Rumours suggest the iPhone 8 (or possibly iPhone X, or iPhone Edition) will feature a larger display, made possible by removing the Home Button and moving the fingerprint scanner - if Apple can overcome the technical challenges. It is also said to feature wireless charging and Face ID, a new form of facial recognition that will support Apple Pay.
In this article, we round up all the rumours about the new iPhone 8: its UK release announcement (12 Sept) and onsale date (probably 22 Sept) - UK price, specs and new features, and what it's going to look like. We also cover leaked photos and videos.
We'll save you from the mad interpretations people make from the invite designs, but there is a suspiciously curved edge in that light colour... no, we'll stop. But it's going to be great, isn't it?
Preorders are likely to begin on 15 Sept with an onsale release date of 22 Sept. Read more about the Apple September 2017 event here.
Hype is ramping up nicely as we near the launch, but one group of analysts have suggested that the public at large may not have got the message that this year's launch is a special one. In a survey of 400 iPhone owners, 16 percent said they planned to upgrade, only slightly up on the 15 percent recorded ahead of the launch of the iPhone 7 last year.
Some sources have suggested there may be longer-than-usual delays between the iPhone 8 announcement and products hitting shops, or that there may be initial supply shortages.
Deutsche Bank analysts predict that "key component shortages and technical challenges could delay the release of a high-end iPhone 8", while IHS Markit analyst Brian Huh claims Samsung is having trouble meeting demand for the OLED screens.
Ming-Chi Kuo is among the analysts to state that problems have now been resolved and iPhone 8 mass production will begin in mid September as planned - but while the flagship device will now go on sale at the same time as the two cheaper models, he warns that there may be a shortage at first. DigiTimes too predicts that "the supply of the OLED version [iPhone 8] could fall short of demand."
What will the new iPhone be called?
We expect Apple to announce three new handsets: the first two will be simple updates to the 7 and 7 Plus (they may even be thicker), but we'll all be focused on the flagship model and its wireless charging, 3D scanning, AR and edge-to-edge OLED screen.
A report from iCulture (in Dutch), citing "a reliable source", predicts that the first two will be the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, while the flagship will be called the iPhone X. The latter makes sense because it's the Roman numeral for 10, and 2017 is the iPhone's 10th anniversary.
9to5Mac, however, believes the new phones will be the 8, 8 Plus and iPhone Edition. This is based on information gleaned at the IFA show in Berlin:
"At least two [case makers] have heard, and have moved on, knowledge of the upcoming iPhone nomenclature and some details which they've separately learned from sources in Shenzhen... One case maker has updated their internal SKUs based on the information and is actively printing packaging."
Macworld poll: What do you think Apple will call its next iPhone?
iPhone 8 design & leaked images
Noted tech blogger Robert Scoble has posted an exhaustive list of predictions for this year's iPhone, and he expects big things. "It's the 10th anniversary of the iPhone," he writes. "It's the first product introduction in Apple's new amazing headquarters. It's a big f**king deal and will change this industry deeply."
Here's what we expect from the new design, and the leaked images we've seen to back it all up.
The iPhone 8 will have a screen running almost edge to edge, with a slimmed-down bezel of just 4mm on each side. An image of this design, also showing the loss of the Home button and the rumoured 'notch' along the top edge, has been spotted in the HomePod's firmware.
This is mirrored by the leak of what is believed to be the user guide from the iPhone 8 packaging:
And an alleged leak of the iPhone 8's front glass, posted on Weibo:
Similarly, Macworld has been sent an iPhone 8 dummy from the case maker Olixar, which has already started making cases for the device. (It's very detailed and the buttons press in, but contrary to reports you may have seen elsewhere, this is absolutely not a "working prototype".)
"It's the dummy that Olixar has been using to design their cases for the iPhone 8," said our contact. "Apart from some minor details that might still change in the final design stages we believe this is what the iPhone 8 will look like!"
We're told that the company obtained these details from "a regular group of contacts that help them to source these items for the production of their accessories"; while we'd rate the authenticity as unproven, it does seem to fit in with the currently popular rumours.
