The iPhone 8, which noted Apple analyst Gene Munster refers to as the iPhone X, is the most awaited smartphone of the year. Though the phone’s launch is still several months away, Munster conducted a survey to gauge consumer interest in upgrading to the iPhone 8 compared to last year’s iPhone 7. The Loup Ventures analyst also looked into the interest in the augmented reality (AR) features.

iPhone 8 Concept
Image Source: Moe Slah / Concepts iPhone / YouTube video (screenshot)

Buyer interest may go up or down in coming months

Munster surveyed 502 people in the United States, of whom 234 were iPhone owners. The analyst found than 23% of the total participants were planning to upgrade to the iPhone 8 aka iPhone X. When Gene Munster was at Piper Jaffray, he conducted a survey in July 2016 and found that only 15% consumers were willing to upgrade to the iPhone 7.

iPhone 8 Gene Munster
Image Credit: Gene Munster / Loup Ventures (screenshot)

The last year’s survey was conducted when the iPhone 7 was just two months away. Munster said in a blog post that interest in upgrading to the iPhone 8 was “meaningfully higher” than for the iPhone 7 even though the upcoming phone is at least six months away. As the iPhone 8 launch approaches, buyer interest may go up or down depending on whether rumors circulating ahead of the launch live up to the initial hype.

The 10th anniversary iPhone is rumored to come with a radical new design and a bunch of new features. It is expected to come with an edge-to-edge OLED screen, a glass-stainless steel design, wireless charging, no physical home button, and augmented reality features. The fingerprint sensor will be embedded in the phone’s display. The iPhone 8 is also said to have a dedicated “function area” at the bottom of the display similar to the Touch Bar on the new MacBook Pro.

Popularity of the iPhone Upgrade Program to boost iPhone 8 sales

Increased demand for this year’s flagship iPhone could be attributed to the rising popularity of Apple’s iPhone Upgrade Program, said Munster. KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicts that the 10th anniversary iPhone will have a dedicated 3D sensor module on the front to enable facial recognition and support augmented reality features.

However, IHS Markit analyst Wayne Lam says that the device would have a flat screen rather than a curved display that wraps around the edges. The flat OLED display is easier to produce and more resilient than its curved counterpart. The smartphone could not arrive until November because some of its components won’t be ready for mass production until September.

iPhone 8 buyers interested in AR

Munster also asked participants whether they were interested in augmented reality features. About 26% of those planning to purchase the iPhone 8 were interested in augmented reality. By comparison, only 16% of those who don’t intend to buy the device expressed interest in AR. People in the age group 18-29 years were most interested in augmented reality.

iPhone 8 AR
Image Credit: Gene Munster / Loup Ventures (screenshot)