Apple iPhone 8: everything we know so far

UPDATED: When is the next iPhone out? What will it be like? Will it be any good? Get all the answers here

28 August 2017
by Stuff Staff

Every iPhone launch is a big deal, but the iPhone 8 looks like being the most significant new phone release for years.

That’s because this year marks the tenth anniversary of the first iPhone’s launch in 2007, and all the signs are that Apple is going to massively overhaul its flagship device. We’re expecting the announcement of a premium iPhone 8, alongside more minor upgrades (which we’ll call the iPhone 7S and 7S Plus, and cover in a separate article).

So what’s in store? We’ve rounded up everything we know so far about the new phone, from its release date to its new features and its likely price. You’ll find a mixture of hard news and entirely unsubstantiated rumours – but don’t worry, because we’ll guide you through every one of them and tell you what you should believe. On with the show…

WHEN WILL THE IPHONE 8 BE OUT?

As a rule, Apple launches its smartphones in the second week of September. This has been the case since 2012’s iPhone 5 launch, and thus far we’ve heard little to suggest that the cycle is going to be adjusted this year. The smart money is on Apple holding a single event to announce both the iPhone 8 and the 7S/7S Plus models.

There have been, however, several reports that production of the iPhone 8 model has been slower than expected due to problems with the model’s AMOLED screen and/or fingerprint scanner, which is thought to sit under the screen’s glass rather than in a home button (more on those features below). Depending on which report you read, this could result in a delay of either “three to four weeks” or “one to two months” in the phone’s on sale date, pushing it into October or November 2017.

Fact or fiction?

With respected outlets like CNBC reporting on these iPhone 8 production problems, we have to assume there’s at least a grain of truth in them. Anyway, what’s a couple of weeks extra to wait?

HOW MUCH WILL THE IPHONE 8 COST?

Ah, here we go: it’s all about money with you lot, isn’t it? And fair play to you, because high-end smartphones are getting mighty expensive these days. We don’t blame you for being curious as to how much wedge Apple is asking you to fork out for its flagship.

Fact is, we can only take an educated guess, but that guess is: it’s going to be the most expensive iPhone yet, and possibly over US$1,000. The AMOLED screen is once again cited in reports as the culprit, as apparently 3D Touch is more difficult to implement on AMOLED than it is on LCD.

Fact or fiction?

According to Digitimes, each 3D Touch module for OLED costs Apple US$15, which is 60% more than the cost of an LCD equivalent. It’s essentially the same story as the delay one, and we have to assume there’s something to it. Apple will likely pass on any costs to the consumer, so expect a hefty price tag on this phone.

WHAT WILL THE IPHONE 8 LOOK LIKE?

Here’s where things start to get interesting, because the iPhone 8 is likely to be a radical design departure from the previous few generations. The iPhone 7S and 7S Plus will probably look fairly similar to the iPhone 6/6S/7 models, but the iPhone 8 will be special, sporting a tall, almost bezel-free 5.8in AMOLED screen that covers almost the entire front side of the device (save for a small indent at the top of the screen that houses the front-facing camera, ear speaker and light sensor).

There’ll be no visible home button, either because its functionality – including a fingerprint sensor – will be built into the screen itself, or because Apple will ditch it in favour of onscreen buttons and face recognition.

Other stories have claimed the new iPhone’s rear side will be constructed entirely of glass, and that its screen will be curved like that of the Samsung Galaxy S8.

Fact or fiction?

The sheer number of stories about the tall, bezel-free OLED display with its integrated home button and Touch ID sensor have rendered these rumours as practically canon. We’re on board too.

As for the curved screen and glass back? We’re not entirely convinced. The glass back is definitely a strong possibility (it’d be a way for Apple to clearly separate the iPhone 8 from the metal-backed 6/6S/7 models), but the curved screen seems unlikely – a collection of cases available for pre-order at MobileFun suggest the screen will be bezel-less and largely flat.

WHAT WILL BE ITS STANDOUT NEW FEATURES?

Its customary for Apple to include at least two or three major new features in each iteration of the iPhone, and a bunch of potential tweaks and additions have been mooted in the tech press.

