With a new iPhones due out later this fall, the Apple rumor mill is hitting peak froth. Not only does 2017 mark the 10th anniversary of the iPhone, but after the iPhone 7 didn’t deliver as much of an improvement over the iPhone 6s as people expected, there’s a lot riding on Apple’s upcoming crop of handsets. So to give you the best idea of what Apple might actually announce this fall, we’ve sorted through all the whispers and hints on the net thus far.
[Update 8/31:] We now have official confirmation when Apple will announce its next batch of iPhones: 1 PM EST/10 AM
PST on September 12 at the brand new Steve Jobs Theater. The invite made no mention of how many iPhone models the company plans on announcing, but either way September 12 is going to be a big day.
[Update 9/11] After the leak of what looks like a final build of iOS 11, we now have an even better idea of what Apple is planning on doing with its three new iPhones on September 12. Look for the [Update] tags in the sections below.
What will they call it?
Currently, this is the biggest question about Apple’s upcoming phones. Based on the traditional Apple two-year refresh cycle, you’d normally expect to see an iPhone 7s and iPhone 7s Plus announced sometime this fall. What throws a wrench into that pattern are the deluge of rumors citing the existence of a third iPhone with even more premium features.
Noted Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said he expects Apple to release a total of three models: “one OLED model, and two TFT-LCD models with 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch display.” Apple currently uses LCD displays in all its iPhones, but OLED is the display type found in many iPhone competitors and is known for its more vibrant colors and better energy efficiency. Kuo’s claim was later substantiated in a report from Bloomberg, however, neither Kuo nor Bloomberg mentioned potential names for either the LCD or OLED-equipped iPhones.
Some rumors attribute the OLED iPhone to the celebration of the iPhone’s 10th anniversary, but it could just be a new approach from Apple as it tries to close the tech gap between the iPhone and Android flagships like the Galaxy S8 and Google Pixel.
For now, most of the rumors about new features and tech reference this third iPhone model. People have dubbed it the iPhone 8, although we wouldn’t put it past Apple to name it something like the iPhone Pro, iPhone X, or iPhone Anniversary Edition either.
[Update] Based on info from the leaked version of iOS 11 via Steve Troughton-Smith, 9to5Mac reports that the new iPhones will be called the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and the iPhone X. This would mean Apple is skipping over its traditional “s” naming scheme usually reserved for the iPhones released during the second half of its typical two-year refresh cycle. Also, small shout out to us for calling the iPhone X name ahead of the leaks.
What will it look like?
While rumors haven’t mentioned anything about Apple radically redesigning the general shape of the iPhone’s rounded body, there are a number of significant changes that could be in store. The first is a new bezel-less design similar to that of the Galaxy S8. The S8 features a screen with an extra-wide aspect ratio that extends to the very edges of the device.
This development has been seen in a number of leaks and prototype mockups shown by Everything Apple Pro and Unbox Therapy, and has been all but confirmed by data found in new firmware for Apple’s upcoming HomePod speaker.
The new bezel-less screen would seemingly eliminate the Touch ID sensor that has traditionally been located below the iPhone’s display, with some rumors saying that Apple will get rid of the feature altogether. In its place, Apple may feature new facial or iris recognition technology that will allow you to unlock the phone using sensors that scan your face and eyes. Adding more fuel to the rumors, a new leak found on Weibo shows what could be the actual 3D sensing camera module, which makes facial recognition seem like a pretty safe bet.
However, getting rid of Touch ID may be a bit too premature, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Apple hide it inside the logo on the back or build it into the new elongated side-mounted power button like this rumor from Weibo and BGR both suggest.
Based on more info found in the firmware for Apple’s HomePod, Steve Troughton-Smith discovered references to a resizable on-screen home that can be adjusted or hidden as needed. This would seem to add weight to reports of a new “function area” that Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says will be used to replace Touch ID. The function area may include the new on-screen buttons, along with virtual buttons for navigation and other features.
Another change on the iPhone 8 is rumored to be around back. Instead of featuring dual cameras arranged horizontally across the rear of the phone, leaked schematics show dual cameras arranged in a vertical orientation. Functionally, arranging the cameras vertically could pave way for even longer optical zoom, but this vertical orientation would be a first for the iPhone, and as such has drawn a bit of ire from some iPhone purists.
