We’re some months away from Apple’s official reveal of its next generation iPhone, but already a picture is emerging of the devices we’re likely to see.
When does the iPhone 8 come out? Expected to be announced in September for October/November availability in Australia.
What’s new about the iPhone 8? Curved OLED display, no home button, iris scanner
How much will the iPhone 8 cost? High premium pricing starting at $1,000+
What is the iPhone 8?
Apple is rather solidly locked into annual phone upgrades for its iPhone line, excluding the iPhone SE which has only seen a storage upgrade on its first anniversary of availability. This ties in well with carrier plans, as it means that around the time a new iPhone launches, a significant number of carrier customers will be coming off two year contracts, or eligible for "upgrades" under schemes such as Telstra’s New Phone Feeling offer.
It’s still relatively early in the next-iPhone rumours phase, and Apple is a company that takes especial pride in its secrecy. However, as we’ve seen in recent years, leaks will happen and suggestions emerge as to what we’ll see in the next iPhone range.
There’s a rather open question as to what the next iPhone will be called. Historically speaking, Apple has pursued a tick-tock strategy that sees major redesigns in one year with a straight numerical suffix, and then refinements to that design with a number and "s" suffix. It has never formally stated what the "s" stands for in any case. If Apple follows its traditional naming policy we should see the iPhone 7s generation this year.
However, this year’s crop of iPhones coincides with the tenth anniversary of the iPhone line (including the first, never-released-in-Australia original model) which has led some to suggest that Apple will either be labelled as the "iPhone X" or possibly just skip the 7s entirely in favour of being the iPhone 8. Given some of the rumours swirling around the way Apple may build the next iPhone, it seems to be pushing for more of a redesign than a simple "s" suffix would cover. For now we’ll stick to iPhone 8 as a naming strategy, but as always, only Apple knows for sure.
So what’s expected to be so different about the iPhone 8? Apple is rumoured to be pursuing a three model iPhone strategy, with devices in the 5.8 inch, 5 inch and 4.7 inch sizes. The key differentiator in models is rumoured to be the use of OLED displays for the first time, with most reports pegging the larger screened model to be the first iPhone to use OLED.
OLED displays allow for a higher contrast ratio than traditional LCDs, albeit with lower brightness. That’s less of an issue for smartphone screens than it is televisions, although Apple is also reportedly interested in OLED simply because it may allow designer Sir Jony Ive the ability to produce an even thinner iPhone. The current rumours tilt towards Apple using a mix of LCD and OLEDs depending on the model of iPhone 8 a user buys.
The other design factor being heavily mooted is that Apple might shift away from its all-metal designs and back to a glass-facing body on both sides, similar to that found on the older iPhone 4 generation handsets. It’s rumoured that it may adopt a curved display similar to that found in the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Samsung Galaxy S8+, and if the OLEDs are coming from Samsung, there would clearly be some expertise at developing such components in play.
Apple is said to be developing a TouchID sensor that won’t require a button array at all. Where the iPhone 7 has a virtual button with force feedback to give the impression of a button, the idea is that the entire front of the iPhone 8 (or at least one model of iPhone 8) would be a single sheet of uninterrupted glass, with all fingerprint and home button functions handled virtually on the front of the phone. This would include the front-facing camera, in order to deliver a phone with no bezel at all on any side of the phone. That could also lead to the larger screened model having the same size profile as the mid-tier model, which would presumably still have an LCD style bezel.
Will the iPhone 8 be powerful?
There’s not a great deal of available detail on the underlying processor that some have dubbed the A11 (after the iPhone 7’s A10 Fusion), but processing power has been an absolute hallmark of iPhone devices. It will developed on a 10 nanometer process, allowing for some significant improvements in processing power and hopefully power usage as well.
Apple’s performance game has been hugely helped by the fact that Apple controls both the hardware and software within its iPhone lines to an absolute degree. It’s an advantage other manufacturers don’t precisely have, as the open nature of Android means it has to serve many functions across a wide variety of screen sizes, processors and resolutions.
The one slight downside to Apple’s obsession with power has been that traditionally iPhones haven’t had spectacular battery life. If the rumours around Apple’s quest for an ever-thinner iPhone via OLED are true, that could mean that the trend continues with this year’s iPhone 8. Until new battery technologies are fully developed, the only way to pack more batteries in is to give more space for batteries, but Apple appears to be heading the other way.
