Do we already know what the next iPhone looks like?
The tenth anniversary iPhone—the iPhone 8 or the iPhone X or the iPhone Edition, whatever Apple finally decides to call it; and there could well be more than one new iPhone—will be unveiled at the annual keynote on 12 September (late evening India time). Since this is a landmark year in the iPhone’s evolution, there is expectation that at least one of the variants will feature a radical new design and completely new specifications. The rumour and speculation mill has remained in overdrive. This has included a lot of unverified information and questionable photographs of supposed new iPhones, but we don’t know if any of this is true. Nor can we confirm if the flagship new variant will be priced over $1,000.
There has been persistent speculation that there will be three iPhone heading our way this year. The highest spec iPhone in the line-up is expected to sport an OLED display. Whether Apple goes the way of the Samsung Galaxy S8 and the LG G6 with the taller 18:9 aspect ratio screens remains to be seen, but the new display tech is a significant change.
The New York Times reported in August that the iPhone 8 will sport price tags starting $999 (around Rs63,700)—though it is not clear if this is the lowest priced iPhone from the upcoming line-up. The famously reliable analyst at research firm KGI Securities, Ming-Chi Kuo, suggests that the pricing is also linked to how much Samsung is charging Apple for the new OLED displays. KGI estimates that every OLED unit which Apple is buying from Samsung will cost it around $120-130, as against the $45-55 per unit cost for LCD panels used in the current generation iPhones. At present, iPhone prices start around $650 and go up to around $970.
Among the design expectations, there is a strong belief that the new iPhone will do away with the home button entirely. This is something that the upcoming iOS 11 operating system also points to, with the redesigned ‘swipe-up’ gesture to access multi-tasking which negates the need for a home button.
This does pose the question—what happens with the Touch ID fingerprint sensor? There are two ways for Apple to deal with that. First, integrate the sensor either on the power key (like Sony’s Xperia phones) or put it on the back panel (every single Chinese phone maker is doing this). Second, it might make sense to embed Touch ID under the display and make the whole screen or a part of the screen work as a fingerprint sensor. But this could pose significant challenges in terms of accuracy as well as potentially significant battery drain. If Apple hasn’t been able to perfect either in time of the iPhone 8 launch, we could instead see the introduction of a new feature called Face ID (on the lines of Touch ID) which will add face or retina detection to the iPhone as a security feature.
With the new iOS bringing in new photo and video compression formats, the camera roll will take up lesser storage space. The camera will also see a significant upgrade, something that Apple inevitably does with every new iPhone.
There have been reports that Apple might face some production challenge. The Wall Street Journal in its latest report says, “The production glitches led to a setback of about a month in the manufacturing timetable.”