Apple's 2018 iPhones
Apple's rumored 2018 iPhone lineup.
At a Glance
- Apple is rumored to be introducing three iPhones in 2018: Two OLED models measuring in at 5.8 and 6.5 inches and a 6.1-inch lower-cost LCD model. All three will feature Face ID and edge-to-edge displays.
- Three iPhones expected, two OLED and one LCD
- OLED iPhones will be 5.8 and 6.5 inches
- LCD iPhone will feature 6.1-inch display and lower price tag
- All iPhones to feature Face ID and edge-to-edge display
- A12 Processors
- Faster LTE
Coming in 2018: Apple's Three iPhone Lineup
We started hearing rumors about the iPhones we can expect to see in 2018 before the iPhone X, iPhone 8, and iPhone 8 Plus had even launched, and based on those rumors, 2018 is shaping up to be an exciting year for iPhone advancements.
In 2018, Apple is planning to continue on with its three iPhone lineup, introducing three new iPhones. The first is said to be a second-generation version of the iPhone X, with the same 5.8-inch OLED display, while the second can be thought of as an "iPhone X Plus" with a larger 6.5-inch OLED display.
Along with these two OLED iPhones, which will undoubtedly be just as expensive as the current iPhone X, Apple is planning to introduce a new, more affordable 6.1-inch iPhone with an LCD display. This device could possibly use a Full Active LCD display, which would offer improved technology over the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus display.
All three of the new iPhones will feature an edge-to-edge screen with the same nearly non-existent bezels of the iPhone X, and all will be equipped with a TrueDepth camera system that supports Face ID. That means 2018 will mark the official end of the Home button and the Touch ID fingerprint sensor in Apple's flagship iPhone lineup.
While the 5.8-inch and 6.5-inch OLED iPhones in 2018 will be outfitted with all the bells and whistles of the iPhone X, Apple is going to cut some features from the rumored 6.1-inch model to keep costs low. That device will have an aluminum frame instead of a stainless steel frame, it may not come equipped with wireless charging, it will have a single lens-rear camera, and the display may not support 3D Touch.
By eliminating these features, Apple is expected to be able to sell the device for $700 to $800, putting it on par with the more affordable iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus. We don't know what the OLED iPhones will be priced at, but $999 for the next-generation 5.8-inch model is a solid guess, as is $1,099 for the 6.5-inch model.
Comparatively, the 5.8 and 6.5-inch OLED iPhones are expected to continue to offer dual-lens rear cameras and they may include 4GB RAM. The larger model will, of course, support a larger battery for longer battery life, and it could include dual-SIM support for easier carrier switching and a new gold color option. The 6.1-inch iPhone is also expected to offer dual-SIM functionality, while the 5.8-inch iPhone will not.
In addition to Face ID and a TrueDepth camera system, all three new iPhones are likely to include an A12 processor and improved LTE chips from Qualcomm and Intel that will support faster LTE speeds.
With the launch of a second-generation 5.8-inch iPhone X and a larger 6.5-inch "iPhone X Plus," rumors suggest Apple will flat out discontinue the current iPhone X rather than lowering its price tag and selling it as a lower-cost older-generation device.
iPhone X manufacturing would cease with the launch of the new devices, and it would effectively be retired. This is not unheard of, as Apple did the same thing with the iPhone 5 when the iPhone 5s and 5c launched in 2013.
2018 iPhone Naming
At this point in time, we have no idea what Apple is going to call the three iPhones coming in 2018, so for now, we're going to refer to them as the "2018 iPhones."
In 2017, we had the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and the iPhone X (pronounced 10), skipping the iPhone 9 entirely. Based on 2017's naming scheme, all 2018 iPhone names seem a little unusual.
Apple could for example, introduce the iPhone Xs and the iPhone Xs Plus, which would be similar in naming convention to previous years for second-year updates, but 2018, with the introduction of the larger 6.5-inch OLED iPhone, will mark a major update year so the name doesn't quite fit.
Apple could move on to iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Plus, or iPhone XI and iPhone XI Plus, but even in that situation, it's not clear what the company will call the planned 6.1-inch LCD iPhone. It could be named the iPhone 9, but again, that's confusing next to a potential iPhone 11.
Here's Apple's past naming:
- 2007 - iPhone
- 2008 - iPhone 3G
- 2009 - iPhone 3GS
- 2010 - iPhone 4 (new design)
- 2011 - iPhone 4s
- 2012 - iPhone 5 (new design)
- 2013 - iPhone 5s
- 2014 - iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus (new design)
- 2015 - iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus
- 2016 - iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus
- 2017 - iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X (new design)
2018 could mark the year that the iPhone gets an entirely new naming scheme, but we won't know for sure what Apple's plans are until we start hearing additional rumors about the new devices.
