WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE IPHONE 8
The iPhone 8 will mark the 10th anniversary of Apple smartphones, so it’s going to be huge. In this article, I’ll cover:
- What’s the latest iPhone 8 news?
- What is the iPhone 8 release date?
- What’s new about the iPhone 8 design and specs?
- What’s the iPhone 8 price?
- Should you wait for the iPhone 8?
Update (August 8, 2017): Prominent and prolific tech vlogger Marques Brownlee has posted the following video of a supposed iPhone 8 dummy unit to YouTube. Check it out – and remember that although it can’t be verified, it could be our first real glimpse of the iPhone 8’s new design:
Apple released the very first iPhone way back in 2007, re-shaping the landscape of mobile phones forever more. Now 10 years on, Apple is reportedly planning a major revamp of the iPhone lineup – and it’s tipped to be called the iPhone 8.
We weren’t exactly thrilled by the iPhone 7, seeing it as an incremental upgrade that failed to deliver on battery life. But the hope is that Apple is pulling out all the stops for the iPhone 8, a theory that recent rumours and leaks appear to back up.
Read on to find out all about the iPhone 8. Or alternatively, if you’re just looking for a brief overview of the iPhone 8, scroll down to the summary at the bottom of this page.
If you really want to whet your appetite, however, then check out this awesome iPhone 8 concept video:
IPHONE 8 NEWS – THE LATEST NEWS AND RUMOURS
Here’s a breakdown of the most recent iPhone 8 news, as it happened.
March 9, 2017 – Component shortage affects release: Apple is reportedly struggling to procure 3D camera for the iPhone 8, which could affect release by “months”.
March 12, 2017 – No curve after all: The iPhone 8 will use a flat display on all models, rather than the curved screen we’d been expecting to feature on the top-end iPhone 8 variant. That’s according to KGI Securities’ Ming-Chi Kuo, a prominent Apple analyst with a good track record for iPhone leaks.
March 15, 2017 – New touch sensors: Apple is reportedly procuring new touch sensors for the rumoured OLED iPhone 8 model, which will supposedly cost around 50% more than the old touch sensors.
March 20, 2017 – Apple planning AR features: A Bloomberg report detailed how Apple currently has a team working on augmented reality applications for the iPhone, and is developing depth-sensing technology that would enable this.
April 7, 2017 – Schematic leak: An apparent iPhone 8 schematic leaked online, seemingly revealing the all-screen front of the special edition phone. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to verify the leak.
April 17, 2017 – No Touch ID? A prominent analyst believes that production issues with screen-embedded fingerprint scanners could lead to the Touch ID biometric sensor being scrapped completely for the special edition iPhone 8.
April 20, 2017 – Touch ID moving to the back: A leaked schematic that comes courtesy of a reputable Apple tipster appears to show the iPhone 8 with a Touch ID cutout on the back of the phone, rather than the front.
April 22, 2017 – New schematic leak: Tip website Slashleaks uploaded what appears to be a design schematic for the iPhone 8, revealing a number of changes compared to the iPhone 7.
May 3, 2017 – Delayed launch: A research note from Deutsche Bank suggested that the iPhone 8 might be delayed until 2018 due to supply chain issues.
May 8, 2017 – No delay? A report out of China suggested that rumours of a delayed iPhone 8 launch were false, and that suppliers remain on track for an October retail launch.
May 10, 2017 – A11 incoming: Apple’s A11 chipset has reportedly entered production, and will be built on a highly efficient 10nm manufacturing process, according to sources.
May 21, 2017 – Moulds leaked: An image leaked to Chinese social media appears to show three moulds for this year’s iPhone range, giving us a rough idea of possible sizing for the new series.
June 13, 2017 – iPhone 8 Touch ID placement: A patent granted to Apple depicts a method of embedding a fingerprint scanner within the power button of a smartphone.
July 3, 2017 – Bye bye, Touch ID: A raft of leaks in one day all suggested that Touch ID was going away, instead to be replaced with a method of facial recognition.
August 3, 2017 – New design leak: Tech blog BGR sourced a dummy unit based on what it claims are actual iPhone 8 schematics. Here are a couple of shots depicting the dummy unit in question:
IPHONE 8 RELEASE DATE: WHEN DOES IT COME OUT?
Rumours about an exact iPhone 8 release date are light, but Apple is fairly predictable. That’s why we can take a ruddy good guess at when the iPhone 8 will launch.
