Apple's iPhone 8 is coming in the fall of 2017.
At a Glance
- Apple has a major iPhone redesign planned for 2017, with a glass body and edge-to-edge OLED display that includes an integrated Touch ID fingerprint sensor and front-facing camera. The new iPhone may be sold alongside upgraded (but standard) 4.7 and 5.5-inch iPhones.
- OLED display
- Faster A11 processor
- Glass body
- Edge-to-edge display
- Camera and Touch ID integrated in display
- No Home button
- Wireless charging
- Three models - One OLED, two standard
Apple's iPhone 8 - Coming in 2017
2017 will mark the 10th anniversary of the iPhone and Apple has something major planned to celebrate the occasion. We've got several months to go until the launch of the iPhone 8, but because of Apple's ambitious plans for the device, there are already an abundance of rumors hinting at the impressive features coming in the 2017 iPhone.
Apple is rumored to be testing more than 10 prototype iPhone models, so it's not entirely clear what we're going to see, and because there are so many test devices in play, rumors are also conflicting and murky at this time.
Rumors suggest it's going to be a radical redesign, with an edge-to-edge display that does away with the top and bottom bezels where features like the Touch ID fingerprint sensor and the front-facing camera are housed. Instead, Touch ID and the camera may be built directly into the display, meaning there will be no Home button. Jony Ive has wanted to introduce an iPhone that looks like a single sheet of glass for several years, and glass is also necessary if Apple wants to introduce wireless charging.
With an edge-to-edge design, the iPhone 8 may be similar in size to the 4.7-inch iPhone, but with a display the size of the 5.5-inch iPhone. Rumors suggest it will feature a 5.8-inch display with 5.15 inches of usable area, with the rest dedicated to virtual buttons that will replace the existing Home button.
The display itself is said to be flexible plastic OLED rather than an LCD, allowing Apple to introduce a thinner device that consumes less power and offers a better display with higher contrast ratio and more true to life colors. It may also feature edges that are curved on both sides like the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, but rumors are unclear on this point. Should the display have curved edges, the edges could respond to touch gestures.
As for the body, rumors suggest Apple is finally going to move away from the aluminum used in the iPhone 5, 5s, 6, 6s, 7, and SE, instead re-adopting a glass body that's similar to the body that was used in the iPhone 4. At least one iPhone model coming in 2017 will use a glass body, according to Apple supplier Catcher Technology, and according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, the glass will be built around an aluminum or stainless steel frame.
Like the iPhone 7, the iPhone 8 is expected to be water resistant, but it may have an improved IP68 water resistance rating. It will continue to be able to hold up to rain, splashes, and brief submersion in water.
Inside, the iPhone 8 is expected to have a 10-nanometer A11 chip that will be both faster and more efficient, plus rumors suggest it could also include features like wireless charging and biometric additions like iris, facial, or gesture recognition. In higher-end models with a dual-lens camera, both lenses are expected to feature optical image stabilization.
The iPhone 8's front-facing camera may include 3D sensing capabilities that use technology by PrimeSense, allowing it to find the location and depth of objects in front of it, perhaps enabling facial and iris recognition.
Apple is said to be planning to position the OLED iPhone 8 as a ~5-inch "premium" model that will perhaps be sold alongside standard 4.7 and 5.5-inch iPhone models with traditional LCD screens.
All three models may include glass bodies and wireless charging (though rumors disagree on this point), but it is unclear if the two LCD models will feature the same curved edge-to-edge display rumored for the higher-end device and what differentiating features will be included. Rumors suggest the OLED iPhone is going to be pricy, with multiple rumors referring to it as "premium" and one rumor suggesting it could sell for upwards of $1,000, which is a good deal more expensive than previous iPhones.
The iPhone 8 is still under development and will likely launch in the fall of 2017, and in the months ahead of its launch, we'll undoubtedly learn more about the specs of the device.
Following Apple's standard naming scheme, with a numeric increase during even years to mark external design changes and an "S" increase during odd years to denote internal feature updates only, the 2017 iPhone would be called the "iPhone 7s."
Given the major changes Apple plans to introduce to the iPhone in 2017, it seems unlikely the device will receive an "S" name, so there's a good chance Apple may decide to skip directly to the next full number, naming the 2017 iPhone the iPhone 8.
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 and iPhone 8 Plus
iPhone 8 is a tentative name for the device -- it has not yet been confirmed by Apple -- but it seems to be the most logical choice for a major update. There's always the possibility Apple will call it something else or make 2017 the year it moves away from a numbered iPhone naming scheme.
