Apple's iPhone update in the autumn of 2018 could see three or even four new iPhones launched at the same time, and fans can't wait to hear the announcements.
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In this article we look at all the rumours concerning the successor to the iPhone X, and the expected larger iPhone X Plus (which a new report thinks will have triple rear-facing camera lenses): their release date, prices, design changes, tech specs and new features. There are also rumours that Apple will be introducing a new LCD model that will look like the iPhone X, but come at an entry-level price.
We also think Apple is likely to update the iPhone SE soon, so we have a separate article addressing iPhone SE 2 rumours - although that model may be phased out in favour of the rumoured LCD model.
What will the new iPhones be called?
Here are some of the possibilities:
- iPhone 9 and iPhone 9 Plus (for the successors to the iPhone 8 models)
- iPhone 11 and 11 Plus (aka iPhone XI and XI Plus)
- iPhone Xs and Xs Plus
- iPhone X Plus (to join the existing iPhone X)
- Or just plain iPhone and iPhone Plus
There are enough potential names for the new 2018 iPhone that we could probably write a whole article just about that! Tell us what you think in the poll below.
Release date for the new iPhones
We expect the successor(s) to the iPhones 8, 8 Plus and X to be unveiled in September 2018. This would be one year after the iPhone 8 launched, and is in line with Apple's usual habit (at least since the iPhone 4) of launching a new flagship iPhone every September.
In 2017 the company didn't launch all of its new iPhones at the same time: the iPhone X arrived one month after the 8 and 8 Plus. (Whether this was intentional isn't completely clear.) But, despite claims from a Korean report in June 2018 that a cheaper model will arrive in November, we don't expect there will be a staggered launch in autumn 2018.
KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes Apple's focus this year will be to ensure all the new models are ready to meet the same shipping date. "Achieving stable shipments and on-time shipping" will be the company's aim, he said in a research note back in October 2017.
And in March 2018 the Taiwanese site DigiTimes, citing "sources from Taiwan-based IC design houses", predicted that Apple would begin production earlier than usual - in Q2 - in order to avoid the stock bottlenecks it suffered in 2017.
How many new iPhones will Apple launch in 2018?
Initial reports indicated that three new iPhones would be announced in autumn 2018; although, reports in January 2018 suggested the company could launch four new handsets this year.
Back in November 2017 Ming-Chi Kuo predicted that three new models would launch in autumn 2018, and that these would have the same all-screen design with the now-familiar notch. In January he followed up with more details of each model:
- 5.8in OLED: iPhone 11 or XI, with largely same design as iPhone X
- 6.5in OLED: iPhone X Plus or XI Plus
- 6.1in LCD: a cheaper alternative - starting at around $700 - with the notch design of the X but slightly larger bezels. It will feature Face ID but not 3D Touch and won't have twin camera lenses on the rear; Kuo later predicted that this model could sell 100 million units. This new device is possibly codenamed Star.
We've since heard a number of slightly different predictions. Nikkei, citing "a source privy to the company's product designs", said we should expect two new OLED models, in 6.3in (rather than 6.5in) and 5.8in sizes, and an LCD phone measuring 6.1in.
However, if Apple was considering a 6.3in handset, it appears to have reverted to 6.5in if screen protectors from Olixar are designed according to the correct dimensions (and Olixar has a good track record with such things). In June 2018, three screen protectors were 'leaked' by the company which suggested dimensions of 5.8in, 6.5in, and a 6.1in screen and a slightly thicker bezel.
But there may even be a fourth new iPhone... According to DigiTimes Research senior analyst Luke Lin in January 2018, there will be four new iPhones, including an additional smaller handset (perhaps the successor to the iPhone SE).
- 5.7- to 5.8in LCD
- 6.0- to 6.1in LCD
- 6.0- to 6.1in OLED
- 6.4- to 6.5in OLED
Will Apple continue to sell the iPhone X?
