The iPhone 7 has just been released, but we’re already hearing a number of rumors about the iPhone 7S or the iPhone 8, which isn’t due out until 2017. It seems as though we’re in for some major changes with the iPhone 7S/8, including a switch to OLED screens, a larger 5.8-inch iPhone, a return to glass backs, and more.
Here’s everything we know so far about the new iPhones coming in 2017.
No bezels, a return to glass backs, and say goodbye to the home button
While rumors about the iPhone 7, expected to arrive in September, indicate that it may not get a huge redesign, the Wall Street Journal said in mid-June that the 2017 iPhone will be radically different. New information from sources speaking to Bloomberg also reiterate the fact that the 2017 iPhone may “appear like a single sheet of glass.” That would eliminate much of the bezel around the display as well as the home button.
According to Apple insider John Gruber, the 2017 iPhone 7S/8 also may not have a single bezel — that plays well with the idea of a single sheet of glass. The entire front of the device could be one giant display, and the Touch ID sensor would be embedded in the screen itself. This has been reiterated in the New York Times, according to anonymous sources.
“Apple is likely to continue making iPhones without headphone jacks, and next year’s iPhone will have a full-screen face with the virtual button built directly into the screen, according to two people at the company who spoke on condition of anonymity because the product details are private,” the Times reports.
These rumors have been further corroborated by analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities, whose recently released report suggests that the 2017 iPhone would feature a glass front and back design. Apparently, the popularity of the glossy finish of the jet black iPhone 7 prompted this decision — as KGI Securities reports, around “30 to 35 percent and 45 to 50 percent of pre-orders around the world, and in China,” respectively, were of the jet black variety.
Moreover, Kuo suggests that higher end models of future iPhones will likely use stainless steel in their cases — so look out, world. We’re about to get real fancy.
Related: iPhone 7 rumors and news leaks
Here’s a concept video made by Ran Avni at ConceptsiPhone, which shows what a borderless iPhone could look like. The design in the video is based on Marek Weidlich’s design on Behance.
As for the size of the devices, Gruber says he doesn’t know whether Apple is “going to shrink the actual thing in your hand to fit the screen sizes we already have, or whether they’re going to grow the screens to fit the devices we’re already used to holding.”
So far, no phone has been able to offer a truly bezel-free screen, despite claims to the contrary from several Chinese brands and the Sharp Aquos Crystal. It’s unknown if such a thing is even possible, so treat this rumor with due skepticism.
Other possible design changes include a report from noted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities, which hints that Apple could return to a glass back on the iPhone 7S. Kuo believes that Apple will turn to the glass back so as to differentiate the iPhone from the crowd of all-metal Android phones. That could dovetail with an antenna redesign — according to The Wall Street Journal, the iPhone’s wireless components will be hidden behind an opaque back plate of unknown construction.
Related: Apple iPhone SE review
In an earlier report, Kuo revealed that he thinks the glass back on the 2017 iPhone will also be curved for added comfort. Although going back to glass may seem like an odd retro move for Apple, it would also open up possibilities like wireless charging, which is neigh impossible to achieve with an all-metal device.
An OLED screen for the iPhone
Will the 2017 iPhone finally include a better-looking and more advanced OLED display? Reports indicate that while not all iPhone models may include the better technology, at least some models will. Most recently, a report from Nikkei Asian Review suggests that there will in fact be three iPhone models, with one model featuring a premium OLED display that’s curved on both sides, somewhat like Samsung’s Edge series.
Of course, this lines up with previous reports from Gabelli & Co.’s Hendi Susanto, which indicate that only “special edition” 2017 iPhones will come with the OLED display. The concept of a special edition iPhone with better features has been used by Apple in the past with the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, when the iPhone 6s Plus included optical image stabilization in the camera and the standard iPhone 6s did not. So why not include OLED displays on all iPhones? According to Susanto, the reason is that Apple may not be able to get enough OLED panels to put on every iPhone. That, of course, supports previous reports suggesting that Apple would only be making 50 million OLED-equipped iPhones.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the new handset is likely to sport an OLED display, and in April, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo also stated that the iPhone 7S will go with an AMOLED screen. That screen might also be curved, Kuo suggests. Of course, when you think about curved AMOLED screens, the first phone that comes to mind is the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. If Apple does make a curved iPhone, it will be following in Samsung’s footsteps — not forging new ground.
