Apple usually releases its iPhone devices in September, and this was certainly the expected release schedule for the iPhone 8. But reports have suggested that the smartphone may be delayed this year after all.

iPhone 8 launch date
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October launch date?

The Chinese language publication Economic Daily News suggests that the launch of the iPhone 8 could be pushed back to either October or November, citing supply chain issues. An increasing proportion of iPhone components are manufactured in China, and Economic Daily News has a reasonable record in delivering unique Apple titbits already.

And the publication suggests that “technical issues related to the lamination process of curved OLED panels” could pose significant difficulties for Apple, which would prompt the Californian corporation to delay the release of its most important product.

OLED challenges

Apple may also have problems getting hold of the requisite number of OLED panels, with the technology largely anticipated to feature in the next generation mobile. Reports have suggested that Apple is already attempting to acquire 70 million OLED panels with the intention of including them in the iPhone 8 later this year. Sources close to the Apple supply chain provided this information to Nikkei Asian Review, with the publication noting that the large order number suggests that Apple expects the iPhone 8 to be a massive seller.

Nonetheless, this will obviously be the first time that Apple adopts OLED technology for inclusion in its iPhone range, which could be challenging for the corporation, while the Cupertino-based tech firm is also expected to produce the first ever curved screen iPhone this year. This represents a significant overhaul of the iPhone concept, and this could mean scheduling is even more challenging for the consumer electronics giants than usual.

95 million units

Analysts believe that Apple may produce 95 million iPhone 8 units in 2017, as it looks to meet what may be heightened demand. Ironically, its great rival Samsung will be intimately involved in the plans for the iPhone 8, with Apple intending to utilize the Korean corporation as a major supplier.

Although Samsung has been using this technology for many years, it is thought that the availability of OLED maybe problematical. Samsung naturally intends to utilize OLED displays in future device releases, while Apple is also demanding a quite significant number. This adds up to a challenging supply chain environment for the California company, and one which East Asian sources believe could ultimately delay the iPhone 8.

However, it should be said in mitigation that this is hardly the first time that a media report has suggested that an iPhone release could be delayed. Quite frequently such rumours emerge without anything ultimately coming of them, and Economic Daily News suggested the iPhone 6 would launch a month early, which turned out to be wide of the mark.

But Apple is also expected to integrate new technology into the iPhone 8, with this release representing the tenth anniversary of the iPhone range. Analyst expectation is that Apple will produce something outstanding in order to mark this occasion, and the number of units seemingly being anticipated and ordered by the manufacturer does suggest that this conclusion is valid.

Staggered release

If Apple pushes out the boat with the iPhone 8 and attempts to produce something revolutionary then this will obviously create further challenges for the corporation, increasing the likelihood that the release date will indeed be pushed backwards.

Another suggestion that has appeared in the media periodically is the idea that Apple could have a staggered release of three separate iPhone models in 2017. Many indeed believe that Apple will produce three separate devices in the calendar year, but whether the company would seriously consider releasing them at separate times remains to be seen. Previous iPhone releases have always been simultaneous, and it would be something of a surprise for Apple to hold back at least one model of the iPhone 8.

Share price rise

In other iPhone news, the potential of the iPhone 8 has caused some investment groups to respond favorably to Apple stock. In particular, Pacific Crest Securities to raise its price target on Apple shares, suggesting that the 12-month price should be $150, up from $140. Apple shares have long since smashed through the psychologically important $100 barrier, and the corporation has enjoyed a favorable trading year, with its share price up around 60% from the lows of May 2016.

Pacific Crest analyst Andy Hargreaves believes that the future is bright for Apple, and is positive about the potential of the iPhone 8. “We continue to recommend owning AAPL. Recent checks at suppliers indicate strong initial indications of component orders for the coming iPhone cycle, which prompts an increase to our unit estimates at the high end of the iPhone lineup. This drives our EPS estimates higher,” Hargreaves commented.

The analyst slightly disagrees with predictions regarding the manufacturing of the iPhone 8, suggesting that Apple may produce even more units than suggested elsewhere. Hargreaves believes that the the consumer electronics behemoth could build 100 million iPhone 8 handsets in the second half of 2017 to meet huge demand.

New innovations

Meanwhile, reports have suggested that Apple will finally implement wireless charging with the iPhone 8, following suggestions that Foxconn is investigating the technology for future Apple devices. Apple is expected to provide an enhanced version of wireless charging that will enable consumers to charge the device at a distance of 15 feet.

Apple is also said to be working on another major innovation for the iPhone 8, with an entirely new type of connector set to appear in the iconic smartphone. The Ultimate Accessory Connector delivers an eight-pin connection, smaller and thinner than either USB-C or Lightning ports. The precise specifications and advantages of Ultimate Accessory connection are not known as of yet, but it will be interesting to see whether this indeed features in the iPhone 8, even if we may have to wait a little longer than usual in order to get our hands on this device.