The iPhone 7 has been released, but we are already hearing a number of rumors about the iPhone 7S or the iPhone 8, which is not due out until 2017. It seems as though we’re in for some major changes with the iPhone 7S/8, including a switch to OLED screens, a larger 5.8-inch screen, a return to glass backs, and more.
Here’s everything we know so far about the new iPhones coming in 2017.
A new selection of colors?
The Jet Black iPhone was a huge hit for the iPhone 7, and while it cost $100 more than the same phone in other colors, Apple proved that many people don’t care about having to pay more for a sleeker device. According to recent rumors, the company may well do the same thing with the iPhone 7S — this time, however, the color may not be Jet Black. According to the rumors, the color choice will be red.
A red iPhone would be a pretty big deal for Apple, which has traditionally stuck with more subdued colors — like whites, blacks, and grays. A red addition to the lineup would be a bold new choice for customers.
The rumor comes from Japanese Apple blog Macotakara, which also claims that the 10th anniversary iPhone will indeed be called the iPhone 7S — not the iPhone 8.
An OLED screen for the iPhone
Will the 2017 iPhone finally include a better-looking and more advanced OLED display? Reports indicate that while not all iPhone models may include the better technology, at least some models will. Most recently, a report from Bloomberg revealed that supply constraints on OLED panels from the four main suppliers may make it hard for the 2017 iPhone models to boast the latest display technology.
The report notes that “the four main suppliers for such components [OLED panels] won’t have enough production capacity to make screens for all new iPhones next year, with constraints continuing into 2018.” That’s because Samsung will be the sole provider of OLED panels for Apple this year, and it cannot meet the demand. However, some analysts say that Apple is prepared for that reality.
“Apple has already figured in there will be high demand for the OLED model.”
“Apple has already figured in there will be high demand for the OLED model and they’ve also figured out there will be constraints to these panels,” Dan Panzica, a supply chain analyst at IHS Markit, told Bloomberg.
But OLED panels or not, rumors are still swirling around Apple’s drastic design change in the next iPhone version, as its tenth anniversary is coming up in 2017. Most agree that at least one model will use an OLED screen, and sources tell Bloomberg the OLED panels made by Samsung are larger than 5 inches.
The model that does come with an OLED screen, in any case, will likely be more expensive, the Wall Street Journal reported, as these displays are quite costly to produce. However, the same report noted that Apple could decide against the OLED model altogether, as it is just one of a whopping 10 prototypes currently in the works.
Earlier, a report from Nikkei Asian Review suggests that there will, in fact, be three iPhone models, with one model featuring a premium OLED display that’s curved on both sides, somewhat like Samsung’s Edge series.
Of course, this lines up with previous reports from Gabelli & Co.’s Hendi Susanto, which indicate that only “special edition” 2017 iPhones will come with the OLED display. The concept of a special edition iPhone with better features has been used by Apple in the past with the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, when the iPhone 6s Plus included optical image stabilization in the camera and the standard iPhone 6s did not. According to Susanto, Apple may not be able to get enough OLED panels to put on every iPhone. That, of course, supports previous reports suggesting that Apple would only be making 50 million OLED-equipped iPhones.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the new handset is likely to sport an OLED display, and in April, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo also stated that the iPhone 7S will go with an AMOLED screen. That screen might also be curved, Kuo suggests. Of course, when you think about curved AMOLED screens, the first phone that comes to mind is the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. If Apple does make a curved iPhone, it will be following in Samsung’s footsteps — not forging new ground.
It’s also suggested that the display on the new big iPhone would be a 5.8-inch OLED panel, lending credibility to other recent rumors suggesting that Apple has been looking to make the switch from LED screens to OLED panels, which offer brighter colors and consume less power. Kuo’s note suggests that the switch to OLED is imminent, and the 5.8-inch iPhone will sport the new display type.
