Excitement is growing now regarding the release of the iPhone 8, particularly as this tenth generation handset is expected to be pretty special. Yet while many aspects of this critical item of consumer electronics have yet to be decided, the release date is proving particularly contentious. Of course, speculation over release dates is common in all consumer electronics markets.

Apple iPhone 8 Concept
Image Source: Thiago M Duarte / Ran Avni / ConceptsiPhone / YouTube video (screenshot)

Historical precedent

Apple has released recent iPhone handsets in September, although this has not always been the case historically. Indeed, the very first iPhone release occurred on June 29, 2007, and in the early years of the range the iPhone always landed in the summer months. Meanwhile, the iPhone 4S was released in October, before Apple eventually switched to the September release date policy that has been implemented ever since. It is also notable that the two Apple Watch releases from Apple occupied completely different timeframes.

But there have been several reports recently which suggest that Apple could push the release date of the iPhone 8 back due to logistical and technical difficulties. This could see the iPhone 8 launch in October, or Apple could even consider delaying the handset until November. Meanwhile, there have even been a smattering of reports which suggest that the iPhone 8 project could be shelved completely in favor of two iPhone 7S upgrades.

This suggestion had emanated from sources within the critical Foxconn supply chain corporation. Reports at that time indicated that Apple only intended to place orders for the iPhone 7S and iPhone 7S Plus, rather than the OLED iPhone 8. While a September release date was predicted for these two new smartphones, the revolutionary iPhone 8, it was indicated, would instead be pencilled in for a 2018 release date.

iPhone 8 OLED difficulties

Driving this supposed delay in the iPhone 8 has been an apparently poor yield of OLED displays. It is basically assumed by now that Apple will include this screen technology in the next generation smartphone, switching away from the LCD that has served it so well in the past.

Of course, with the Samsung already utilizing OLED in its Galaxy handsets, this means that there is something of a premium on the display technology. And this means that it could be difficult for Apple to acquire all of the advanced components required ahead of the proposed launch of the iPhone 8 in September.

There is definitely a logic behind this suggestion, and such reports may yet indeed turn out to be accurate. But recent murmurings have instead suggested that the concerns about the iPhone 8 release dates have effectively been hogwash. Or perhaps Apple has managed, given its vast resources, to solve the production problems that were correctly reported.

Morgan Stanley report

Regardless of this, the investment bank Morgan Stanley certainly doesn’t believe that Apple will have difficulties in producing an acceptable iPhone 8 by September. A research note from the significant financial organization suggests that the next-generation Apple handset will release as normal, landing on store shelves across the United States in mid-to-late September.

Interestingly, Morgan Stanley also indicated in its research that it had not encountered any particular production problems or delays in researching the topic. “Morgan Stanley’s Greater China Technology Research colleagues have not yet seen delays in the supply chain and still expect new iPhone production to start on time for most of the components [including OLED],” the investment bank commented.

Backing up this suggestion has been the online leaker and prolific tweeter OnLeaks, who suggested on the social media platform that mass production of the iPhone 8 will begin in summer, with the launch following in September.

Yet there have still been many credible sources ready to suggest that the iPhone 8 will indeed be delayed. The Korean Economic Daily News reported on this eventuality earlier this week, citing sources close to the Apple supply chain which suggested that the iPhone 8 would indeed be released later than usual. However, this Korean publication did at least indicate that we can expect a next-generation iPhone release before the end of the calendar year.

Legendary analyst

Meanwhile, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo concurred with this scenario, suggesting that there is a likelihood of a “worst case scenario” delay. Kuo is possibly the best-connected Apple analyst in the world, and having spoken to his sources, the leaker indicated that the company is facing a two-month iPhone production delay. This would obviously mean that the iPhone 8 would not appear until around November.

The opinion of Kuo simply must be taken seriously, as he is by far the most renowned prognosticator and analyser of Apple products. By now, he has built up a formidable set of connections in the industry, and his exemplary track record absolutely speaks for itself.

However, the industry moves very quickly, and what is big news one day soon becomes forgotten. Apple is an unusually resourceful company with many tricks up its sleeve, and it just because the situation seems to be critical at one time, does not mean that it cannot be rapidly resolved.

It seems probable that the reports emerging from the Apple supply chain, as recounted by Kuo, where indeed accurate, at least at the time that they were disclosed. But this doesn’t mean that the situation will remain that way indefinitely, and the estimated arrival of the iPhone 8 could fluctuate pretty rapidly on this basis.

There are arguments for and against Apple delaying the iPhone 8. On the one hand, the consumer electronics giant has never been shy about pushing back release dates in order to perfect a particular device. Apple products must work like clockwork; the user-friendly and intuitive nature of iDevices is central to their appeal.

Samsung pressure

Conversely, Apple is actually under a bit of pressure with the iPhone 8 release, as Samsung has recovered admirably from its Galaxy Note 7 fiasco. With the Korean corporation planning a big Galaxy Note 8 release, possibly due for release in August, Apple will want to get its flagship product range out of the gate and up against its rival as quickly as possible.

Considering this, and the fact that Apple has continually released iPhone devices in September over the last few years, it still seems that the smart money would be on a September release date, despite the credible opposition to this notion.