The iPhone 8 rumour mill is heating up, particularly in light of the fact that 2017 is the 10th anniversary of the launch of the iPhone.
There are high hopes for the next model. It's been variously suggested that the late-2017 iPhone will feature wireless charging, augmented reality and no physical buttons at all; analysts are calling it the iPhone 8, or the iPhone X, or the iPhone Edition. Some sources even think the curvy 'teardrop' design of the next model will make it closely resemble the original iPhone.
In this article, we round up all the rumours about the iPhone 8: its UK release date and onsale date (the latest reports suggest that it won't be significantly delayed after all), UK price, tech specifications and new features. We also cover leaked photos, including the latest renders posted on Chinese social media and a video of an iPhone 8 dummy model.
For advice on the current iPhone range, read our iPhone buying guide and best cheap iPhone deals UK. Or, if you'd like to look even further into the future, read iPhone 9 and beyond: From graphene to motion charging. We also look at new iPhone rumours here: iPhone 7s rumours.
Header/thumbnail image is a concept illustration by Handy Abo Vergleich.
When the iPhone 8 will be released?
The iPhone 8 is expected to be released in September 2017, but there are whispers of a delay.
Apple's latest batch of smartphones, the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus, were released in the autumn of 2016. (Read more: iPhone 7 review and iPhone 7 Plus review.) Apple always releases new iPhones in September, and there is a good chance that this year will be the same.
However, a range of (inconsistent) rumours have pointed to a later release date, either as a result of Apple consciously altering its schedule or because of delays in production.
Delays until October, November... or even 2018
Multiple sources are suggesting that Apple's iPhone 8 may miss its date with smartphone destiny and that traditional September release. The iPhone 8 may be delayed until November, or even 2018, if analysts are correct.
The good news is that the reason for the delays appears to be linked to the brand new technologies that Apple is adding to the new phone - for example, incorporating the Touch ID sensor into the glass front, and adding wireless charging capabilities.
Deutsche Bank analysts believe the iPhone 8 won't be released until 2018. In a research note the analysts said that: "Several supply chain reports have suggested that key component shortages and technical challenges could delay the release of a high-end iPhone 8 device this fall," according to a Business Insider report.
IHS Markit analyst Brian Huh claims Samsung is having trouble meeting demand for the OLED displays ordered by Apple - BGR suggests that the delay is because the display will incorporate the home button and Touch ID.
Finally, there are said to be yield issues with printed circuit boards, these new, smaller printed circuit boards would allow for a more powerful battery, according to IDC analyst Sean Kao.
KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, also believes that the iPhone 8 may face delays of some kind. Although he has said he expects the iPhone 8 to be announced alongside the 7s and 7s Plus, he has admitted it might not be available until several months later, due to "increased production difficulty."
Digitimes has predicted that "production for the new OLED iPhone is unlikely to start until September due to the redesigned fingerprint ID solution", and KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has stated that the expected new 3D camera system will cause delays: "Unless production of the OLED iPhone (expected to begin in September) gets pushed back, there is virtually no time to make changes to the 3D camera system." (Both via Business Insider.)
ST Microelectronics, the company tipped to make this component for Apple, are - according to SlashGear's sources - struggling to hit volume targets and have requested additional time, although it's unclear at this point if the reported "small fire" at ST Microelectronics' manufacturing plant is a factor in all this.
Fubon Securities analyst Arthur Liao claims that Apple and its suppliers are working to resolve overheating issues in wireless charging modules, according to this Nikkei report. And Yuanta Investment Consulting's Jeff Pu points to delays with the OLED display, suggesting the new iPhone won't be available until November.
According to MIC Gadget's Foxconn sources, Foxconn has only received an order for two new models, not three. This suggests that there will be just two new iPhone models launching in September, the iPhone 7s and 7s Plus, not three as had been speculated.
Some analysts have contradicted the reports of a delay. China's Economic Daily News (EDN), for instance, says that "production is on track, and that the first units will be available for sale as soon as October" - which admittedly is a month later than is traditional, but is earlier than some pessimists have been expecting.
BlueFin Research Partners, meanwhile, claim that production of the iPhone 8 is ramping up earlier than expected; while they "have no indication that there has been any change in release plans for the iPhone 8/X", this does suggest that Apple has a handle on its schedule.
What will the next iPhone be called?
The big question is whether the company will skip the iPhone 7s generation this time around and move straight to the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus - or if Apple will release an iPhone 8 alongside the iPhone 7s and 7s Plus, with the iPhone 8 getting the flagship features.
This would be a break from the norm. Apple releases a full-version iPhone update every other year - such as iPhone 4, iPhone 5, iPhone 6 - and a more limited 'S' update in between - iPhone 4s, iPhone 5s and 5c, iPhone 6s. So, based on previous behaviour, we ought to get an iPhone 7s and an iPhone 7s Plus in September. But it's possible that Apple won't continue the S strategy for much longer.
The 'tick-tock' system is a risky policy. When the average user hears that the new iPhone hasn't even been considered worthy of a full version number upgrade, they'll be put off from spending money on it. Not to mention that an S update is more confusing for buyers.
In October 2016 a little extra weight was added to the 'iPhone 8 in 2017' theory. According to Business Insider, an Apple employee in Israel who solders components spoke to them about the next iPhone and referred to it as the iPhone 8 "unprompted in our conversation".