A surprising rumour, which started doing the rounds in January 2018, holds that Apple is looking to end production of the iPhone X after only a year on the market. This appears to have been sparked by analyst Jun Zhang of Rosenblatt Securities making the (noticeably less controversial) prediction that the company "may be planning to cut iPhone X production for the June quarter by as much as 10 million units".
While this sparked predictions that Apple is discontinuing the iPhone X, it seems more likely that Apple will simply be ramping down production of what would by then be less of a hyped product, and focusing instead on making the new phones for autumn 2018 - which as discussed above could encompass the launch of three (or four) separate form factors.
If it's diversifying its product portfolio that much, Apple may withdraw more current products from sale than usual, which could mean the end of the iPhone X. But for the company to sell a smartphone for only a year (rather than keeping it on sale when the successor arrives, at a reduced price) would be unexpected.
iPhone 2018 prices
The iPhone X was positioned by Apple as a premium iPhone with a premium price - starting at £999/$999, while the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus were priced at £699/$699 and £799/$799 accordingly. We would expect the new models for late 2018 to be priced at a similar level.
However, respected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo's first research note since departing KGI Securities in April suggested that Apple will be offering a "more aggresive" pricing strategy for its three new iPhones in 2018.
He believes that Apple is concerned about "the negative impact of a higher price," but also that it has an improved cost structure thanks to assembly yield improvements. He suggests that the "iPhone X Plus" will cost $900-$1,000, the "iPhone X" will be $800-$900 (down from $999), and the LCD model will be $600-$700.
In terms of UK pricing, rather than doing a straight currency conversion, which wouldn't include VAT, it is generally more accurate (at least with iPhones) to switch the dollar sign to pounds - so that's £900-£1000 for the new 'Plus' handset, £800-£900 for the X-successor handset, and £600-£700 for the LCD model.
As discussed above, there are many reports and rumours indicating that in 2018 we won't have to pay as much to get an iPhone X-style handset.
An Economic Daily article from October 2017 maintained that more than one successor to the iPhone X is in the works: along with the top-tier iPhone X successor (codenamed Lisboa), there will be a more budget-friendly model (codenamed Hangzhou) to attract new customers.
KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo also believes Apple will introduce an iPhone with many of the X's features but a cheaper LCD-TFT screen with fewer pixels. Initially Kuo suggested this cheaper handset would cost between $649 and $749, but more recently he suggested that the LCD handset could cost $600-$700 (or £600-£700).
The introduction of a cheaper handset is thought to be in reaction to people balking at the price of the current iPhone X. In March 2018, Piper Jaffray analyst Michael Olson publicised a survey which suggested that a significant number of potential upgraders were put off by the iPhone X's price, and predicted that an iPhone X 'Lite' would be released to cater for these people.
If the iPhone X Lite replaces the iPhone SE as Apple's entry level handset it will still be a higher price of entry than currently - the iPhone SE prices start at $349/£349, while the iPhone 6s, which is also still available costs from $449/£449.
It is possible that Apple will keep on the iPhone 8 with a price around the $549/£549 mark that the iPhone 7 is currently, while the iPhone 7 may remain on sale at $449/£449 - Apple's new entry-level price.
New iPhone design changes
Here's everything we've heard about the 2018 iPhone's design so far:
We expect all of Apple's late-2018 iPhones to adopt the all-screen iPhone X design. This would mean the successors to the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, as well as the successor to the iPhone X, will have a bezel-free design, Face ID camera, and no Home button.
The bezel-less design allows Apple to fit a larger screen into the same size of body; for this reason a "reliable supplier information source" has told Macotakara that the so-called iPhone X Plus will have a giant 6.5in screen but a chassis of the same dimensions as the iPhone 8 Plus (which has a 5.5in screen).
We also expect the new models to feature a notch at the top of the display, incorporating the FaceTime camera and facial recognition sensors.
Case maker Olixar has produced three new screen protectors based on the expected screen measurements of the three new iPhones expected to launch later this year. MobileFun published details of these screen protectors in June 2018.