Note the cut-out in the display at the top, to allow for the speaker and sensors: we think this section will be used for the status bar, which is split into two groups of icons anyway. This is a theme that's repeated in other concept illustrations and leaks we've seen - such as this one from Forbes.
Here's a render with measurements for that edge-to-edge screen:
And this tweet shows the measurements of the top status bar area, as revealed in the HomePod firmware leak:
Finally, one bright spark appears to have got semi-confirmation from Apple itself, by designing iMessage stickers depicting this design and having them rejected from the App Store for being "too similar to iPhones".
It's also believe that there will be no Home button on the front of the iPhone 8 (we'll discuss the implications of this for Touch ID in a moment). The HomePod firmware leak mentioned previously contains code referring to a new variable called "deviceHasHomeButton" (which could be tagged with a yes or no), which seems like a strong hint that this is going ahead.
A June 2017 leak backs up the 'no Home button' theory. As you can see, that's a massive screen, with no physical home button in sight.
Aside from Touch ID, this also removes one of the traditional ways of accessing Siri - but source code suggests this may now be done by holding down the power button instead (presumably for less time than it would take to turn the iPhone off). And you'll still be able to use Hey Siri, of course.
If the physical Home button is ditched, Apple is likely to replace it with a software Home button. In February 2017 Ming Chi Kuo predicted that the iPhone 8 would have a function area, somewhat like the Touch Bar on the 2016 MacBook Pro, which will take the place of the lower bezel and Home button and contain "virtual buttons".
Near the end of August 2017 Bloomberg revealed further details of how the iPhone 8's interface will work, citing "images of the new device viewed by Bloomberg News and people familiar with the gadget". The site claims that the Home button of previous handsets will be replaced by new gesture controls.
"Across the bottom of the screen there's a thin, software bar in lieu of the home button," Bloomberg writes. "A user can drag it up to the middle of the screen to open the phone."
Further gestures, many of them context-specific, will enable users to close apps, multitask and return to the home screen.
These stunning mockups by Gabor Balogh give an idea of how the function area could be used, and how it could interact with the also-rumoured new augmented reality features.
Looks great, right? But not so fast.
The developer Steve Troughton-Smith, "supported by API evidence", has posted a summary of what the Home button area will and won't be able to do - and it seems that there will be no ability for developers to change the colour of the area to fit in with their apps.
"Fullscreen video does hide it," he adds, but "there is no evidence to suggest any app UI moves to the home button area at all. No toolbars, no other junk."
Initially at least, the area will remain a comparatively standardised area that either shows the Home button in its conventional design or gets out of the way entirely for full-screen video, gaming and so on.
Developer betas of iOS 11 suggest Touch ID will remain in some form this autumn: the lock screen still displays its icon when trying to access locked notifications. But if Apple gives the iPhone 8 with a larger screen and ditches the Home Button, what happens to the fingerprint sensor?
There's four main options: a scanner built into the screen; a scanner on the back of the phone; a scanner built into the power button; and no scanner at all, with Touch ID replaced by Face ID.
Right now it seems most likely, based on multiple leaks, that the iPhone 8 won't have a fingerprint scanner - and that the Touch ID code in iOS 11 is there for existing handsets and possibly the iPhone 7s and 7s Plus. In this scenario Touch ID's security functions will be covered by Face ID.
Scanner under the screen
iDrop News, citing an unnamed source, reported that Apple has been testing fingerprint technology beneath the glass display, but that this isn't ready for prime time this year.
Technology is moving forward quickly; Qualcomm, for example, has come up with new sensors that can recognise fingerprints through OLED display stacks of up to 1200um. But it seems these breakthroughs may have come too late for the iPhone 8.
KeyBanc Capital Markets analyst Andy Hargreaves has written that it's "entirely unclear if Apple will be able to fix the problem" within time for the launch, and Ming-Chi Kuo says Apple has "cancelled" plans to embed Touch ID in the iPhone 8's screen.
Because of the technological obstacles preventing in-screen Touch ID, iDrop News predicts that the scanner will go on the back of the device.
This was backed up by a video that leaked in late August 2017, and purportedly shows a factory worker in China testing the fingerprint scanner on an iPhone 8. We're not totally convinced, to say the least, and it could easily show testing on an iPhone clone by a different company, or an early prototype that have rear Touch ID.