In fact, the Motley Fool report hints that OLED panels may be used across the iPhone range in 2017 or 2018, not just on the so-called iPhone 7S Pro. According to the DigitTimes note it found, “supply chain sources believe that 50 million of these AMOLED-equipped iPhones will make it out to customers in the first year of availability.” While 50 million sounds like a lot, it’s a far cry from the 200 million iPhones Apple sold last year, highlighting the idea that the company may be gradually shifting into OLED rather than equipping all phones with the new tech right away.
Samsung is reportedly already on board to supply the displays, with LG and Japan Display looking to enter production later on in the process.
The most recent reports suggest that Apple is speaking with Sharp Corp. to supply these OLED displays. On September 30, Sharp announced a $566 million investment in developing OLED production facilities, citing June 2018 as the target date for product output. “Apple has unofficially or as a nod encouraged Sharp to go into it,” Amir Anvarzadeh, Singapore-based head of Japanese equity sales at BGC Partners Inc., told Bloomberg in a phone interview. “Apple’s general strategy is to increase the competition on the supply side, and dilute the risk exposure to one company.”
While it’s entirely possible that there is no iPhone 7S Pro, chances are that there is some kernel of truth to the fact that Apple is switching to OLED screens. The giant iPhone in the rumor may also just be a prototype or a possible prototype. We’ll keep you updated as we learn more.
No bezels, a return to glass backs, and say goodbye to the home button
While rumors about the iPhone 7, which arrived in September, indicate that it may not get a huge redesign, the Wall Street Journal said in mid-June that the 2017 iPhone will be radically different. New information from sources speaking to Bloomberg also reiterate that the 2017 iPhone may “appear like a single sheet of glass.” That would eliminate much of the bezel around the display as well as the home button.
Now, BGR is further reporting that the top bezel will also be removed — this could be a tricky move, as the top bezel houses the ambient light sensor, a proximity sensor, the front speaker, and the front-facing camera. But a patent discovered by Apple Insider suggests that Apple is actually looking to move the front-facing sensors to underneath the display. For a closer look, you can check out U.S. patent No. 9,466,653, titled Electronic devices with display-integrated light sensors.
These reports corroborate rumors brought to light by Apple insider John Gruber, who was among the first to say that the 2017 iPhone 7S/8 also may not have a single bezel — that plays well with the idea of a single sheet of glass. The entire front of the device could be one giant display, and the Touch ID sensor would be embedded in the screen itself. This has been reiterated in the New York Times, which quoted anonymous sources.
“Apple is likely to continue making iPhones without headphone jacks, and next year’s iPhone will have a full-screen face with the virtual button built directly into the screen, according to two people at the company who spoke on condition of anonymity because the product details are private,” the Times reports.
These rumors have been further corroborated by analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities, whose recently released report suggests that the 2017 iPhone would feature a glass front and back design. Apparently, the popularity of the glossy finish of the jet black iPhone 7 prompted this decision — as KGI Securities reports, around “30 to 35 percent and 45 to 50 percent of pre-orders around the world, and in China,” respectively, were of the jet black variety.
Moreover, Kuo suggests that higher-end models of future iPhones will likely use stainless steel in their cases — so look out, world. We’re about to get real fancy.
Here’s a concept video made by Ran Avni at ConceptsiPhone, which shows what a borderless iPhone could look like. The design in the video is based on Marek Weidlich’s design on Behance.
As for the size of the devices, Gruber says he doesn’t know whether Apple is “going to shrink the actual thing in your hand to fit the screen sizes we already have, or whether they’re going to grow the screens to fit the devices we’re already used to holding.”
So far, no phone has been able to offer a truly bezel-free screen, despite claims to the contrary from several Chinese brands and the Sharp Aquos Crystal. It’s unknown if such a thing is even possible, so treat this rumor with some skepticism.
Other possible design changes include a report from noted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities, which hints that Apple could return to a glass back on the iPhone 7S. Kuo believes that Apple will turn to the glass back so as to differentiate the iPhone from the crowd of all-metal Android phones. That could dovetail with an antenna redesign — according to The Wall Street Journal, the iPhone’s wireless components will be hidden behind an opaque back plate of unknown construction.
