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The year 2017 marks the 10th anniversary of the iPhone, so big changes could be in store. In fact, anaylsts have said Apple's 2017 upgrades will lead to "unprecedented replacement demand," with suppliers apparently preparing to increase production to between 120 million and 150 million units for the second half of Apple's fiscal year for 2017. 

If the increase in production does occur, it would beat the previous peak for the launch of the iPhone 6, at between 110 million and 120 million units. With the production increase, this positions the new generation of iPhones to potentially take the iPhone 6's crown as the  best-selling handset generation. 

The major change this time will be the introduction of a third iPhone as part of the upgrade, likely to be called the iPhone 8. This high-specification model is thought to be the first to use an OLED panel for the display, a stainless steel chassis with a curved glass back, and a 5.8-inch display. 

Accompanying the high-end addition are the two smartphones expected in the handset refresh: the iPhone 7s. Rather than using OLED, these two are believed to continue using LCD panels, and will offer the same 4.7- and 5.5-inch display sizes as the iPhone 7, though the changes from the previous model are not thought to be as extreme as what the iPhone 8 is shaping up to be. 

Rumors that there will be three iPhones at launch were confirmed in December, when a pair of purported Apple manufacturing documents leaked to the web that show three models -- designated D20, D21 and D22 -- coming to the market in 2017, including a completely redesigned high-end variant codenamed "Ferrari."  

The new 4.7-inch model is predicted to be the company's new mid-range handset when it goes on sale, sitting below the more expensive 5.5-inch model and the expected high-cost iPhone 8, and above previous models and the iPhone SE. As a value proposition that offers all the benefits of next-generation devices, it is estimated the smaller iPhone 7s could account for between 30 and 35 percent of new-model shipments. 

A memo leaked by Benjamin Geskin on May 26 sent to AppleCare workers suggests the actual launch of the "iPhone 8," "iPhone 7s," and the "iPhone 7s Plus" sometime after September 17. The memo imposes a "black out" on time off for AppleCare staff between September 17 and November 4, to deal with an expected jump in call volume. 

KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo's early August research note agrees with the September launch, writing that all three new iPhone models will arrive simultaneously on the same date. While the "iPhone 8" will be in extremely short supply at launch, with around 2 million to 4 million units produced this quarter, Kuo believes the "iPhone 7s" and "iPhone 7s Plus" will have far more supplies available, producing between 35 million and 38 million of the former in the same period, 18 million to 20 million for the "Plus" version. 

While it is typically expected for the next generation of iPhone to launch in September or thereabouts, some reports suggest Apple may delay the announcement and release of its latest flagship mobile devices. 

For the most part, these reports detail issues in the production of the "iPhone 8," such as supply chain reports relating to a rigid flexible printed circuit board (RFPCBs) supplier dropping out and delaying the release. If true, the later launch of the "iPhone 8" may also force Apple to withold the announcement for the "iPhone 7s" family of devices, so they can all be revealed at the same time. 

In a July report from the Chinese-language Economic Daily News about the "iPhone 8" problems, mass production of the "iPhone 7s" family has apparently yet to start, but the report did not mention if there are production issues for these specific devices.

An August report from DigiTimes insists the September launch of the "iPhone 7s" series and the "iPhone 8" will still happen in September, with sources noting it is unlikely there will be any shortages of the "iPhone 7s" or "Plus" at the time of release. 

Naming conventions

There has yet to be any rumors suggesting there to be a change in the way Apple names its iPhones for the upcoming refresh. It is plausible that, aside from the high-specification iPhone 8, Apple could continue refer to the 5.5-inch model as the iPhone 7s with the "Plus" suffix to denote its larger size. 

It is also unknown if Apple will also continue its naming system for iPhone refreshes, adding an "s" to the previous generation's name every other year. 

For the moment, the 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch models are unofficially referred to as the iPhone 7s and iPhone 7s Plus respectively. 

The higher-specification OLED model is referred to by a few names, including the iPhone 8, due to being a major generational change compared to the iPhone 7. It is also known as the "iPhone X," in reference to the iPhone's ten-year anniversary. 

 

Return to glass 

There are rumors that Apple will return to a glass back, something the company veered away from beginning with the iPhone 5. That might potentially make iPhones more fragile again, though improved methods could reduce the chance of fractures. Apple supplier Catcher "confirmed" next year's iPhone will move to a mostly glass enclosure, though this move could be "tentative."  However, the phone should still make some use of metal, namely a frame holding both sides together. 

One supposed leak on May 10 claimed to depict rear shells for an iPhone that used Ion-X glass, the same glass used for the display of non-sapphire Apple Watches. The leaked image, shared with Slashleaks and pictured above, reveals the shells are linked to the code number "N79," which follows the NXX format used in iPhone codenames in the past. 
 
