Design
Where form meets function
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Despite what Apple and its CEO Tim Cook may say about its latest flagship smartphone, the iPhone 7, which it unveiled yesterday to quieter fanfare than usual, the company will be looking to sweep it under the carpet (and into our pockets) as quickly as possible.

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.

The run-up to the release of the iPhone 7 was littered with leaks, so much so that we knew almost everything Apple were set to announce well in advance of the actual launch event. Now we already “know” some of Apple’s biggest plans for 2017, which is why unless your phone breaks or you’ve got a shit ton a cash lying around – you should wait another year before upgrading your iPhone. Here’s why.

All-glass design

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Concept image of the iPhone 8
Steel Drake

Apple is allegedly planning its first major design overhaul for many years with an all-glass version seemingly in the works. KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has a glittering track record of leaking accurate information, published a report back in May claiming the American tech firm will move to an all-glass enclosure.

“We expect the 2017 new iPhone model to adopt a structural design similar to that of iPhone 4/4S, meaning it will be equipped with glass on both the front and back sides, and a metal frame surrounded the edges,” Kuo told Mac Rumors. “The difference is that the new model will likely come with a curved screen and curved glass casing, with other important features including a 5.8-inch AMOLED display.”

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.

The rumor has been backed up by a couple of other leaks. A source reportedly told Japanese website Nikkei that “Foxconn (one of Apple’s largest manufacturing partners) has been trying glass designs since last year.”The arguments to be made for a glass smartphone include better antenna reception and more options for wireless charging. Which leads us to the next point.

Wireless charging

In a short space of time, wireless charging has gone from wishful thinking to a feature on the verge of becoming commonplace. Android smartphones – including Samsung’s latest family of devices – have it, although it is still a lot slower than wired charging methods.

Bloomberg reported in January that Apple was working on “cutting edge” wireless technology that would allow future iPhones and iPads to charge quicker and be placed further away from charging mats than current smartphones.

The unnamed sources said Apple was working on overcoming “technical barriers including loss of power over distance,” and that the technology will feature in iPhones coming out in 2017.

Display

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Concept image of the curved display on the iPhone 8
YouTube

It is also reported that Apple is planning to ditch LCD displays in favor of OLED screens. OLED displays are superior to the LCD panels currently used in the current iPhones because, rather than requiring a backlight, an OLED-based screen lights up individual pixels when necessary. That means blacker blacks and brighter whites, lower power consumption and faster response times.

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.

Specs

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MacMagazine

The iPhone 8 will, more than likely, feature an A11 chip, built on ARM’s highly-efficient 10nm manufacturing process, and run the next version of Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS 11. That much is a given. An A11 chip, like all of Apple’s chip upgrades, will be smaller, faster and more energy efficient.

Other features

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Again according to Ming-Chi Kuo, he’s basically the WikiLeaks of the tech world, the iPhone 8 could include more advanced biometric features such as facial recognition and iris scanning. Kuo has not said exactly what the additional biometric features would be used for, but presumably these would be alternate methods for accessing the iPhone and additonal security.

Apple is said to be sourcing iris scanning chips from Taiwan-based supplier Xintec, with Xintec planning to begin mass production on the component in 2017.

The iPhone 8 is set for release in September 2017. Catch up on everything the iPhone 7 has to offer here.

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