First off, here’s a recap of recent iPhone launches:
- iPhone 7: Wednesday, September 7 (reveal) | Friday, September 16 (release)
- iPhone 6S: Wednesday, September 9 (reveal) | Saturday, September 19 (release)
- iPhone 6: Tuesday, September 9 (reveal) | Friday, September 19 (release)
- iPhone 5S: Tuesday, September 10 (reveal) | Friday, September 20 (release)
- iPhone 5: Wednesday, September 12 (reveal), Friday, September 21 (release)
Based on those dates, we’d expect the iPhone 8 reveal date to be either Tuesday, September 12, or Wednesday, September 13.
And we think that the iPhone 8 release date will be either Friday, September 22, or Saturday, September 23.
However, we should ignore recent rumours of supply chain issues – several analysts have warned of possible delays. In May, for instance, a research note written by Deutsche Bank suggested that the iPhone 8 might not arrive until 2018. Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo also believes that production won’t begin until October or November, making a 2018 release seem even more likely.
That said, China’s Economic Daily News reported in May that iPhone 8 component production was on track, at least with major suppliers such as TSMC, Simplo, ZDT and KIT. The report also noted that assembly plants such as Foxconn and Pegatron were also on schedule to have a sufficient number of trained staff ready for the launch.
What is seeming increasingly likely is that yield issues will cause stock issues, rather than a delayed launch. A Digitimes report in June noted that low OLED yield for the iPhone 8 could lead to just 3-4 million units being ready for the phone’s planned September debut. As some of you may know, that’s several times less than the number of iPhone handsets Apple would normally expect to sell during the opening week of sales. Of course, we can’t verify this information, so take it with due caution.
Of course, we’ll probably see some accurate release date leaks emerging in the summer, as Apple begins making preparations for the event.
IPHONE 8 DESIGN – WHAT’S NEW?
The biggest change we’re expecting to see from the iPhone 8 is a huge ramping up of the handset’s screen-to-body ratio. That ratio describes how much of the phone’s front is occupied by display, and having an all-screen front appears to be a big trend in smartphones. LG has already debuted such a design for the LG G6, and the Samsung Galaxy S8 followed suit later in 2017.
The thinking is that you’ll be able to fit a 5.5-inch screen (like the iPhone 7 Plus) in the form factor of a 4.7-inch iPhone (like the iPhone 7). This will almost certainly require the removal of the Home button from the front of the phone in order to slim down the handset’s bezel. There are some rumours that suggest we’ll see a curved screen on the most premium iPhone 8 model, but there’s no clear consensus among leakers and analysts that this will be the case.
In August 2016, a report from Bloomberg written by long-time Apple leaker Mark Gurman reads: “Apple is already at work on a major redesign of the iPhone for 2017 that focuses more heavily on the display by removing the Home button.”
We’ve also seen the following image from Weibo (via Slashleaks) that shows possible sizing for the three phones – these are apparent moulds for the iPhone 7S, iPhone 7S Plus, and iPhone 8.
Then in September 2016, the New York Times wrote: “Next year’s iPhone will have a full-screen face with the virtual button built directly into the screen.”
However, analyst Andy Hargreaves claims that Apple is struggling to introduce an optical fingerprint sensor into the display, which could lead to Touch ID being scrapped completely:
“Likely options for Apple include a delay of production or elimination of fingerprint sensing on the OLED iPhone. We believe Apple continues to work on solving its optical fingerprint issues. If it’s able to solve the problems in the next month or so, it would likely place volume orders at that point.”
He continued: “This would likely lead to a delay of the OLED iPhone launch, but we wouldn’t expect it to meaningfully affect volume for the cycle. If it isn’t able to fix the problems in that time frame, Apple may be forced to eliminate fingerprint sensing from the OLED iPhone altogether.”
Both Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman and top Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo have suggested that we’ll instead see a facial recognition system used in lieu of the Touch ID fingerprint scanner.
Despite Hargreaves’ suggestion, however, reputable Apple tipster Sonny Dickson recently posted a claimed iPhone 8 schematic that appears to show the Touch ID fingerprint sensor moving to the back of the phone, as is the case in the Samsung Galaxy S8.
The following tweet showcases a supposed iPhone 8 frame that doesn’t feature a fingerprint scanner groove on the front, either:
Tip website Slashleaks also posted its own iPhone 8 schematic, which appears to showcase a vertically stacked dual-camera module, as well as the all-screen front we’ve been hearing about:
According to prominent KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple will be using a glass body (such as the one seen in the iPhone 4), and will build this around an aluminium or stainless steel frame. However, some sources (MacOtakara, Digitimes) believe that only the biggest of the three rumoured iPhone 8 variants will feature the new glass design.
The handset is also tipped to retain the water-resistant design that we saw introduced with the iPhone 7. However, this may be increased to a more water-tight IP68 rating, to fall in line with rivals such as the Samsung Galaxy S8.
