Apple’s next iPhone isn’t supposed to arrive until much later in 2017, but that hasn’t stopped legions of fans from fervently speculating about it. Things may be a little different this year, as it’s the 10th anniversary of the iPhone. Rumors suggest we may see up to three models — the iPhone 7S, the 7S Plus, and the iPhone X (aka, the iPhone 8). The latter is expected to be an expensive, technical showcase phone released as a celebratory model.
If you want to learn more about the iPhone 7S and 7S Plus, head over here. A lot of the information out there is up in the air, but what we’re hearing is keeping us interested. Very interested. Here’s what we’ve learned so far about the iPhone X.
One rumor that constantly crops up is the possible use of an Organic LED (OLED) screen on the iPhone X. OLED screens can offer deeper blacks and are often thinner than LCDs, and Apple has used this technology before with the Apple Watch. AMOLED is a different type of OLED, and Samsung, as well as many other manufacturers, have been using it on Android smartphones for years.
A rumor regarding the production of 3D Touch components for OLED displays solidifies the chance that the iPhone X’s panel will employ the technology. Apple has once again partnered with TPK to develop the 3D Touch solution for the new flagship iPhone, according to Patently Apple, by way of China’s Economic Daily News. TPK has worked on the 3D Touch setup in previous iPhones, and reportedly quoted a price of $7 to $9 per phone to build it into every iPhone 7.
For the iPhone X, however, the fragility of OLED displays has required TPK to go back to the drawing board. The company will have to bond glass covers to both sides of the iPhone X’s display before attaching the sensors, and this is purported to raise the cost of production quite significantly, up to $18 to $22 per device.
Furthermore, April reports from Nikkei and Bloomberg claimed Apple placed an order for between 70 million and 100 million OLED panels from Samsung. According to the publication, the South Korean company will be the sole producer of screens for the device. Nikkei attributes the news to one of Apple’s suppliers and said Samsung could produce as many as 95 million panels for the new iPhone before the end of 2017. Still, Apple was reported to be testing both OLED and LCD panels, curved and flat, as recently as the beginning of March.
Not only could the display be OLED, but it could also be True Tone, according to a report from MacRumors citing Barclays bank. The only Apple device with a True Tone display is the 9.7-inch iPad Pro. True Tone basically changes the white balance of the display depending on the ambient light. If you’re in a room with an orange light bulb, the screen will change a little to match the scene. It’s very similar to Night Shift, which adjusts the color to cut out blue light at night. Apple’s Touch ID technology could also be revamped to complement the bezel-less device, in that it may be replaced by a facial recognition system. As there are a lot of technical challenges to the technology, the company may use a combination of fingerprint and facial recognition technology.
If the iPhone X does come with an OLED screen, it’ll likely be expensive, possibly beyond $1,000. The Wall Street Journal reports the displays are costly to produce. However, the same report notes that Apple could decide against the OLED model altogether. There’s precedent for such a 180: Last year, a global shortage of sapphire glass forced Apple to abandon the material for the iPhone 7.
If the iPhone X is made to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the iPhone range, then it’s logical to expect Apple to make it look special. Throughout the many months of speculation, it is rumored the iPhone X will have a bezel-less screen, which may result in other alterations to the overall design of the phone.
Photos obtained by BGR confirm what we saw in previous leaks of the iPhone but it gives a good look at the device. The device looks to be a design mockup for the phone. Notably, the leaks show the phone from all different angles — so we finally have a look at all the different edges and sides of the phone. We can see what appears to be 2.5D curved glass panels on both the front and the back of the phone, with what seems to be a stainless-steel frame holding those panels together. Check out the images for yourself below.
Previously, we saw a leak that comes in the form of a render created by OnLeaks in partnership with MySmartPrice, and while the render doesn’t come from Apple itself, it is based on previous leaks and alleged factory designs. It’s important to note that while this render does fall in line with previous leaks, some speculation suggests that this is just a prototype design and that the real device may end up being a little different. In any case, check out the render for yourself below.
Previously, a Twitter leak showed a transparent case with a large, vertically orientated camera cutout, speaker cutouts that closely resemble the iPhone 7, and an oversize sleep/wake key cover. These aspects all match previous rumors about the phone, but the source of the case isn’t clear. The case could also be a prototype built only on leaked specifications — which may not end up being accurate. For now, it’s an interesting look at how rumors are shaping our perception of the iPhone X, rather than solid proof that this will be the final design.
Before this, photos of a “CNC dummy unit,” were posted on Twitter by @VenyaGeskin1. Geskin has also been responsible for other iPhone X leaks. The source isn’t confirmed, but the dummy phone was apparently obtained from a Foxconn employee. Such a device would be used during the design and development process, but isn’t proof of the final design. Other companies, such as those that make accessories, may also make this type of dummy phone based on rumored dimensions, so don’t take it as final evidence of a future iPhone design.
According to the leak, the screen takes up the front of the phone, but still has 4mm bezels. The images show dual front cameras, glass on the front and back, and a metal frame. On the rear is a vertical camera arrangement, similar to that seen in other rumors, along with a larger power button on the side. It’s speculated the final version will be black, rather than silver as seen here, and this has been visualized in a considerably more attractive concept render created by Instagram user le.pich.
The images are close to previous rumors, but in a report from iDropNews citing a Foxconn employee, Apple is supposedly working on two different versions of the iPhone X concurrently, but will ultimately choose just one for release. It’s not certain whether the one we’re seeing in these leaks will go on to be released.
The primary difference between the two models appears to be the placement of Touch ID. The company’s more forward-looking proposal features a fingerprint sensor underneath the display, while a more conservative plan places it at the back, similar to many Android phones.
The version with Touch ID below the screen is said to have the same dimensions as the iPhone 7, with a 5.8-inch OLED screen that runs over the entire surface of the device and 4mm bezels on every side. The display matches the contours of the phone, with heavily rounded corners, and also conceals the front-facing camera. The report also mentions a large power button with two points of contact, but did not clarify its purpose. The render for that device is shown here.
As for the backup plan? Apple’s other rumored version of the iPhone X trades those more ambitious features for more conventional ones. The purported schematics for this model have appeared on SlashLeaks, and they show a device that actually looks quite similar to the LG G6, at least from the front. This iPhone X would be larger than the other (as well as the iPhone 7) in every dimension, with more pronounced bezels and the top and bottom, and a conventional display that ditches the rounded corners. With the larger bezels, the front-facing camera can return to its current position along the top of the phone. Touch ID, on the other hand, is relegated to the middle rear, below the Apple logo.
Both models appear to feature a vertically arranged dual-lens camera. If Apple encounters problems testing the iPhone X that it really wants to launch, or supply constraints with the fingerprint sensor and OLED display make it unfeasible, as has been speculated, the backup plan could see the light of day.
Before this, a report from market research firm Cowen and Company suggested the iPhone X’s earpiece, FaceTime camera, and Touch ID fingerprint sensor would be embedded into the screen, allowing for a seamless edge-to-edge front panel. It said Apple may switch to Synaptic’s optical-based fingerprint reader for the new Touch ID, citing it as “currently the only workable solution” for detecting a fingerprint through a smartphone screen.
But the designs are posing a challenge for Apple’s suppliers. According to Apple Insider, yields of the under-screen Touch ID sensor are low — so low that Apple may consider alternative designs if the production problems can’t be solved.