Friday, October 28, 2016

iPhone 8 Rumors: What to Expect from Apple's 10th Anniversary iPhone

If you're disappointed in what the iPhone 7 has to offer, and you're sitting out this year’s model because you're waiting for a truly major upgrade, you should expect big things from the 2017 iPhone. Why? Because the iPhone 8 will mark the 10th anniversary of the original iPhone, and Apple reportedly has very big plans in store.

Credit: Samuel C. Rutherford / Tom's GuideBased on the rumors that have emerged before and since the iPhone 7's September launch, there are plenty of reasons to be excited by the next phone. It will reportedly feature a completely new design with an all-glass enclosure, an OLED display (finally), a revamped Touch ID feature, and — perhaps — support for the Smart Connector currently found on the iPad Pro lineup.

And that's just part of it. Here's everything you need to know about the iPhone 8 and what you can expect. You could have more iPhones to choose from next year. The latest rumor has Apple adding another sized iPhone to its lineup — a 5-inch version that would fit between the standard 4.7-inch iPhone and the 5.5-inch iPhone Plus — though other sources are adamant that Apple will stick with its current phone sizes. Rumors about hardware have taken a back seat at the moment to reports on what you'll be able to do with the iPhone 8, with the phone's potential augmented reality and AI capabilities getting their share of attention.

* The iPhone 8 could be AR friendly. After talking with "leaders in the consumer electronics world," tech blogger Robert Scoble predicts a virtually see-through design that will enhance the iPhone 8's compatibility with an AR headset. That prediction fits in with Apple's public comments on AR, withTim Cook saying that it will be bigger than virtual reality.

* Apple is focusing on Artificial Intelligence.Speaking of Cook, Apple's CEO says AI will be a huge focus for the iPhone, telling Nikkei that artificial intelligence will help with everything from finding your parked car and recommending what music to stream.  Intriguingly, Cook also suggested that AI could increase the iPhone's battery life, though he didn't provide any details.

Release Date: When Does the iPhone 8 Arrive? 

Right now, expect Apple to stick to its usual release schedule: a September press event, followed by the release of the phone a week or so later. Apple could throw us a curve ball here — 2017 will be the 10th anniversary of the iPhone’s debut, after all, and that first iPhone hit the market in June 2007.

There's a more recent precedent for Apple releasing a new phone earlier than the fall: Last year, it introduced the 4-inch iPhone SE in March.

Lineup: Another iPhone Model?

A rumor found in Nikkei Asian Report claims that Apple could add another version of the iPhone to its lineup. In this scenario, Apple would add a 5-inch model — the first time ever Apple would make a phone at that size. (iPhones came in 4-inch models until the iPhone 6 update introduced 4.7- and 5.5-inch versions to the lineup in 2014.
We've heard that Apple was planning on expanding its iPhone offerings before, most recently in the build-up to the iPhone 7 release earlier this year. In that rumor, Apple was supposed to introduce an iPhone Pro — a larger screen version of its smartphone. But a 5-inch-sized phone might have wider appeal, while also giving Apple leeway to add more high-end features to its increasingly popular Plus model.
It's worth pointing out that Apple Insider has a source that says Apple will stick with two sizes for the next iPhone. And Current Analysis analyst Avi Greengart told Tom's Guide that he would find it "extraordinarily unlikely that Apple would launch both a 4.7-inch and a 5-inch phone. It'll be one or the other, along with a model to update the 5.5-inch iPhone Plus."

Screen: New OLED Display

Based on the rumors, it sounds like Apple will take a page out of Samsung's book with the iPhone 8 — and that's a good thing. Bloomberg reports that Apple is in talks with Sharp to supply OLED screens for the next iPhone. Samsung phones like the Galaxy S7 have featured Super AMOLED displays, which offer better contrast, more saturated colors and wider viewing angles than what you're used to from an iPhone. OLED displays also improve battery life because they're less of a drain on the charge.
In Robert Scoble's forecast of what to expect with the next iPhone, the tech blogger says the new phone could be a clear piece of glass, essentially creating a see-through design. Scoble speculates that Apple would go in this direction to create a phone better suited for augmented reality headsets.

Design: All-glass

Apple is also planning a new design concept with the iPhone 8, according to reports, citing KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who tends to be in the know about Apple hardware. Rather than rely on a metal case, the next iPhone could come in an all-glass enclosure. The result could be a smartphone with a continuous glass case that adds a level of elegance and design appeal few other smartphones can match, though Xiamoi is trying to get a leg up on an all-glass iPhone 8, with the just-announced Mi Mix phone.
Apple, of course, has used glass in the past in such devices as the iPhone 4 and 4S, but quickly transitioned to metal in the iPhone 5 after customers suffered ugly cracks after a spill. Hopefully this time around, Apple can offer stronger glass to prevent those problems. Reportedly, Apple will use an aluminum frame with the iPhone 8, while turning to stainless steel for the higher-end version of its phone, according to Kuo's analysis.

