10 things we know about the iPhone 8 - and 5 we don’t

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The iPhone 8 compared to the iPhone 7 (left) and 7 Plus (right) Credit: iDropNews

Right - it’s iPhone 8 launch time on Tuesday, September 12, and some people aren’t fully up to speed with what’s going to happen.

If you’re one of those, then we’ve put together the ultimate crib-sheet for you to look thoroughly in the know about the new premium handset coming from Apple.

Of course, you could check out our in-depth iPhone 8 price and rumor round up, where we’ve been monitoring and disseminating the best leaks from the web for well over a year now - and do check out the iPhone 8 launch: what to expect piece that details the rest of the iThings Apple is set to announce.

But if you’re in a bit of a rush, have a quick scan through this article - then even if you can’t join us for our iPhone 8 live blog on Tuesday, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what the new iPhone 8 that launches will look like.

1. It's going to have a bigger screen

Let’s get the biggest thing out of the way right now - literally. The whole point of the new iPhone 8 is going to be the fact it’s got a bigger screen than anything Apple has ever made, but in a body that’s smaller than the iPhone 7 Plus.

That means you’re getting a phablet in terms of the amount of things you can see in the handset in your palm (which is what people buy bigger phones for) but with dimensions that don’t stretch your hand to breaking (which is why people don’t buy bigger phones).

This will be enabled by a 5.8 display that stretches to the edges of the phone, with a very thin bezel around the edge and a small lip at the top to house the camera, a possible flash and the earpiece.

This is the biggest upgrade as it’ll be visually completely different to any other iPhone that’s come before, and that’ll be a key reason for many to upgrade.

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Credit: Baidu

2. It’ll be faster than ever

OK, this is a given… but some of the things that Apple is going to chuck at this new iPhone (which we’ll come onto a little bit later) will require a bit more grunt in the engine room, so there needs to be some more power coming out.

To that end, we’re expecting to see a new Apple A11 chip, one that will simply just run faster, be better and offer improved graphical grunt.

The key change here is that Apple will be making it with a 10nm process - what that means in real-speak is it’ll be really, really tiny.

The smaller distance between the transistors on the chip makes everything more efficient, which means better power management and a more powerful chipset.

There’s word the iPhone 8 will have an A11 Fusion chipset too, one that’s a step above the other phones offered, with an AI chip as well to offload some of the power - but that seems a bit farfetched to us. We know it’ll be more powerful, and we predict all the phones to have the same engine.

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The rumored mirror finish of the iPhone 8. Credit: Benjamin Geskin

3. It’ll be expensive

We’re sorry to have to tell you if you’re looking forward to the new iPhone 8, but you’re going to need some decent income - or have saved for a little while - to afford this new phone.

You’ve probably heard already that it’ll cost you around $1000 / £900 / AU$1250 if you want to own this phone, and that’ll be some meaty contract prices as well. Think about the most expensive tariff you’ve heard of, and then add a little. 

The reason for this is the development work that’s gone into the phone, the massively increased cost of the components (which, as they’ll be more complex, will see more failures on the production line, thus driving up price) and the general margins that Apple likes to charge.

There will be the cheaper iPhone 7S and 7S Plus to choose from, but if you want the shiny new iPhone it’s going to cost you.

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Credit: TechTastic

4. It'll have two cameras

Maybe not a surprise, but this one is important. Firstly, they’ll be arranged vertically, rather than horizontally, on the back of the phone for the augmented reality (AR) functions we’ll come onto in a moment.

Secondly - and this is a big one - both cameras are well-tipped to have optical image stabilisation. That means sharper images, better low-light performance overall and a telephoto lens that will allow you to actually zoom in and have great pics.

The Portrait mode, the bokeh effect seen on the iPhone 7 Plus, will be upgraded with more lighting effects to make these photos look smoother and more impactful on social media - that’ll be a big selling point.

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The future of Apple's devices is augmented

5. It’ll be the first ‘proper’ AR machine for Apple

Following on from the camera upgrades, AR is going to be a big push for Apple with the new iPhone 8. 