Making predictions about the upcoming performance of Apple stock, analysts at Credit Suisse forecast that the iPhone 8, to be released on the iPhone's 10-year anniversary in 2017, will skip the 'S' generation in recognition of its major updates.
Timothy Arcuri, an analyst at Cowen and Company, has sent out a research note to clients predicting that the late-2017 iPhone update will be branded as iPhone X - X in this case evidently signifying the Roman numeral for 10, since the iPhone is celebrating its 10th birthday in 2017.
Mac Otakara is predicting that the late-2017 iPhone will be called 'iPhone Edition'. This would echo the branding of the most expensive model of Apple Watch, and thus impart a certain premium feel.
No more numbers
Finally, Forbes reckons Apple is going to stop using version numbers altogether, simply calling its next smartphone 'iPhone', with an iPhone SE, iPhone Plus and iPhone Pro alongside.
Macworld poll: What do you think Apple will call its next iPhone?
The iPhone 8 design
The year 2017 (June the 29th, to be precise) marks the 10th anniversary of the iPhone, and some suggest that Apple will want to come up with a real blockbuster of a redesign to celebrate.
Noted tech blogger Robert Scoble has posted an exhaustive list of predictions for next year's iPhone, and he expects big things. "It's the 10th anniversary of the iPhone," he writes. "It's the first product introduction in Apple's new amazing headquarters. It's a big f**king deal and will change this industry deeply." (Those are Scoble's asterisks.)
Design-wise, he expects that the iPhone 8 "will be, I am told, a clear piece of glass (er, Gorilla Glass sandwich with other polycarbonates for being pretty shatter resistant if dropped) with a next-generation OLED screen (I have several sources confirming this)."
He also says to expect "battery and antennas to be hidden around the edges of the screen, which explains how Apple will fit in some of the pieces even while most of the chips that make up a phone are in a pack/strip at the bottom of the phone". But the range of features Scoble is expecting is overwhelming. You really need to read the post for yourself.
Scoble isn't the only one predicting a big redesign for 2017. Here's what we expect.
9to5Mac has got hold of a report from the ever-quotable and usually reliable Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities - a report that predicts, based on the popularity of the scratch-prone Jet Black iPhone 7, that the iPhone 8 will have a (more scratch-resistant) glass front and back.
"If Apple does follow through with what KGI suggests, an all-glass design could extend the glossy finish to all colours of the iPhone lineup depending on how Apple handles the design," 9to5mac says.
DigiTimes (a Chinese-language website), on-the-other-hand predicts that the chassis of the iPhone 8 will be made of stainless steel and supplied by Jabil rather than the more usual manufacturing partner Foxconn, citing sources in the Asian supply chain. The site later clarified that it expects the iPhone 8 to be made of glass and steel, but that the iPhone 7s may still be made of aluminium alloy.
This would be something of a surprise, given Apple's clear recent preference for aluminium; the iPhone 4s had steel bands around a glass body, but it's been all aluminium ever since.
The glass-backed iPhone 4 was notorious for smashing. However, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes that the new glass will benefit from the years of experience Apple now has. He thinks the new glass will be more durable, with Corning, the company who makes the Gorilla Glass used in the iPhone, having made many advances over the years with their glass.
And we understand that the engineering method will be different this time: whereas the iPhone 4s was milled, the iPhone 7 metalwork will be forged, a technique that confers greater strength.
iPhone screens are already far tougher than your average piece of glass (they're made of a proprietary material called Gorilla Glass), but they do sometimes crack or even shatter when dropped. Sapphire screens would be more resistant still, and Apple is already using sapphire in the display of the Apple Watch: it's possible that the company is now ready to import this material into its smartphone line-up. Read more: What is Sapphire glass, and why is it a good idea for the iPhone?
But according to Apple Insider, while sapphire is more scratch resistant, it does not perform as well in drop tests.
That doesn't mean that Sapphire glass won't ever be used for the iPhone screen. While rumoured plans to rely on an Apple-backed sapphire plant in Arizona (which had the capacity to manufacture 200 million 5-inch iPhone displays per year) fell through, more recent reports suggest that long-term Apple supplier Foxconn is gearing up to build its own sapphire plant in Taiwan at a cost of $2.6bn.
Korea Herald's "source familiar with the matter", meanwhile, predicts the iPhone 8 will have a display that is made of plastic.
"The OLED versions of the new iPhone will all have curved screens as Apple ordered only plastic OLED - not glass - from Samsung Display," reports the source. "Samsung is capable of supplying a little less than 100 million units."
How about a bit of drop-resistance? Based on patent activity, Apple is devising a viscoelastic material that would absorb impacts. The patent could make sense in all of Apple's mobile devices and laptops, but the iPhone is the obvious area to begin.
Another reason why glass may be the preferred material is the fact that another rumoured feature of the iPhone 8, wireless charging, could be somewhat hampered by metal. It would be much easier to accomplish through glass.
Wall Street Journal sources claim that the iPhone 8 will have a flexible curved display like the one featured on Samsung's Galaxy S6 Edge. The report is behind a paywall here. This model of the iPhone will apparently cost $1,000 as a premium option.
They will be OLED screens, supplied initially by Samsung. (At present, iPhones use LCD displays, but the Apple Watch uses OLED.) A Business Korea report claims that Apple intends to move the line up to OLED displays as it would offer better colour saturation, accuracy, and brightness. Apparently this new phone won't arrive until 2018, though.