Further 'evidence' of this came in the form of leaked images in a tweet by Sonny Dickson, which appears to feature a space at the back of the iPhone to accommodate a scanner.
There's also this (suspiciously blurry) photo, posted on a Chinese forum and supposedly from a Foxconn assembly line. You can see the circular cutout for the fingerprint scanner just below the Apple logo:
It's also apparent in an August 2017 leak which appears to show off the rear-facing fingerprint scanner. The video shows an Apple leather case for the iPhone 8, although it's widely believed to be a fake - the details on the case are shoddy, and the acting is a little cheesy too.
The designs have not gone down well with people critical of Samsung's similar solution to the same problem on the S8+.
Scanner in the power button
Our last suggestion is that Touch ID could be integrated into the power button. Forbes has posted a mock-up based on CAD files leaked by case designer Nodus which shows what appears to be a bigger lock button on the side of the iPhone, which could be in order to house Touch ID.
The third big expected change to the design affects the rear-facing camera, which looks to have twin lenses arranged vertically (as opposed to the side-by-side layout on the iPhone 7 Plus). Forbes' Gordon Kelly is worried that this will stick out at the rear of the phone and make it wobble when placed on a flat surface.
The vertical camera design was illustrated in an early July 2017 leak showcasing an alleged iPhone 8 back panel.
Two short videos, which have been posted on Chinese social media in August 2017 and uploaded to YouTube by the Dutch site TechTastic, purportedly show the iPhone 8 production line - and while you can't see much, it's quite clear that the devices have vertically aligned camera lenses.
And if you're yet to be convinced that all this is the finalised design of the iPhone 8, you need look no further than infamous (and remarkably reliable) leaker OnLeaks' Twitter account. More specifically, a tweet posted on 23 June shows what appears to be the next-generation iPhone 8, which can be seen below.
9to5Mac has got hold of a report from the ever-quotable and usually reliable Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities - a report that predicts, based on the popularity of the scratch-prone Jet Black iPhone 7, that the iPhone 8 will have a (more scratch-resistant) glass front and back. Glass would also make it easier to implement wireless charging.
"If Apple does follow through with what KGI suggests, an all-glass design could extend the glossy finish to all colours of the iPhone lineup depending on how Apple handles the design," 9to5Mac says.
The rumour was also backed up by Benjamin Geskin on Twitter, a source that has provided many iPhone 8 leaks over the past few months. He claims that one of the colour options for the iPhone 8 will be a mirror-like finish.
Slashleaks has posted a video allegedly showing metal iPhone 8 rear shells being assembled in a Foxconn factory. But it's possible this actually shows iPhone 7 or 7s Plus handsets, which may not get the all-glass design of the top-end model. (Or the cases may, as OnLeaks observes, be intended for clone handsets that are nothing to do with Apple!)
The iPhone 7 handsets are available in six colours: silver, gold, Rose Gold, black, Jet Black and (Product) Red. (The red option was not added until several months after launch, however.)
Things look to be different for the iPhone 8. Benjamin Geskin's source says the iPhone 8 will feature a mirror-like finish plus only three other colour options (most likely silver, gold and black); while analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicts that the mirror option has been canned so we'll get just silver, gold and black.
But hold up! Geskin has tweeted again since then to offer an entirely new colour option, which he refers to as Blush Gold and which looks like a sort of coppery reddish-pink. This appears to be the same finish MyDrivers referred to nearer the start of August, admittedly in translation, as "champagne gold".
Geskin acknowledges, however, that this name is based on a working translation from the Chinese and may not be accurate. He says the information comes from a leaked Foxconn report, and was posted on the Weibo Chinese social media site.
That covers design. But what new features should we expect in the iPhone 8?
The loss of the Home button means the Touch ID fingerprint scanner is in design limbo - with separate theories claiming it will move to the back of the device, or be embedded under the glass, or be removed entirely. But many of its functions may be replaced by a new feature tentatively known as Face ID.
The HomePod firmware mentioned earlier contains references to facial recognition and expression detection that could be used to unlock the device.