More: Apple iPhone SE review
In an earlier report, Kuo revealed that he thinks the glass back on the 2017 iPhone will also be curved for added comfort. Although going back to glass may seem like an odd retro move for Apple, it would also open up possibilities like wireless charging, which is nearly impossible to achieve with an all-metal device.
Indeed, the most recent report from KGI suggests that Apple will, in fact, add wireless charging in 2017. Ming-Chi Kuo says that iPhone 8 owners will have the option of using an inductive pad to rejuice their handsets, much like how one might charge the Apple Watch. While we initially thought that Apple might not democratizing access to these wireless charging capabilities, only offering the functionality for more expensive, higher-capacity models, this may not be the case any longer. The latest report from Ming-Chi Kuo notes that the new 4.7-inch iPhone will feature wireless charging as well.
Will Apple launch 4 iPhone sizes in 2017?
Are you one of the few who thinks that the iPhone 6S Plus is too small for your probably huge hands? Well, we’ve got good news for you. According to several reports, Apple may add a 5.8-inch iPhone to its lineup in 2017.
For years, Apple avoided increasing its iPhone screen size beyond the traditional 3.5 inches. Now, the company is comfortable with its 4.7- and 5.5-inch iPhones and rumor has it, Apple wants to go even bigger in 2017 with a 5.8-inch iPhone.
The first report came from the Motley Fool, which picked up on a note obtained from DigiTimes. The so-called iPhone 7S Pro would complement the already quite large, 5.5-inch iPhone 6S Plus. According to the rumor, the 2017 iPhone lineup may include the standard iPhone 7S, with a 4.7-inch display; the iPhone 7S Plus, with a 5.5-inch display; and an iPhone 7S Pro, with the rumored 5.8-inch display. The Motley Fool also notes that the new device may come a year later, in 2018, when the iPhone 8 will be announced.
Noted KGI Securities Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has seconded the rumor, reports 9to5Mac. Kuo writes that Apple’s full 2017 iPhone lineup will include the following iPhone screen sizes: 4 inches, 4.7 inches, 5.5 inches, and 5.8 inches. He also suggests that Apple may experiment with either glass, ceramic, or plastic backs on the 2017 iPhones. The company may be considering a shift in materials to make support for wireless charging easier. Metal, of course, interferes with wireless charging.
In his latest report, Kuo suggested that the 4.7-inch 2017 model, the so-called 7S, will serve as a midrange or perhaps even low-end iPhone. While the fancier iPhone 8, which is currently rumored to boast an OLED screen, a bezel-less design, and wireless charging, will comprise around 50 to 55 percent of new shipments next year, Kuo said that the “iPhone 7S” could account for between 30 and 35 percent of new iPhone shipments in 2017.
Now that the 4-inch iPhone SE is official, it stands to reason that Apple will continue to produce it, but the 5.8-inch iPhone would be new territory for Apple, as would launching four iPhones in one year. It’s unknown whether these rumors will come true, or if Apple is merely experimenting with the idea of a jumbo iPhone.
Regardless of whether or not there is indeed a 5.8-inch version, the latest report from Japan suggests that the iPhone 8 will feature glass backs on all sizes, which reinforces previous claims about the upcoming devices. Supposedly, the two sheets of glass will sandwich a familiar metal frame.
A dual camera module?
According to a report from The Korea Economic Daily, Apple is collaborating with LG to create a dual-camera module that would allow for 3D photographing. This would certainly make sense, as LG is already the company behind the iPhone 7 Plus camera. The interesting aspect of the report, however, has to do with 3D photographing capabilities. While Apple previously patented 3D-object and gesture recognition, it’s unclear whether the upcoming iPhone will bring these patents to life.
For a roundup of all iPhone 7 rumors, head here.
Article originally published in May 2016. Julian Chokkattu, Kyle Wiggers, Lulu Chang, and Christian de Looper have contributed to this report. Updated on 12-7-2016 by Christian de Looper: Added rumors that 2017 iPhone may come in red.