iPhone 8: Everything we know about the launch date, specs and price

Editors' note: This article was originally published on February 16 and we'll continue to add new rumors and stories as they emerge.

This is not normal.

In any typical year, we'd be confidently counting down the days -- we'd be well inside the 50-day range now -- to the debut of the next iPhone. 

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Apple is rumored to be developing an edition of the iPhone 8 that has a reflective finish.

Benjamin Geskin / Twittter

But in this strange year of 2017, all bets are off. The rumors are loud and persistent: The usual early September introduction of the forthcoming iPhone -- the iPhone 8, iPhone X, whatever it's going to be called -- is in serious jeopardy.

Apple is struggling to put the wraps on a handful of new features for the next iPhone, according to a credible chorus of sources. Though the precise nature of the problem remains unclear, rumored features that could be potentially gumming up the works include inductive charging, a virtual home button, Touch ID, facial recognition technology and an OLED display. Or all of the above. 

Last week, a Fast Company report cited a source evoking a "sense of panic" at Apple about missing the September deadline. In a previously unthinkable scenario, the company could be forced to ship the new iPhone unfinished -- that is, without all of the planned features activated -- or postpone the introduction altogether. For months now, veteran Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has insisted that the new flagship phone will not ship until later in the fall

This week, new rumors extend the drama to the iPhone 7S and 7S Plus we're expecting to see. According to Economic Daily News (via MacRumors), even the "S" series, which will likely be a modestly upgraded version of the current generation, may be delayed. 

Though we continue to see realistic design drawings, videos and iPhone 8-ready case protectors pop up every day, they're likely a mixture of best guesses, wild bets and simple hoaxes. And yet, still, there are those who report that Apple is on schedule for its standard September announcement. 

Despite the reported drama inside Apple, we believe that new iPhones will eventually appear before the end of 2017. As we count down the days until the big introduction, we'll continue to assemble the most significant iPhone 8 rumors below.

iPhone 8 specs we might see:

  • Three new models including two minor "S" upgrades plus an all-new iPhone 8
  • Curved, edge-to-edge OLED display with True Tone technology and/or Ion-X glass
  • Virtual home button with integrated Touch ID
  • Touch ID alternative via iris scanning and/or facial recognition 
  • "Wireless" charging (inductive/magnetic charging, as with the Apple Watch)
  • Dual-lens camera, possibly in a vertical configuration
  • AR capabilities featuring rear-facing 3D laser for enhanced depth perception 
  • Support for the Apple Pencil
  • Stainless steel and glass body
  • Four or more colors including a reflective, mirror-like option
  • Upgraded storage and memory, possibly starting at 64GB and 3GB of RAM
  • Intel or Qualcomm modem
  • iOS 11 (preview)
  • Super-fast charging via USB-C connection
  • Enhanced water resistance or waterproofing
  • Higher quality earpiece for louder, clearer audio
  • Apple's next-generation processor (the A10X or A11)
  • Priced between $850 and $1,200
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The billion dollar question: When is the iPhone coming out?

As discussed above, the delivery date is way, way up in the air. We're picking up clear signals that all may not be well in Cupertino. For months now, we've been hearing rumors about manufacturing issues related to the "significant hardware upgrades" planned for the new phone.

If the big reveal doesn't go down according to the standard timeline, Apple has several unpalatable options. Hold back the new phone until October or November. Announce in September and subject customers to "severe shortages." Launch the "S" series -- expected to an incremental upgrade of the iPhone 7 -- in September, leaving the iPhone 8 debut for later in the year (though that contingency may no longer be an option). 

The iPhone TBD

It's highly likely that we'll get an iPhone 7S and iPhone 7S Plus in addition to the next-generation flagship. But we don't know what Apple will call the 10th anniversary model itself. Anything is possible, and candidates include the iPhone 8, the iPhone 10, the iPhone X, the iPhone Pro and the iPhone Edition.

Dual cameras, 3D lasers and Face ID

Many of the "leaked" images we've seen show an iPhone 8 that has two cameras arranged vertically with an LED flash in the middle. A similar setup has made the iPhone 7 Plus the photographer's phone. But there are other applications, too.

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This render of the iPhone 8 has dual cameras arranged vertically. 

@OnLeaks

According to Korea Economic Daily, Bloomberg and a JP Morgan analyst, Apple is working on facial recognition technology leveraging the cameras for "biometric" identification. Like Touch ID -- but with your face instead of your thumbprint.