While we can’t verify the following leaked schematic from Slashleaks, it’s still a decent representation of what you should expect from the new iPhone design:
Another leak we’ve seen comes courtesy of Reddit, via the fabled Chinese supply chain. The image below supposedly depicts several pieces of an iPhone 8, including the front panel, the rear panel, and the dual-camera module.
Unfortunately, we can’t verify the following snap, so take it with a pinch of salt.
This was followed by another leak that was sourced to case maker Olixar (via 9to5mac), which seems fairly confident that this is a genuine representation of the final iPhone design.
Next up, there’s a supposed final render we’ve included below that comes via Forbes contributor Gordon Kelly and case maker Nodus. As usual, take it with due caution, as it could be completely phoney – if you’ll excuse the pun:
And finally, there’s this packaging insert, because this is actually how desperate we are for iPhone leaks (/sigh):
IPHONE 8 SPECS – WHAT’S NEW?
Screen: The big news this year is that Apple is expected to finally introduce OLED displays on the iPhone. It’s a widely accepted theory, having been reported by the likes of The Korea Herald, Nikkei, Bloomberg, the Wall Street Journal, and even Tai Jeng-wu, President of Sharp.
Unlike conventional LCD panels, the pixels on an OLED screen produce their own light. That means the screen doesn’t need a backlight, saving power. But it also means that individual pixels can be turned off, allowing for truer blacks – thus improving dynamic range and widening the colour gamut.
Despite rivals such as Samsung having adopted OLED screens long ago, Apple has steered clear of the tech – possibly due to the fact that Samsung controls the lion’s share of phone-sized OLED screen manufacturing.
Apple is reportedly plotting three display sizes for the iPhone 8: 4.7-inches, 5.5-inches and 5.8-inches. It’s believed that only the latter of the three will get the OLED upgrade. However, a report in July by Nikkei Asian Review suggests that all three iPhone models will get the new screen.
Also, by virtue of the fact that the Home button may be disappearing, analysts at KGI Research believe that the bottom of the iPhone 8’s screen may be portioned off for functions. This new display function area at the bottom could potentially provide custom controls depending on the app you’re using, a little bit like the Touch Bar on the new MacBook Pro. There’s also talk of the iPhone 8 borrowing the iPad Pro’s ambient light-adjusting True Tone display, albeit under a new ‘True Colour’ display moniker.
Performance: Apple is also highly likely to introduce a new system-on-a-chip (SoC) for the iPhone 8, as is always the case with major iPhone releases. The iPhone 7 runs on the new A10 Fusion chip, but the iPhone 8 will utilise a newer SoC – probably the unannounced A11 processor.
A Digitimes report on July 18, 2016 suggested that Taiwan’s TSMC had won the contract for the new chip: “The Taiwan-based foundry will continue to be the sole supplier of Apple’s next-generation A11 processor that will be built on a 10nm FinFET manufacturing process.”
Production for the chip was said to have begun on May 12, 2017.
For the unaware, “10nm” describes the manufacturing process used to create the chip. The lower the number, the more densely transistors can be packed in. Transistors are what allow computing to get done, so the more transistors you have, the more processes can be completed simultaneously. This means you can increase power efficiency, or offer boosted performance.
Apple has never used a 10nm chip; the iPhone 7’s A10 Fusion was created using a less efficient 16nm process. So we should see some serious power gains (or battery life improvements) from the iPhone 8.
Photography: As far as the camera goes, KGI Securities believes that Apple will carry over the dual-lens camera from the iPhone 7 Plus, although it isn’t clear whether this will be available on select models. The only specific change mentioned is that both lenses (wide-angle and telephoto) will feature optical image stabilisation; currently, only the wide-angle lens features OIS.
The analysts also believe that the iPhone 8 will use a “revolutionary” front camera that features 3D-sensing capabilities. This could be used to determine depth and location of objects in a 3D space, allowing for interesting augmented reality applications in the future.
Regarding the latter, Bloomberg published a report in February that claimed Apple was planning AR features for the iPhone, citing “people with knowledge of the company’s plans”. The report details how Apple has “built a team combining the strengths of its hardware and software veterans with the expertise of talented outsiders”.
“One of the features Apple is exploring is the ability to take a picture and then change the depth of the photograph or the depth of specific objects in the picture later; another would isolate an object in the image, such as a person’s head, and allow it to be tilted 180 degrees,” the report explained. “A different feature in development would use augmented reality to place virtual effects and objects on a person, much the way Snapchat works.
It continued: “The iPhone camera features would probably rely on a technology known as depth sensing and use algorithms created by PrimeSense, an Israeli company acquired in 2013. Apple may choose to not roll out these features, but such additions are an up-and-coming trend in the phone business.”