This isn't the first prediction of a curved-screen iPhone. In January 2017, the Journal reported that the screen maker Japan Display, which already works with Apple, is ready to start building curved displays. And Korean sources in March 2017 claimed that a curvy 'teardrop' design would make the late-2017 iPhone closely resemble the very first iPhone released back in 2007. Nikkei, meanwhile, reckon the iPhone 8 will be curved, but with a "gentler" curve than the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge.
In February 2017, however, research firm TrendForce contradicted these predictions. "Apple will not implement the curved display design for the high-end iPhone," said the firm, "because there are issues with the 3D glass in terms of production yield and drop test results."
According to KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has often correctly predicted upcoming Apple products - the analyst think a forthcoming iPhone could feature a curved 5.8in AMOLED screen. If this rumour is to be true, there would be an understandable shift from Apple to get rid of the headphone jack and produce a smartphone which is immediately distinguishable over its competitors.
Apple's Patent 9,146,590 refers to an "electronic device with wrap around display". And essentially it describes a curved screen that allows for more screen elements to be displayed without making the device significantly bigger.
While the patent talks about a "flexible display assembly", it's important to note that this isn't a patent for a bendable screen: the flexible portion of the display is attached to the interior surface of the curved transparent housing, which "provides a rigid support structure that prevents deformation".
But in January 2015 Apple was awarded a patent that suggests that the company is investigating the idea of a bendable iPhone.
The patent suggests that, by making the iPhone flexible, Apple could unlock a new range of controls: the user could open an app by bending the device in a particular way, for example, or use the flexibility to control a game. Additionally, a flexible iPhone flexible ought to be more resistant to impacts and more durable.
Samsung Display could be set to make flexible OLED displays for the iPhone 8. It's believed that Samsung is reaching out to display tech companies in South Korea that they can help build the displays, as the order from Apple will be huge.
The rumour that the screen would be curved gained extra weight when Apple was granted two patents that appear to suggest that Apple is trying to get rid of the bezel around the screen on the iPhone. One patent describes how it could reduce a border area of a device, and the other offers a way to embed a fingerprint sensor into a screen, according to a Patently Apple report in May 2016.
The solution for the bezel free screen seems to be bending the edges. Apparently this "can reduce the width (or length) of the panel, which in turn can allow the overall device to be narrower without reducing the display/touch-active area of the device." Our concern is that if the screen bends around the edges it would make it harder to hold the phone as well as making it harder to design a protective case to fit it.
Apple has been awarded a patent that covers the embedding of light sensors within the layers of a display, leading to speculation that the firm intends to remove the bezels at the top and bottom of its next iPhone.
Indeed, the patent - US Patent 9,466,653 - specifically describes the current requirement for bezels in the background section:
"In a typical device, a light sensor is laterally displaced from an active display region of the display along a front face of the device. Additional space is therefore provided in common devices at the top, bottom, or side of the active display area to accommodate the light sensor."
Instead, the patent proposes to integrate the sensor within the display:
"The light sensor is a display-integrated light sensor that is integrated into the layers of the display. The light sensor may [be] interposed between the cover layer and another layer of the display such as the touch-sensitive layer, the light-generating layers, or another display layer."
In January 2017 yet another patent was added to the pile of evidence that Apple plans to give the iPhone 8 an edge-to-edge screen. Patent 9,543,364, granted on 10 January, covers "Electronic devices having displays with openings" and various means by which Apple would be able to hide cameras, sensors and controls behind the screen and still allow the user to access them.
A February 2017 report by Fast Company raised the possibility that the late-2017 iPhone might not have any physical buttons. It cited "a source with knowledge of Apple's plans" for this prediction.
Backing up this theory, IHS Markit analyst Brian Huh claims Samsung is having trouble meeting demand for the OLED displays ordered by Apple and this could be because the display will incorporate the home button and Touch ID, making manufacturing it more complicated.
In the continuing march of miniaturisation, one of the elements of the iPhone design that's proved resistant to shrinkage is the bezel below the screen - it can't get much smaller than it already is because it needs to house the Home button. Which is why a recurring theory is that Apple will extend the screen down past the Home button, or even incorporate the Touch ID sensor that lives in the recent iPhones' Home button into the touchscreen.
Technology that would facilitate such a development has been announced by a biometric R&D company called Sonavation. The tech would enable Apple to run the screen vertically edge-to-edge, with no cut-out for the Home button.
The Home button could occupy the same position but appear only when needed, much like the software keyboard; and the technology for Touch ID would be bonded to the underside of the screen at the appropriate point.
Apple has filed a patent that appeared to back up the theory that it's looking into ideas like this. Patent application number 20150036065, for "a fingerprint sensor... incorporated in a display stack in an electronic device", was filed by a number of Apple's engineers in April 2014.
Apple has been granted a patent - a different one - that also appears to refer to a Touch ID fingerprint sensor that can work through a screen.
Patent 9,460,332 describes a "Capacitive fingerprint sensor including an electrostatic lens": more intriguingly for our purposes, it states that "one or more other device components, such as a display stack and/or a touchscreen may be interposed between the contact surface of dielectric structure 202 and array 206 of capacitive sensing elements".
Here's one more patent for you, this one published on 14 February 2017 (but filed back in 2013), that points to the Touch ID sensor being built into the screen.
US patent 9,570,002, which is titled 'Interactive display panel with IR diodes', addresses methods for incorporating a light sensor into a screen, and the ways this could be used. It focuses on the idea of dual-purpose interactive pixels, "each interactive pixel comprising an infrared emitting light emitting diode (IR emitting LED) and a sensing infrared diode (sensing IR diode)". The display would thus be capable of both emitting and sensing light.