By having the dual cameras on the rear of the phone it’ll have the ability to perceive the depth of what’s being looked at, so the new iPhone will be able to ‘see’ your surroundings.

What that will allow is yet to be seen, but Apple is going to make a big deal about this at the launch. 

Whether that’s mini-movies from big studios that you can only watch by pointing your phone at a table, information on sports games just from holding up the phone at the action or just new ways of taking fun pictures of your friends, AR is going to be the big push this year.

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Credit: iDropNews

6. It'll have an OLED display

This is big for Apple - it’s been one of the key advantages rival Samsung has had over it for years, and for good reason. OLED displays just look more impressive, thanks to having ‘perfect’ black levels and more rich, immersive colors.

This will allow for smoother visuals, HDR video playback and possibly even a virtual reality (VR) push, as OLED lends itself well to VR thanks to the faster screen refresh. 

Samsung is tipped to be producing these panels - which makes sense as it’s one of the biggest producers of the tech in the world - showing just how much the South Korean firm backs the technology. 

If Apple is going to join the wave of OLED phones, it might as well make some money off it.

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The front of the new iPhone. Credit: Onleaks / GearIndia

7. It won't have a home button

You’re going to miss this one if you’ve used iPhones for any length of time: there won’t be a home button. 

There wasn’t really one on the iPhone 7, as the ‘button’ didn’t click but vibrated haptically whenever pushed, so users probably won’t struggle to adapt as much as they’d thought.

Apple will still need a ‘get home’ button to help exit apps, and this will likely still be in the same place at the bottom of the screen when in apps. 

However, it may also move to the back of the phone or become a software element to tap - whichever way Apple does this, the loss of the iconic home button is going to be a tough one for users to suck up, although they’ll gain a lot of screen real estate in exchange.

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The new iPhone will have more space for battery power... hopefully

8. The battery will be bigger

While we’re hearing this fairly regularly, we say this as much in hope as anticipation. The iPhone always needs a bigger battery, but the larger screen (with likely more pixels too) is going to need more power to run… so the internal power pack needs to step up as a result.

The iPhone 7 Plus has a 2900mAh unit inside, and the word is that the iPhone 8 will be ‘larger’, which could mean just 3000mAh - that said, it should be just about enough to keep things going well.

The Samsung Galaxy S8 has the same size of battery beneath the screen, and it can easily handle a day’s use with a similar screen - so perhaps Apple will have the longest-lasting iPhone yet with the CPU improvements.

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The new Animojis in iOS 11 Credit: 9to5Mac

OK - bear with us here. Of course it’ll run iOS, it’d be insane if Apple didn’t launch an iPhone with the latest version of its software.

But it won’t be the iOS 11 you’ve got on your iPhone if you’ve signed up to be a beta tester - it’ll be something that packs a dock at the bottom of the screen where the home screen and bezel used to be.

This is likely to be a multi-functional area that changes with different apps, a zone near your finger or thumb that performs new functions depending on where you are in the phone - it’ll be interesting to see how long it takes developers to start using it, if indeed it does come to fruition.

There will be myriad tweaks throughout the handset as well that the new larger screen will offer - not least the button in the top-left corner to take you back through apps being almost unreachable, so something will have to be done there - so if you do plump for a new iPhone 8, expect a slight learning curve.

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10. It won't have a headphone jack

Given the iPhone 8 is set to be all-new in design, it would be one of the most un-courageous climbdowns in the history of phone manufacturing if Apple re-enabled the headphone jack - and no render we’ve seen has had a port anywhere in sight.

There is talk of new Airpods being unveiled at the iPhone 8 launch event, and that would squarely highlight how Apple is looking to a wireless future for its audio. 

Of course, we’ll still have the Lightning port for popping in wired headphones if you buy some Apple-friendly ones, but if you’re hoping that your current cans would suddenly become relevant, it’s not happening.

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A 'look' at the purported iPhone X box. Credit: LetsGoDigital

Things we don’t know

For all the things that we do know - and it’s a fair amount thanks to the leaks - there’s a lot that we’re still unsure about thanks to conflicting leaks and, well, Apple just shutting down certain elements of the production process a little better.

