iPhone 8 rumours: doubling down on an all-glass display for faster wireless charging

Caitlin McGarry
24 November, 2016
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People are still lining up to snag a brand new iPhone 7, but that won’t stop anyone from speculating about next year’s iPhone. Why so early? Well, 2017 marks the iPhone’s 10th birthday, so Apple is reportedly gearing up to make its anniversary edition extra special.

We’ll keep track of the latest rumours and how plausible they are, and we’ll put them in one spot (this one!) so you can bookmark this link and just pop on over when you want to read the latest.

If you passed on the iPhone 7 to wait for the iPhone 8 – or whatever name Apple decides to use – it sounds like next year’s phone could be the design refresh you were waiting for. Just don’t expect the headphone jack to return.

What’s the latest?

The rumour: We’re beginning to hear corroborations of earlier rumours. KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is doubling-down on his prediction that the 2017 iPhone will have an all-glass casing. According to Kuo, Apple is switching to glass in order to facilitate wireless charging. Even though some metal and plastic smartphones have wireless charging, using glass is faster and there are fewer frequency disruptions.

Furthermore, Kuo doesn’t expect Apple to ship all new iPhone 8 models with a wireless charger – reserving that special accessory for the most expensive (probably a Plus) model. For lower-end iPhone 8 models, a wireless charger may be sold separately by Apple.

Plausible? Yes. The addition of wireless charging was one of the first reliable rumours we heard about the forthcoming iPhone 8, and we’ll undoubtedly keep hearing about it until the device is released next year. If Apple is really committed to wireless charging, then switching to an all-glass casing also makes sense. It explains why Apple would choose to switch to glass in the first place.

Folds like a book?

The rumour: You may be able to bend the next iPhone, similar to how you fold to close a book. Apple has just been granted a patent for a book-like iPhone design that used an OLED display that can fold in half.

bendable foldable iphone patent apple

Plausible? Just because Apple has the patent for this, doesn’t necessarily mean that it will become a real product. Besides, Apple has just started to consider using OLED, so there may not be enough time to incorporate a bendable, foldable display on the iPhone 8.

Three new models?

The rumour: Apple will launch three models of the iPhone 8 in 2017, according to a new report from KGI Securities analysts. One model will sport a 5.5in OLED screen and a dual camera. One will have a 5.5in LCD screen, also with a dual camera. The third will be a 4.7in iPhone with an LCD screen and a single camera system, much like the current iPhone 7 model.

Plausible? KGI Securities is usually spot-on when it comes to iPhone hardware predictions, and for a while this supply chain analyst has been predicting that Apple will switch to OLED displays in 2017. Apple has already been using OLED displays on the Apple Watch and the MacBook Pro’s Touch Bar, so using this type of display on the iPhone seems like a logical next step. Previously, Bloomberg reported that Apple is in talks with Sharp to be its OLED display supplier.

OLED offers a lot of benefits over LCD. Besides being more responsive, OLED gives Apple the option to create a bezel-less iPhone with a curved or bendable display, which would certainly boost the iPhone 8’s ‘wow’ factor. This time around, the iPhone 8 is rumoured to be ‘revolutionary’.

Wireless charging to the rescue?

The rumour: The iPhone 8 may not need a cable to be plugged in order to charge. Chinese manufacturer Foxconn is reportedly testing wireless charging modules that may end up on next year’s iPhone. Sources close to Foxconn told the Nikkei Asian Review that the forthcoming iPhone will only include wireless charging if the modules return satisfactory yield rates. Apple may kill the feature or only include it in the more expensive Plus models because of poor yield rates.

iphone7plus review adam 1

Plausible? Yes. Apple has already released a wireless charging product in the form of the Apple Watch. Integrating wireless charging into the iPhone 8 would assuage a few customer concerns. For example, wireless charging will make it possible for you to charge your iPhone 8 and listen to Lightning headphones at the same time now that the 3.5mm jack has gone bye-bye. It will also solve the problem that you can’t charge the iPhone via any of the new MacBooks released in the last few years.

Rumours about the iPhone 8 getting wireless charging actually date back to January. Then, Bloomberg reported that Apple was actually looking to develop the technology for truly-wireless charging, meaning that you could charge your device over distance without having it rest on a charging pad. That technology seems a little bit of a stretch at this point, however.

Return to all-glass?

The rumour: Apple may take a page from its own book and release an iPhone 8 with a glass front and back, similar to the iPhone 4 and 4s. The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus will, of course, be larger than those models, which were 3.5in. KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who always has deep insight into Apple’s supply chain, predicted that Apple will make lower-priced models with aluminum casing and more expensive versions with stainless steel. The glass would give the phone a glossy look, like the popular jet black iPhone 7, but be less prone to knicks and scratches than the brushed aluminum.

Plausible? Yes. It’s all about the sourcing: KGI’s Ming-Chi Kuo is typically spot-on when it comes to Apple hardware changes. It’s possible that Apple is basing future design decisions on the success of the jet black iPhone 7, which is currently sold out through December. According to the KGI report, 30 to 35 percent of preorders were for the jet black model worldwide, and in China that percentage was higher – 45 to 50 percent.

An OLED display at last?

The rumour: So far, Apple has held on to LCD displays, which isn’t a bad thing – the LCD display on the iPhone 7 is just as good as the competition’s OLED screens. But Apple is reportedly in talks with Sharp to be one of its main suppliers of OLED displays to use in next year’s iPhones. According to Bloomberg, Apple wants to diversify its OLED sourcing so it has multiple options. Sharp is investing US$566 million in OLED production factories, which will start churning out displays by next June.

Plausible? Yep. The future is OLED, because the technology is more flexible than LCD and would allow Apple to make the iPhone bezel razor-thin and move the home button to the display itself. There are other applications made possible by switching to OLED screens, and we’re sure Apple is exploring those for a future phone.

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