This isn't the only 'evidence' that appears to suggest Apple is wishing to embed the Touch ID in the screen itself. A render based on CAD files obtained by Engadget in May 2017 seems to show the fingerprint sensor solution seems to be to incorporate the sensor into the screen.
Finally, DigiTimes' sources report that Apple is planning to use its own Touch ID fingerprint-sensing technology in the iPhone 8 rather than the alternatives it was understood to be considering.
"Apple has selected neither Synaptics' Natural ID touch fingerprint sensor nor Qualcomm's Sense ID fingerprint technology for its new OLED iPhones," says the site, "and decided to use its own Authentec algorithm combined with Privaris glass identification technology to redesign a new fingerprint ID solution, according to industry sources." (Via MacRumors.)
Korea Herald cites "a source familiar with the matter" when reporting that Apple is exploring "new sensing technologies" that could substantially change the way Touch ID works.
"The upcoming iPhone may use new sensing technology," explains the site's source, "which enables the phone to respond when users touch any side of the device. But Apple may not adopt this technology."
The source doesn't specify whether the new sensors are connected to Touch ID, but it seems likely: all the talk of removing bezels and physical Home buttons and expanding the screen is going to necessitate finding a new location for the fingerprint scanner. If the iPhone becomes able to sense and analyse fingerprints on any edge, that would even remove the need for a specific Touch ID 'action' - you'd just need to pick the phone up.
Some rumours suggest Apple is working on keeping the Home button and adding more features to it. There are two patents that have sparked these rumours.
The first is a dynamic home button that is sensitive to gestures: you'd be able to swipe across it, or lean a thumb in one direction to scroll the screen of a game, for example, that way.
The second is pretty far out there. Essentially the concept is this: the Home button on the iPhone would be able to 'pop up' on a little spring and turn into a sort of mini-joystick for playing games. There are plenty of iOS games that would benefit from a hardware controller (this explains the enduring popularity of Bluetooth gaming controller accessories) and this sounds like a lot of fun. Read more: Best iPhone (and iPad) games
But gamers remain only one section of the iPhone's audience, and it seems like a risky idea to potentially compromise the resilience of everyone's iPhone Home button (which has famously been very prone to breakage in the past) for a feature that would benefit only some users.
Rear-facing Touch ID
Apparently they aren't the only options that Apple is considering for the iPhone 8, if the latest rumours are anything to go by. According to iDrop News, Apple has decided to move the Touch ID scanner to the rear of the smartphone, much like with Huawei's P9.
Per the site's unnamed source, Apple has apparently been testing fingerprint technology beneath the display, but the technology is still in its infancy and isn't ready for prime-time this year.
Hong Kong research firm CLSA also thinks there is a "high chance" Touch ID will be moved to the back of the iPhone 8.
Relocation of the Home button/fingerprint sensor
Perhaps the integration of the fingerprint scanner into the screen has proven to be too complex. Apple may move the fingerprint sensor to the back of the iPhone 8 if a leaked design of a part is legitimate.
The relocation of the fingerprint scanner could be necessary if Apple is to give the new iPhone a larger screen that stretches all the way to the bottom of the phone. Similarly a screen that wraps all the way around the device would necessitate moving the volume control buttons and on/off switch as well.
The leaked design came to light following a tweet by Sonny Dickson, who is well known for leaking iPhone parts. The illustration he tweeted appears to feature a space at the back of the iPhone designed to accommodate a fingerprint scanner. Dickson has said that he can't guarantee the authenticity of the illustration.
The designs have not gone down well with people critical of Samsung's similar solution to the same problem on the S8+.
This may not be the solution that Apple relies on. There have been patents that suggest that Apple could incorporate the fingerprint sensor into the screen. Another possibility is that the fingerprint scanner could be similar to the one in the MacBook Pro Touch Bar.
That might seem a bit odd, given that the Touch Bar adds an element of software customisability and touchscreen function to an otherwise static and hardware keyboard area, whereas the iPhone's screen is already touchscreen and software-based. It appears the function area will take the place of the (currently non-touchscreen) lower bezel and Home button, and be "an area for functions (e.g. allocation of virtual buttons)", according to Kuo.
The WSJ claims the new iPhone 8 will drop the Lightning port in favour of USB Type-C.
This would be a huge call, so soon after Apple removed the headphone port on the principle that the Lightning port was a better alternative. And there are other reasons to be sceptical: Apple is rarely swayed by demands for universal rather than proprietary ports, and everybody yelled last time the company switched out the 30-pin connector in favour of Lightning - a lot of accessory makers (and accessory owners) would be sorely inconvenienced.
We're not entirely convinced, to say the least.
And neither is Ming Chi Kuo, who thinks the iPhone 8 will fast-charge through the Lightning port rather than bringing in USB-C. He predicts that Apple will tweak the underlying power management technology, adding "Type-C Power Delivery", rather than replacing the Lightning port altogether. The Verge believes this means that the cable will have Lightning on one end and USB-C on the other, although this isn't specified in the research note.
New colour options
There have been various rumours about new colour finishes.
A report from Macotakara predicted that the iPhone 7 would come in Silver, Gold, Rose Gold and a new Deep Blue; while this turned out to be mistaken, Samsung's blue flagship phones appear to be among its more popular options and Apple might decide to follow Samsung's lead for the iPhone 8 generation.
