Update: Improved waterproofing, a steel frame, a glass back and a bezel-free OLED screen could all be in the works for the iPhone 8, while long-range wireless charging is looking ever more likely.
Apple looks like it's going to go big for the new iPhone, with strong rumors that 2017's model will undergo big changes as it's the handset's tenth anniversary.
That could very well start with the name, which is likely to be the iPhone 8, rather than the iPhone 7S, marking the phone out as a big jump rather than a minor refresh.
Based on early rumors it seems the design, specs and features are all set to receive a major overhaul, and we've sifted through all the whispers on the internet to bring you the definitive guide to what's coming on the new iPhone 8.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? The next iPhone
- When is it out? Almost certainly September 2017
- What will it cost? More than $649 (£599, AU$1,079)
iPhone 8 release date
- Likely to launch early September 2017
- On-sale mid-September 2017
While there aren't yet any rumored release dates for the iPhone 8 this is one thing that's easy to predict, as Apple tends to stick to a similar schedule each year.
In fact, with the exception of the iPhone SE, every Apple handset since the iPhone 5 in 2012 has been launched in September. There's no reason to think that will change for the iPhone 8, so expect to see it in September 2017.
Even going further back you'll see similar dates, so again it's likely that Apple will stick to this sort of schedule for the iPhone 8.
Of course that's not when you'll be able to buy the iPhone 8/iPhone 7S, but Apple typically makes its phones available one to two weeks after announcing them, so you should be able to have the iPhone 8 in your hands before the end of September 2017.
TechRadar's take: A launch event in the first or second week of September 2017, with the phones hitting stores one to two weeks later.
iPhone 8 screen
- A curved AMOLED display
- A 5.8-inch screen
- No home button and no bezels
Apple hasn't done much with its iPhone screens since upping the sizes with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, but the iPhone 8 could see the display undergo its biggest change yet, with respected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claiming that the iPhone 8 will have a curved AMOLED display.
This has also more recently been rumored by sources claiming that a curved AMOLED display is one of more than ten prototypes that Apple is considering - and that the phone could even have a higher-than-QHD resolution.
AMOLED is a technology primarily used by Samsung phones, like the Samsung Galaxy S7, delivering great contrast and vibrant colors.
The AMOLED theory is gaining ground, with reports that Sharp is in negotiations to manufacture an OLED screen for the iPhone, and even a direct claim from Sharp's president that the iPhone 8 will use OLED.
We've also heard that Apple has ordered a large number of curved plastic OLED panels from Samsung.
However, this high-end screen might not be on all the iPhone 8 models, with another source close to Apple suggesting there won't be a switch to OLED technology, but it's not Apple's decision.
Apparently it's because of supply issues, and Apple will instead include it on one version of the iPhone 8 Plus.
But despite the larger screen size the phone itself might not be much bigger, as way back in 2015 we heard talk from Taiwan that Apple was working on a way to get rid of the home button and build Touch ID into the screen itself, eliminating the bezels in the process.
More recently, Apple blogger John Gruber made similar claims, saying that "the entire face will be the display. And the Touch ID sensor will be somehow embedded in the display. The front-facing camera will somehow be embedded in the display. The speaker, everything. All the sensors will somehow be behind the display."
An unearthed Apple patent shows this idea in action, eliminating the phone's bezels in the process.
Apple tweaked the home button with the iPhone 7, making it no longer physically click when pressed, so this could be the next step. On the other hand, you could argue that since Apple only just tweaked the button it's unlikely to ditch it so soon.
There's also the question of whether Apple would be able to produce enough of these panels. The company currently uses Japan Display for many of its screens, and while Japan Display is planning to start building OLED panels they're not expected to arrive before 2018.
But some rumors suggest only one model will have these new screen features, with supply chain sources saying that alongside the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus there'll be a third, premium model currently known as "Ferrari", and that this model alone will have an embedded fingerprint scanner and an edge-to-edge OLED display.
Looking even further ahead we might see a flexible or even foldable iPhone, as Patently Apple has found a patent for just such a device, and more recently another similar patent has turned up, but this is likely a long way out yet.
TechRadar's take: A move to OLED sooner or later seems inevitable, but Apple might only use the panels for the iPhone 8 Plus in 2017, if it can't source enough. A larger, sharper screen seems likely, but plans to build Touch ID into the screen sound ambitious, and while Apple is seemingly working on this we're not convinced the tech will be ready for the iPhone 8.
iPhone 8 design
- A curved glass back
- Or the same design as the iPhone 7
Apple's stuck with a largely similar design for the last three iPhones, so we're expecting a big change for the iPhone 8, not least because it will arrive on the iPhone's tenth anniversary.
That change could start with the material it's built from, as analyst Ming-Chi Kuo reckons the phone will have a curved glass back (as well as a curved screen), rather than being metal like the iPhone 7.
That rumor has since been given more weight, with the CEO of the company behind the iPhone's metal casing claiming that one model of the phone "will adopt glass casing next year."
It would still require a metal frame apparently, which makes it sound a lot like the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, especially if both panels are curved. That lines up with a claim from a source that's proved reliable in the past that Apple is experimenting with a "glass sandwich design."
And yet another source also points to a glass back, with a stainless steel frame in place of the aluminum Apple currently uses in its phones.
But if you're a fan of metal backs you might be in luck, as the mention of "one model" going glass suggests the other won't, so perhaps we'll see a glass iPhone 7S but a metal iPhone 7S Plus, or vice versa.
