Of course, we do expect an new flagship phone too in the form of the iPhone XI with a September launch window, but everyone holding out for a more affordable device from Apple should look no further than the iPhone 9.
Update: The iPhone 9 might have a 6.0-inch screen, rather than the rumored 6.1-inch one. It also might come with a fast charger in the box according to one source. On the other hand, it might not come with a 3.5mm headphone adaptor, but the absence of one could keep the cost down.
Apple will likely want to offer cheaper iPhone options below the 'X' series, so the door is open for successors to the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus.
So, in a way, we will get the iPhone 9 and iPhone 9 Plus as far as incremental upgrades to the 8 and 8 Plus are concerned, it's just that Apple will probably go back to the drawing board when it comes to naming.
We don't have any solid information on the iPhone 9 at this point, but rumors are starting to trickle in, pointing to a larger screen and a mix of a iPhone 8 and iPhone X features.
You'll find all the information so far in the sections below, followed by a wishlist of sorts, comprised of features that we really want Apple to double-down on for 2018's smartphone.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? A cheaper upgrade we're currently dubbing 'iPhone 9'
- When is it out? Probably a September 2018 launch
- What will it cost? A lot, but less than the iPhone XI
iPhone 9 release date and price
The iPhone 9 will almost certainly land in September 2018, given Apple's typical release date schedule.
When it does it's sure to be expensive - though possibly less so than you might expect.
The only real price rumor we've heard so far comes from an analyst, who estimates a price of $700-$800 (around £500-£570, AU$870-AU$990).
That would put it at a similar price to the iPhone 8, but far below the iPhone X, and likely well below the iPhone XI - if such a phone launches.
The cost might further be kept down slightly if Apple decides not to bundle a 3.5mm headphone adaptor with it, as one analyst reckons might happen. But that just means you'll have to buy one separately if you have normal wired headphones.
iPhone 9 news and leaks
It's worth noting that the iPhone 9 probably isn't the iPhone XI. The latter is expected to be the super-premium successor to the iPhone X, while the iPhone 9 might be more of a sequel to the iPhone 8.
That assumes Apple continues to split its range up in such a way, but early iPhone 9 rumors suggest it will, as analyst Ming-Chi Kuo reckons Apple will launch a 6.1-inch handset with lesser specs than other 2018 iPhone models.
This phone will supposedly have an aluminum (rather than stainless steel) frame and an LCD (rather than OLED) screen, but could have just a 0.5mm bezel.
It's also said to have a single-lens camera and innards that are more reminiscent of the iPhone 8 than the iPhone X, as the chart below details.
Kuo also notes that the resolution of the 6.1-inch model (which we'll call the iPhone 9) could be lower, at 320-330 pixels per inch (ppi), while the iPhone XI could have a screen of 458ppi or more, and that it could have 3GB of RAM while the other upcoming models might have 4GB.
Most surprisingly, he says that it may not have 3D Touch, a feature every iPhone since the iPhone SE has had.
This isn't the only talk of a 6.1-inch iPhone 9 either. Prior to this we'd heard rumors of a 6.1-inch LCD phone elsewhere, with the source - who's supposedly privy to Apple's product designs - adding that it might have a metal back.
That would be an odd move when Apple switched to glass for all of 2017's models, a switch which also allowed for wireless charging, so if the iPhone 9 really does have a metal back you might not be able to charge it wirelessly.
However, while most rumors point to a 6.1-inch screen, one of the most recent rumors is that it will actually be 6.0 inches, and that it will have a single-lens rear camera and a TrueDepth front-facing one.
That's something we've heard before, as unnamed supply chain sources have supposedly said that a lower price handset will include Face ID, though they also said it might have an OLED screen, which recent rumors dispute.
Further confusing matters, while most sources reckon that Apple will launch three new iPhones in 2018 and that two of them will be OLED-packed iPhone X successors, one source claims that two (a 5.7 to 5.8-inch one and a 6.0 to 6.1-inch one) will be LCD, while only one will be OLED.
We've also heard reports that Apple might include a fast charger in the box with the iPhone 9 and any other 2018 iPhone models, letting you juice it up quickly, though given that this is likely to be a cheaper handset than the iPhone XI the company might reserve this for its flagship.
In more minor news we've also heard that the iPhone 9 might use an Intel modem. With current iPhone models there's a split between Intel and Qualcomm ones, but Apple is rumored to be relying purely on Intel in 2018.
What we'd like to see
A Home button, one last time
What once was a hardware staple for the iPhone is well on its way out. If you buy an iPhone X, you'll get a glimpse into Apple's home button-less future, which is now, well, its present.
After some adjustment time, most will forget about the trusty button's absence in the iPhone X, but it'd be a nice send-off if Apple kept the home button for one last appearance in the iPhone 9.
As well as losing the home button, the iPhone X also lost Touch ID - something we weren't all that happy about.
While Face ID works well, there are still occasions where a fingerprint scanner would be more useful. We don't mind if Apple pops it on the rear, but what we'd really love to see if its embedded in the display itself. Yum.
Apple is ahead of most smartphone manufacturers in that it includes a set of earbuds in each and every box. But once the headphone jack disappeared in the iPhone 7, you could either listen to music with the Lightning-connected EarPods or charge the phone, but not both.
While it's unlikely, it'd be a dream come true if the iPhone 9 came with AirPods included in the box. Apple's easy-to-lose but beloved wireless headphones would be a huge selling point for the next iPhone.
This way, you can enjoy some tunes wirelessly while your phone is charging.
Apple's investment in wireless charging is young, though it's essential enough that we'd be pleased to see it show up in the iPhone 9.
Moving from the iPhone 7 to the 8, enabling the wire-free charging feature required Apple to make the phone's back all-glass, as to allow the charging signal pass through the device.
Keeping this feature hints that the iPhone 9 might not look all that different from what's available today, and will likely be just as easy to break.
Apple reportedly lacked the resources to put AMOLED displays in any phone except its new iPhone X. Give the supply chain about six to eight months to calibrate and Apple should see about using the impressive display tech in the iPhone 9.
It’s a bit baffling for the company to dodge including a AMOLED display in the iPhone 8, only to reserve it for the high-end iPhone X.
We'd like to see the richer colors and deep blacks that only this type of screen can provide to come to the next iPhone, namely the iPhone 9.
Dual rear-facing cameras
The iPhone 9 will feature a set of dual rear-facing cameras – that much is almost certain. However, as it has done in the past few years, Apple will only include it in the plus-sized model, the iPhone 9 Plus.
It'd be an awesome move for the company to give this feature to those who don't want to shell out plus-sized dollars, but still want all of the bells and whistles associated with Apple’s nifty feature.
Adjusting portrait lighting and shooting photos with depth is great to have on your phone as a DSLR replacement. And as Apple continues to pour its efforts into these competitive features, it’d be wise to homogenize the results from its broad range of devices moving forward.
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