iPhone 8: The phone isn’t here, but the rumours are

A bezel-free iPhone concept. Source: Marek Weidlich, Behance

But wasn’t the iPhone 7 launched, like, yesterday? Well, yes, Apple’s latest and greatest phone is not even three months old, but the rumours have already started trickling in about the shape of things to come with the iPhone 8. And this version is expected to be really epic — after all, it will be the iPhone’s 10th anniversary edition. In fact, some have accused Apple of holding back great ideas for it, while pushing the iPhone 7 into the market with incremental updates and looking a lot like its predecessors — it is bit like sending in a night watchman in a cricket match, whose job is to hold the fort till a star batsman can saunter in next morning and score a century. Hopefully. There is always the risk that the famous batsman may be bowled out for a duck.

Though that appears unlikely with the iPhone 8. The rumours are certainly pointing to a great phone, one that will most probably leave fans breathless. The Wall Street Journal reported couple of days back that Apple was testing over 10 prototypes for the iPhone 8, and some of these have curved screens. Yes, Samsung has already outed a bunch of phones with curved edges, including the infamous Note 7 and its current flagship, the S7 Edge. So it will be interesting to see how Apple does it differently, and whether fanboys on both sides will fight over who copied whom.

Incidentally, curved screen are typically the OLED type, instead of LCD that Apple has been using for the iPhone all these years. OLED panels also deliver deeper blacks and consume lower power. So Apple switching to this tech is a significant move, one that has apparently sent display suppliers like Sharp, LG and Samsung racing to meet demand. But here is the bad news — or rather, rumour — OLED panels are unlikely to be available in the numbers Apple wants, and a compromise solution is that the standard issue iPhone may come sporting a LCD display, while the OLED panels will be reserved for the more expensive — and lucrative — Plus version.

About the size, Barclays predicts that the next generation will come in two variants — sporting 5” and 5.8” displays. However, 9to5Mac talks about three options — a 5.5” model with LCD display and dual camera, another 5.5″ iPhone model with OLED display and dual camera, and a third diminutive 4.7″ iPhone with LCD display and single camera.

iPhone 8 is also expected to get rid of a design eyesore — fat bezels. Yes, the next iPhone is expected to be bezel-free, boasting of a screen that stretches from edge to edge. If you are trying to imagine such a phone, a great reference point is the recently announced Mi Mix by the Chinese mobile phone rockstar, Xiaomi.

But such a design requires major adjustments — for example, the front camera had to be moved below the screen, while the proximity sensor has to go under the display. Apple will also have to deal with that rather chunky home button — but after moving to a virtual one on its new iPhone, it is just one step away from removing it completely and using a ‘zone’ on the bottom of the display as the home button. So expect a learning curve in the way you hold and use the next iPhone. And unless Apple’s engineers make the transition painless, the new design might end up befuddling many users.

Apple will also be porting over a feature that has worked so well for Android users — wireless charging. But it may not be the industry standard Qi charging tech — instead, Bloomberg reports Apple is developing a brand new take on short-range wireless charging — so perish the thought of being able to reuse those wireless chargers if you jump from the Android camp to the iPhone one! We suspect this will also allow Apple to make more money by licensing the tech to third-party vendors.

Elsewhere, news out of Korea claims that Apple will team up with LG Innotek to turn the dual camera into one capable of dazzling 3D photography. Apple had already acquired photography startup LinX in April 2015, for its 3D camera technology that adds extra  depth to photos.

Mind you, this is just the beginning. As we get closer to the iPhone 8 launch, expect the trickle of rumours to turn into a torrent. Some will turn out to be true, while the rest will make you wonder what the ‘rumour-spinners’ were smoking.

And on our way out, we would like to contribute to the noble cause of iPhone rumour mongering — we predict, the iPhone 8 will make you breakfast. All you have to do is ask Siri. We hear it will also wash the plates after you are done. But this feature will be available only on the Plus model.