If the dimensions of the screen protectors are correct - and Olixar has correctly predicted the dimensions of previous iPhones - there will be three new iPhones, one model with a 5.8in display, one 6.5in ‘Plus’ model, and a model with a 6.1in screen and a slightly thicker bezel (this latter phone is though to be the rumoured, cheaper, LCD model).
The home button is no where to be seen, so all of these handsets will use Face ID.
The new notch could be smaller than the notch on the current iPhone X if another 'leak' from case maker Olixar is to be believed. In May 2018, Olixar showed off plans for it's own case and cover for a new iPhone SE, and interestingly those designs suggest that the new iPhone SE will have a smaller notch (via 9to5Mac). That may not be surprising given that the phone is smaller - but crucially it indicates that Apple has been able to squeeze in the components underneath the notch into a smaller space, and that could mean a smaller notch on the 2018 iPhone X successor.
Barclays analysts Andrew Gardiner, Hiral Patel, Joseph Wolf and Blayne Curtis also think that the notch is likely to get smaller: in a research note released on Valentine's Day 2018 they predicted this would affect the 2018 launch.
Another indication that the notch could get smaller comes via a patent application that suggests that Apple could be looking at a screen technology that allows sensors to be placed in microscopic spaces between pixels. These gaps would be so small you wouldn't be able to see them and it would mean that the sensors could be embedded in the display itself, rather than behind the notch, according to Digital Trends. However, this looks like it won't happen in time for the 2018 release.
Analysts have predicted that Apple is looking into a combined face recognition module and camera, which could result in the notch being shrunk down when the 2019 updates are announced.
But the notch disappearing entirely? Not likely. In February 2018, Apple doubled down on the concept, updating its App Store submission guidelines to insist that from April 2018, all apps must support the iPhone X's Super Retina display. That means "respecting safe areas, supporting adaptive layouts", and absolutely accommodating the notch.
Metal or glass back?
According to Nikkei, Apple is going to continue hedging its bets when it comes to materials. The site claims that unlike the OLED models, the LCD iPhone will have a metal back. It follows that this device probably won't be able to offer wireless charging.
What the metal-backed LCD-option could offer is a splash of colour: Nikkei adds that it "will be available in several colours". Rosenblatt analyst Jun Zhang, meanwhile, predicted in May 2018 that the cheaper LCD iPhone model released in late 2018 would launch in multiple colours, including blue, yellow and pink.
Jun Zhang argues that this step will be taken in order to appeal to younger users (which we would note was largely the justification used for the iPhone 5c in 2013, and that didn't go particularly well) and to differentiate between the LCD iPhone and the more expensive OLED models that will launch alongside it.
"Since Apple start to launch three new models every year, we believe the company needs to differentiate the designs of the LCD model from the two high end OLED models," writes Zhang. "One reasonable choice would be to add different colours."
As for the rest of the range, Bloomberg believes the giant iPhone X Plus could see the return of the gold colour option, which was withdrawn for the iPhone X launch.
"Apple is considering a gold [colour] option for the update to the iPhone X and the larger model," the site writes. "The company tried to develop gold for the current X handset, but abandoned it because of production problems... The gold option is especially appealing to consumers in Asia and may help boost sales in the region."
A gold iPhone X did once exist it seems, Apple just happen to have sent an image of a gold iPhone X to the FCC when it was seeking approval for the new handset, and those images are now public, via MacRumours.
In March 2018, gold iPhone images were posted by Ben Geskin, a prolific if somewhat indiscriminate leaker: he tends to be the first to post genuine shots of new products, but more cautious rivals are less likely to be taken in by fakes. So we cannot depend on this being reliable.
It's possible that this is one of the colour options being prepared for the autumn 2018 update, but it seems more likely that this is a the iPhone X in the un-released gold finish.
And at the end of May 2018 9to5Mac posted what it described as "sketchy" photos of an iPhone prototype in purple and green:
However, the respected leaker OnLeaks replied at once to claim that the images were taken from an old and since-removed MacRumors forum thread and to call the source "very unreliable and unrespectful", so these (reasonably nice-looking) photos are probably not to be believed.