In addition, Fast Company has reported that Apple has developed a rear-facing 3D laser system that would improve AR depth detection as well as autofocusing for photography. And a patent application dated July 6, 2017, spotted by TechCrunch, spells out in great detail Apple's ambition to patent a sensor that can tell if you're human. In short, it looks pretty damn likely that facial recognition is coming to the iPhone.

This is certainly one of the new features that could be holding up production. And if done wrong, the repercussions could be dramatic. Remember when the Samsung Galaxy S8's iris scanner was hacked with a photo and a contact lens?

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A render of the iPhone 8 with a curved OLED display.

Georgy Pashkov/ConceptsiPhone

At least one new iPhone will have an OLED display

Though the rumored iPhone 7S and iPhone 7S Plus are likely to stick with current LCD technology, the next flagship is almost certain to have an OLED. (We've also heard that the entire iPhone lineup could go OLED in 2018.)

A curved OLED panel (reported by The Wall Street Journal and Nikkei Asian Review) would be a big-time upgrade for the iPhone and a huge equalizer in its rivalry with the Samsung Galaxy 8. Bloomberg says the iPhone 8's screen "covers almost the entire front of the device" and Kuo says it will have "the highest screen-to-body ratio" of any phone. The new display could be one of the factors pushing back the release date. 

The future of the home button

Kuo insists that the iPhone 8 will have a virtual home button but that it will not support Touch ID (giving even more credence to this whole Face ID thing). There are rumors that Apple might move the home button to the back of the phone, as shown in alleged render images leaked on Chinese site Weibo (via Slashleaks) and on Twitter by Apple leaker Sonny Dickson. One analyst firm suggested there is a "high chance" that Apple will locate it on the back of the iPhone. Or Apple could ditch the home button altogether, following in the footsteps of Samsung with its Galaxy S8.

Touch ID RIP?

Of course, if Apple has figured out how to make Face ID work, would there still be a need for Touch ID?

vivo-phone

Vivo unveiled a phone concept last week with a fingerprint scanner embedded in the display -- the very feature rumored to be imperiling the iPhone 8's September debut.  

Vivo

Maybe, maybe not. In June, Qualcomm unveiled its under-screen fingerprint-sensing technology in a Vivo phone at Mobile World Congress in Shanghai. So, in theory, it can be done. 

Though some reports say Apple has figured out how to embed Touch ID directly in the display, others have suggested that the challenge of mass producing a virtual home button/optical fingerprint scanner is the reason that the iPhone 8 won't come out in September. 

iOS 11 could hold more surprises

A dual camera array would also be capable of supporting the AR applications we know are coming to iOS 11, which Apple introduced at this year's WWDC. The public beta debuted in June (here's how to install it) and we've since discovered some of the cool stuff that's coming to the next iPhone -- though, surely, more is to come. The highlights we know about include a smarter, more capable Siriscreen recording and AR software that will overlay the virtual world on to the physical one. Read more about iOS 11 in our preview.

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All good on the outside, if not the inside

Accessory manufacturers have already begun taking orders on cases and screen protectors. Though manufacturers regularly do get the specs wrong, this step may be a signal that Apple -- while it scrambles to put the finishing touches on both hardware and software -- has at least locked down its final exterior design.

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And the majority of images of cases, renders and molds that have appeared so far show an iPhone 8 that, size-wise, sits between the iPhone 7 ($1,079.00 at Apple) and 7 Plus ($1,269.00 at Apple). It's worth noting that the iPhone 8's display, rumored to extend from edge to edge, would likely be more comparable with that of the 7 Plus.

In terms of materials, one of Apple's prototypes features a combination of curved glass and stainless steel, according to Bloomberg. This corroborates earlier rumors (reported by DigiTimes and Nikkei Asian Review) suggesting that the company might replace the traditional aluminum iPhone design with a glass and steel body. Previous rumors about the possibility of a ceramic body seem to have faded out.

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Apple is rumored to be working on inductive charging, available for years now on Samsung Galaxy phones, for the iPhone 8.

Sarah Tew

Charging forward

Wireless charging has been on the hot rumor list for months, though it's been unclear whether it would be integrated by default or via an optional accessory.

