Update: Facial recognition, a USB Type-C port, a MacBook Pro-inspired function area and a futuristic fingerprint scanner could all be coming to the iPhone 8 Plus according to the latest leaks and rumors.
Next year will mark the tenth anniversary of the original iPhone. It has almost been 10 years since Steve Jobs walked out on stage and changed the way we use our mobile phones, so you can expect Apple to celebrate with major upgrades on the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus.
That stacks up with some of the rumors we're already hearing, which suggest the iPhone 8 Plus will see a lot of improvements.
We’ve already had word that the iPhone 8 Plus may come in two different models, and heard rumors of it having a fully upgraded spec as well.
Apple’s usual naming convention suggests it will go for the iPhone 7S Plus, but the company may decide to use the tenth anniversary as an excuse to skip a generation, for a major upgrade in 2017.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? The next phablet iPhone
- When is it out? Probably September 2017, or maybe 2018
- What will it cost? Lots and lots of money
iPhone 8 Plus release date
For the last few years Apple has announced new iPhones at the start of September, and then released the phone later in the month.
That’s exactly when we’d expect the iPhone 8 Plus to launch in 2017. The only iPhone to not be launched in September in recent years is the iPhone SE, but we’d expect the iPhone 8 Plus to follow a year after the iPhone 7 Plus, which launched in September 2016.
There’s also a chance this may be called the iPhone 7S Plus - in which case the handset called the iPhone 8 Plus won't be here until 2018.
Usually we'd expect Apple to introduce an S model the year after a new numbered phone, but this year a lot of rumors have suggested it may just jump straight to the iPhone 8 Plus.
TechRadar’s take: September 2017 looks likely, but it may be called the iPhone 7S Plus instead of the iPhone 8 Plus.
iPhone 8 Plus screen
- There will be two versions: one with an OLED screen and one LCD
- Some rumors suggest the screen size will increase
- It may even feature a foldable screen
Apple may be making two versions of the iPhone 8 Plus in 2017, and the biggest difference between the two could be the screen technology each uses.
A KGI Securities analyst has suggested that one version of the iPhone 8 Plus will come with an LCD screen (as is used by current Apple phones), while another will come with OLED.
Rumor has it Apple wants to upgrade the screen technology to OLED on all of its iPhone models, but demand for the tech is too high at the moment for Apple to build enough OLED screens, so it may only do it on one version of the iPhone 8 Plus.
Though recent rumors from The Investor suggest Apple could have secured 160 million OLED panels, which should be enough for most models.
It seems the curved OLED models may be sourced from Samsung, and could be made of plastic.
Expect the OLED version of the iPhone 8 Plus to cost a little more than the LCD version. The possible lack of OLED stock may also mean this version of the Plus will be in higher demand.
Supply chain sources claim the OLED handset will have an edge-to-edge screen with a fingerprint scanner embedded into it, and that this model is currently codenamed "Ferrari." We've seen more evidence of this possibility from an Apple patent, showing a bezel-free screen with embedded components. A second, similar Apple patent has also now emerged.
If Apple does place the scanner in the screen, it might add a 'function area' at the bottom, similar to the Touch Bar on the MacBook Pro, according to a research note. This would be in place of the hardware home button found on current models.
Apple may also decide to up the size of the iPhone 8 Plus's screen.
The iPhone Plus range has always had 5.5-inch screens, but one analyst believes the screen will be upped to 5.8-inches on the iPhone 8 Plus, as there’s now a demand for larger screen phones.
It may be that Apple decides to keep this size jump just for the OLED version though, if it happens at all.
It's also possible that we'll get a curved iPhone 8 Plus, in fact a recent rumor talks about a curved OLED screen, and one which could potentially have a higher-than-QHD resolution.
There’s also the very, very slim chance Apple will be able to include a flexible screen on the iPhone 8 Plus.
Patently Apple has pointed out that the company patented the technology for a foldable iPhone a few years back, with the patent describing a screen that can fold in two, much like a book, but this hasn't been specifically linked to the iPhone 8 Plus.
TechRadar's take: It looks like the iPhone 8 Plus will come in two models. One will feature an OLED screen and another will feature an LCD display, but it's unlikely to change in size and we wouldn't count on curves.
iPhone 8 Plus design
- A major change compared to previous models
- It'll still be a large phone, but one version may be glass instead of metal
- The Touch ID fingerprint scanner may be integrated into the screen
One of the biggest criticisms of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus was the fact that neither had a new design.
In fact, Apple handsets from the iPhone 6 Plus onward look largely the same, so there may be some big design changes coming on the iPhone 8 Plus.
One analyst from China expects the biggest change in the design to be a move toward a curved glass back, rather than the metal used on other iPhone models.
The CEO of the company that makes the iPhone’s metal casing has even said one model of the iPhone 8 “will adopt glass casing next year”. And we've also heard more reports of a glass back, with a steel frame to hold it together.
It’d make sense for the most premium and expensive iPhone model to get the new material rather than the normal iPhone 8. Though it's also possible that all iPhone 8 models will get a glass back, according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.
Another source has also suggested the phone will come with a “glass sandwich design”, so it may be that the iPhone 8 Plus looks quite a bit like the .
The other big rumored design change is dropping the Touch ID scanner from the iPhone 8 Plus. Some have rumored it would be integrated into the screen instead.
But there's a chance we won't see much change to the design at all, with another source claiming the iPhone 7S Plus will look a lot like the iPhone 7 Plus, albeit with a new red color added to the mix.