New iPhone screen sizes
There could be three or four new screen sizes - including the biggest screen on an iPhone yet.
Rumours about a bigger screen go back some time. The Bell (via The Investor), quoting anonymous industry sources, claimed in May 2017 that Apple and Samsung had signed a deal for the supply of 5.28in and 6.46in sized OLED panels for the 2018 iPhones; although a report in August 2017 claimed the 5.28in model had been canned in favour of a 5.85in screen.
Then in November 2017 Ming-Chi Kuo predicted that there would be three new iPhone models: 6.5in, 6.1in and 5.8in, as mentioned above.
These dimensions seem are the ones that Olixar is going with in its screen protectors. These measure - in that case, the iPhone with the 6.1in screen has a slightly thicker bezel than the other models.
However, the we could still see different sizes - a January 2018 report from DigiTimes suggested the four new iPhones could come with screens in the following sizes: 5.7 to 5.8in (LCD model), two phones measuring 6.0 to 6.1in (one an LCD, the other an OLED) and an OLED model measuring 6.4 to 6.5in.
Finally, in May 2018, ET News predicted that there would be a 6.04in screen.
Screen resolution/pixel density
Earning the new branding Super Retina HD, the iPhone X had the highest resolution (2,436 x 1125) and pixel density (459 pixels per inch, or ppi) of any iPhone so far, and after that major upgrade we don't expect Apple to go any higher than 458ppi in 2018. But there have been some rumours.
It has been noticed on Twitter that eMagin, an OLED microdisplay maker that Apple (along with LG and Valve) invested in early in 2018, has the capability to make displays with a pixel density greater than 2,500ppi. Displays even close to that capability would be an extraordinary step forward for the iPhone range.
The reason we don't expect such a step is that eMagin makes microdisplays, and it's very difficult to recreate their capabilities on larger screens. eMagin's displays are designed for extremely close-up use - most obviously VR headsets - and it's therefore far more likely that this investment is significant in terms of Apple's VR ambitions.
OLED, LCD-TFT or Micro LED screens
There is some debate over how many new iPhones will feature OLED screens and which will get LCD instead.
According to Kuo (in Nov 2017), two of the new 2018 iPhones will feature a OLED screen, like the iPhone X, but one will have an LCD-TFT display, and therefore a lower price. The resolution of that model will be lower, too.
However, the model to get the 'budget' features will have a 6.1in screen, rather than the smaller 5.8in model Kuo is also predicting.
Kuo said: "Two new OLED models target high-end market; new TFT-LCD model aims at low-end & midrange markets: We believe the major hardware difference in the two new OLED models is size, in a bid to satisfy various needs of the high-end market. The new TFT-LCD model will differ significantly from the OLED models in hardware and design specs (for instance, the PPI will be lower). The primary selling points of the TFT-LCD model may be the innovative user experience of an integrated full-screen design and 3D sensing with a lower price tag (we expect it will likely be US$649-749)."
On 26 January 2018 Digitimes Research senior analyst Luke Lin said that Apple is leaning towards releasing two LCD-based iPhones in 2018. One of these LCD models will be 5.7in to 5.8in, and the other from 6.0in to 6.1in, reports MacRumors.
There are also reports appearing that suggest Apple is looking into using Micro LED screens. These could initially appear on the Apple Watch, as was the case with OLED, but eventually be used for the iPhone.
Apple's interest in the technology is clear from its acquisition of LuxVue (a company specialising in the field) back in 2014.
Micro-LEDs offer low power consumption, high brightness, ultra-high definition, high colour saturation, faster response rate, longer lifetimes and higher efficiency. While OLEDs offer many of these features, micro-LEDs offer higher brightness and colour saturation.
One last screen theory: for its LCD model, Apple could use the Super Bright Display featured in the LG G7 ThinQ. This would enable it to offer 1,000 nits brightness. We see how that device shapes up in our iPhone X vs LG G7 comparison.