Designer Martin Hajek created some gorgeous concept images of a Deep Blue iPhone. See more over on Martin's website.
New features expected for the iPhone 8
That covers design. But what new features should we expect in the iPhone 8?
According to Forbes citing infamous Apple leaker Sonny Dickson, the iPhone 8 could be the first entry in the iPhone series to feature fast charging technology. (The feature has long been requested by users, and is readily available on most if not all of Apple's Android-based competitors.) More specifically, Forbes claims that there will be a new "Tristar 3, Hydra" chip that manages the charging port.
However, it's worth noting that tech may not be compatible with existing fast charging standards as the tech isn't being produced by Qualcomm, which provides "Quick Charge" for Android devices.
In February 2017, analyst Ming Chi Kuo predicted that the iPhone 8 will feature fast-charging technology - delivering this, incidentally, via a tweaked version of the existing Lightning port rather than by bringing in USB-C as was previously expected. He predicts that Apple will add "Type-C Power Delivery" to the Lightning port's spec.
Wireless charging didn't arrive with the iPhone 7 as some had predicted, even though Apple has been offering the feature for a while now in the form of the Apple Watch's inductive charging. As iMore's Rene Ritchie points out, inductive charging hasn't been practical for the iPhone because the technology available didn't work through an aluminium backplate, but the Apple Watch can offer wireless charging because it has a ceramic back.
Renders based on CAD files obtained by Engadget in May from "a reliable source" are said to show that the new iPhone will have a glass back that will incorporate a wireless charging coil.
In July 2015 Qualcomm announced a wireless charging breakthrough that does work through metal. And the iPhone 8 may have a glass back in any case. So the iPhone's main obstacles to wireless charging are disappearing fast.
Another way that Apple could avoid the limitations that a metal case would bring to wireless charging is not to use a metal case - and if rumours that Apple's new iPhone 8 will feature a glass back and front primarily to accomodate wireless charging are to be believed, glass may be Apple's solution to the problem.
Wireless charging technology is certainly getting attention. Foxconn - one of the large manufacturing firms that assembles iPhones for Apple - is reported to be testing wireless charging modules that will be included in some or all of the 2017 iPhones if the tests prove satisfactory.
Further strong evidence was added to the chances of Apple bringing wireless charging to the next iPhone in February 2017, when it emerged that Apple has joined the Wireless Power Consortium industry group, as spotted by 9to5Mac.
Research & analysis firm KGI Securities, and their famous analyst Ming Chi Kuo in particular, released a report in February 2017 making a firm prediction that all three iPhone models to be released in autumn 2017 will feature wireless charging, although Kuo warned that the feature would increase production costs. The charging element will generate more heat so Apple will have to incorporate a graphite layer to protect the 3D Touch component.
Ming-Chi Kuo has also previously warned that Apple may bundle the wireless charger with more expensive models only; in February 2017 a report by Macotakara also predicted that this feature will require a separate accessory.
Wireless charging sounds amazing, but we should stress that at the moment inductive charging has a very short range; you wouldn't be able to just sit at your desk and have your iPhone (in your pocket) charge from the plug several feet away. Rather, you'd place the device on a wired mat.
However, Bloomberg reckons Apple is working on longer-range wireless charging, potentially with a range of about 1 metre using near-field magnetic resonance. And while this seems more of a long shot, some cryptic comments from the CEO of a charging company suggest Apple may be planning something even more ambitious.
Steve Rizzone, CEO of Energous, spoke to The Verge before CES 2017 and dropped some big hints about the exclusive and secret "key strategic partnership" that the company signed a couple of years back and which has delayed the launch of its wireless charging tech... which has a range of 15 feet.
If you can't wait until the iPhone 8 to start charging your iPhone wirelessly, read How to wirelessly charge your iPhone.
In December 2014, USPTO awarded Apple a patent relating to a "personal computing device control using face detection and recognition".
Current iPhones and iPads can be unlocked using just your fingerprint, thanks to the Touch ID sensor. But with this patent, future iPhones and other devices could be unlocked using facial recognition: effectively, your face becomes your password.
More recently, DigiTimes has predicted that Apple is likely to launch iPhones equipped with iris-recognition technology in 2018; but at the end of August 2016 the site went further, reporting that Taiwan-based Xintec is expected to provide iris scanners to Apple for the iPhone launching in 2017.
JPMorgan analyst Rod Hall backed up this theory with his own prediction that the iPhone 8 will have a 3D laser scanner for face recognition, replacing Touch ID. (Working on the current widespread belief that there will be three new iPhones in autumn 2017, Hall says the iPhone 8 will definitely get the scanner, while the iPhone 7s and iPhone 7s Plus may or may not.) He expects the scanner to add between $10 and $15 to the production cost per unit.
And there's an Apple patent to add to the pile of evidence: US Patent 20170076077, published in March 2017, describes a method for "Locking and unlocking a mobile device using facial recognition".
In the Facebook post by Robert Scoble we mentioned earlier, one of the more surprising and detailed predictions concerns augmented reality and VR. "Really amazing VR/AR/mixed reality is coming to a phone, and coming by the end of 2017," Scoble writes.
"You pop it into a headset which has eye sensors on it, which enables the next iPhone to have a higher apparent frame rate and polygon count than a PC with a Nvidia 1080 card in it... You'll look through the glass in mixed reality modes (think of a new kind of Pokemon game) either in the headset, or in your hand. Apple's purchase of Metaio is going to prove very key. I won't be shocked to learn that Peter Meier, CTO there, is in charge of the next iPhone strategy and has been for years."