Face detection/unlock has been expected for a while. Back in December 2014, USPTO awarded Apple a patent relating to a "personal computing device control using face detection and recognition", and US Patent 20170076077, published in March 2017, describes a method for "Locking and unlocking a mobile device using facial recognition".
DigiTimes has predicted that Apple is likely to launch iPhones equipped with iris-recognition technology in 2018; but at the end of August 2016 the site went further, reporting that Taiwan-based Xintec is expected to provide iris scanners to Apple for the iPhone launching in 2017.
JPMorgan analyst Rod Hall backed up this theory with his own prediction that the iPhone 8 will have a 3D laser scanner for face recognition, replacing Touch ID. (If you'd like to know how powerful a mere rumour can be, check this out: the share price of the UK company expected to provide laser wafers for this feature, IQE, has tripled this year.) A photo of this scanner appears to have leaked, too:
And unlocking the phone might not be the only thing facial recognition is used for. Code in the HomePod firmware leak indicates that it will also be able to authenticate Apple Pay and be accessible to third-party apps; and that it will also serve to mute notifications if the user is perceived to be 'paying attention' already.
Apple debuted ARKit at WWDC 2017, showcasing how developers can implement AR abilities into iPads and iPhones. Surely the iPhone 8 will arrive with cool new features that take advantage of that?
We previously spotted an Apple patent application that appears to back up all this speculation. Patent 9,488,488, for 'Augmented reality maps', describes the use of a mobile device to view live video of whatever is in front of the user, and to then superimpose images related to nearby places of interest on top of the video.
Apple has been offering wireless (inductive) charging for a while now on the Apple Watch, and we're hearing increasingly confident predictions that the feature will come to the iPhone in 2017.
One strong hint came from Robert Hwang, the CEO of Apple manufacturer Wistron, who (in an apparent slip-up) said "new features like waterproof and wireless charging" will appear in the next generation of Apple handsets; and SlashLeaks has posted what it says is the charging coil that will be used to deliver this feature.
Benjamin Geskin, a well-known leaker, has posted what he says are images of components in the iPhone 8, and these include a similar wireless charging module:
And here are more leaked photos of the wireless charging pads:
Such speculation is not new. Renders based on CAD files obtained by Engadget in May from "a reliable source", for example, claim to show that the new iPhone will have a glass back incorporating a wireless charging coil. (Mind you, in July 2015 Qualcomm announced a wireless charging breakthrough that can work through metal.)
Foxconn - one of the large manufacturing firms that assembles iPhones for Apple - has been reportedly testing wireless charging modules that will be included in some or all of the 2017 iPhones if the tests prove satisfactory. And in February 2017 it emerged that Apple had joined the Wireless Power Consortium industry group, as spotted by 9to5Mac.
Research & analysis firm KGI Securities released a report in February 2017 making a firm prediction that all three iPhone models to be released in autumn 2017 will feature wireless charging, while warned that the feature would increase production costs. The firm has also previously warned that Apple may bundle the wireless charger with more expensive models only.
Bloomberg reckons Apple is working on longer-range wireless charging, potentially with a range of about 1 metre.
John Gruber, however, reckons the wireless charging feature won't be ready by September and may have to wait until iOS 11.1. Fast Company, too, claims that while the iPhone 8 will feature the hardware at launch, the capability won't be enabled until Apple has perfected the software side of things.
According to Forbes citing infamous Apple leaker Sonny Dickson, the iPhone 8 could be the first entry in the iPhone series to feature fast charging technology. (The feature has long been requested by users, and is readily available on most if not all of Apple's Android-based competitors.) More specifically, Forbes claims that there will be a new "Tristar 3, Hydra" chip that manages the charging port.
However, it's worth noting that tech may not be compatible with existing fast charging standards as the tech isn't being produced by Qualcomm, which provides "Quick Charge" for Android devices.
In February 2017, analyst Ming Chi Kuo predicted that the iPhone 8 will deliver fast charging via a tweaked version of the existing Lightning port rather than by bringing in USB-C as was previously expected.
We don't think the iPhone 8 will be compatible with the Apple Pencil, although that's definitely something that Apple has been considering. Patently Apple has uncovered two patents that point to iPhone compatibility at some point in the future, and notes that Tim Cook himself once commented: "If you've ever seen what can be created with that pencil on an iPad or an iPhone, it's really unbelievable." This might be one for the iPhone 9.