Either way, expect the iPhone 8 Plus to keep its waterproof build, as well as a 3.5mm headphone jack-less design.
TechRadar's take: It's about time Apple changed up the design, and the iPhone's tenth anniversary is the perfect time to do it.
iPhone 8 Plus camera and battery
- Optical image stabilization looks almost certain
- Expect a similar 7MP selfie shooter
- Wireless charging may finally come to the iPhone next year
The camera was perhaps the biggest upgrade for the iPhone 7 Plus, so we’d expect to see a similar spec on the iPhone 8 Plus shooter.
Respected Chinese analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has suggested the dual-lens camera will remain limited to the Plus model, and that both lenses will benefit from optical image stabilization, where currently only the wide-angle lens features OIS on the iPhone 7 Plus.
As for the front camera, we’d expect it to stay at the 7MP mark on the iPhone 8 Plus, as it was upgraded for the last phone, but there’s nothing in particular rumored yet for the selfie shooter.
In terms of the battery size, there are no clear rumors for the iPhone 8 Plus.
The biggest upgrade for the phone may be the introduction of wireless charging technology, and not like you’ve seen on Android devices in the past.
Apple has been rumored to be working on wireless charging tech that can work up to 18 feet away from the phone, or rather, Energous - a company working on the tech - is said to be collaborating with a "tier 1" smartphone maker, and has also claimed to be working with one of the largest consumer electronics companies in the world, on a solution due to ship this year.
This would be truly wireless charging – and while "tier 1" doesn't necessarily refer to Apple, BGR claims the company working on the tech has received an investment of $10 million from one of Apple's major suppliers, making Apple the obvious guess.
Recently, it's also been revealed that a senior Apple employee has been hired by Energous, and that the company plans to release a product in time for the iPhone 8's launch.
If Apple is working on this, and if it's ready for the iPhone 8 Plus, it would be a game changer feature that no other phone maker is currently capable of providing.
Even if we don't get long-distance wireless charging, this might be the first iPhone with normal wireless charging, as according to a research note obtained by 9to5Mac all iPhone 8 models will have the feature.
Although another leak suggests the phone won't have any kind of wireless charging.
Whether there's wireless charging or not, you're sure to want to plug the iPhone 8 Plus in at times, and surprisingly there's some evidence that you'll be doing that via USB Type-C, rather than a Lightning connection, though the evidence so far is flimsy.
TechRadar's take: Look for a similar dual-lens camera, but with OIS for both lenses. Battery life improvements are possible, but don't count on long-distance wireless charging or a USB-C port.
iPhone 8 Plus OS and power
We’d expect iOS 11 to launch alongside the iPhone 8 Plus, but it’s currently uncertain what new features the software will bring.
The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus both launched with upgraded A10 Fusion processors, so we’d expect a quad-core chip on the iPhone 8 Plus and it's likely to be called the A11 Fusion or even just A11.
In terms of RAM, we’d expect the iPhone 8 Plus to come with 3GB or 4GB.
The iPhone 7 Plus has 3GB on board and the iPad Pro 12.9 packs 4GB, so with the iPhone 8 Plus Apple might up the RAM to 4GB.
TechRadar's take: The iPhone 8 Plus will be the fastest Apple handset yet, with an A11 chip and at least 3GB of RAM.
iPhone 8 Plus other features
- A Smart Connector for accessories?
- It may include an iris scanner or tech to stop thieves stealing your fingerprints
- New sensors to detect touch on more than just the screen
- Facial recognition tech
Apple could make every side of the iPhone 8 Plus smart, by using new sensing technology to let the sides respond to a users touch - potentially allowing you to change the volume with a swipe along the edge and snap a photo with a tap. Though this sounds ambitious.
One Apple patent shows off a detailed system to stop thieves being able to take your fingerprints from your Touch ID sensor – so that may be included on the iPhone 8 Plus.
There’s also the chance the Smart Connector from the iPad Pro could launch on the iPhone 8 Plus.
The long rumored iPhone 7 Pro was meant to feature the Smart Connector, for accessories such as small keyboards, but Apple may be waiting to launch it on the iPhone 8 Plus instead.
Another rumor for the iPhone 8 Plus is the addition of an iris scanner.
It’s a technology Samsung tried on its latest phablet – the Galaxy Note 7 – which allowed you to unlock your phone just by looking at it.
A report out of China suggests Apple is investigating the technology, but right now it’s unclear whether the company will see fit to press ahead with a brand new way to unlock your phone.
But Apple may also be looking into facial recognition as a way to secure your phone. Evidence for that is growing, as Apple has acquired a startup that works on the tech, and an analyst's research note suggests a 3D laser face scanner will be packed into the phone.
TechRadar's take: We doubt the iPhone 8 Plus will have an iris scanner or touch-sensitive sides, but a Smart Connector and improved fingerprint scanner are both distinct possibilities, while evidence of facial recognition is hard to ignore.
iPhone 8 Plus price
We’d expect a similar price for the iPhone 8 Plus as there was for the iPhone 7 Plus.
The 32GB model costs $769 (£719, AU$1,229), while the 128GB version costs $869 (£819, AU$1,419). If you want an even bigger 256GB version you have to spend $969 (£919, AU$1,569).
In 2017 we may see an even more expensive iPhone 8 Plus with an OLED screen though, so don’t expect your next phablet to come cheap.
TechRadar's take: The iPhone 8 Plus is sure to cost at least as much as the iPhone 7 Plus, and some versions may be even pricier.