Apple will release a tenth anniversary iPhone 8 in 2016, and this smartphone will undoubtedly be the highlight of the mobile year. The iPhone 8 will be expected to reverse the trend of receding sales for Apple in this critical area of its operations.
iPhone 8 – 5.8-inch version
The latest reports suggest that Apple will release a new larger phablet version of the iPhone 8 when 2017 rolls round. This suggestion comes from an unequalled source of credibility; noted Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities. Kuo suggests in his latest research note that Apple will manufacture a 5.8-inch iPhone 8 in 2017, and that this will benefit from an OLED panel. Kuo believes, though, that OLED technology will be limited to this premium iPhone.
We already know that this screen technology, associated with the Samsung Galaxy range, has been linked with the iPhone for many years, and it is expected that Apple will implement it at some point soon. Kuo also indicates that the active display area of this new handset will be between 5.1 and 5.2 inches for “specific design purposes”.
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This is a slightly cryptic remark, but it suggests that Apple could be considering a curved or wraparound display for this next generation smartphone. Naturally, it is well-known that Samsung has been hugely successful with the curved screen technology included in its device range, and Apple could now follow suit by releasing its own similar handset.
Aside from this, Kuo also predicts that Apple will release two LCD iPhone models in a 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch screen size, continuing the Apple policy from previous iPhone generations. With four iPhone models available, including the 4-inch iPhone SE released earlier this year, it indicates that Apple is attempting to cover all bases and appeal to a wide demographic of consumers.
Meanwhile, Bloomberg has commented that Apple could face supply issues for its proposed OLED display, with four main suppliers cited for the iPhone 8. Kuo, meanwhile, has suggested that Samsung itself will be the exclusive supplier for the display of the iPhone 8 premium version; something of a double-edged sword for the Korean manufacturer. On the one hand, there is no doubt that this would be an extremely valuable contract for Samsung. But, conversely, the corporation will have mixed feelings about assisting its most obvious market rival.
In a separate research note also published earlier this week, the aforementioned analyst Kuo furthermore indicated his belief that all of the iPhone 8 models released by Apple will feature dual-lens cameras, apart from the 4.7-inch version. The most affordable model of the iPhone 8 will stick to a single lens units, but Apple clearly intends to improve the photographic capabilities of its more premium releases.
And central to this process will be the introduction of optical image stabilization to both lenses included in each of the premium iPhone 8 devices. This will ensure an improvement over the current generation, and deliver arguably the best photographic device that Apple has ever released.
Reports have suggested that Apple will introduce wireless charging for the first time in a smartphone when it releases the iPhone 8. The manufacturer of the iPhone series, Foxconn, is already working on wireless charging modules, and this has led many observers of the mobile industry to put two and two together. Apple is currently monitoring the situation, if reports are to be believed, to see if the quality of these new units will be acceptable for the iPhone 8, and also to see if they can be mass produced at an acceptable price point, so whispers from Asia suggest.
And the latest murmurings indicate that Apple could implement a system which would enable the iPhone 8 to be charged from a distance of 15 feet. This could involve a system based on transmitters being plugged into wall sockets, with receivers embedded in the iPhone units. The technology in question is being developed by a company known as Energous, and Apple is reportedly tinkering with the idea of including this technology in the iPhone 8. Energous has previously claimed to be working with a ‘tier 1’ smartphone manufacturer, believed to be Apple’s major rival Samsung.
Neither party has remotely confirmed this iPhone 8 link-up as of yet, but it is notable that the manufacturer Energous has allegedly recently received a $10 million investment from Dialog Semiconductor. The top customer of Dialog Semiconductor is Apple, already accounting for 70% of the company’s sales.
Reports have also indicated that Apple is considering eliminating the aluminum reverse of the current iPhone in favor of introducing a glass back for the iPhone 8. This would be a significant design change for the series, and one that would obviously create an impression with consumers.
Apple could include a hexa-core processor in the iPhone 8, with an A11 chipset with advanced GPU also predicted. The iPhone 7 featured a quad-core 2.34 GHz unit, so the clock speed of the iPhone 8 is thus expected to exceed 2.5 GHz.
Early reports on the specs included in the iPhone 8 suggested that the RAM memory of the device could be doubled in comparison to this year’s iPhone 7. This would mean that that the iPhone 8 would benefit from 4 GB of RAM, ensuring that the system software would run particularly smoothly when coupled with the new processor.
Apple is also expected to updates to the TouchID and 3D Touch systems for the iPhone 8, although the precise details associated with this smartphone are not known at the time of writing.
Pricing and market challenges
There will be pressure on Apple to reduce the price of the iPhone 8 in comparison to previous releases, as the smartphone niche becomes more competitive. Already it has been reported that Samsung is considering reducing the price of the Galaxy Note 8, following the problems it experienced with the Galaxy Note 7 this year. This could have a knock-on effect on the iPhone 8, even though the market position of Apple is pretty much guaranteed.
Research published by market research firm TrendForce has recently indicated that the growth rate of smartphone production will lower to 2.5% in 2016,aAnd there are clearly diminishing returns in this niche. With Apple so reliant on smartphone sales in order to generate revenue, it is critical for the company to pay heed to these trends in the marketplace, and thus it may decide to offer consumers a real bargain with a price cut when the iPhone 8 is released.
There is no reason to believe that Apple will dispense with its usual release schedule for the iPhone 8, which will mean that the smartphone can be expected in September 2017.