This is a recurrent rumour, but sources suggest that it may finally come true within the next couple of generations.
In April 2018, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman cites a person "familiar with the situation" for his claim that Apple is working on phone screens "that curve inward gradually from top to bottom", although he acknowledges that this is highly unlikely to be ready for the 2018 update. Instead, Gurman expects curved iPhones to take two to three years to appear.
Part of the reason that curved screens are at last a realistic option for Apple comes down to OLED, the screen tech used in the iPhone X: OLED is far easier to produce in bent, folded or curved forms than the LCD tech that the company used in all previous iPhone models.
New iPhone leaked photos & illustrations
In this section we'll post the most interesting leaked photos of the late-2018 iPhone posted online. This far ahead of the launch we're more likely to see snatched images of components or prototypes than the actual device itself.
MobileFun published these images of Olixar's screen protectors designed for the three new iPhones in June 2018:
Russian-language site Wylsa - a site without an established track record, so we cannot vouch for its accuracy - claimed in June 2018 to have obtained leaked schematics for the 2018 iPhones:
This image, posted by the Twitter user Mr White, purportedly shows screen components for the 6.1in edition of the new iPhone. It's claimed that this is an OLED model, which goes against the widespread belief that the 6.1in phone will be a cut-price version using a LCD screen.
iPhone X 6.1 OLED pic.twitter.com/C9rYWNmShA— Mr·white (@laobaiTD) May 24, 2018
Here's another image from Mr White, this time claiming to show the new gold colour option. Mr White doesn't cite any sources so this may not be reliable, but it fits in with analyst expectations.
Slashleaks speculates that the following image shows "mostly likely iPhone X Plus initial screen protectors and sizes and demo prototypes for trial runs", but this has been met with a degree of scepticism online (although readers have voted it to a 'trust score' of 90 percent).
We will also post the best artists' renders as they appear. Ahead of an iPhone launch designers and illustrators around the world put their brains to the task of imagining radical new designs.
We mentioned a gold colour finish earlier; this black-and-gold concept is our favourite from a set of concept illustrations that the designer Martin Hajek has come up with:
Previously, renders appeared on iDrop News in October 2017:
Back in May 2014, Apple was granted a patent for "Electronic devices with sidewall displays", which could lead to future iPhones with displays around the sides and edges as well as on the front. The patent suggests that the sidewall displays could be an extension of the main touchscreen, and could be used to display app icons, or for slide-to-unlock functionality, music player controls, messaging readout, caller ID, system controls and more.
The problem is that it would be impossible to put a cover on the phone without taking away functionality - and without a cover the phone would be easily broken. Still, we have a concept image for such a design here:
New features & tech specs
The late-2017 iPhones added Face ID and wireless charging features. Here's what we're expecting in 2018.
KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicts that Apple will expand its new Face ID facial recognition tech to all new iPhones released in autumn 2018 because in-screen Touch ID fingerprint scanning remains a technological challenge - but adds that the latter is still a possibility.
Kuo warns that Apple's plans are likely to depend on how favourably Face ID is received. If users find it difficult, annoying or unreliable in use, the company will plough more resources into solving the under-screen fingerprint scanner problem.
On 8 Feb 2018 Kuo's prediction was backed up by two reports from Apple's Asian supply chain, which each agree that Face ID is coming to all three new iPhones in 2018. The Korean-language site ETNews and the Investor each quote industry sources to support their assertions.
Apple might have settled on Face ID with the iPhone X, but the company has explored the possibility of integrating the Touch ID fingerprint scanner into the display of a smartphone or tablet. In fact, Apple filed a patent describing a Touch ID display back in January 2013.
The patent describes how you could place your finger on the display to scan it, instead of the Home Button. It describes a touchscreen display with a fingerprint-sensing layer that could be used to introduce advanced multi-user support.
For example, Apple could use the fingerprint sensing display to only allow particular users to open certain apps. This could be useful for those with children who like to explore the iPad, for example.