Work on the 2017 iPhone is said to be taking place in Israel, and one report suggests employees at the facility are calling the device "iPhone 8," but it continues to be unclear as to whether that's the official name Apple will go with.
Apple is also rumored to be planning to produce a total of three iPhone models in 2017, further confusing the potential naming scheme. As two these devices could perhaps be similar in style to the existing iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, sold alongside the flagship OLED model, some rumors suggest they could be called the "iPhone 7s" and an "iPhone 7s Plus." In that case, we'd have an iPhone 7s, and iPhone 7s Plus, and an iPhone 8 or some other name like iPhone X or iPhone Pro.
For the iPhone 8, Apple is rumored to be planning to move away from the aluminum body that it's been using since 2012 in an effort to differentiate the iPhone from the devices that have come before it. Apple is expected to instead re-adopt the glass-backed body last used for the iPhone 4s. Glass is more fragile and heavier than aluminum, but many advances have been made in glass technology and materials like Gorilla Glass are sturdier than ever, which may help prevent breakage.
Multiple rumors have suggested there will be three versions of the iPhone: a "premium" OLED model and two standard LCD devices, with sizes that may include 4.7, 5 (OLED), and 5.5 inches. While one model (the high-end OLED device) will feature a glass body, rumors disagree on what the other two models will be made from.
According to KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has shared several accurate rumors about Apple's design plans in the past, all three iPhones will feature the same glass-bodied design, with glass instead of aluminum used for the body of the device. Kuo also believes a stainless steel frame will be used in the higher-end iPhone, while less expensive models may get an aluminum frame, but he believes all three models will use glass.
DigiTimes, citing sources within the Taiwanese supply chain, has also predicted Apple will adopt a glass body with a stainless steel frame for improved sturdiness in the iPhone 8. The iPhone 4 and 4s, made with a glass back, also used a stainless steel frame.
Japanese site Nikkei also believes Apple will use glass for all three of the iPhones that are in development, but other sources have suggested only one -- the OLED model -- will have a glass body, while others continue to use an aluminum body.
The CEO of Apple supplier Catcher Technology, Allen Horng, has said "only one model" will adopt a glass casing in 2017, suggesting other non-glass iPhones are in the works. Japanese site Mac Otakara has suggested Apple will sell a 4.7 and 5.5-inch aluminum "iPhone 7s" and "iPhone 7 Plus" with a design that's largely unchanged from the iPhone 7 with the exception of a new red color option, and DigiTimes predicts a 4.7-inch "iPhone 7s" with an aluminum body to be sold alongside a 5.8-inch OLED iPhone with a glass body and a 5.5-inch model of an unspecified material.
There are two possible outcomes based on the rumors we're hearing: Either we get three iPhones with glass bodies and wireless charging, with extra features to set the OLED model apart from the standard models, or we get a single OLED model with a glass body sold alongside two standard aluminum devices.
Size wise, while the OLED iPhone will use a larger display panel because it includes no bezels, it may be similar in size to the 4.7-inch iPhone. Apple is also said to be planning to sell a standard 4.7-inch iPhone and a larger 5.5-inch iPhone.
The iPhone 8 may feature an IP68 water resistance rating, an improvement over the IP67 certification earned by the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus. Like the Galaxy S7, which is also IP68 certified, the iPhone 8 might be able to withstand 1.5 meters of water for up to 30 minutes while also offering full dust protection.
That means it will continue to hold up to splashes and brief immersion in water, but customers should still make an effort to avoid water as Apple's iPhone 7 warranty does not cover water damage and it's likely the iPhone 8 warranty will also exclude water damage.
Mockups and Concepts
It's too early for iPhone 8 part leaks, but many designers have made mockups and concepts imagining what the iPhone 8 might look like based on current rumors.
While many of the concepts include fanciful ideas that Apple is unlikely to introduce in an iPhone 8, the images and videos give us an idea of what an edge-to-edge display with an integrated Home button might look like.
We've included a few of the best concepts here in the roundup, but make sure to check out our dedicated post for a more comprehensive look at what designers are dreaming up.
Samsung will provide Apple with an estimated 160 million OLED panels to be used for the rumored ~5-inch OLED iPhone. That will account for approximately 80 percent of all the panels used for the device, and while other companies like AU Optronics, Sharp, Japan Display are working on OLED displays, they won't be ready for production until 2018, meaning Apple will need to rely heavily on Samsung in 2017.
