With the official launch of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus behind us, it’s now time to speculate on Apple’s future. Even before Apple launched this year’s smartphone models, rumors and speculation regarding the iPhone 8 had already started making their rounds on the web. So far, we’ve seen rumors including an edge-to-edge OLED screen, camera upgrades, and more. Now, information has surfaced suggesting that the next iPhone model won’t be constructed out of aluminum, as the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus both are, but of zirconian ceramic.
Zirconia Ceramic the ideal material for the iPhone 8
During Apple’s event, hardware upgrades certainly were not the focal point of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus’ launch. The Cupertino-based tech giant upgraded the camera sensors, the processor, and Touch ID for the devices this year, among other things. Even so, these changes and upgrades in the phones were not as definitive and drastic as the industry has come to expect with Apple.
There was one interesting upgrade on the new iPhone models this year. The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus were both further refined into a single unit of aluminum and glass. With the iPhone 7 models, it seems as if Apple has reached their limits as to what they can do with aluminum. So what’s Apple’s next step? The new high-end variant of the Apple Watch might offer some clues.
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The newest Apple Watch Series 2 is made of Zirconia Ceramic, an ultra-strong ceramic material. What if Apple decides to make the iPhone 8 out of Zirconia Ceramic as well? As metallurgist Brian Roemmele aptly explains, the qualities of ZrO2, or Zirconia Ceramic, would fit Apple’s iPhone needs perfectly.
Compared to aluminum, Zirconia Ceramic offers better strength and scratch resistance, it’s able to dissipate heat a lot more efficiently, and it’s radio transparent. An iPhone made of Zirconia would offer better durability than aluminum models as well, and would not require annoying antenna bands on the outside since it would let all cellular, Wi-Fi, GPS, NFC and Bluetooth signals simply move through the material.
Additionally, Zirconia Ceramic is actually easier to mass-produce than one might expect, and could potentially be even cheaper to make than the current “manufacturing, milling, and CNC machining of the unibody aluminum for the iPhone 7, in high production,” says Roemmele. On top of that, Zirconia Ceramic can be pigmented in any color, allowing Apple to continue to offer different color iPhone options for their consumers.
iPhone 8 to change the smartphone industry
“In September 2017, Apple will be releasing the 10th Anniversary iPhone 8,” writes Roemmele. “It is my view Apple will use this moment to present a completely new iPhone design that will be more revolutionary in many ways. I assert the design language will be based on more organic shape and design.”
Roemmele continues, “There will be ergonomic curves that will mold into the new AMOLED display being driven by video chips that simply could not have thermally operated in such a small space without the heat efficiency of Zirconia Ceramics. The iPhone 8 will not just be water resistant but waterproof and dust proof to a level never seen before on a smartphone. The lightning port will look more like the Mag-Safe system used on the MacBook Pro devices  and mostly use inductive charging. Of course, there will be no 3.5mm audio jack.”
While this all sounds well and good, it’s important to keep in mind that this is all internet speculation and hearsay, so it’s probably a good idea to take all of this information with the proverbial grain of salt.