5.8 and 6.5-Inch OLED iPhones
Two of the iPhones Apple is planning to launch in 2018 will be positioned as direct successors to the iPhone X, one with a standard 5.8-inch display like the current iPhone X and one in a larger "Plus" size with a 6.5-inch display.
According to KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, the 5.8-inch model will have a display with 458 pixels per inch, indicating the same 1125 x 2436 resolution, while the larger 6.5-inch model will offer 480 to 500 pixels per inch. Bloomberg has said the larger model will feature a screen resolution of 1242 x 2688, which would put it closer to the pixel density of the 5.8-inch display.
Apple is said to be sourcing the majority of its OLED displays for the 2018 iPhone lineup from Samsung, but LG Display could provide displays for the 6.5-inch OLED iPhone, and Apple could also tap Sharp and Japan Display for extra supply. LG is said to be having manufacturing difficulties, though, so it's possible all OLED displays for the 2018 iPhones could be purchased from Samsung.
Design wise, both the 5.8-inch iPhone and 6.5-inch iPhone coming in 2018 are expected to look similar to the current iPhone X, with an edge-to-edge display and notch for the TrueDepth camera, glass bodies for wireless charging support, and dual-lens rear cameras. Apple could introduce a new gold color option, adding to the silver and space gray options available in the 2017 iPhone X.
The new 5.8-inch iPhone could be cheaper to manufacture according to DigiTimes, which means it could perhaps be sold at a lower price point. Component costs could be up to 10 percent lower.
RBC Capital Markets analyst Amit Daryanani believes Apple will sell the next-generation iPhone X for $899, while pricing the "iPhone X Plus" at $999, the price of the current iPhone X.
Current rumors suggest Apple will continue to use a two-cell L-shaped design for the batteries in the 5.8 and 6.5-inch iPhones coming in 2018.
Battery life in the 5.8-inch model should be similar to battery life in the current iPhone X, while the larger 6.5-inch iPhone, which has more space, will feature up to 25 percent more battery capacity, somewhere around 3300 to 3400 mAh.
iPhone part leaks often start months ahead of when a new iPhone is released, and it's no different with the 2018 iPhone lineup.
A display assembly and digitizer said to be for the larger 6.5-inch "iPhone X Plus" leaked in February, giving us our first potential glimpse at a 2018 iPhone component. The display appears to be larger than the display of the iPhone X, and the relative size of the notch is different than on the iPhone X.
A flex cable at the bottom of the part includes a number that's similar to the format used by Apple, so it's certainly possible this is a legitimate leak. It also allegedly comes from LG Display in Vietnam, and LG Display is rumored to be a supplier for the larger OLED iPhone coming in 2018.
6.1-Inch iPhone With LCD Display
Alongside two flagship OLED iPhones that measure in at 5.8 and 6.5 inches, Apple is rumored to be planning to debut a lower-cost 6.1-inch device that features an LCD display to keep the price tag more affordable.
KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who first predicted Apple would introduce a low-cost LCD iPhone, believes the device will feature a display with 320 to 330 pixels per inch and a price tag that comes in at $700 to $800, similar to the iPhone 8 and the iPhone 8 Plus.
Though Apple is planning to use an LCD display for the lower-cost device, it may still include upgraded display technology. Rumors suggest the company will use Full Active LCDs from Japan Display, which are said to match or exceed some of the benefits of an OLED display at a lower cost. Japan Display is ramping up LCD production in an effort to fulfill orders from Apple.
OLED displays traditionally offer sharper contrast and brighter colors than standard LCD panels, so should Apple use Full Active LCDs from Japan Display for the 6.1-inch iPhone, it could have a display almost on par with the OLED iPhones. Japan Display's Full Active LCDs are six inch displays with a resolution of 2,160 x 1,080 and an 18:9 aspect ratio, which doesn't quite match up with Kuo's pixels per inch prediction, but Japan Display could be making custom panels for Apple.
Full Active LCDs require much less bezel space around the edge of the screen, allowing for an edge-to-edge display, which is an important tidbit because rumors suggest all 2018 iPhones, 6.1-inch LCD iPhone included, will feature the same edge-to-edge design that Apple introduced in the iPhone X. That means no Home button and no Touch ID support, with Apple instead relying on Face ID across its entire 2018 iPhone lineup.
Though the 6.1-inch iPhone will include Face ID and an edge-to-edge display, Apple will cut costs in other areas. Ming-Chi Kuo believes the device will feature an aluminum frame instead of a stainless steel frame, along with a single lens camera and no 3D Touch support.