Will the iPhone 8 have a good camera?
Again, we’re relatively early in the rumour cycle, but the reality for Apple is that it faces significant competition when it comes to the quality of its cameras from makers such as Sony, whose Sony Xperia XZ Premium will feature a 960fps-capable camera; LG, whose LG G6 features dual lens cameras with a wide-angle array and Huawei, whose Leica-co-developed lenses adorn models such as the Huawei Mate 9 and Huawei P10.
Apple’s pitch in the iPhone 7 Plus was for a dual lens camera with a telephoto lens, and it seems likely that dual lens will be a feature of at least one if not two of the new iPhone models, most likely the larger LCD and OLED iPhones. Even there Apple has competition with Chinese maker Oppo using its entire MWC 2017 presentation to talk up the 5x optical zoom it’s bringing to future un-named phone models.
Rumours around the photographic capabilities of the iPhone 8 suggest we’re likely to see optical image stabilisation for both rear lenses, and possibly some kind of 3D photographic effect built into the lenses.
How will I charge the Apple iPhone 8?
Again, the rumours have to be taken with the largest possible grain of salt given how far out from the launch we are. There’s significant suggestion that Apple might examine dropping its own proprietary Lightning port in favour of the USB C standard. That would fit with EU directives around phone chargers and mean that it’s easily compatible with the newer laptops Apple’s released in the last twelve months including the MacBook and MacBook Pro. The downside there is that if you’ve heavily invested in Lightning accessories they’d be effectively obsolete overnight, and quite how Apple manages charging cables for both USB C and USB B customers could be an interesting juggling act.
Apple also recently joined the Wireless Power Consortium, which strongly suggests that it’s examining wireless charging options for future iPhone models. It’s not clear if this would be an internally implemented feature, or if Apple intends to offer its own wireless charging accessory for the new phones.
Will the iPhone 8 be water resistant?
Apple made the IP67 water resistance a key selling point for the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, so it seems inconceivable that the iPhone 8 wouldn’t include this particular feature. It’s rumoured that Apple may increase the water resistance of the iPhone 8 up to IP68, allowing for even deeper immersion, although this as always needs to be tempered by the realisation that such tests are conducted in clean lab water.
When will the iPhone 8 be available in Australia?
The question of precise dating for iPhone releases is always a tricky one to nail down, and with Apple possibly taking up a mixed-screen technology approach to its new iPhones it gets even trickier again. It’s likely that the new phones will be announced in September, but feasible that the easier to produce LCD models might follow in October with the OLED models possibly launching a little later in the year.
Australia has typically enjoyed the benefits of the international dateline (and a seeming reluctance from our cousins over the ditch in New Zealand to beat us to the punch) in terms of absolute availability of iPhone models, with the first official sales of iPhones taking place in Melbourne and Sydney from Apple stores and authorised carriers.
How much will the iPhone 8 cost?
Apple positions itself as a premium brand, and it prices its iPhones accordingly. As such, there’s not much point in expecting a "cheap" iPhone 8.
The challenge for Apple however is in expanding its iPhone marketshare as Android adoption grows. That’s been largely driven by low-end Android devices in emerging markets, but Apple has also felt the pinch from other premium model competitors.
There’s some suggestion that it may offer the smaller iPhone 8 LCD model at a relatively low price point in order to allow it a wider range of price alternatives. At the bottom you’d have the iPhone SE, based off the now much older iPhone 6s hardware. Then 2016’s iPhone 7, reduced in price and probably offered in only one or two storage sizes. Then the smaller, mid sized and top end OLED iPhone 8 models.
By way of comparison, here’s what Apple currently charges for the iPhone 7 range, and we’d largely expect the iPhone 8 to follow similar kinds of pricing guidelines:
|Apple iPhone model||Price|
|iPhone 7 (32GB)||$1,079|
|iPhone 7 (128GB)||$1,229|
|iPhone 7 (256GB)||$1,379|
|iPhone 7 Plus (32GB)||$1,269|
|iPhone 7 Plus (128GB)||$1,419|
|iPhone 7 Plus (256GB)||$1,569|
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Apple iPhone 8 Specifications
|Display||4.7, 5.15. 5.5in|
|Storage||TBC, possibly 64GB/256GB|
|Rear Camera||TBC, probably dual on at least one model|