Emerging Tech

10th Anniversary iPhone Buzz: Late, Expensive, Possibly Awesome

With September fast approaching, speculation has begun to roil about the next generation of iPhones, particularly the iPhone 8, or whatever Apple decides to name its special 10th anniversary edition of its smartphone.

However, fans aching to get their hands on the iPhone 8 may have to ache longer than those upgrading to the expected new iPhone 7s and 7s Plus models, if Monday’s report in DigiTimes is correct.

The iPhone 8 won’t ship until the November-December time frame, the Taiwan-based trade newspaper reported, and even then it will be available only in low numbers.

Yield rates at the companies manufacturing the phones have not yet reached levels to warrant mass production runs, DigiTimes said.

Production of the more conventional 7s and 7s Plus models is one to two months behind schedule, it added, with full-scale production not expected until August.

Plausible Delays

While documenting the delays may be difficult, the reasons suggested for them make sense.

“The issues that are rumored to be causing delays — shortages of the new OLED display components and troublesome fingerprint-recognition technology — are both plausible,” said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT.

“If there are delays, it won’t be surprising unless the iPhone 8 misses the holiday shopping season,” he told TechNewsWorld.

A normal upgrade cycle for two new iPhone models can be daunting, but this time Apple is planning to launch three new models.

“The big challenge Apple has with the iPhone is it’s a product that it’s trying to ship in very large volumes,” noted Ian Fogg, senior director at IHS Markit.

“There are few products that go from being announced in one week and 10 days later being shipped in millions,” he told TechNewsWorld. ” That’s an incredibly hard thing to do.”

Big Bang Theory

If the rumors about the iPhone 8 prove to be true, Apple will be packing a lot of new tech into the special edition smartphone.

“The iPhone 8 is a technology stretch goal for Apple, and with all these new technologies, there’s bound to be manufacturing challenges,” observed Kevin Krewell, principal analyst at Tirias Research.

Delaying shipments of the iPhone 8 may not be a bad thing for Apple, maintained Andreas Scherer, managing partner at Salto Partners.

“From a sales and marketing perspective, it makes sense to stagger the actual product shipment dates,” he told TechNewsWorld.

“Clearly, it is most advantageous for Apple to get the ‘s’ models out earlier and finish the year with a big bang,” Scherer said. “With this strategy the company will be able to have additional time to get the last kinks out of their highly anticipated product.”

Edge-to-Edge Display

Prior to DigiTimes’ report on the delay, Forbes contributor Gordon Kelly on Sunday claimed he had obtained documents confirming the final design of the iPhone 8.

The phone has an edge-to-edge display with a cutout area at the top for a front-facing camera, speaker and sensor array, he said.

“To me the edge-to-edge dislay is the main reason for the iPhone 8 to exist,” Tirias’ Krewell told TechNewsWorld.

On the back of the phone, the dual camera, which was in a vertical orientation on the iPhone 7, is now in a horizontal orientation, based on Kelly’s report.

The power button is larger, which has prompted speculation that it could be used as a fingerprint sensor.

Lightning Connection Staying

Like other Apple products, the iPhone 8 is expected to have a Lightning connector, not a USB-C port — and, of course, there’s no 3mm headphone jack.

“I really, really hoped Apple would go with USB-C,” Krewell said. “The Lightning port has problems. It collects lint, which makes it hard to keep a cable plugged into it.”

Sticking to its Lightning port would be consistent with Apple’s past behavior, however.

“It has a tendency to abandon industry standards for its own proprietary tech,” Pund-IT’s King noted.

Rumors of other features believed to be in the iPhone 8, like wireless charging, also persist.

“Wireless charging hasn’t become a killer feature for Samsung, but it would help promote the iPhone 8 as the cutting-edge phone,” Krewell said.

“Wireless charging makes sense but requires the company to develop a glass-backed case,” King pointed out.

Purposeful Leaks

Another topic that’s drawn widespread speculation is the possibility that the iPhone 8 will take augmented reality to a new level.

“Will Apple add some additional hardware capability in the new models to make AR even better? I think that’s quite likely,” said IHS’ Fogg.

“AR is going to be important not only for the new iPhones but for existing iPhones,” he continued. “That’s a significant technical achievement, because the competition requires an additional camera or sensors to enable augmented reality.”

If it seems a lot is known about the iPhone 8 before its release, that may not be an accident.

“The general consensus of most rumors supports the notion that Apple is willingly leaking details about the iPhone 8,” Pund-IT’s King said. “It may be to pique interest in the phone,” he continued, “but it could also help lessen the sting of the iPhone 8’s rumored high price — starting at $1,200, or nearly twice the cost of a current entry iPhone 7.”

John P. Mello Jr.

John P. Mello Jr. has been an ECT News Network reportersince 2003. His areas of focus include cybersecurity, IT issues, privacy, e-commerce, social media, artificial intelligence, big data and consumer electronics. He has written and edited for numerous publications, including the Boston Business Journal, theBoston Phoenix, Megapixel.Net and GovernmentSecurity News. Email John.

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