Remember that Apple will be making many, many prototype versions of the iPhone 8 in the lead up to the launch, so even if we’ve seen ideas rolling out of the production line it’s not confirmed that this is the final model until it’s seen on stage in Tim Cook’s hands.

So that means we still have a few question marks hanging as we wait for the launch - join us as we puzzle over a few of the remaining riddles (and feel free to ping us on @techradar on Twitter to offer your theories).

1. What it will be called

This is the big one, the thing that we really won't know until the iPhone is actually shown off. The reasons are varied, but the current theories roll around three names: iPhone 8, iPhone X and the iPhone Edition.

The iPhone 8 makes the most sense. It'll say that Apple has taken a real step forward with the phone, and it'll be backed up by the iPhone 7S and 7S Plus. However, the only problem with that is it'll make those other phones look instantly archaic - which Apple won't be keen on.

The next up, the iPhone X, is believable... if you think Apple is going to make a big deal about the fact this is the phone that marks 10 years of iPhone. Is the brand nostalgic enough to name something based on the past? 

'X' does have a certain cachet about it, so again it makes a modicum of sense. The iPhone Edition is perfect when you think about it being the premium model, in the way the expensive Apple Watch was called the Edition as well. It'll mark it out as the one to own if you're someone who likes the finer things in life, and it'll leave the iPhone 7S and 7S Plus untouched as part of the 'normal' naming strategy.

But what about next year? Will there continue to be the same strategy? Surely the all-screen model is where Apple is taking the line? As you can see... this is one that will rumble for a few more days.

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Wireless charging components supposedly headed for the iPhone 8. Credit: @zealer

2. Whether it will have wireless charging out the box

We're pretty certain the new iPhone is going to pack wireless charging, which is good news for the whole industry - it'll supercharge the development of the wire-free way of boosting your phone.

But we're hearing word that it won't be enabled out the box - which would be weird - as Apple goes for something a little different than just 'put the phone down on a pad and get charging.

Word is that Apple has close connections with a company called Energous, which can charge your phone from ANYWHERE in a room, but that technology doesn't seem likely at this point, as it's just too nascent.

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When will the queues begin?

3. When it will be released

The smart money is that the iPhone 8 release date will be September 22, after it goes on pre-order on September 15. 

However, rumors that the release has been delayed pervade, thanks to the cost and complexity of the manufacturing process - so that would mean we get the iPhone 7S and 7S Plus at that time, and the fancier model some time in October.

Whenever it does appear on Apple's Store shelves, if you want one then you'll need to be sharp to get your hands on a unit... they're very likely to be in short supply.

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This 'leaked' case render has no place for a fingerprint scanner

4. Where the fingerprint scanner will be

This is a big mystery still, mostly because we haven't seen it on any renders thus far. OK - that's not entirely true, as we did see some models where the fingerprint scanner was on the rear in the middle of the iPhone 8, but they've dwindled in recent weeks.

The smart money is on it being locked into the power button, much like Sony phones, on the side of the handset, which makes sense as we're losing the home key.

Many hoped for the Touch ID scanning to be beneath the screen itself, where just prodding the display would unlock the phone securely, but that technology apparently wasn't ready for the Samsung Galaxy S8 and doesn't seem ready for the iPhone 8 either.

Which brings us on to...

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Will the new iPhone be able to scan your face?

5. If it will know who you are

The other way of knowing who you are securely is for the iPhone 8 to have Face ID, a scanner where the handset will look to see who you are and let you in if you're for real.

This technique was available on the Samsung Galaxy S8, but it wasn't the most accurate or secure - Apple has worked its magic on the technology and it'll capture a true 3D map of your lovely features and be far speedier at letting you into the phone.

We're not convinced on this one, simply because we've never had an accurate facial recognition system on a phone that's better than a fingerprint scanner - but with neat tweaks like looking at your phone to silence it (like a stern teacher) this one could, feasibly, work if Apple decides to drop Touch ID altogether.

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