Additionally, Apple could take the display even further. It could be used in conjunction with a piano app, for example, to teach users the correct finger placement for the instrument.
Enhanced NFC capabilities
iPhones have come with NFC chips since 2014 (the iPhone 6 was the first), but while NFC usually lets you do a wide range of things such as identifying a user and unlocking security doors, the chips in iPhones have largely been limited to Apple Pay. It's believed that Apple is about to 'unlock' the capacities of these chips - but it didn't seem to happen at WWDC 2018.
According to The Information's sources, the move is so advanced that Apple employees are already using the feature to open doors at the Apple Park campus.
"The change to the near-field communication, or NFC, chip, which is expected to be announced [in June 2018], could pave the way for people to use iPhones for other security-sensitive interactions, from paying transit fares and opening car doors to verifying their identity in other ways," the site writes.
It's easy to say what processor we'll get in the iPhone 2018: a proprietary Apple chip named "A12 [codename]", following the A10 Fusion in the iPhone 7 and the A11 Bionic in the iPhone 8 and X.
In May 2018 a Bloomberg report claimed that A12 chips for the next iPhone are already under production, according to Bloomberg sources.
The report claims that "people familiar with the matter" have revealed that TSMC has begun mass production of the new chips using a 7-nanometer design that "can be smaller, faster and more efficient than the 10-nanometer chips".
We already knew that TSMC had developed a 7nm FinFET production process (which they detail here), which could result in a 20 percent speed bump and a 40 percent reduction in power consumption over the 10nm chips.
The iPhone X and iPhone 8 (and the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor, used in the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus, Sony Xperia XZ2, LG G7 ThinQ, OnePlus 6, and others) all use 10 nanometer chips, so you can expect the next iPhone to be faster and more efficient than those handsets. Which could mean that the new phone (or phones) will offer improved battery life.
Samsung has said that it will start producing 7nm chips at scale in 2019.
In terms of batteries, it looks like we can expect improvements here in 2018.
According to KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo (in a report referred to above), the new models with LCD screens (successors to the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus) will have a 2850-2950 mAh battery. This should add up to 8% more capacity than the battery in the iPhone X. In these phones the battery will be rectangular.
And the models with the OLED screens (successors to the iPhone X, we'll call them the iPhone Xs and XS Plus, for the sake of argument) will offer an L-shaped, 3300-3400mAh battery. That is 25% more capacity than the iPhone X.
In other battery-related news, Korea Economic Daily claims that Apple has chosen LG Chem as the exclusive supplier for batteries that will be featured in the next-generation iPhone, due out in 2018. Citing an unnamed source, the report claims that LG has invested "hundreds of billions" in battery manufacturing facilities and that it'll be ready to begin full-scale production in early 2018, just in time for the 'iPhone 11'.
That's not all, either; the report also claims that Apple's next-generation iPhone will adopt a 'bent' battery module shaped like the letter 'L'. It's said that the optimised shape of the battery maximises internal space and also boosts charging speeds, two features that the iPhone desperately needs.
Apple currently fits two batteries in an L formation inside the iPhone X, as you can see in this image from iFixIt's teardown.
Alternatively, one persistent rumour holds that Apple will take the battery tech it developed for the original 12in MacBook (and retained for the 2016 version) - 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 capacity inside the fixed or even reduced volume that will be available in future iPhones.
Apple could even, thanks to the new technology, make more radical changes to the overall design of the iPhone, because its engineers would no longer to base their work on a fixed battery shape. Although the smartphone is such a mature market now that it would take a brave manufacturer to change its essential form - a bit like a mad microwave designer inventing one that's spherical.
The iPhone X already uses a double-layered logic board to save space.
According to Ming-Chi Kuo, the successor to the iPhone X could have 4GB RAM. The iPhone X has 3GB RAM.
Gigabit LTE/LTE Advanced
It might feel like its no time at all since 4G was introduced but the next big thing is Gigabit LTE, which is in itself a stopgap on the way to 5G. It seems likely that the 2018 flagship iPhone will feature this technology.