Touch ID: Integrated into the Screen

With the iPhone 8, the entire home screen could become a Touch ID button, in essence. Apple Insiderspotted a patent for a fingerprint sensor capable of reading your finger through the phone's touch screen, removing the need for a dedicated button on the phone. That, in turn, would allow Apple to expand the screen across the front of the iPhone 8, reducing the size of the phone's bezel. Users would then be able to press down anywhere on the glass and both open the handset and make mobile payments.
Credit: Apple Insider, U.S. Patent and Trademarks Office
Credit: Apple Insider, U.S. Patent and Trademarks Office
You can get a hint of how this feature might work from Xiaomi's Mi 5s. That just-announced phone from China integrates an ultrasonic fingerprint under its glass.  

The Smart Connector: Accessory Potential

This is part of that rumored iPhone 7 Pro that never came to pass. This summer, when iPhone 7 concept photos were flooding the web, a French site called Nowhere Else posted a leaked image of an iPhone lineup, including one featuring a Smart Connector similar to what you'd find on an iPad Pro. While that phone never materialized — and rumors point to Apple adding a 5-inch phone, not a super-sized phablet — the Smart Connector could still find its way onto a future iPhone.

Credit: Nowwhereelse.frAlthough the addition of a Smart Connector likely won't get too many people excited – few accessory makers are even delivering support for it right now – it could gain some traction on the iPhone. With Smart Connector support, the iPhone 8 could support a whole new list of accessories that will extend its functionality and make it more appealing to consumers and business users, alike. Think battery cases, keyboards, camera add-ons and more.

The Cameras: Improved Sensors

How does Apple follow up on the dual-lens camera it added to the iPhone 7 Plus? If a group of patents awarded to Apple is any indication, the company could be working on a multisensor camera capable of producing "super resolution" images.

As detailed by AppleInsider, the camera patents are fairly complex. One patent involves a light splitter cube that can break incident light into different color components while a second patent describes how plural image sensor arrangements are used to create a combined image data structure. Essentially those sensors would be better at capturing light, which in turn, would mean higher quality images. And AppleInsider notes that the folded camera design described in the patents would help with features like optical image stabilization and zoom.

What's Inside: A11 Power

Most of the current rumors surrounding the iPhone 8 have focused little on internal components. All we know right now is that the iPhone 8 will likely come with a more powerful processor — the A11, if Apple sticks to the naming conventions for its processors. (An A10 Fusion CPU powers the iPhone 7.) 
It could offer more RAM than the iPhone 7, and might have more storage. There's also room for Apple to increase the RAM in next year's iPhones. The iPhone 7 reportedly has 2GB of RAM at a time when 4GB is fairly standard for flagship smartphones.

Price: Likely the Same, But Plus Could Cost More

Like the internal components, details are slim on how Apple might price its next iPhone. Although Apple has largely used last year’s pricing to dictate the price tag of each new iPhone generation, the company bumped up the price on its iPhone 7 Plus by $20 over the iPhone 6s Plus to $769. It's possible, therefore, that with a big update to the iPhone 8, Apple could similarly charge a premium for its next update.

What We Want

The iPhone 7 is a fine device with important upgrades that help Apple keep pace with some of its competitors. However, Apple hasn't quite been able to break from the pack and overcome the challenges presented by Samsung and Google in their Galaxy and Pixel lines, respectively.

To help Apple overcome those threats, the iPhone 8 should come with the long-rumored OLED screen with Touch ID baked in. The feature would effectively deliver a screen technology that can cover the iPhone's entire face and innovate how users interact with Touch ID.

It'd also be nice if the next iPhone offered a brand-new design that doesn't look so similar to the iPhone 7 (and the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6s), and comes with that oft-mentioned all-glass enclosure. Reducing the amount of bezel around the screen would be one way to deliver on that goal. And if Apple can deliver more improvements to its iPhone's camera — whether it's the multi-sensor camera described in recent patents awarded to Apple or some other innovation — no one will complain.

Ultimately, power users will also want to see some bulking up to the iPhone's power and an A11 processor that helps the Apple smartphone stand out in a crowded market overrun with powerful competitors. Adding a bit more RAM could also go a long way in helping the iPhone maintain its performance edge.

Oh, and Apple, if you're reading this, don't forget about better battery life. It improved in the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, but it's an area where other phone makers have outpaced Apple.

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