Julian Chokkattu / Digital Trends
Even though it hasn’t even been a year since Apple’s iPhone X launched, rumors are already surfacing about the next iPhone. While there’s nothing official yet, here’s everything we think we know about the next-generation device.
Right now it looks like Apple will release at least three new iPhones in 2018. First up, there’s the reported iPhone X Plus featuring a 6.5-inch OLED display and all-glass body. There’s also a reported 5.8-inch iPhone with an OLED display in the works though there’s very little information on this model right now. Finally, there’s a midrange phone expected with a 6.1-inch display and a metal body that may be called the iPhone 8S.
In early June, two CAD drawings, reportedly from case manufacturer Ghostek, appeared on SlashLeaks. While we’re typically very skeptical of schematics from case manufacturers, leaks from Ghostek have a pretty decent track record.
The first shows what looks to be the iPhone X Plus, with dual cameras on the front and rear. Other than its larger display and updated camera setup, the design of the upcoming iPhone X Plus looks very similar to that of the iPhone X.
A render for the rumored iPhone 8S was also published on SlashLeaks in early June. The render suggests the phone will have the TrueDepth Camera that first appeared on the iPhone X in 2017. Side angles of the phone also seem to show the display will not have a bevel, suggesting that the case may not be constructed from glass. This seems to be in line with an earlier rumor stating the iPhone 8S would not feature a glass-over-aluminum chassis.
At least one of the upcoming iPhone models will feature a metal body according to a story in the Nikkei Asian Review. The 6.1-inch iPhone will likely feature a metal body in several different colors, and a new report from KGI Securities mentions the frame of the 6.1-inch phone will be aluminum. According to a post on StreetInsider, Jun Zhang, an analyst with Rosenblatt, speculates this model will come in an array of bright colors including pink, yellow, and blue. Casetek, the company that currently manufactures iPad frames, could be the supplier for the cases.
We believe both the 5.8-inch and 6.5-inch iPhones will feature a glass body that is reminiscent of the current iPhone X.
OLED display again
iPhone X plant
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
According to The Investor, at least two of the next iPhones will likely have OLED displays. In 2017, Apple placed an order with Samsung for 5.2-inch, 5.8-inch, and 6.5-inch displays. However, a subsequent report in September 2017 said Apple canceled the 5.2-inch display order, possibly due to low marketability. And while we’re pretty sure there will be both a 6.1-inch and 5.8-inch iPhone with OLED screens, we’re also expecting a midrange 6.1-inch model to ship with a less expensive LCD screen.
Most recently, sources involved in the Apple supply chain claim the company expects a majority of its 2018 iPhone sales will consist of LCD models, The Wall Street Journal reports. Even though Apple did say the iPhone X was the best seller of all its eight smartphone models during the first quarter of 2018, analysts say most iPhones the company sells are still its LCD models — such as the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus.
While Apple declined to comment, analysts also say there was a weak demand for the iPhone X due to the $1,000 price tag. One of the main reasons behind the high price was its OLED display. On the other hand, the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus start at $700 and $800, respectively. In terms of what’s expected for the 2018 iPhone lineup, sources familiar with the plan claim it will consist of two OLED models and one LCD model.
iPhone X 6.1 OLED pic.twitter.com/C9rYWNmShA
— Mr·white (@laobaiTD) May 24, 2018
In late May, a mobile leaker who goes by the name Mr. White posted a blurry photo purportedly showing 6.1-inch OLED screens for a 2018 iPhone. Although Mr. White has an excellent track record with Apple leaks, something is a bit off since all of the rumors thus far state the 6.1-inch model will feature an LCD display. Since nothing is confirmed at this point, it’s hard to know exactly what’s going on although we believe he may have accidentally simply typed the incorrect dimensions for the 6.5-inch OLED variant, or was mistaken about the screen technology expected on the upcoming midrange iPhone.
