We have seen almost all kinds of leaks and rumors about Apple’s 10th anniversary iPhone. But sometimes the rumor mill or analysts make predictions that contradict every past report about the device or go against the common logic. Last week, JPMorgan analyst Rod Hall made similar predictions when the claimed that the iPhone 8 could be previewed at the WWDC next month. All other supply chain leaks have pointed to a delay in the iPhone 8 launch, some even claiming that the device won’t arrive until early 2018.
Could Apple give away the profitable AirPods for free?
In a separate research report, another JPMorgan analyst Gokul Hariharan told investors that the ridiculously expensive AirPods will be included for free in every new iPhone 8 box. Only time will tell if JPMorgan’s prediction is accurate, but it seems bizarre and unlikely at the same time. The current iPhone models come bundled with wired EarPods with Lightning connector.
One reason Apple is unlikely to bundle the iPhone 8 with AirPods is that the AirPods are still facing supply issues. They were made available in December, but if you order the product today, there is an approximately six-week shipping delay. The AirPods have been a surprise hit, and Apple is still unable to catch up with demand. It will be difficult for Apple to ramp up production to include them in every iPhone 8 box, especially considering the company is estimated to sell more than 60 million units in the first quarter of launch.
Another reason it doesn’t make sense is pricing. The AirPods sell at $159 in the United States compared to just $29 for EarPods, and are highly profitable. Why would the Cupertino company want to give away a $159 product for free if it can sell them separately to people willing to pay for the AirPods? Also, if they come bundled with the iPhone 8, it will merely be a needless expense to people who already own good earphones.
iPhone 8 display to have bezels on top and bottom
JPMorgan added that the iPhone 8 would come with an enhanced earpiece with significant improvements to stereo sound and waterproofing. The earpiece receiver is the cutout above the display that you hold against your ear during a phone call. Apple doubled it up as a speaker with the iPhone 7, which allows the device to deliver 2x the audio output of the iPhone 6S.
The research firm did not mention how it would improve the sound quality. You can expect the enhanced earpiece to be more waterproof. Previous reports claim that the iPhone 8 would have IP68 rating for water resistance.
Gokul Hariharan claims that the iPhone 8’s OLED display will not be truly edge-to-edge. Its edges will be similar to Samsung’s Galaxy S8, meaning it will be edge-to-edge only horizontally. There will still be reduced bezels at the top and bottom. Past reports have claimed that the display would cover the entire front panel. Apple has been testing nearly a dozen prototypes, and it is unclear which model would enter mass production.
The iPhone 7S and 7S Plus will have the same design as the last year’s iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, said the analyst. However, they will have a glass back similar to the iPhone 8 to support wireless charging. Though a glass back helps in wireless charging, it is structurally vulnerable as we have seen on the iPhone 4. The iPhone 8 is rumored to have a glass front and back supported by a stainless steel frame.
Touch ID will be located below the Apple logo on the back
JPMorgan indicates that Apple hasn’t yet decided whether to integrate the Touch ID fingerprint sensor into the front panel or on the rear. The tech giant is reportedly facing technical difficulties implementing the fingerprint scanner into the display. If it fails to overcome the issues, it may have to relocate the Touch ID to the back, similar to Samsung’s Galaxy S8. Equity research firm CLSA says there is a “high chance” the Touch ID will sit on the back of the device.
Sketches by CLSA show the Touch ID sitting below the Apple logo. The Galaxy S8 has the fingerprint sensor next to the rear camera. That’s an awkward position because you may accidentally place the finger on the camera lens when trying to unlock the Galaxy S8. CLSA’s diagram also shows the dual cameras placed vertically. The vertical setup is expected to support augmented reality applications.
JPMorgan said Foxconn will be the sole manufacturer of the iPhone 8, which will have the “most new features.” The iPhones will account for about 50% of Foxconn’s revenue this year. JPMorgan has said previously that the 10th anniversary iPhone would feature 3D facial recognition, wireless charging, and augmented reality applications.
The Wall Street expects to see continued differentiation in the iPhone lineup. Apple brought a larger iPhone 6 Plus with the iPhone 6 lineup and last year’s iPhone 7 line included a bigger 7 Plus with dual-camera system. This year, the OLED display version is expected to have a higher price than the iPhone 7S and 7S Plus.
Citi analyst Roland Shu recently told investors that Taiwan-based TSMC would start production of A11 chips in July. Apple recently asked the chip suppliers to produce 50 million units quarterly, suggesting that the company anticipates strong demand for the iPhone 8.