Then again, in a research note from respected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo it's been suggested that all iPhone 8 models will go glass.
The other major design change that's been rumored is the removal of the home button, with Touch ID instead being built into the screen.
All that said, a source in the Taiwanese supply chain claims the design won't be changing, other than the addition of a new red model, so don't count on huge changes.
Some things are likely to stay the same either way. The headphone jack is almost certainly gone for good, and Apple has just added waterproofing to its phones, so we'd expect to see that again, though rumors from The Investor suggest it will improve the waterproofing slightly to an IP68 rating.
TechRadar's take: Expect a big change to the design of the phone. It's too early to say for sure what that will be, but a glass back is believable and has solid sources backing it up.
iPhone 8 camera and battery
- Still just a single lens on the standard iPhone 8
- Augmented reality features
- Wireless charging from 15ft
While you might expect the dual-lens snapper found on the iPhone 7 Plus to filter down to the standard version of the iPhone 8 that's not likely, according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who in a research note obtained by MacRumors claimed that the high cost and niche appeal of dual-lens cameras meant Apple would probably limit the tech to "high-end" models – likely meaning the iPhone 8 Plus.
In the same note he suggested that the telephoto lens in the dual-lens camera might get optical image stabilization (where currently only the wide-angle lens does), so that's one improvement we might see.
That aside, camera rumors are thin on the ground, though an anonymous Apple employee has said the camera will be upgraded. It's possible that Apple will change the megapixel count from 12MP, though around that seems to be the sweet spot that many manufacturers have settled into, so don't count on it.
Or the upgrade could refer to augmented reality features, as "a person familiar with the matter" claims Apple wants you to be able to point your phone at an object and have it recognized, as well as for the camera app to be able to recognize and manipulate faces.
There's also talk from Korea that Apple is working with LG on a "3D photographing" module for the iPhone 8, which could be used to add three-dimensional effects and work with the rumored augmented reality features.
We wouldn't expect much change from the front-facing camera, as Apple only just upped that to 7MP for the iPhone 7.
There's no news on what size the battery will be, but Apple might finally support wireless charging, as Foxconn is apparently looking into the tech for Apple. The company is trailing rivals there and with the removal of the headphone jack being free of cables completely is surely the next step.
In fact, Apple might go beyond rivals and offer a truly wireless charger, that works at up to 15ft, with no contact required between the device and the power source.
There's evidence that Apple has been looking into this tech, with Energous, the company behind it, supposedly working with a "tier 1" smartphone maker. The company has since added that it's "working with one of the largest consumer electronic companies in the world" and that it will be shipping a product by the end of 2017.
According to BGR, Energous has also received a $10 million investment from Dialog Semiconductor - a company which primarily works with Apple.
Certain Energous employees also have ties to Apple, and the company is said to be aiming to commercially release a charging product in the third or early fourth quarter of 2017 - right in time for the iPhone 8.
We've also heard from an analyst note, obtained by 9to5Mac, that all models of the iPhone 8 will have wireless charging - but it sounds like this will be standard rather than long-distance charging. Apple may also not include a wireless charger in the box.
Then again, there might not be wireless charging at all, according to a source in the supply chain.
TechRadar's take: Wireless charging and improved battery life are likely – but don't count on being able to charge from a distance. The camera may not change much, but expect various tweaks and improvements.
iPhone 8 OS and power
It's very likely that the iPhone 8 will run iOS 11, given that iOS 10 has just landed, though what new features that will contain remains to be seen.
As for power, Apple only just moved to a quad-core chip with the iPhone 7 range, so we expect quad-core again for the iPhone 8, with the chip likely called the A11 or the A11 Fusion.
3GB or 4GB of RAM in both phones is likely, as while the iPhone 7 is stuck with just 2GB of RAM, the iPhone 7 Plus has 3GB and the iPad Pro 12.9 has 4GB.
TechRadar's take: A power boost is a given, with a faster quad-core processor and 3GB or 4GB of RAM likely.
iPhone 8 other features
- An iris scanner
- A Smart Connector
- New sensing technology
It might not just be the screen you'll be interacting with on the iPhone 8, as Apple is also rumored to be working on a "new sensing technology", which would allow the phone to respond when you touch any side of it. Theoretically that could be used for example to change the screen brightness by swiping along the edge, or take a picture by tapping it.
One other rumored feature of the iPhone 8 is an iris scanner, which wouldn't be much of a surprise given that the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 has one, though Samsung's implementation is a bit slow and Apple isn't likely to include one unless it can improve the performance.
The iPhone 7S might tighten up security in other ways too, as an Apple patent details a system that could get a thief's fingerprints and photo, as well as recording audio, video and their location.
We might also see a Smart Connector on the iPhone 8. This was rumored for inclusion on the iPhone 7 Pro – a phone which never launched, but with numerous pictures of a phone sporting the Connector it seems likely that Apple really was considering it, so the feature might be ready by next year.
We've already seen a Smart Connector on the iPad Pro, where it's primarily used to attach accessories, like keyboards.
TechRadar's take: The iPhone 8 might have an iris scanner, but only if Apple can make it fast to use. A Smart Connector is also a possibility, but seems a less useful fit than on an iPad.
iPhone 8 price
There aren't any price rumors yet, but the iPhone 8 is likely to cost a similar amount to the iPhone 7, meaning a starting price of around $649/£599/AU$1,079, rising potentially to around $849/£799/AU$1,379 for the largest (probably 256GB) storage size and even more for the iPhone 8 Plus.