recognition feature using new laser sensor, analyst predicts
- KGI: Apple developing new biometric sensors to replace existing Touch ID tech, including face recognition
- As rumors of new biometric features continue, Apple acquires Israeli facial recognition startup RealFace
Name + Pricing + Availability
What Apple will call this year’s flagship iPhone is still completely up in the air. Throughout this post, I’ve referred it as the iPhone 8, but a recent report suggested that it may be called the iPhone Edition instead. We really don’t know and probably won’t know until we get much closer to the fall unveil…
As for that fall unveil, it’s believed that Apple will announce the iPhone 8 in September, but that because of the advanced production technology the device will require, it won’t actually hit store shelves until a couple of months after that. According to reports, the 3D sensing technology and OLED display are what’s causing Apple to push the release back.
The iPhone 8 is expected to be the most expensive iPhone to date, according to a Fast Company report. The device could come in at above $1000, but that’s not necessarily insane when you take into consideration the monthly payment plans that most smartphones are purchased on nowadays.
- Report: 3D sensor production ramp suggests iPhone 8 to launch later than September
- Report: iPhone 8 to feature Lumentum-sourced 3D sensor, launch above $1,000 this fall despite early production rumors
- Report: iPhone 8 to start mass production in September
- Report: This year’s flagship iPhone may be called the ‘iPhone Edition,’ launch well after announcement
- Comment: A flagship iPhone 8 going for $1000+ isn’t as outlandish as it may sound, are you in? [Poll]
It seems clear that this year’s iPhone will be the biggest release in the device’s history. With an all-new design, wireless charging, an OLED display, and much more, it looks as if Apple is pull out all of the stops to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the device.
Some aspects still remain uncertain, though, and it’s likely that things will continue to evolve and change. As of right now, though, these are the features we’re expecting the iPhone 8, or whatever it is called, to adopt.
If the device turned out exactly like we outlined in this post, would it be enough for you to shell out over $1000? Let us know down in the comments.