iPhone 8: Rumour Roundup
There’s still six months to go before the next iPhone lands, but since when has that ever stopped the online rumour mill? Recent weeks have seen the Apple-related speculation cranked up to fever pitch – and, as usual, Geek Squad’s here to pick through it all.
There’s nothing quite like a new iPhone to set tongues wagging online. Year after year, the hype only seems to grow – but this year is particularly special.
You see, 2017 marks the ten-year anniversary of the very first iPhone launch, and tech-watchers across the world expect something special from Apple to commemorate the occasion. As such, the rumours doing the rounds are even more unusual and outlandish than ever!
Clearly, it’s too early to know anything for sure. But we certainly love to speculate – so here’s our round-up of the wildest leaks and rumours currently doing the rounds!
RUMOUR ONE: Wraparound glass body
With the design of last year’s iPhone 7 sticking close to its predecessor the 6S, expectations are that the iPhone 8 will feature an all-new look.
Rumours currently suggest this will take the form of an edge-to-edge wraparound display – fulfilling Apple design head Jony Ive’s stated ambition for a phone that looks like “a single sheet of glass”.
Recent iPhones have used aluminium for their main bodies, while the iPhone 7 featured matte-finish or high-gloss black coatings – but this would be the first time we’ve seen a glass-backed iPhone since the 4S, way back in 2011.
Of course, that device still featured metal sides and significant ‘bezels’ at the edges of the display. The new model, though, is claimed to have an all-glass exterior, with the entire face being part of the display – no margins or bezels.
This would certainly look impressive, and we reckon it’s a safe bet for the 2017 iPhone. But this would also likely require some other radical changes to the design – not least in terms of the Home button and front-facing camera.
RUMOUR TWO: No Home button and a hidden camera
For as long as the iPhone’s been around, the Home button has sat in a bezel at the bottom of the device – separate from the actual display.
But with the 2017 iPhone strongly rumoured to feature an edge-to-edge, bezel-free display, where on earth does the Home button go? The answer is simple: there won’t be one. At least, not a physical one.
The iPhone 7 already paved the way by replacing the mechanical Home button with a touch-sensitive ‘virtual’ button – although this was still separate from the display, sat in a recessed nook and with haptic feedback that gave it the feeling of a physical button.
But a recessed nook as part of the display would be a technical challenge – and, frankly, could look pretty awkward. The most likely solution is to have an entirely virtual Home button located in the bottom portion of the screen – a technique certain Android phones have used for quite a while.
While this would take some getting used to for long-time iPhone users, it does offer a few interesting possibilities.
For example, full-screen apps and videos could take advantage of the expanded display area by hiding the Home button entirely until the screen is tapped – although it’s debatable whether Apple would allow such an important aspect of their UI to disappear from view.
A more conservative solution would be to feature a ‘virtual’ bezel as part of the display, with the Home button always displayed and the possibility of allowing it to ‘float’ over other images on the screen.
There’s also the question of what’ll happen to the front-facing camera, also traditionally found in the device’s bezel. Rumours suggest Apple have developed a way to ‘hide’ it behind the display – and we’d love to see how this works in practice.
The precise details are for Apple’s engineers and designers to work out – but if they really are going with an edge-to-edge display, it’s a problem they’ll need to tackle.
So, could it really be the end of the Home button as we know it? It’s distinctly possible. With the removal of the headphone jack from the iPhone 7, Apple showed they’re not afraid to radically shake things up – even if it proves controversial.
RUMOUR THREE: Lighting port replaced by USB C
So far, so credible – but now, we’re beginning to enter the realms of fantasy!
Surprisingly enough, though, it has been suggested by certain excitable tech-watchers that Apple are preparing to jettison their proprietary Lightning cable for the industry-standard USB type-C.
Now, we can sort of see where they’re coming from here. Apple have introduced USB-C across their MacBook range, and they might want to impose a little uniformity…
But in reality, it’s extremely unlikely. When Apple removed the headphone jack from the iPhone 7, they essentially staked everything on Lightning being the sole, standard method for charging and connecting accessories.
After that, it’d be nuts for them to ditch it just a year later: they’d seem completely indecisive, and the customer backlash would be intense.
More likely, this rumour is the result of simple confusion. More credible reports suggest the next iPhone’s charging cable will connect to the phone by Lightning, but attach to your plug, computer or other device by USB-C. This would allow it to take advantage of the faster charging and data transfer offered by USB-C, while still keeping the iPhone itself a purely Lightning device.
With that in mind, then, this is one rumour we can decisively put to rest. Long live Lightning!
RUMOUR FOUR: An ‘iPhone Pro’ alongside the two regular models
One persistent rumour suggests Apple are preparing to launch not two but three new iPhones this year – complementing the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus with a premium model called the iPhone 8 Pro.
This isn’t outside the realms of possibility: after all, Apple introduced the iPad Pro alongside two smaller iPad models back in 2015. That device differentiated itself through a much larger size, souped-up specs and range of exclusive accessories, like the Pencil. So what could we expect from an iPhone Pro?
Well, it could be larger than the iPhone Plus, but we doubt it – it’s already a pretty big phone. Instead, rumours suggest the difference will be in the display, which is said to feature an OLED screen, as opposed to the TFT-LCD screens used on the standard iPhones.
OLED displays offer lower power consumption, much faster response times and brighter colours with deeper blacks – and it’s also easier to make them curved or even flexible. But is this enough on its own?
One interesting suggestion is that the iPhone Pro could be the only 2017 iPhone model to feature the edge-to-edge, bezel-free display described above – although that raises the further question of what eye-catching features the standard models would have.
For that reason, we still reckon an iPhone Pro is unlikely: it would simply dilute the lineup too much. We just can’t imagine Apple releasing one new iPhone that looks and behaves entirely differently to other models released at the same time – although we could still be surprised!
RUMOUR FIVE: An unusual new name
Finally, one that comes down to pure speculation! Going by Apple’s standard naming conventions, the 2017 iPhone should be known as the iPhone 7S...
But in reality, nobody expects that. This is Apple’s banner year: the tenth anniversary of the very first, world-changing iPhone. If this year’s device features a radical new design, it’ll need a radical new name to go alongside it – or so the theory goes.
The safest – and potentially most likely – pick would be to simply skip a ‘generation’ and go straight to the iPhone 8. But more imaginative commentators wonder if Apple might ditch the numbered names entirely, and go back to basics with the simple, minimal name iPhone.
This would bring it into line with the MacBooks and iPads, which keep the same name even when the hardware changes. As such, we reckon it’s the most likely option.
But all the same, we wonder if Apple might be prepared to mark the anniversary by calling it the iPhone 10 – or even the iPhone X, by analogy with OS X.
Of course, the name doesn’t really matter. And like everything else to do with this year’s iPhone, at the moment we don’t anything other than rumour to go on…
But whatever we learn between now and the official announcement in September, you can count on Geek Squad to bring you all the latest information – and as soon as we get our hands on the device, you’ll be the first to hear it!
Have you got any wacky predictions of your own for the next iPhone model? What would you love to see – and what would be an absolute dealbreaker? Let us know in the comments below! And for more great articles from our Agents straight to your inbox each month, get your name down below for the Geek Squad newsletter!