An OLED display eliminates the need for the backlighting that's used in traditional LCDs, which would allow Apple to cut down on the thickness and weight of the display used in the device. OLED displays can also be flexible, perhaps allowing Apple to create a device with a more curved or wraparound display.
OLED displays offer better contrast ratio, truer colors, improved viewing angles, better power efficiency to maximize battery life, and a faster response time than an LCD for faster refresh rates. On the downside, OLED displays don't have the lifespan of an LCD display and they're more prone to water damage, two issues Apple will need to overcome. Apple already uses OLED displays in the Apple Watch.
There are multiple rumors about the size and type of the panels Apple will be using, and rumors indicate Apple is testing more than 10 iPhone prototypes. One rumor suggests Samsung is supplying Apple with 5.5-inch OLED panels, while another says Apple is seeking a 5.8-inch OLED display to be used in one of the iPhone 8 models.
In addition to conflicting information on the display size of the iPhone, there's also mixed information available on the design of the display. On the whole, it's sounding like the display will perhaps be somewhat curved and edge-to-edge with no bezel, but rumors have been all over the place. We'll need to wait for additional information to get a clear picture of what to expect from the device, but some possibilities are listed below.
Multiple rumors suggest Apple will implement an edge-to-edge display, which means the iPhone will have no top, bottom, or side bezels, with the display taking up the entire front of the device. It will look like a single piece of glass.
Sensors like Touch ID and the front-facing camera will be embedded in the display, invisible to the naked eye, and there will be no iconic Home button on the device. Apple has been working on developing touch and display driver (TDDI) chips since 2015, so it's definitely possible that the iPhone 8 will have no Home button, and Apple has also patented a method for embedding Touch ID and an ambient light sensor in the display.
According to KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, the OLED iPhone 8 will feature a 5.8-inch display, but with no bezels, that 5.8-inch display will fit a device that's similar in size to the 4.7-inch iPhone 7. Kuo believes the iPhone 8 will have 5.15 inches of active screen space, with the additional space taken up by virtual buttons that replace the current physical Home button and other features. He lays out his size predictions in the diagram below:
Based on Kuo's description, the iPhone 8 can be thought of as having a screen the size of the 5.5-inch iPhone in a form factor that's the size of the 4.7-inch iPhone. Imagining an iPhone 7 Plus that features just a display and no bezels is a good way of conceptualizing what the iPhone 8 might look like.
With the edge-to-edge display, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes Apple will continue to use a 2.5D curved display, like the existing display in the iPhone 7.
Kuo does not believe we will see a curved display, but other rumors have predicted dramatic curves that cover the sides of the device.
Based on information sourced from the Asian supply chain, IHS analyst Kevin Wang, for example, believes the 2017 iPhone will include a "dual-curve" OLED display that covers the left and right edges of the device. It is not clear from Wang's statement how far the display will extend to the edges of the device or whether it will be a subtle curve for design purposes or a functional wraparound display as Samsung uses in its Galaxy Edge devices.
Should Apple use a display with curved edges, it may also implement new touchscreen technology that would allow the edges of the device to respond to touch gestures.
As previously mentioned, Apple is rumored to be planning on debuting three devices, one premium model with an OLED display and two standard models that use traditional LCD panels. While there is confusion over the size of the OLED panel, the LCD iPhones are expected to be 4.7 and 5.5 inches, the same sizes as the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.
All of the information above largely applies to the iPhone with an OLED display -- it's not entirely clear if the standard LCD models that are rumored will share the same display design or will use a traditional 2.5D flat display like the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.
TSMC has begun to tape out the design for the A11 chip built on a 10-nanometer process, completing the first stages of the design that is likely destined for the 2017 iPhone. Certification for the 10-nanometer process is expected to be achieved in late 2016, with the first 10-nanometer chips sent to Apple for validation during the first quarter of 2017. TSMC has reportedly secured all orders for the A11 chip.
An A11 chip, like all of Apple's chip upgrades, will be both faster and more energy efficient, in addition to being smaller.
Early iPhone 8 rumors suggested Apple was working on long-range wireless charging technology that could be implemented as soon as 2017, but more recent information and speculation suggests that instead of long-range wireless charging techniques, Apple will instead use an inductive-style wireless charging solution (similar to the Apple Watch) for the device.
Apple recently joined the Wireless Power Consortium, which is committed to the open development of the Qi wireless charging standard that's widely used in devices like the Samsung Galaxy line, and Apple has filed dozens of patents for inductive charging. Dozens of hires with expertise in wireless charging have also joined the company in recent months.
