Its been almost a month that Apple launched iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. Some tech insiders are quietly advising people to skip this year and wait for iPhone 8.
Analysts have suggested that this year’s update will only be a slight tweak – and the big changes are coming next year. Jan Dawson, an analyst at Jackdaw Research, said: ‘It looks like part of the reason they are keeping the design the same this year is there are bigger changes they are working on for next year.’ Chetan Sharma, a mobile analyst said, ‘If it’s just more memory and a slightly better camera, then there’s less motivation [to upgrade].
While its improvements over the iPhone 6s make it an excellent phone and the Plus model’s dual-camera array is super-impressive, we can’t help but wonder why Apple’s decided to keep the design first introduced with the iPhone 6 in action for a third year. Apple traditionally works on a two year “tick, tock” release schedule, complete redesigns and big features make up the “tick,” improved processors and smaller updates make up the “tock.” The iPhone 6 was the tick, the iPhone 6S was the tock. The iPhone 7 should’ve been the tick, but it wasn’t – the design is sleek but nothing new, the most noteworthy feature is its improved camera.
The reason for the unnatural and grossly unsatisfying second tock is that next year Apple is celebrating the 10th anniversary of the iPhone, and, according to industry insiders and current rumors, it’s set to be the mother of all ticks. Ming-Chi Kuo, a reputable industry analyst at KGI Securities, is already dropping bold claims about the iPhone 8. Perhaps the most interesting tip is that the phone will feature a new ‘all-glass design’. Another market analyst from Barclays recently speculated that the iPhone 8 could finally incorporate wireless charging, a feature previously missed on all Apple handsets to date.
Here’s why you should wait another year before upgrading your iPhone.
Earlier this year, Ming-Chi Kuo predicted the screen is going to be made of curved glass – with a 5.8-inch AMOLED screen, a technology which allows higher contrast and brighter colours.
The phone’s design is also going to go back to the ‘glass sandwich’ model of the iPhone 4, according to KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.
As Kuo points out, the iPhone 4 and 4s had glass front and back panels, with a stainless steel band sandwiched between the two. However, these phones were plagued by durability issues, with many customers claiming their phones cracked too easily when dropped. Kuo says that a return to glass casing, albeit in an “ultra-strong” form, will not be problematic for Apple.
Apple has also shown a great deal of interest in wireless charging, particularly in WiTricity. The company is also apparently more interested in long-range wireless charging rather than the pad-based wireless charging that is currently popular.
With long-range charging, you’ll be able to use your phone in the vicinity of the wireless charger, without having to place it down on a wireless charging pad. This should also ameliorate that the lack of a headphone jack brings up. You’ll be able to charge your phone and listen to music simultaneously.
The Korea Herald reported that Samsung has scooped a $2.59 billion manufacturing contract to supply the 100 million 5.5-inch OLED panels to Apple per year, starting from 2017.
The most fascinating rumour surrounding the new iPhone is the one that suggests Apple will use an edge-to-edge, curved, flexible OLED panel for the iPhone 8. Though Kuo does say that he expects the OLED panel to be available only on the premium iPhone.
Apple has reportedly signed an agreement with Samsung for the delivery of an estimated 40 million OLED panels, which will be supplemented by panels from the likes of LG and Sharp.
Vague rumours suggest that Apple is investing in a secretive Taiwanese lab that develops OLED panels and the company could be investing in an AMOLED panel manufacturer.
OLED is a great choice for a smartphone display because it offers almost perfect contrast ratios, is extremely thin (it doesn’t need a backlight) and can be flexible. It is also very energy-efficient (black pixels don’t consume power).
Apple has reportedly been working on an integrated touch and display driver unit that is also expected to house all requisite sensors, including Touch ID.
The most likely improvement we’ll see on the iPhone 8 spec sheet is a fancy new processor. Apple designs its own SoCs (system-on-a-chip), and tends to debut a new chip with every major iPhone release. The latest chip is the A9, which powers the iPhone 6S. The iPhone 7 is runs on the new A10 Fusion chip, although details on its inner workings are still light. And the iPhone 8 will, more than likely, feature an A11 chip.
A recently leaked ARM presentation seemed to show that the company is working on reference designs for CPUs built on a highly-efficient 10nm manufacturing process. Apple bases its own chips on ARM’s reference designs, and tends to outsource manufacturing of its processors to either Taiwan’s TSMC or South Korea’s Samsung. TSMC has already promised 10nm chip production in 2016, and it’s reported that Samsung is trying to beat it to the punch.
On May 6, 2016, a report from technology industry news site DigiTimes claimed that TSMC had “recently begun to tape out the design” for Apple’s A11 chip. The report cited “industry sources” that suggested the processor would be built on a 10nm FinFET manufacturing process.
An A11 chip, like all of Apple’s chip upgrades, will be smaller, faster and more energy efficient.
- Some rumours are also hinting at Apple’s interest in Xintac, a company that specialises in biometric security, iris scanning and related technology.
- Intel reportedly has over 1,000 employees building its 7360 LTE modem with the hope of having the chip feature in the iPhone 7 – we’re still waiting on confirmation here. If Apple turns to Intel this year, and likes what it sees, Qualcomm could lose out on the iPhone contract for the foreseeable future. That means an iPhone 8 could very well feature an Intel modem, likely the successor to the to the 7360.
- While iOS 11 is likely to arrive in September, we’re sure to see a beta version for the software far earlier. Apple will probably reveal this at its Worldwide Developer Conference, which we’d expect will take place in June 2017. But is iOS 11 guaranteed? Maybe not.
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