Now, noted Apple watcher John Gruber has tweeted that "wireless" charging -- that is, an inductive charge pad accessory, which, technically, still has wires -- may be "sold separately" and not until later in the year, as part of a future iOS 11 update, similar to Apple's rollout of the iPhone 7 Plus portrait mode in 2016.  

In June, the sleuths at MacRumors uncovered a new sound in iOS 11 theorized to be associated with engaging the iPhone 8's rumored wireless charging capabilities. And earlier in the year, Nikkei Asian Review and Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo reported that the next iPhone would support wireless charging as well as USB-C-powered faster "plugged-in" charges.

Enhanced audio

According to JPMorgan (as reported by MacRumors), Apple may equip the iPhone 8 with an "enhanced receiver," which is housed within the slit on the front of the phone where you put your ear during calls. This upgrade would ostensibly deliver louder, clearer audio as well as superior water-proofing (more on that below).

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Today, the AirPods are a $159 accessory. Could Apple include them for free with the iPhone 8?

Apple

AirPods included

JPMorgan has also postulated that the iPhone 8 will come with AirPods included. These Bluetooth-enabled headphones currently sell as a $159 accessory (£159 in the UK and AU$229 in Australia). And so this one is a stretch. But if Apple prices the new phone high enough, there could be margin enough to make it happen. Which brings us to...

Price

This one's way up in the air. Sources, ranging from Morgan Stanley to Fast Company to Goldman Sachs have theorized an iPhone 8 that could cost $1,200 in the US (roughly £950 or AU$1,450). A UBS analyst has theorized that the 64GB entry-level model would start at $850 (roughly £655 and AU$1,110) -- just like the Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus -- and that the iPhone 7S and 7S Plus would cost $649 (£500 and AU$850) and $749 (£580 and AU$980), respectively.

Gigabit LTE

One area the iPhone 8 may end up trailing the Galaxy S8 is cellular network speed. The Samsung phone features Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835 processor or, in some markets, Samsung's own Exynos 8895 chip -- both of which support Gigabit LTE. According to CNET's Roger Cheng, Apple uses Qualcomm and Intel modems and, at the moment, the Intel version can't deliver Gigabit LTE speed. This could force Apple to slow down the Qualcomm version to ensure all iPhones are on the same footing.

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Apple waved goodbye to the analog headphone jack with the iPhone 7. And it's probably not coming back.

James Martin/CNET

Return of the headphone jack?

A Barclays analyst (reported by MacRumors) has suggested that Apple will stick with its Lightning connector -- and include a 3.5 mm headphone jack adapter -- for the next phone. Highly doubtful. Despite the shade being thrown by competitors like OnePlus, whose new newest phone has the legacy connector, Apple is very unlikely to reverse its position on this one. 

Enhanced waterproofing

That same Nikkei Asian Review article also claims that at least one of the forthcoming iPhones will be waterproof. This follows earlier rumors, reported by the Korea Herald and others, that the next iPhone will have a higher water resistance rating of IP68 compared with the current generation's IP67, meaning it could be immersed in water for longer and at greater depths.

More storage

Apple may dump its 32GB model and offer 64GB and 256GB models, according to TrendForce. The report also suggests that the company will boost the amount of memory to 3GB. This incremental bump would follow the recent precedent of Apple ditching its dreaded 16GB model when it released the iPhone 7.

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Is True Tone coming to the iPhone?

Apple

Mood lighting

Barclays analysts have predicted that all three forthcoming iPhones -- the 7S, 7S Plus and iPhone 8 -- will come equipped with Apple's True Tone technology. If included, this would adjust display settings for ambient lighting conditions as it currently does on the 9.7-inch iPad Pro. (The next edition of the iPad Pro is also rumored to have a True Tone display.)

Bringing the GPU in house

Apple is developing its own graphics chips to be used in future versions of its products, including the iPhone. But the time frame for phasing out its current supplier is 15 to 24 months, so it's unlikely that an Apple-manufactured GPU will make it into the next iPhone. We're probably looking at 2018 or 2019 for this one.

And what about the iPhone 9?

From the outer frontier of the iPhone hype cycle, The Bell (via Korean site The Investor) reports that Apple will supersize its future phones, with the iPhone 9 featuring two variations with an OLED display -- a 5.28-inch model and a 6.46-inch one. And Nikkei Asian Review suggests that all of next year's iPhones could adopt new screen technology, not just the most high-end model.

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