Apple is rumored to have at least five different groups in its company working on implementing wireless charging technology in the next iPhone.
The company's plan to use a glass body hints that inductive charging will be used, as glass would be required to allow charging through a magnetic coil. With an aluminum body, inductive charging would not work as well.
There's also evidence that Apple is seeking components that point towards an inductive charging solution. Lite-On Semiconductor is rumored to be providing integrated chip components for the wireless charging module in the iPhone 8. The manufacturer will reportedly supply bridge rectifiers needed to reduce thermal issues and maintain efficiency in wireless power transmission, and Apple is also perhaps sourcing components from MediaTek, Foxconn, Pegatron, and Luxshare.
In addition to confusion over the charging method Apple will use, there are also questions about how it will be implemented. It's been assumed that it will be built into the iPhone, but we've heard a few rumors that suggest the wireless charging capabilities will be enabled through a separate accessory that needs to be purchased separately.
Most recently, Japanese site Mac Otakara said Apple would use a wireless charging accessory designed using technology sourced from Luxshare, a company that has reportedly provided components for the Apple Watch in the past.
According to JPMorgan analyst Harlan Sur, Apple and Broadcom are working together on a customized wireless charging system, but it is not clear if the feature will be included in the 2017 iPhone or a later device.
It's possible Apple considered long-range wireless charging techniques but has not yet been able to perfect the solution, which would explain the mixed rumors.
Long-range wireless charging technology offers the benefit of not requiring a charging source, but there are obstacles to overcome such as the loss of power transfer efficiency that occurs when the distance between the transmitter and the receiver is increased. This causes batteries further away from a charging source to charge more slowly.
There was speculation suggesting Apple is working with a partner, possibly Energous, a company that's developed a long-range wireless charging solution called WattUp, but there's been no hard evidence. Energous CEO Steve Rizzone has encouraged such rumors claiming the company has inked a deal with "one of the largest consumer electronic companies in the world," but it continues to be unclear if that partner is Apple.
Regardless of the wireless charging method used, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes that all new iPhones are likely to support wireless charging next year, including the 4.7-inch model, the larger 5.5-inch model, and the high-end OLED model. Japanese site Mac Otakara disagrees, however, and says wireless charging will only be available in the higher-end OLED iPhone.
According to KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who often accurately predicts Apple's plans, the iPhone 8 could include more advanced biometric features such as facial recognition or iris scanning, perhaps powered by a new front-facing camera system. Kuo has not elaborated on what additional biometric features would be used for, but presumably these would be alternate methods for accessing the iPhone or adding additional layers of protection.
Kuo also believes Apple will introduce new Touch ID technology for the iPhone 8, which will be built under the glass of the display and will "enhance transactions security." He predicts Apple will switch from a capacitive Touch ID system to an optical system.
Citing unnamed "industry sources" Taiwanese site DigiTimes claims the iPhone 8 will include iris scanning technology, allowing users to unlock their devices with an eye scan. DigiTimes originally said the iris scanning function would not be ready until 2018, but later updated that prediction to 2017. The site does not have the most solid track record when it comes to Apple rumors, so it remains unclear if iris scanning is something we can expect this year.
Apple is rumored to be sourcing iris scanning chips from Taiwan-based supplier Xintec, with Xintec planning to begin mass production on the component in 2017.
According to Fast Company, Apple is working with Lumentum to develop 3D sensing technology that will be included in the iPhone 8, but it is not clear how the feature will be used. It could be used for facial recognition, augmented reality, or camera improvements.
Cowen and Company analyst Timothy Arcuri believes the iPhone 8 could include facial and gesture recognition capabilities, which could be powered by a laser and infrared sensor located near the front-facing camera.
JPMorgan analyst Rod Hall believes Apple will eliminate Touch Id in the iPhone 8, replacing it with a 3D facial recognition feature that uses a front-facing 3D laser scanner.
Hall's reasoning is that there will be no Touch ID fingerprint sensor because there won't be a Home button, but Apple has patented techniques for building optical fingerprint scanning into the display. Facial recognition has benefits that include being able to unlock the iPhone even with wet hands.
In the future, Hall speculates that the alleged 3D laser scanner could potentially be used for other purposes like augmented reality, but he does not believe this will happen until at least 2018.
The iPhone 8 is expected to include NAND flash memory from Samsung, but it is not clear what improvements it might bring. With the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, Apple introduced a 256GB storage option, and it's possible additional increases could be included in the iPhone 8.