Gigabit LTE promises download speeds of up to 1000 megabits per second. Gigabit LTE-ready smartphones will also benefit from being able to get a data connection miles away from a tower, and they will be able to get connected even when they are surrounded by other devices jostling for the same airspace, say at a busy train station.
Some phones are already capable of supporting the new technology, including the Galaxy Note 8. The iPhone X however, does not support Gigabit LTE.
Gigabit LTE is only available at EE test sites at London's Tech City and in Cardiff. But in 2018 that will change as EE rolls out Gigabit LTE around the country. Then those phones that are ready to support it will be able to take advantage of the faster upload and download speeds, the iPhone X won't.
However, when it launches 5G, which promises speeds in excess of 1Gb/s (or even 10Gb/s), will require a completely different modem chip to be used inside smartphones, so even Gigabit LTE ready phones will miss out. More on 5G below...
One of the landmarks in iPhone history was the inclusion of 3G in its second-generation model; with the launch of the iPhone 5 Apple fans got 4G as well. Now it seems that 5G could be on its way, if testing works out.
Apple has submitted an application, obtained by Business Insider, to test "cellular link performance in direct path and multi-path environments between base station transmitters and receivers" using the 28GHz and 39GHz bands, approved for 5G, and 'millimetre wave' wireless technology.
"These assessments will provide engineering data relevant to the operation of devices on wireless carriers' future 5G networks," the application adds.
5G will deliver faster cellular internet connections, but the details remain fuzzy: currently, there are no standards for 5G, although many companies are working towards agreeing on technology and specifications. You can read more about the latest 5G developments here: What is 5G?
Perhaps Apple is intending to wait for 5G rather than adding LTE Advanced capabilities to the iPhone? If it is there may be a long wait: the first public 5G networks aren't expected to roll out in the UK until 2020, although some preliminary implementations may arrive in 2019. It's unlikely that 5G will become widespread until 2022, though.
The wireless charging you get with the iPhones 8 and X is the kind, commonplace with today's technology's standards, where you still have to physically place the device on a charging mat. It's convenient, but not exactly a game-changer, since the two elements have to be in contact or within a couple of centimetres.
Bloomberg, however, reckons Apple is working on longer-range wireless charging, potentially charging at a distance of about 1 metre using near-field magnetic resonance. And 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 major hints about an exclusive "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.
"That 'key' partner is suspected to be Apple," observes The Verge, "and Energous - though declining to state its partner's name - is certainly happy to fuel the speculation. Rizzone says the partnership is with 'one of the largest consumer electronic companies in the world. I cannot tell you who it is, but I can virtually guarantee that you have products from this company on your person, sitting on your desk, or at home.'"
Energous isn't the only company working on long-range wireless charging. In February 2017 it was reported that Disney Research has come up with a new method for wirelessly transmitting power throughout a room: users would be able to charge electronic devices anywhere in that room, much as they connect to WiFi with current technology.
The iPhone X boasts that it's "fast-charge capable", but the charging unit bundled with the phone won't blow your socks off with its speed. Well, according to ChargerLab, Apple is going to include an altogether more powerful charger with the late-2018 models.
"According to our exclusive sources inside production lines," says the site, "it will ship with an 18-watt USB-C to Lightning fast charger... Using a USB-C for power delivery should result in significantly faster power delivery compared to the USB-A ports that Apple had been using since 2007."
(Speculation about a switch to iPhones being bundled with USB-C instead of USB-A cables was further enflamed in mid-May 2018 by news of a price drop to the USB-C-to-Lightning adaptor that Apple currently sells separately.)
ChargerLab claims to have further details on the charging unit itself, predicting that it will be thinner than the currently used components "and not in that square-shaped white cube form factor. This will make it more convenient and portable."
Apple Pencil compatibility
iPhone fans have been requesting this for a while, and although the case for stylus input on iPhone is less clear-cut than on iPad, there are definitely situations where it would be helpful. And the bigger the screens get, the more useful a stylus would be - which makes the iPhone X, and even more so the rumoured iPhone X Plus, strong candidates for Apple Pencil compatibility.