We'd be strongly surprised if the iPhone 8 featured a headphone port, which would be a major admission of defeat for Apple. Instead, it makes sense for the company to double down on its 3.5mm-free future by offering premium Bluetooth headphones with its top-end smartphone, just as it bundled decent Lightning headphones with the iPhone 7.
We're starting to get a decent idea of the iPhone 8's technical specifications. Let's start with...
The iPhone 8 will come with an OLED screen, supplied initially by Samsung. At present, iPhones use LCD screens (although the Apple Watch uses OLED), but Apple intends to move the line up to OLED as it would offer better colour saturation, accuracy and brightness.
Industry sources say Apple will offer OLED in only the most premium version of its 2017 iPhone range (the iPhone 8, as opposed to the iPhone 7s and 7s Plus), but phones released in 2018 and beyond will all come with OLED.
Leaked photos of what are believed to be the iPhone 8's OLED screen components have appeared on Chinese social media (and later posted on Slashleaks). You can also see the Lightning connector:
In November 2016, Barclays Research - via MacRumors - released a report predicting that the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus would have 5-inch and 5.8-inch screens respectively, compared to the 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. The analysts based the prediction on the testimony of sources within Apple's Asian supply chain, although they warned that the design "didn't sound 100 percent locked down".
But in January 2017 the theory was backed up by DigiTimes predicting that Apple will launch a 5.8-inch iPhone in the second half of 2017, citing anonymous sources in the Taiwanese supply chain. And Nikkei forecasts that the next iPhone "will come in three configurations - two with liquid crystal displays and one with a 5.8-inch organic light-emitting diode display".
In May, an Engadget source that leaked CAD plans to it claimed that both iPhones will get a screen size bump, with the the 4.7-inch version going to 5 inches, and the 5.5-inch "Plus" version increasing to 5.8 inches.
It's understood that the larger screens will fit into bodies with the same or similar dimensions as the current generation of phones, thanks to a bezel-free design.
A report by the Wall Street Journal prophesies that Apple has big things up its sleeve for the next iPhone's screen, after turning out smartphones with lower resolutions than rivals for some years.
(If you compare the iPhone 7 and Samsung Galaxy S7, for example, you'll see that Apple managed only a 760 x 1334 resolution on its 4.7-inch screen, in comparison to the 1440 x 2560 5.1-inch screen that Samsung had to offer.)
The iPhone 8 will sit in Samsung's shadows no longer, according to the WSJ, which says Apple has asked suppliers to "submit prototype screens with better resolution than ones from Samsung". If this is true - and if the suppliers are able to match Apple's stipulation without pushing up price, weight or dimension, or reducing battery life or fire safety, to a degree that Apple finds unacceptable - then this would imply more than a tripling of the pixel count from one iPhone generation to the next.
In February 2017 Ming Chi Kuo predicted that the (5.15in) iPhone 8 will have a resolution of 2,436 x 1,125 and a pixel density of 521ppi, far higher than the iPhone 7's 326ppi. And the 5.8in version of the iPhone 8 - the iPhone 8 Plus, presumably - will have a resolution of 2,800 x 1,242 and a pixel density of 528ppi.
iPhones contain proprietary processor chips that you won't find in other smartphones: there's an A9 in the iPhone 6s and an A10 Fusion chip in the iPhone 7, for example. So it doesn't take a genius to predict that the iPhone 8 will get an A11 (or maybe an A11 Fusion).
But while the A chips are made to Apple's own design and specifications, several other companies are involved; they contain technology licensed from ARM, and are manufactured, at present, by Samsung and TSMC. And that could change in the nearish future.
Intel has declared its intention of expanding its smartphone business, and is hot favourite to displace TSMC from the iPhone contract, according to the Nikkei Asian Review.
Economic Daily News, however, thinks TSMC still has the gig, and will begin production of the A11 in April 2017. The site has little detail of the A11 design, but does say it will be fabricated with a 10 nanometre FinFET process, a significant upgrade from the A10 Fusion's 16 nanometres.
