Leaked schematics, concept designs, supply chain leaks, we have seen all that and more about Apple’s upcoming iPhone 8. The consistent flow of leaks and rumors has given us a decent idea of what the 10th anniversary iPhone would look like. But the new renders based on leaked CAD drawings offer us the best look so far at the iPhone 8 design.
iPhone 8 CAD drawings leaked from the factory
The renders come from noted tipster @OnLeaks and MySmartPrice. OnLeaks has a proven track record in providing accurate renders of yet-to-launch smartphones. The renders show the iPhone 8 in its full glory. The device sports an edge-to-edge OLED display. It has an all-glass back panel. The glass front and back are supported by a stainless steel frame.
— Steve H. (@OnLeaks) May 9, 2017
You can see the dual cameras placed vertically on the back. The vertical placement is reportedly aimed at supporting augmented reality applications. MySmartPrice claims these renders are based on CAD drawings leaked from the factory. According to the drawings, the device measures 143.5 x 70.9 x 7.7mm. It means the iPhone 8 will be slightly thicker than the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, which are 7.1mm and 7.3mm thick, respectively.
The TouchID dilemma
It is unclear from the renders where the TouchID fingerprint sensor is going to sit. Rumors indicate Apple is facing technical difficulties integrating TouchID into the display, so it could be moved to the rear panel. JPMorgan analyst Gokul Hariharan recently told investors that Apple hadn’t yet decided whether to place the fingerprint scanner on the back or under the display.
Equity research firm CLSA says there is a “high chance” the fingerprint sensor would sit on the back. It’s also possible that the TouchID sensor could be integrated into the Apple logo on the back of the device. The iPhone maker is testing multiple prototypes of the iPhone 8, and the leaked CAD drawings could belong to only one of them. It is unclear whether this is the final design.
The other two phones coming this year – the iPhone 7S and 7S Plus – will have the same design as the current iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, predicts JPMorgan analyst Gokul Hariharan. But the new phones’ rear panel would be made out of glass to support wireless charging.
iPhone 8 production unlikely to ramp up before October
KGI Securities told investors that there was a “rising probability of worst-case scenario” for iPhone shipments. Ming-Chi Kuo said the 10th anniversary iPhone would face prolonged supply shortages due to major component upgrades. Many other reports have also pointed to a delay in the iPhone 8 launch because of technical difficulties.
Kuo, who is well-connected within Apple’s supply chain, said the iPhone 8 production will be ramped up in October-November, a departure from the company’s August-September ramp-up cycle. The tech giant traditionally ramps up iPhone production at least a month before its launch to prepare for the high demand. KGI Securities continues to believe that the iPhone 8 will be introduced in September, but it will be incredibly difficult to get your hands on the device for several months after launch.
Anticipating the delay, Ming-Chi Kuo has slashed his new iPhone shipments forecast from 100-110 million units to 80-90 million units during the second half of this year. The analyst had also said last month that major component overhaul was causing supply bottlenecks. It’s not the first time an iPhone has faced supply shortages. Last year’s iPhone 7 Plus witnessed a constrained supply for the first several months after launch.
The technical difficulties facing Apple are many. First, the company is struggling to place the fingerprint sensor into the display panel, which is causing production issues. The 3D sensing module is also causing production problems. The 3D sensor is said to support facial recognition and augmented reality applications. Apple is also having problems with the OLED display lamination process.
Will Apple offer free AirPods with iPhone 8?
JPMorgan analyst Gokul Hariharan predicts that the $159 AirPods will come bundled with the iPhone 8 for free. The current iPhone boxes include wired EarPods with Lightning connector. Only Apple can tell how accurate Hariharan’s prediction is, but it seems unlikely that the company would give away a highly profitable product for free.
The AirPods have been a surprise hit. Apple is still trying to catch up with the massive consumer demand, even though it has a ridiculously high price tag of $159. The AirPods went on sale in December, but even today there is a six-week shipping delay. It makes little sense for Apple to include the $159 AirPods in the iPhone 8 box rather than the $29 EarPods without increasing the price further. The new features and upgrade are already expected to push its price tag above $1000.
Another reason Apple is unlikely to include it in the iPhone 8 box is production issues. The Cupertino company is still struggling to supply enough units to existing customers. It would be a major challenge for Apple to ramp up production to include AirPods in every iPhone 8 box. And analysts expect Apple to sell more than 60 million units of the iPhone 8 this year.