One source, sadly, predicts that we're a little further away than that. Speaking to the Korea Herald in November 2017, anonymous industry sources claimed Apple is working on a smartphone that comes with a "digital pen" - not necessarily the Apple Pencil - and this will be launched in 2019. This idea does seem to be at odds with Steve Jobs claims that the best stylus is the finger.
New iPhone Cameras
Here's where we see the iPhone cameras heading in the 2018 update.
We still think this is more likely to appear in the 2019 update, as was suggested by the original rumour, but a report in June 2018 is now arguing that the late-2018 iPhone X Plus will have triple camera lenses on its rear.
Korea Herald's report mainly focuses on Samsung developments, but briefly adds that "one of Apple's next premium smartphones, reportedly named as the iPhone X Plus, is also anticipated to come fitted with three camera lenses on the rear."
Front-facing 'TrueDepth' 3D camera
According to KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo (in October 2017) the iPhone X's 3D sensing capabilities are already at least one year ahead of Android smartphones so it's unlikely we will see an update to that technology in 2018.
However, in 2019 we may see improvements to the TrueDepth Camera on the front of the iPhone (as well as a TrueDepth camera on the back of the device, which we will discuss next).
As mentioned above, it seems unlikely that Face ID, or any of the TrueDepth technology, will make it to the iPhone's rear-facing camera in 2018. However, that doesn't mean that the camera on the rear of the iPhone won't get clever new features.
In November 2017, Bloomberg reported that 2018's iPhone 11/Xs/Xi will have a 3D scanner on its rear sensor array, citing "people familiar with the plan". This is in addition to - and distinct from - the existing TrueDepth scanner on the front, which is used for Face ID, Animoji and similar features, and which "relies on a structured-light technique that projects a pattern of 30,000 laser dots onto a user's face and measures the distortion".
Instead, the new system would use "a time-of-flight approach that calculates the time it takes for a laser to bounce off surrounding objects", the site claims.
It's believed that this new scanner will be used primarily for augmented reality (AR) applications: building a 3D model of the surrounding environment, and then delivering information and functionality related to this model. Apple has already gone big on AR, with the launch of ARKit at WWDC 2017.
In June 2016, Apple filed a patent to prevent people from recording at concerts through an infrared signal. This is to address the complaints made by artists that fans are uploading bad quality videos of their performances, quality control being the issue here.
The patent has been met with some critics; with some saying it invades their privacy. Others have seen it as a good move for artists and those who want a non-smartphone environment. This can also be used in an educational way, with an infrared signal used to give more details about a certain object, such as a plant.
It's still not clear how the technology will really be used, but it's clear Apple is thinking about it.
Apple seems 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' image.
Apple doesn't suggest a device would capture every photo this way. Instead, the user would have the option to turn super-resolution mode on, much like HDR and Panorama modes.
Several rumours suggest Apple plans to introduce a feature like this with an iPhone in the near future, with reports pointing to a 'DSLR-quality' capability that would represent the biggest camera jump in iPhone upgrade history.
DigiTimes has reported that Apple is already booking in production for iPhone cameras above 12Mp in resolution. This is at a new factory built by lens maker Largan Precision in Taiwan.
Apple is also investigating the possibility of making interchangeable iPhone camera lenses.
In January 2014, the company was issued two patents that describe methods of attaching camera modules to devices such as the iPhone and iPad.
The first patent, titled "Back panel for a portable electronic device with different camera lens options", describes a portable electronic device that has a removable case that would allow camera attachments such as wide-angle or fisheye lenses.
The second patent, titled "Magnetic add-on lenses with alignment ridge," offers an alternative method of attaching new camera lenses to the iPhone using magnets.
It's already possible to use detachable iPhone camera lenses, of course, but at present those are exterior accessories made by third parties. You can also read about our pick of the Best iPhone camera lenses.