[Update] It seems the big change design-wise for all the new iPhones are new glass backs, instead of the all-aluminum bodies Apple has been using for the last few years. This glass backs have also made it possible for Apple to include wireless charging, which would be a first for an iPhone.
Additionally, the iPhone X will feature an almost completely bezel-less 5.8-inch display, and since it will have less wasted space around the sides of the screen, size-wise, it will sit between the standard iPhone 8 and the larger iPhone 8 Plus.
The side-mounted power button also figures to be larger, and could be used to help control the iPhone X’s new facial recognition system.
What’s going on with the guts?
For quite some time, Apple has been among the best when it comes to mobile performance thanks to its homegrown A-series CPUs. And if reports from Twitter user Ice Universe are to be believed, that trend looks to continue with Apple’s new A11 processor, which hit multicore scores of 7,000 and 8,500 while using two different clock speeds on the Geekbench 4 synthetic performance benchmark.
For comparison’s sake, in our testing we found that the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835-powered Galaxy S8 scored 6,325 on Geekbench 4. That means we’re potentially looking at a phone with performance between 10 and 25 percent better versus the fastest Android phones.
Aside from a new processor, the OLED iPhone X should also boast a larger 5.8-inch display according based on info from Ming-Chi Kuo. However, Kuo also added that only 5.15 inches of the screen will be usable, as the rest of the space will be reserved for onscreen icons and navigation.
These findings have seemingly been confirmed by Bloomberg, which has also reported that Apple is planning on removing the iPhone’s home button and replacing it with a virtual button with a new and improved software bar that supports gesture control for opening app and navigation.
Additional info gleaned from the HomePod firmware indicates that the iPhone 8 and iPhone X will feature inductive wireless charging and fast wired charging for the first time. That will make this, potentially, the fastest charging iPhone yet. Other purported features include tap-to-wake functionality and maybe even the ability to recognize expressions on your face. Recently, iOS developer Guilherme Rambo discovered code in the HomePod firmware indicating that the facial recognition sensors on the upcoming iPhone may be used to be able to silence notification sounds when it detects that you are looking at the screen.
MacRumors also uncovered the possibility that both the front and rear cameras will be able to record video in 4K at 60 frames per second. Currently, the rear camera on the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are limited to 4K recording at 30 fps, while their front cameras top out at 1080p video.
On the health front, a new patent granted to Apple details the use of a phone’s front-facing camera, light sensor and proximity sensor to measure various fitness metrics such as pulse, oxygen saturation, and more. There’s even a mention of using electrical contacts to measure body fat percentage or the electrical activity of your heart. However, this seems a bit far out to make it on this year’s batch of iPhones.
As on the iPhone 7, most signs point to the iPhone X having just a single Lightning port and no headphone jack. Way back in February, the The Wall Street Journal put out a report saying the iPhone X will sport a USB-C port instead of Apple’s Lightning connector.
And if you’ve ever wanted to use the Apple Pencil on an iPhone, you may be in luck based on a new patent filed by Apple. The patent specifically calls out the iPhone as a product compatible with the Apple Pencil, which would be a first for a non-iPad device.
[Update] The big news for the new iPhone X is the inclusion of Apple’s new A11 processor, which features six-cores (up from four on the A10 Fusion), with four high-performance “Mistral” cores and two energy efficient “Monsoon” cores.
Like previous iPhones, the iPhone 8 will come with 2GB of RAM, while the iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X will be getting an upgrade to 3GB of RAM, probably to help cope with their higher-resolution displays.
The iOS 11 leak also seems to confirm the inclusion of facial recognition on the iPhone X, which may even be tied in with Apple Pay to allow iPhone owners to confirm payments by pointing their handset at their face.
Price and Availability
The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus are expected to remain around $649 and $769, respectively. Meanwhile, according to Business Insider, the iPhone X could start at an eye-watering $1,000, which would be a new high for a base model iPhone.
Availability for the iPhone X is one thing no one can seem to agree on. Traditionally new iPhones are available in September. But the iPhone X could be the most complicated iPhone ever built, and for months now the curious shape of the OLED display has plagued the device with rumors of delay. Some analysts, including Steven Milunovich of UBS, claim actual availability for the OLED iPhone 8 will be delayed until well into October or later.
Based on Apple’s behavior in previous years, iPhone 8 pre-orders will probably go live on September 15, with orders potentially shipping out the following week.
If you start aggressively saving now you might even be able to afford one.