The report comes from Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities, who has a reliable track record of predictions and bases his findings on the reaction to this year's iPhone 7 unveiling, 9to5Mac reports.
Kuo already wagered that the 2017 iPhone would go glass as far back as this spring - adding that the device will also have a 5.8-inch AMOLED screen and "2.5D" glass cut over a "3D" cut for better drop resistance - but the his latest prediction is based on the iPhone 7's performance post announcement.
Seemingly, the key factor in Kuo's prediction is the jet black variant of the iPhone 7, which sports a slick glossy finish that accentuates Apple's trademark refined design.
The appealing finish brought in preorders for the iPhone 7 en masse, but the phone's special sheen has a critical weak point: it scratches like there's no tomorrow.
Stay glassy, Apple
Despite Apple bragging about the nine levels of anodization and polishing it takes to get the jet black iPhone 7 to shine so brilliantly, the glossy finish isn't particularly scratch-resistant.
In fact, the variant highlights the slightest abrasion so much that the company actively suggests covering up their work in a case.
For this reason, Kuo predicts Apple will learn its lesson and revive the sturdy glass back for its next design. The logic is that doing so won't abandon fans of the jet black iPhone 7's shiny finish, but will be much more resistant to scratching (and possibly easier to mass produce) than the complicated process of glossing up aluminium.
The revival of the iPhone 4's glass back may not be the only callback. The report also predicts that the design will use either a stainless steel or aluminum frame to appear more in line with "classic" iPhones than the current aesthetic.
In fact, demand for the Apple design days of old were already foretold last year, when Apple announced the iPhone SE - a smaller phone meant to bring in customers who might've balked at the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus' sanded-down look.
While we'd love the idea of a sturdy and pretty iPhone 8, the backing will likely be moot since we'll probably put it in a case, anyway. We don't want to wind up cashing in that AppleCare warranty prematurely after one bad interaction with the sidewalk.