It’s also suggested that the display on the new big iPhone would be a a 5.8-inch OLED panel, lending credibility to other recent rumors suggesting that Apple has been looking to make the switch from LED screens to OLED panels, which offer brighter colors and consume less power. Kuo’s note suggests that the switch to OLED is imminent, and the 5.8-inch iPhone will sport the new display type.
In fact, the Motley Fool report hints that OLED panels may be used across the iPhone range in 2017 or 2018, not just on the so-called iPhone 7S Pro. According to the DigitTimes note it found, “supply chain sources believe that 50 million of these AMOLED-equipped iPhones will make it out to customers in the first year of availability.” While 50 million sounds like a lot, it’s a far cry from the 200 million iPhones Apple sold last year, highlighting the fact that the company may be gradually shifting into OLED rather than equipping all phones with the new tech right away.
Related: When will the iPhone use an OLED screen? Here are all the rumors, iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus rumors and news leaks
Samsung is reportedly already on board to supply the displays, with LG and Japan Display looking to enter production later on in the process.
The most recent reports suggest that Apple is speaking with Sharp Corp. to supply these OLED displays. On September 30, Sharp announced a $566 million investment in developing OLED production facilities, citing June 2018 as the target date for product output. “Apple has unofficially or as a nod encouraged Sharp to go into it,” Amir Anvarzadeh, Singapore-based head of Japanese equity sales at BGC Partners Inc., told Bloomberg in a phone interview. “Apple’s general strategy is to increase the competition on the supply side, and dilute the risk exposure to one company.”
While it’s entirely possible that there is no iPhone 7S Pro, chances are that there is some kernel of truth to the fact that Apple is switching to OLED screens. The giant iPhone in the rumor may also just be a prototype or a possible prototype. We’ll keep you updated as we learn more.
Will Apple launch 4 iPhone sizes in 2017?
Jessica Lee Star/Digital Trends
Are you one of the few who think that the iPhone 6S Plus is too small for your probably huge hands? Well, we’ve got good news for you. According to several reports, Apple may add a 5.8-inch iPhone to its lineup in 2017.
For years, Apple avoided increasing its iPhone screen size beyond the traditional 3.5 inches. Now, the company is comfortable with its 4.7- and 5.5-inch iPhones, and rumor has it, Apple wants to go even bigger in 2017 with a 5.8-inch iPhone.
The first report came from the Motley Fool, which picked up on a note obtained from DigiTimes. The so-called iPhone 7S Pro would compliment the already-quite-large, 5.5-inch iPhone 6S Plus. According to the rumor, the 2017 iPhone lineup may include the standard iPhone 7S, with a 4.7-inch display; the iPhone 7S Plus, with a 5.5-inch display; and an iPhone 7S Pro, with the rumored 5.8-inch display. The Motley Fool also notes that the new device may come a year later, in 2018, when the iPhone 8 will be announced.
Related: A big step for small. See the iPhone SE here.
And now, noted KGI Securities Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has seconded the rumor, reports 9to5Mac. Kuo writes that Apple’s full 2017 iPhone lineup will include the following iPhone screen sizes: 4 inches, 4.7 inches, 5.5 inches, and 5.8 inches. He also suggests that Apple may experiment with either glass, ceramic, or plastic backs on the 2017 iPhones. The company may be considering a shift in materials to make support for wireless charging easier. Metal, of course, interferes with wireless charging.
Now that the 4-inch iPhone SE is official, it stands to reason that Apple will continue to produce it, but the 5.8-inch iPhone would be new territory for Apple, as would launching four iPhones in one year. It’s unknown whether these rumors will come true, or if Apple is merely experimenting with the idea of a jumbo iPhone.
For a roundup of all iPhone 7 rumors, head here.
Article originally published in May 2016. Julian Chokkattu, Kyle Wiggers, Lulu Chang, and Christian de Looper have contributed to this report. Updated on 09-30-2016 by Lulu Chang: Added rumors of Apple and Sharp partnership on OLED displays.