The hype around Apple’s 10th anniversary iPhone shows no signs of abating. The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this week that the iPhone 8 launch event would be held on September 12. Millions of existing iPhone users haven’t upgraded their devices in more than two years due to the lack of a new form factor. The iPhone 8 with its radical new form factor is expected to drive iPhone shipments to record levels.

iPhone 8 to boost iPhone Shipments

iPhone shipments to grow only 1.5% this year

Research firm IDC said in its latest report that Apple would see a 1.5% YoY growth in iPhone shipments this year. That doesn’t sound impressive, but it’s far better than the 7% decline in 2016. IDC predicts the iPhone 8 launch will trigger a major upgrade cycle, boosting the iPhone shipments by 9.1% in 2018. The 10th anniversary iPhone is set to launch in September, so why won’t shipments show any significant improvement this year?

IDC believes the iPhone 7S and 7S Plus would go on sale in September, and are unlikely to face any supply shortage. However, the iPhone 8 will be available only in limited quantities during much of this year’s holiday quarter. The market research firm said in its report that a majority of the iPhone 8 shipments would land early next year, driving growth through much of 2018.

The near double-digit growth can be attributed to smartphone upgrades. Most consumers still upgrade their phones roughly every two years, even though wireless carriers have tried to encourage frequent upgrades by offering smartphones with installment plans. Currently, there are about 635 million iPhone users, a large majority of whom haven’t upgraded their devices in the last couple of years.

iOS market share to shrink slightly by 2021

Talking about the operating systems, IDC said the market was dominated by Android with an 85.2% market share. Android has seen its share rise by 2.3% from a year ago. Apple’s iOS commands a 14.6% share, up 1.5% from last year. The remaining share is taken up by dying platforms such as Windows Phone. IDC expects Apple’s share to drop slightly to 14.4% by 2021. However, the Cupertino company will enjoy a 36% share of the “device market value” by 2021 because of the higher price tag of its devices.

After IDC’s report, Apple shares hit a record high on Tuesday. The stock jumped 0.89% to $162.91, taking Apple’s market value to $841 billion. Canaccord Genuity analyst T. Michael Walkley told investors that the iPhone 8 upgrade cycle would “drive record earnings.” Canaccord Genuity said their surveys indicate a strong consumer interest in the 10th anniversary iPhone.

A new design, innovative features to drive sales growth

The iPhone 8 would sport a new 5.8-inch edge-to-edge OLED display. The iPhone 8 design accidentally leaked by Apple shows a cutout at the top to accommodate the 3D infrared sensor, front camera, and ear speaker. The screen on either side of the cutout will likely be used to show the icons for WiFi, signal strength, battery, and time. The device will do away with the physical fingerprint sensor for good.

According to Mark Gurman of Bloomberg, the Touch ID fingerprint sensor on the iPhone 8 will be completely replaced by facial recognition technology. Apple’s 3D facial recognition will be able to recognize your face in “the millionth of a second.” Previously, there were speculations that the fingerprint sensor would be integrated into the display.

Besides 3D facial recognition, the iPhone 8 will have wireless charging, up to 512GB of internal storage, and a faster A11 chipset. It will also boast of augmented reality features that would dramatically change the way we interact with our smartphones. Both lenses in the iPhone 8’s dual camera system are said to support optical image stabilization. Last year’s iPhone 7 Plus had OIS only in the wide-angle lens.

It is going to be the most expensive smartphone Apple has ever launched. The rumor mill claims the iPhone 8 would have a starting price of $999. By comparison, the iPhone 7 starts at $649. The 10th-anniversary device would be available in 64GB, 256GB, and 512GB storage options. The 512GB version could cost users more than $1,200, though the final price will be revealed only at launch.

When will iPhone 8 pre-orders begin

Apple is expected to send out media invites for the September 12 iPhone 8 event between Sept.2 and Sept.5. We expect the pre-orders to begin on Friday, September 15. If Apple has enough inventory, it will start selling the iPhone 8 on September 22. Otherwise, customers may have to wait until October to get their hands on the most expensive iPhone. In any case, the iPhone 7S and 7S Plus would hit the store shelves on September 22.

It would be interesting to see how Apple justifies the iPhone 8 price tag. The tech giant may highlight the bezel-less OLED display and facial recognition technology, which Samsung has already been offering. The iPhone 8 will also feature the augmented reality.