That the display would lack 3D Touch is an odd prediction as 3D Touch has been a key iPhone feature since its 2015 debut in the iPhone 6s, and the iOS interface relies heavily on 3D Touch gestures. Kuo is often accurate, but this could potentially be a rare miss.
The 6.1-inch iPhone will also not include space-saving technology like a stacked logic board and an L-shaped battery pack, instead continuing to use standard logic board technology and traditional batteries.
It's not entirely clear if the 6.1-inch iPhone will feature a glass body for wireless charging, but at least one source says it won't. Japanese site Nikkei believes the 6.1-inch iPhone will feature a metal back, which would not allow for wireless charging capabilities, but Bloomberg says it will indeed feature a glass back.
While most rumors have thus far suggested Apple will debut two OLED iPhones and one LCD iPhone, DigiTimes believes Apple may instead release two LCD models, one around 5.8 inches and one around 6.1 inches, and one larger OLED model in the range of 6.4 to 6.5 inches.
Taiwanese site Economic Daily News believes Apple's 6.1-inch LCD iPhone could be priced at $649 to $749, making it more appealing to customers who were put off by the $999 price tag of the iPhone X.
KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes Apple will introduce two 6.1-inch iPhone variations: one with dual-SIM dual standby functionality allowing for two SIM cards to be used at the same time, and a model with a single SIM slot. Kuo predicts a $550 to $650 price tag for the single SIM model, and a $650 to $750 price tag for the dual-SIM model.
Face ID and TrueDepth Camera System
It looks like 2018 will be the year that Apple transitions all of its smartphones to Face ID, with rumors suggesting all 2018 iPhone models will feature an edge-to-edge display and a front-facing TrueDepth camera module with support for Face ID.
Face ID would then officially replace Touch ID as Apple's biometric security method of choice across all devices, not just Apple's top-of-the-line flagship smartphone. That's in line with rumors that have suggested Face ID integration in other devices like the iPad Pro.
Rumors have suggested Apple will make a significant investment in LG Innotek to secure 3D sensing modules for Face ID in the iPhone and iPad in 2018. LG Innotek will supply 3D sensing modules that include a flood illuminator, dot projector, and other key Face ID components. Apple is also working with two other Chinese suppliers to ensure an adequate supply of 3D sensing modules that will be used across the 2018 iPhone lineup.
Face ID components were rumored to be one of the reasons why iPhone X supply was initially constrained, so Apple will need to have a reliable supply of TrueDepth modules to transition entirely to Face ID.
Barclays believes Apple's 2018 iPhones could include a new TrueDepth camera system and a smaller notch, but it's not yet clear if this prediction is correct.
An earlier rumor suggested the design of the notch wouldn't change until 2019, and rumors from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has suggested the next 5.8-inch iPhone and its sister devices will look very similar to the iPhone X.
While most rumors have suggested there will be few design changes to the next-generation iPhone X and its larger Plus sibling, Korean site ET News also believes all three iPhones coming in 2018 will feature "less bezel and a smaller notch design.
Though front-facing TrueDepth cameras are expected to be introduced across Apple's iPhone lineup in 2018, the technology is not expected to make its way to the rear-facing camera at this point in time.
A12 Processor and RAM
Apple's 2018 iPhones are expected to feature upgraded A12 chips produced solely by TSMC and built on TSMC's improved 7 nanometer process. Apple is said to be using TSMC for its superior InFO wafer-level packaging.
Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes the two OLED iPhone models could feature an increased 4GB of RAM, while the LCD model will offer 3GB, much like the iPhone 8 Plus.
According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, Apple may opt to do away with Qualcomm LTE chips in 2018 iPhone models due to the legal dispute between the companies. The site believes that instead of Qualcomm modems, Apple could potentially use an all Intel lineup or a mix of Intel and MediaTek chips.
KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo initially said that Apple would continue to use a mix of Qualcomm and LTE modems, but he later changed his prediction and he too now believes that Intel could be the exclusive supplier of LTE modems in all iPhones launched in 2018.
Past Intel LTE chips have not supported CDMA networks like Sprint and Verizon, so Apple was required to use Qualcomm chips for some devices, but Intel's new XMM 7560 modem offers support for both GSM and CDMA networks.
For that reason, and because of Apple's ongoing legal battle with Qualcomm, it's now very possible Qualcomm chips will be eliminated from Apple devices.
The 6.1-inch LCD iPhone and the 6.5-inch OLED iPhone may support dual-SIM dual standby, allowing for LTE+LTE connections, aka two SIM cards that are active simultaneously using one chipset, and they will feature improved antenna technology that will also contribute to faster connection speeds. Bloomberg believes dual-SIM functionality, if enabled, could be limited to the larger 6.5-inch iPhone, while KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says it will be available in the 6.1 and 6.5-inch iPhones.
KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes 2018 will bring a "super cycle," as Apple will have worked out all TrueDepth camera manufacturing problems by then and models unveiled in 2018 will be available for a longer period than those released in 2017.
Kuo also believes that when Apple introduces the new iPhones in September of 2018, the current iPhone X will be discontinued. Apple, he says, will stop selling the device entirely, retiring it after a year of availability rather than offering it as a lower-cost device as Apple traditionally does with older iPhone models.
Apple did the same thing when the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c were released, discontinuing the iPhone 5 just a year after it was introduced.
Kuo says Apple will discontinue the iPhone X rather than drop the price as a lower-cost first-generation iPhone X would potentially cannibalize sales of the planned 6.1-inch LCD iPhone.
Production and Release Date
iPhones traditionally debut in September, and we don't expect Apple to deviate from that tradition in 2018. All three iPhones are likely to be announced in early September and then offered for sale shortly afterwards.
To avoid delays and an extended release date like the iPhone X had in 2017, Apple plans to begin trial production on the 2018 iPhone models in the second quarter of 2018. Apple is said to be fast tracking its trial production to push delivery schedules forward, resulting in better supply for initial orders.
Rumors suggest Samsung will begin manufacturing OLED displays for the next-generation iPhone X and "iPhone X Plus" in May, with production to double in June, allowing Apple to get an early start to cut down on potential delays.
Apple in April registered several new iPhone models with the Eurasian Economic Commission that do not correspond to any devices in Apple's existing smartphone lineup, suggesting there are new iPhones on the horizon.
Apple registered A1920, A1921, A1984, A2097, A2098, A2099, A2101, A2103, A2104, A2105 and A2106, all of which are running iOS 11, but it is not clear what these devices are. They could correspond to new iPhone SE models, as a new iPhone SE has been rumored to be in the works, but the number of new models puts this in question.
They may also be filings for Apple's planned 2018 flagship devices, but it's early for Apple to register those devices and the fact that iOS 11 is installed leaves it up in the air. We'll need to wait for more information to determine what these mystery iPhones are.
Beyond 2018 Rumors
In 2019 and beyond, Apple is said to be aiming to offer all of its iPhones with OLED displays, and to reach that goal, as previously mentioned, Apple is working with several OLED suppliers. Apple is mulling a partnership with Japan Display, and the company has purchased equipment to build its own OLED panel research and development site in Taiwan. Apple is also said to be pushing LG Display to build out its OLED display production facilities.
Future iPhones could include 3D depth sensing technology for the rear-facing camera, with Apple rumored to be planning to introduce the feature in its 2019 iPhones, and iPhones in 2019 and beyond could also adopt an upgraded TrueDepth camera system. That upgraded system will reportedly consume more power, requiring Apple to introduce larger-capacity batteries in 2019 and 2020.
Apple may also be able to introduce iPhones with a smaller notch for the TrueDepth camera system, with rumors suggesting Apple may be able to combine the front-facing camera and Face ID sensors into a single face recognition module in future iPhones.
According to an unnamed industry source that spoke to Korean news site ET News, starting in 2019, Apple will introduce an iPhone design that will eliminate the notch that houses the TrueDepth camera. It's not yet clear how Apple will incorporate TrueDepth hardware into a device without a notch, but the report speculates Apple might drill holes into the display itself or use a multi-layer Black matrix display.
Intel and Apple are already teaming up to work on 5G hardware, with a rumor from Fast Company suggesting Apple could be planning to use Intel chips exclusively when 5G technology begins rolling out. 5G technology is still a few years off, with carriers planning to begin rolling out fifth-generation mobile networks by 2020.
As for the more outlandish, Apple is said to be developing an iPhone with a foldable display alongside LG Display, with panel production for an iPhone with a folding display set to kick off in 2020.
For future iPhones, Apple is said to be working on touchless gesture controls and curved screens, features that could launch within three years.
Apple is also said to be considering an Apple Pencil-style stylus that's compatible with the iPhone, which would ship alongside a future iPhone. Apple is rumored to be aiming for a 2019 launch for the device and its accessory. Both of these rumors come from Korean site The Investor, which is not a site we've come to know as reliable, so it's not clear how accurate this information is at this point in time.
In 2019, one or more iPhones may feature a 12-megapixel triple-lens rear camera that will offer improved photographic capabilities, including better low-light performance.
KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes that the possibility of Apple Pencil support for the iPhone is more likely as iPhone screen sizes increase, but he does not think 2018 iPhone models will support the Apple Pencil.