Power: There’s also plenty of speculation that Apple will finally add wireless charging with the iPhone 8. For a start, Apple joined the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC) back in February. The WPC is in charge of developing the Qi wireless charging standard, which is the one used for Samsung’s Galaxy S7. Pair that with the fact that there’s a glass body rumoured for the iPhone 8, and suddenly wireless charging looks very likely. Unfortunately, the fact that the glass body may only appear on select iPhone 8 models may mean wireless charging won’t be available on all devices.
The other big rumour circulating is that Apple may ditch the Lightning port for USB-C. However, Ming-Chi Kuo believes that won’t actually happen; instead, he thinks the USB-A portion of the charging cable will be replaced by USB-C, while the other end will remain as a Lightning connector. This means you wouldn’t need fancy new dongles to charge your phone, but you’d still benefit from the advantages of USB Type C:
“We believe all three new iPhones launching in 2H17 will support fast-charging by the adoption of Type-C Power Delivery technology (while still retaining the Lightning port),” wrote Kuo. “A key technical challenge lies with ensuring product safety and stable data transmission during a fast charge.”
IPHONE 8 SOFTWARE – WILL IT RUN ON IOS 11?
At the annual WWDC conference in June, Apple showcased the latest version of its mobile and tablet operating system: iOS 11.
There’s no proper release date for iOS 11 just yet, but the developer preview is already available – with a public beta scheduled for later this summer.
Importantly, the iPhone 8 is almost guaranteed to run on Apple’s new iOS 11 software, given that iOS 10 is now technically outdated.
So what’s new? Well there are plenty of upgrades coming with iOS 11, including an update to Messages. In iOS 11, there will be a bigger focus on apps and stickers, featuring a redesigned app picker. There’s also cloud syncing so your messages carry (or delete) across from an old phone to a new phone.
Siri is getting a new voice that makes her much more lifelike too. It’s a clear bid to tackle growing competition from rivals like Amazon’s Alexa and the Google Assistant. She’ll also be able to translate your voice and speak out the response.
Other changes include updates to the the camera and photos, a redesigned control centre, and modifications to Maps, Apple Music, and the App Store.
If you want to read about all the changes, check to our iOS 11 guide here.
IPHONE 8 PRICE – HOW MUCH WILL IT COST?
Apple’s iPhone 8 will definitely be expensive, because that’s just how Apple operates. But how expensive? Well, here’s a brief rundown of historical iPhone pricing, for a start:
- iPhone 7 – £599/$898.5
- iPhone 6S – £539/$808.5
- iPhone 6 – £539/$808.5
- iPhone 5S – £549/$823.5
- iPhone 5 – £529/$793.5
As you’ll no doubt remember, the iPhone 7 broke the trend of low-£500/$750 Apple smartphones, pricing at a pound shy of £600/$900. The general thinking is that the UK’s post-referendum currency woes caused Apple to jack up the price, mitigating the lowered value of Sterling when traded against the dollar. Unfortunately, unless there’s a dramatic turnaround in the fortunes of Britain’s economy, it’s likely that the iPhone 8 will be similarly (if not more) expensive.
SHOULD YOU WAIT FOR THE IPHONE 8?
There are plenty of reasons to wait for the iPhone 8, so here’s our advice:
If you’re using the iPhone 6S (or something older) then you’ll definitely want to wait for the iPhone 8. Apple’s next handset will usher in a major redesign, and so if you’re coming to the end of a two-year contract, it’s absolutely worth waiting until September to see what’s in store.
If you have the iPhone 7, you probably won’t need to upgrade. Unless you’re a die-hard Apple fan who needs to be at the bleeding edge of Cupertino tech, it probably isn’t going to be worth the leap. Even considering the fact that the iPhone 8 will certainly offer big changes, the iPhone 7 is still a capable handset by modern standards. We’d recommended hanging around for whatever 2018 brings.
Consider the alternatives, including Android devices. Just because there’s a new iPhone coming out doesn’t mean the smartphone industry shuts down. There are plenty of great phones out there, including the Samsung Galaxy S8, LG G6, or HTC U11.
IPHONE 8 – SUMMARY
In summary, here’s what you should expect:
iPhone 8 release date: We reckon the iPhone 8 will debut on September 12 or 13, while the release date is more likely to occur on September 22 or 23.
iPhone 8 specs: There’s plenty rumoured, but the major additions tipped to be added include: OLED screens, powerful 10nm A11 chip, wireless charging, a 3D-sensing front camera, and an “all-screen front” design.
iPhone 8 price: The entry-level iPhone 8 is probably going to retail for at least £599/$898.5, and could rise close to (or even beyond) £1000/$1500 for the top-end model.