One rumor has suggested the iPhone 8 will include increased storage space, which could make the device more expensive than previous-generation iPhone models, and another rumor says it will be available in 64 and 256GB capacities.
Like the iPhone 7 Plus, the iPhone 8 is rumored to include 3GB RAM.
An enhanced Taptic engine is one of the features that could be included in the 2017 iPhone, according to a report from Japanese site Nikkei. Apple is said to be working on a "high-performance motor" that's able to "create more complex tactile vibrations."
Such an engine would perhaps be necessary if Apple is indeed eliminating the Home button in the iPhone 8, as has been rumored. Haptic feedback could offer vibrations to denote triggers like the unlocking of the iPhone and the confirmation of a Touch ID payment, two features currently tied to the physical iPhone Home button.
With Apple implementing glass bodies for the iPhone and introducing at least one OLED display, new 3D Touch technology may be required. According to KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple will need to use a new 3D Touch module with "additional graphite sheet lamination" for heat reduction.
We've heard few rumors on the prospective battery life of the iPhone 8, but one rumor from Fast Company says the device will include a "far bigger battery," which could result in improved battery life. A larger battery could also be implemented to power features like an OLED display or new biometric features that are rumored, though, so longer battery life is not a guarantee.
Apple is said to be planning to use a stacked logic board design that will support longer battery life. With the improved logic board, the iPhone 8 will be able to offer the same battery life traditionally available in the 5.5-inch iPhone in a device the size of the 4.7-inch iPhone. An L-shaped two-cell battery pack with a capacity around 2,700 mAh could be included.
Battery life could be further improved through the use of a more energy efficient OLED panel.
KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes that the dual-lens camera introduced in the 5.5-inch iPhone 7 Plus will continue to be a feature exclusive to "high-end" iPhone models in 2017.
Kuo predicts a 4.7-inch iPhone with a single camera, a 5.5-inch model with a dual-lens camera, and an OLED model in an unspecified size with a dual-lens camera.
He believes that future models will include optical image stabilization (OIS) for both the wide-angle and telephoto lenses. In the iPhone 7 Plus, only the wide-angle lens features OIS. The camera in the 2017 iPhone could also support 3D photography effects if Apple opts to use an LG camera module.
According to Japanese site Mac Otakara, the high-end 5-inch iPhone Apple plans on introducing could adopt a new vertical dual camera arrangement instead of a horizontal dual camera system. Mac Otakara's information is sourced from a Taiwanese supplier and has not yet been corroborated by a second source.
It's not clear why Apple would switch from a horizontal arrangement to a vertical arrangement, but the need to fit two cameras into a smaller body could be a factor.
The front-facing camera of the iPhone 8 will be a "revolutionary" system consisting of three modules that enable 3D sensing capabilities powered by PrimeSense technology.
The camera will include an infrared transmitting module, an infrared receiving module, and a traditional camera. With the infrared additions, the camera will be able to find the location and depth of objects placed in front of it, technology that could be used for facial and iris recognition or for future AR capabilities.
The iPhone 8 may feature enhanced Siri functionality according to a rumor from DigiTimes. It's not clear what an enhanced version of Siri would be able to do, but it could include an overall refinement to the personal assistant's ability to respond to contextual requests and other dialogue.
Apple is said to be taking advantage of technology it acquired when it purchased AI startup Turi in August of 2016. It's not clear if improved Siri capabilities will be introduced in iOS 11 and available for multiple devices or tied specifically to the iPhone 8
For the last several years, Apple has released its iPhone updates in September, so we expect to see the iPhone 8 in September of 2017.
Apple suppliers are already gearing up to start producing components for the iPhone 8. Foxconn is developing both glass casings and OLED displays in an effort to secure orders from apple.
Beyond the iPhone 8
In future iPhones, coming in 2018 and beyond, Apple could adopt foldable displays produced by LG. LG is planning to start mass-producing foldable displays for smartphones in 2018 and Apple is rumored to be a partner.
Apple is also rumored to be mulling a partnership with Japan Display. Japan Display is developing flexible LCD panels that will be ready in 2018 and could be used in future iPhone models.
In 2018, Apple may add iris scanning capabilities to the iPhone, which could be used alongside of or in place of Touch ID. Like a fingerprint, each person's iris is unique and so iris scanning can be used for identification purposes.
Iris scanning is also a feature that has been rumored for the 2017 iPhone, so it's not clear when the iPhone could potentially gain these capabilities, if ever. Iris scanning rumors have come from two sources, but with the 2017 and 2018 iPhones still far off, Apple's plans could change.