We’ve heard claims that the iPhone 8 will feature built-in wireless charging capabilities (bringing it into line with a host of Android flagships), be fully waterproof (a level above the iPhone 7, which is water resistant), may feature a 3D face scanner (3D makes it less likely to be fooled than Samsung’s face scanner, apparently) that can replace Touch ID for unlocks and purchase authorisation, and that the Touch ID button’s fingerprint-scanning function, as mentioned already, will be integrated right into the screen’s surface rather than a separate button.

It’ll apparently go one better than Samsung’s Galaxy S8 face recognition, too, detecting your face when the phone it lying down, instead of just when you pick it up and stare at the front-facing camera.

Furthermore, if you’re big on storage, a new report claims that Apple is doubling its offerings, with 64GB in the base model, followed by 256GB and 512GB options. Do you really need half a terabyte in your pocket? Well, there are a lot of apps and games out there…

Honestly, there’s nothing above that could be called a true game-changer. Does Apple have something secret up its sleeve, or are incremental improvements and minor additions all we have to look forward to?

Fact or fiction?

The waterproofing and wireless charging claims come direct from Taiwanese Apple manufacturing partner Wistron (via Nikkei), who we’d expect to know what’s going on. We think “fact” for those. The 3D face scanner, meanwhile, comes from the reliable Mark Gurman at Bloomberg, so we’re on board for that too.

As for Touch ID being built into the screen? We believe Apple wants to do this, but we also believe it’s causing manufacturing problems. Does Apple rip it out at the last minute to rely on face scanning only? It’s possible, but would likely be viewed as a retrograde security step and attract widespread criticism.

WHAT WILL THE CAMERA BE LIKE?

Most supposed leaked images of the iPhone 8 show a dual camera on the rear, with one key difference to the iPhone 7 Plus setup: the arrangement of the lenses is vertical, rather than horizontal.

This altered arrangement supposedly improves 3D depth perception when the phone is held in standard portrait mode, which should set the camera up to better employ augmented reality (AR) functions. A lot of rumours point to AR as one of Apple’s key iPhone 8 features, which essentially means the camera will be used for a lot more than just capturing photos and videos.

As for camera specs, there have been few bold claims about improvements there. For the main rear camera expect the 12MP sensor from the current crop of iPhones to remain, perhaps with improved optical image stabilisation. The front selfie camera was upgraded to 7MP for the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus launch, and we’d expect it to remain unchanged. A new “Smart Cam” setting will apparently adjust capture settings depending on what you’re pointing the phone at.

The big upgrade this year could come on the video side. Code pulled from Apple’s HomePod smart speaker mentions 4K recording at 60fps, from both front and rear cameras. That’s something the current crop of iPhones can’t do, so it stands to reason the feature will be showing up on the iPhone 8.

Fact or fiction?

There’s nothing outlandish or extreme in these rumours, and the majority of leaks suggest that the vertical dual lens setup is legit. Seeing how some of the details were pulled from Apple’s own code, we’re pretty confident the camera claims are largely true.

WILL THE IPHONE 8’S SCREEN BE BIGGER AND BETTER?

Yes! It’s pretty much the consensus from reports in the tech and mainstream press that the iPhone 8 will have a 5.8in screen with a long (or wide, depending on how you’re holding the phone) aspect ratio. This means more screen space in a body the same size as previous iPhones, and is achieved by decreasing the size of the upper and lower bezels.

It’s basically the same idea as we’ve seen in Android phones like the Samsung Galaxy S8 and LG G6, with one difference: with the iPhone 8, the screen may extend all the way to the top and bottom of the handset, rather than leave even a tiny bezel. There looks set to be a “bezel bump” at the top centre of the screen to accommodate the selfie camera, light meter and speaker.

Little has been reported regarding the resolution, but we’d bet on Apple sticking with the Retina display pixel density of around 300-400ppi.

The screen will also use AMOLED tech rather than LCD, which should mean richer colours, deeper blacks and a punchier overall look.

Fact or fiction?

As we say above, there’s essentially a consensus from the press on the upgrade to OLED and the increase in size. There are no other credible rumours concerning alternative designs for the screen. This one looks like a banker.

 

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