The iPhone 7 comes with 2GB RAM, while the iPhone 7 Plus offers 3GB. In February 2017 research firm TrendForce published a report predicting that the iPhone 8 will have 3GB RAM.
The iPhone 7 handsets come in three storage configurations: 32GB, 128GB and 256GB.
The TrendForce report linked above suggests that Apple may phase out the 32GB model for the iPhone 8 generation. The late-2017 iPhones will come in 64GB and 256GB configurations, the firm says. A poster on Weibo, meanwhile, has posted a screen from an unknown retailer's stock system, which refers to the "iPhone X Edition" coming in 128GB and 256GB flavours.
In 2017, Apple has launched new iPad Pro models that offer the most storage of any iOS device yet, going up to 512GB. This seems like overkill for phones but one (usually reliable) poster on Chinese social media now claims to have leaks confirming the iPhone 8 will also be offered with half a terabyte of storage.
When the first-gen iPhone was launched it came with a maximum of 8GB of storage (although a 16GB option was added later). That means that, assuming this prediction is correct, storage will have increased by a factor of 64 in ten years.
The notorious and far-reaching HomePod firmware leak at the end of July 2017 contained numerous clues about the iPhone 8, including a hint (spotted by the Portuguese-language site iHelp BR) that it may offer 4K video at 60fps on both its front and back cameras - which would be a major step forward.
The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus do offer 4K video capture but this is capped at 30fps (you can capture at 60fps, but only at a resolution of 1080p) and is possible on the rear-facing camera only. The front-facing camera has a video limit of 1080p.
The same firmware leak also suggests that front and back cameras will support slo-mo video at 1080p and 240fps. (The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus offer a less impressive 1080p at 120 fps or 720p at 240 fps on the rear camera, while the front camera doesn't offer slow-mo at all.)
A MIC report suggests that all models of the new iPhone will feature the dual camera that's currently only available on the iPhone 7 Plus. Unverified schematics posted on Slashleaks suggest this will be aligned vertically, with the twin lenses stacked on top of one another, rather than the horizontal setup on the 7 Plus; this was backed up by photos that BGR got hold of in May 2017.
This leaked image shared on Twitter also suggest that the dual camera layout might change:
Ming Chi Kuo has predicted that the iPhone 8 will squeeze a battery with a capacity to match the iPhone 7 Plus - 2,700mAH - into a chassis comparable to the iPhone 7. So we could see a significant battery life increase in the next generation of iPhones.
There's also the possibility that the new iPhone could feature two batteries. A leak of the alleged schematics for the iPhone 8, posted on Slashleaks, shows that the main board is smaller and that there are two batteries rather than just one. And IDC analyst Sean Kao claims the new iPhones will use new, smaller printed circuit boards that would allow for a more powerful battery.
Smartphone battery life is one of those things that everyone says is important, but you do wonder how much of a compromise the average Apple fan would be willing to make in return. As Jony Ive put it in an interview with the Financial Times, "With a bigger battery [the iPhone] would be heavier, more cumbersome, less 'compelling'."
- iPhone 7 (32GB): £599
- iPhone 7 (128GB): £699
- iPhone 7 (256GB): £799
- iPhone 7 Plus (32GB): £719
- iPhone 7 Plus (128GB): £819
- iPhone 7 Plus (256GB): £919
However, there's a growing sense that the 8 will cost rather more, as a reflection of the design changes, new features, spec improvements and so on.
Prolific leaker Benjamin Geskin has published what he claims are the prices for the iPhone 8 in the US:
That's a big increase on current pricing, which starts at $649 (for only 32GB, admittedly) and tops out at $969.
UBS analysts, however, think this is pushing it. In an investor note to investors, Steven Milunovich and Benjamin Wilson "questioned the logic" of a $1,200 iPhone 8, arguing that Apple generally prices its flagship models slightly below Samsung's Galaxy Notes. The Note 8 costs $929.99.
Instead, the analysts predict prices ranging from $900 (64GB) to $1,000 (256GB).
Macworld podcast: Discussing iPhone 8 rumours
The UK Tech Weekly Podcast team discuss iPhone 8 rumours in episode 67 - it starts at 21.54. (We also discuss Netflix and Google Glass, if you're interested!) Follow the podcast on Twitter for notifications of new episodes.