A decline in sales for the iPhone X is reportedly to blame for the company lowering sales prices and cutting down orders from its suppliers. This has also lead to a negotiation between Samsung Display and Apple about the price of the OLED panels. According to a recent report from The Bell, Samsung plans to produce about 25 million units for the iPhone X, and 75 million for the 2018 iPhone model. But Apple is apparently asking for price cuts — the company is said to have paid $110 per OLED panel for the iPhone X to Samsung, and is expected to pay about $100 per panel this year.
Both Apple and Samsung Display had apparently met to discuss the matter but did not end up reaching an agreement. But Samsung Display is apparently already considering cutting prices because of its decline in capacity utilization rate. Samsung Display is also said to have started preparations with partners to produce new OLED iPhone screens starting in May, ET News reports.
But Samsung might be Apple’s only choice as an OLED supplier, which could give Samsung more power over pricing. According to a recent report from The Wall Street Journal, LG’s production of OLED screens has fallen behind schedule due to manufacturing issues — which has left them struggling to reach demand for this year’s lineup of iPhones.
The report also states that LG Display was recently ordered by Apple in order to go through a third round of prototype production specifically for OLED smartphone screens. According to an analyst, LG is expected to supply as much as 20 percent of OLED displays for the 2018 iPhones leaving Samsung to supply the other 80 percent.
But if LG is unable to supply its portion, Samsung might have to step in with the rest. If Samsung does become the only supplier, then it’s unlikely the cost of the future iPhones will decrease. Samsung’s OLED display is the most expensive component of the iPhone — coming in at $96 out of the $367 each device costs in total.
In addition to the OLED order, The Wall Street Journal reports Apple made a panel order with Japan Display for a 6-inch-plus model. Japan Display makes Full Active LCD displays that are less expensive than OLED displays, yet offer many of the same features. The iPhones with Full Active LCD display will feature darker blacks than on a traditional LCD display and can be used with wet hands.
A report from KGI Securities supports that information, stating that iPhone will produce a 6.1-inch budget iPhone with an LCD screen in 2018. This iPhone will have a lower-resolution screen but will still have Face ID. Nikkei backs that rumor up with information from its source that Apple will be doing exactly that. While it may seem like a jump backward at first glance, it’s likely Apple has some solid reasoning behind such a move. OLED displays are currently only able to be supplied in bulk by Samsung, whose Galaxy smartphone range is the iPhone’s biggest competitor, and going back to LCD for at least one model would ensure that Apple would be able to guarantee a supply of at least one type of iPhone.
In addition, a report from KGI Securities notes something else about the display of the 6.1-inch phone — that it won’t include Apple’s 3D Touch. A report from the Chinese website Feng, states the reason Apple is dropping 3D Touch on the upcoming 6.1-inch iPhone is to balance costs. This year’s mid-tier iPhone will feature a new display technology called Glass Cover Sensor (GCS). The technology moves the touch module from the display to the surface glass via “a thin film sensor.” While the technology is more expensive than the current LCD display on most iPhones, it adds some a few benefits: The 6.1-inch iPhone will reportedly have a lighter and more durable display compared to the other iPhones rumored to be announced this year.
Apple has previously seen OLED supply as a potential issue, and although LG has previously invested heavily to keep up production of its OLED screens, Nikkei claims that LG’s production cannot currently provide enough stock for Apple’s needs. Switching to LCD would allow Apple to control its supply more easily, and not have to rely on a single supplier for iPhone displays.
It looks like 2018 will finally be the year that Apple discontinues its 4.7-inch iPhone. Amid reports that it canceled an order for 5.2-inch displays due to low marketability potential, it seems unlikely that the company is going to release another 4.7-inch model.
Several reports also claim that Apple will release an update of the iPhone SE, called iPhone SE 2, in May or June. The low-cost iPhone is reported to have an improved processor and camera sensor. Here are the latest details we have on the iPhone SE 2.