He discusses the impact that a mixed-reality iPhone could have on the market. "Apple's entrance into this new world is like when IBM came into the personal computing world. It is that important."
Scoble isn't the only pundit predicting that Apple is about to plunge into the world of augmented reality. Business Insider claims the company is already working on ways to integrate AR elements into the iPhone's Camera app.
"Apple wants consumers to be able to point the phone at a real-world object and have it be recognised, according to Kris Kolo, director of the VR/AR Association and a board member of Flyby Media, an AR startup that was acquired by Apple earlier this year," writes the site.
Business Insider further predicts that the iPhone's camera app will be able to recognise "and manipulate" faces in augmented reality.
And we've spotted a recent Apple patent application that appears to back up all this speculation. Patent 9,488,488, for 'Augmented reality maps', describes the use of a mobile device to view live video of whatever is in front of the user, and to then superimpose images related to nearby places of interest on top of the video.
Numerous Wall Street analyst firms have dissected the state of augmented reality technology and the likely nature and impact of a mooted 3D camera/scanner appearing in the late-2017 iPhone.
Stephen Milunovich of UBS strikes an optimistic note, predicting that "investors could be surprised at how AR could reinvigorate the iPhone/iPad and possibly result in new products" and citing Apple's hardware expertise and large coherent user base as reasons why it can make AR work. Morgan Stanley's researchers are less convinced, raising doubts over widespread consumer appeal (noting the rapid drop-off in interest seen even by Pokemon Go) and questioning whether smartphones will have sufficient processing power.
For more analyst comments on AR, we recommend Business Insider's comprehensive review of the material.
Read more: Apple VR and augmented reality rumours
We'd be strongly surprised if the iPhone 8 featured a headphone port, which would be a major admission of defeat for Apple. Instead, it makes sense for the company to double down on its 3.5mm-free future by offering premium Bluetooth headphones with its top-end smartphone, just as it bundled decent Lightning headphones with the iPhone 7.
What tech specs will the iPhone 8 get?
It's hard to predict precise specs this far in advance, but it's possible to draw some broad conclusions about where Apple is headed. Let's start with...
A report by the Wall Street Journal prophesies that Apple has big things up its sleeve for the next iPhone's screen, after turning out smartphones with lower resolutions than rivals for some years.
(If you compare the iPhone 7 and Samsung Galaxy S7, for example, you'll see that Apple managed only a 760 x 1334 resolution on its 4.7-inch screen, in comparison to the 1440 x 2560 5.1-inch screen that Samsung had to offer. Comparison possibly isn't the right word to use when the difference is as pronounced as that.)
The iPhone 8 will sit in Samsung's shadows no longer, according to the WSJ, which says Apple has asked suppliers to "submit prototype screens with better resolution than ones from Samsung". If this is true - and if the suppliers are able to match Apple's stipulation without pushing up price, weight or dimension, or reducing battery life or fire safety, to a degree that Apple finds unacceptable - then this would imply more than a tripling of the pixel count from one iPhone generation to the next.
In February 2017 Ming Chi Kuo predicted that the (5.15in) iPhone 8 will have a resolution of 2,436 x 1,125 and a pixel density of 521ppi, far higher than the iPhone 7's 326ppi. And the 5.8in version of the iPhone 8 - the iPhone 8 Plus, presumably - will have a resolution of 2,800 x 1,242 and a pixel density of 528ppi.
In November 2016, Barclays Research - via MacRumors - released a report predicting that the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus would have 5-inch and 5.8-inch screens respectively, compared to the 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. The analysts based the prediction on the testimony of sources within Apple's Asian supply chain.
The analysts warned, however, that the design "didn't sound 100 percent locked down" at this point.
But in January 2017 the theory was backed up by DigiTimes predicting that Apple will launch a 5.8-inch iPhone in the second half of 2017, citing anonymous sources in the Taiwanese supply chain. And Nikkei forecasts that the next iPhone "will come in three configurations - two with liquid crystal displays and one with a 5.8-inch organic light-emitting diode display".
In May, an Engadget source that leaked CAD plans to it claimed that both iPhones will get a screen size bump, with the the 4.7-inch version going to 5 inches, and the 5.5-inch "Plus" version increasing to 5.8 inches.
If you're wondering how Apple will fit in that extra screen space - will the phones be bulkier than the current handsets? - then fear not. It's understood that the larger screens will fit in bodies with the same dimensions as the current generation of phones, thanks to a bezel-free design.
iPhones contain proprietary processor chips that you won't find in other smartphones: there's an A9 in the iPhone 6s and an A10 Fusion chip in the iPhone 7, for example. But while these are made to Apple's own design and specifications, several other companies are involved: they contain technology licensed from ARM, and are manufactured, at present, by Samsung and TSMC. But that could change by the time 2018 comes around.
Intel has declared its intention of expanding its smartphone business, and is hot favourite to displace TSMC from the iPhone contract, according to the Nikkei Asian Review - an aim that may be more feasible thanks to the company's recently announced partnership with ARM. TSMC's ties with ARM have given it a competitive edge when it comes to securing the contract in the past.
"Intel is definitely the most formidable challenger for TSMC," said an anonymous chip-industry executive. "There is no rivalry between Apple and Intel so it's really likely that Apple could shift some orders there. The move is also in line with Washington's policy to encourage US companies to make more products at home."
Economic Daily News, however, thinks TSMC still has the gig, and will begin production of the A11 in April 2017. The site has little detail of the A11 design, but does say it will be fabricated with a 10 nanometre FinFET process, a significant upgrade from the A10 Fusion's 16 nanometres.
The iPhone 7 comes with 2GB RAM, while the iPhone 7 Plus offers 3GB. In February 2017 research firm TrendForce published a report predicting that the iPhone 8 (we assume they mean all models) will have 3GB RAM, which should provide a speed boost for the smaller-screen models.
The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus both comes in three storage configurations: 32GB, 128GB and 256GB. (The older iPhone 6s, 6s Plus and iPhone SE are available with 32GB and 128GB only.)
The TrendForce report linked above suggests that Apple may phase out the 32GB model for the iPhone 8 generation. The late-2017 iPhones will come in 64GB and 256GB configurations, the firm says.
This MIC report suggests that the new iPhones will feature the dual camera currently only available on the iPhone 7 Plus. This would mean that the smaller iPhone will also be able to take the portrait photos currently only offered by the bigger device.
Unverified schematics posted on Slashleaks also show a vertical alignment for the iPhone's dual camera, with the twin lenses stacked on top of one another. This has been backed up by the photos of "an iPhone 8 mockup that is believed to feature Apple's final design" that BGR got hold of in May 2017, which you can see in the leaked photos section.
This leaked image shared on Twitter also suggest that the dual camera layout might change:
The iPhone 7 Plus offers two cameras: one with a 28mm lens and the other with a 56mm lens, allowing for the portrait style photos with an SLR-like blured background. Future iPhones could offer even more camera lenses for an even greater coverage.
Apple seems to be keen to improve the camera capabilities of its iOS devices, and one patent published by USPTO in May 2014 suggests we could soon see iPhones that are able to capture "Super-resolution" photos thanks to optical image stabilisation, which is already a feature of the iPhone 6 Plus.
The patent describes a system that takes a series of photographs at slightly different angles and stitches them together to create a 'super resolution' photograph.
Related to the face-recognition tech we discussed earlier, Ming Chi Kuo thinks the anticipated front-facing 3D camera on the iPhone 8 will enable developers to come up with innovative new games and allow users to take 3D selfies.
Ming Chi Kuo has predicted that the iPhone 8 will squeeze a battery with a capacity to match the iPhone 7 Plus - 2,700mAH - into a chassis comparable to the iPhone 7. So we could see a significant battery life increase in the next generation of iPhones.
Another rumour holds that Apple will take the battery developments it deployed in the 12-inch MacBook - whereby contoured, layered battery units are stacked inside the chassis in order to take up every possible inch of space - and use these to squeeze more battery volume inside the iPhone.
There's also the possibility that the new iPhone could feature two batteries. A leak of the alleged schematics for the iPhone 8, posted on Slashleaks, shows that the main board is smaller and that there are two batteries rather than just one.
This idea is backed up by IDC analyst Sean Kao, who claims the new iPhones will use new, smaller printed circuit boards that would allow for a more powerful battery.
Smartphone battery life is one of those things that everyone says is important, and once again Apple will hear many requests for improved battery life in the iPhone 8 - but you do wonder how much of a compromise the average Apple fan would be willing to make in return. As Jony Ive put it in an interview with the Financial Times' 'How to spend it' supplement, "With a bigger battery [the iPhone] would be heavier, more cumbersome, less 'compelling'."
We still believe that most people would rather have a thin, relatively cheap iPhone than a fat, more expensive iPhone with an extra two hours of battery life. And since the launch of the battery pack case, anyone who would be willing to make that compromise now has an officially sanctioned alternative.
The price of the iPhone 8 in the UK
- iPhone 7 (32GB): £599
- iPhone 7 (128GB): £699
- iPhone 7 (256GB): £799
- iPhone 7 Plus (32GB): £719
- iPhone 7 Plus (128GB): £819
- iPhone 7 Plus (256GB): £919
However, there's an alternative theory - that the iPhone 8 (or iPhone Edition) will break the thousand-dollar barrier in the US for the first time (this is according to Fast Company, citing a source "with knowledge of Apple's plans"), which is likely to translate to a UK price of £940 or so.
There's also a report from China's Economic Daily News claiming that the new 3D Touch module for the iPhone 8 will cost 150 percent more than the module for the LCD-enabled iPhone 7. The report notes that standard OLED-based 3D Touch modules are usually around 50 percent higher than LCD-based modules, but Apple agreed to a quote that's 150 percent higher, and it's not quite clear why.
This is backed up by a report from MacRumors citing USB analyst Steven Milunovich. The analyst claims that the base 64GB iPhone 8 will cost between $850-900 in the US, while the high-end 256GB model will set buyers back somewhere between $950-1000. While it seems fairly expensive, it's comparable to Samsung's new Galaxy S8+, which starts at around $840 in the US.
Where will the iPhone 8 be built?
Donald Trump spent much of his presidential campaign complaining about Apple and its offshore manufacturing operations, and promising he would make the company build its iPhones in the US. Now he's trying to make his promises a reality. Read more: Where are Apple products made?
Speaking to the New York Times, Trump claimed to have spoken on the phone with Tim Cook and reached a degree of understanding about the matter.
"I got a call from Tim Cook at Apple," reported Trump, "and I said, 'Tim, you know one of the things that will be a real achievement for me is when I get Apple to build a big plant in the United States, or many big plants in the United States, where instead of going to China, and going to Vietnam, and going to the places that you go to, you're making your product right here.' He said, 'I understand that.'"
Apple has its reasons for building its smartphones in Asia, of course: labour costs are lower and there is, according to Cook, a shortage of relevant skills in the US. Moving manufacturing to America would lose Apple a lot of money. But Trump thinks he can sweeten the deal.
"I said: 'I think we'll create the incentives for you, and I think you're going to do it. We're going for a very large tax cut for corporations, which you'll be happy about.' But we're going for big tax cuts, we have to get rid of regulations, regulations are making it impossible."
What Trump did not claim - and past behaviour suggests he'd be singing it from the rooftops - is that Cook actually agreed to any of this, even in principle.
Since then, Trump has stated in an interview with Axios that Tim Cook has his "eyes open" to the idea of building iPhones in the US, and that he "really believes [Cook] loves this country and I think he'd like to do something major here", whatever that means.
Foxconn's US expansion
There was another twist in this tale when it emerged on 7 December 2016 that iPhone manufacturer Foxconn is indeed pondering an expansion of its (currently relatively small-scale) US operations, in a move that is apparently expected to involve $7bn of investment and create 50,000 jobs.
Eagle-eyed journalists spotted that paperwork being shown off to publicise SoftBank's US investment deal also featured Foxconn's logo, and appeared to suggest that the second figure in each pair of numbers referred to that company.
(Picture credit: CNBC)
Foxconn has since confirmed that it is in talks about expanding its US operations, although it has declined to comment on the figures given. "While the scope of the potential investment has not been determined, we will announce the details of any plans following the completion of direct discussions between our leadership and the relevant US officials," the firm said in a statement, according to Reuters.
Leaked images and videos of the iPhone 8
This is where we'll post leaked photos and video of the iPhone 8 and its components that we are able to dig up, as well as concept illustrations created by designers who are not affiliated with Apple.
These renders of the iPhone 8 design posted on the Chinese social network Weibo (you'll need to log into the site to see the link) were spotted on 24 May by 9to5Mac. They show the two most widely predicted and striking design changes: the vertically configured twin camera lenses, and the fingerprint sensor on the back of the device; you can also see a near-edge-to-edge display with almost non-existent left and right bezels.
They're digital renders rather than photos of finished products, and little is known about the Weibo user who obtained these images so we'd take them with a pinch of salt if we were you. We do think having the Apple logo above the fingerprint sensor is a bit ugly - hopefully that's not the direction Apple will take.
Benjamin Geskin, a well-known leaker, has posted this video which he claims shows a dummy model of the iPhone 8.
You'll note that in this case there's no sign of the rear fingerprint scanner, although as a dummy it's not clear how many of the final design elements have been built in. The rear-facing cameras are stacked vertically: that seems to be accepted by almost everyone now, much as it offends our eyes (at the moment, it's amazing what you can get used to).
BGR claims it's obtained photos of "an iPhone 8 mockup that is believed to feature Apple's final design". If this is all correct, this is what we can expect to see in September (or whenever the launch happens).
The design mostly looks pretty much the same as the iPhone 7 generation, with the odd-looking exception of putting those twin rear-facing camera lenses in a vertical configuration. And there's no headphone jack.
Concept iPhone 8 video
This YouTube video has been published showing a concept of what the new iPhone might look like based on the leaks and speculation.
Leaked schematic of the iPhone 8
Prolific leaker Steve Hemmerstoffer has tweeted a couple of leaked images showing the iPhone 8 with twin rear-facing camera lenses stacked vertically. It looks weird. As Steve says, these are both "tipped leaks", which means he doesn't yet view the sources as trusted, so take them with a pinch of salt.
The technical drawing leaked by Sonny Dickson
This drawing appears to indicate that the fingerprint scanner will move to the back of the iPhone.
These image were created by AlHasan Husni. You can see how much more screen space would be opened up if Apple removed the side bezels and reduced the size of the top and bottom bezels; the screen, in fact, extends over the curved edges of the side of the device.
Husni has also included the rumoured 'function area' along the bottom of the screen, taking the place of the current Home button:
Talking of function areas, take a look at these stunning mockups by Gabor Balogh, which focus on that particular anticipated new design feature, and how it will interact with the also-rumoured new augmented reality features.
Here's a lovely iPhone 8 concept - together with some fairly detailed specs - by Handy Abo Vergleich.
Concept images & video of edge-to-edge screen
With rumours of an edge-to-edge display proving popular, designer Thadeu Brandao got to work on a new concept for the iPhone 8.
Coined as "the next big step" in iPhone design, Brandao's renders look stunning, with the iPhone 8 sporting a nearly bezel-less display and an embedded Home button alongside a completely redesigned iOS 11.
Brandao's lovely concepts have been made into a video - an 'iPhone 8 commercial' - and posted on the YouTube channel ConceptsiPhone:
Leaked photo of iPhone with Smart Connector
According to a report and alleged leak from Mac Otakara, a forthcoming iPhone will feature a smart connector.
Mac Otakara claims "the possibility is great" that earlier leaked images are "the real thing", and even went on to claim that the next iPhone could be as thin as 6.1mm, although there was no source provided for this information.
An image render by Marek Weidlich shows us what the iPhone might look like if it had no bezels:
Macworld poll - What do you want from your future iPhone?
It's your turn. Which of these ideas appeals to you, or are you looking for something else entirely? Have you say in our poll.