The person behind the leak suggested the shells were for an updated iPhone SE, but considering a refresh took place in March, this is unlikely. The lack of a camera bump and the apparent holes used for a single camera and flash instead of a dual camera layout also suggest the shells are meant for the "iPhone 7s," rather than the "iPhone 8."

 

Camera improvements 

Rumors have circulated that Apple is expected to include the dual-lens camera with universal optical image stabilization in the 5.5-inch model.  Factors possibly impacting adoption of optical image stabilization in both lenses are the need to increase the image circle in the telephoto, and a possible need to completely redesign the telephoto lens to accommodate the stabilizing technology. 

For the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, Apple introduced a 12-megapixel sensor that is 60 percent faster and 30 percent more energy efficient than previous iPhone cameras, as well as a new six-element lens. While there are no rumors related to this as yet, it is probable Apple will keep the sensor resolution the same for the refresh. 

 

Water/Dust-proofing

With the launch of the iPhone 7, Apple certified the smartphone with an IP67 rating for the first time, which means it is capable of being submerged at a depth of 1 meter (3.28 feet) for 30 minutes, as well as some resistance to dust and dirt. 

For the iPhone 8, it is rumored Apple will be upgrading the protection to IP68, increasing the withstandable depth to 1.5 meters (4.92 feet) for the same duration. 

While the rumor mentions the iPhone 8, it is unclear if this means Apple will be making a similar protection upgrade for the iPhone 7s. If Apple doesn't give it an IP68 rating, the iPhone 7s should at least retain the same waterproofing as the previous generation. 

 

A11 processor

As usual the phone is expected to have a superior processor, currently referred to as the "A11." One report has suggested that two-thirds of chips will be manufactured by TSMC, using a 10-nanometer FinFET process, shrinking things even further than the 14- and 16-nanometer designs used in 2015 iPhones. Apple and TSMC are reportedly in the earliest steps of preparing for A11 production. If TSMC shares orders, its fellow supplier will likely be Samsung.

A report in late February claimed TSMC is in a position to start commercial shipments of the 10-nanometer processors before the end of March, in time for the production of the "iPhone 8," "iPhone 7s," and "7s Plus," strongly suggesting the condensed process will be used for the A11 processor. In late March, another report from the Chinese-language Economic Daily News claims TSMC will start volume production of the A11 in April. 

later report in May from the same publication claims TSMC will instead start producing the "A11" chip in mass quantities on June 10, with volume quantities arriving at Foxconn in the second half of July. 

A source of DigiTimes on May 11 claimed TSMC has already commenced "A11" production, though it is unclear if this means volume manufacturing of the chip. The source claims production was affected by issues involving "stacking components in the backend integrated fan-out packaging process," but the problems have since been solved. 

The A11 should be both faster and more efficient than its predecessor. Rumors are also circulating that they will include features like long-range wireless charging and biometric additions like iris or facial scanning.

Other internal tweaks are likely to go unnoticed by casual consumers. For example, rumors suggest a new and improved Taptic Engine will support more complex vibration patterns.

 

Wireless charging 

Foxconn is said to be testing wireless charging hardware that might see implementation in Apple's 2017 smartphone. Reports suggest wireless charging could be limited to a high-end premium model, reiterating rumors that Apple plans to reserve cutting edge features like OLED technology for a single top-of-the-line 5.5-inch flagship device.

Another rumor suggests that the wireless charging capabilities of the iPhone 8 could be implented by a separate accessory, based on technology by Luxshare. If the supposed accessory provides power to the iPhone 8 via the Lightning connection, there would be few reasons stopping Apple from making a similar accessory-based system work for its other iPhone models. 

Evidence suggests the company is working on powerful technology that could enable long-distance charging. Beyond its own patents for inductive charging systems, the company recently hired two experts from uBeam, a firm developing technology that uses ultrasonic waves to charge devices from afar. Most recently, reports in September implied Apple is on the hunt for manufacturers who can supply wireless charging capable of high energy applications like iPhone.

Apple has also been added to the official Wireless Power Consortium website, with the iPhone maker listed as a member of the origanization. This could be seen as a sign Apple is working towards embracing wireless charging in its smartphones, and though it is more likely to occur in the high-specification iPhone 8, it may improve the chances of the iPhone 7s using the technology as well. 

Despite the rumors heavily leaning towards wireless charging, there is also the possibility of Apple leaving the technology off the device initially. In July, well-connected blogger John Gruber cited unnamed sources claiming Apple has issues implementing the technology for its upcoming devices. 

Inductive charging will be sold separately and may be a late arrival, Gruber suggests. While the source of the holdup wasn't known to be specifically hardware or software-related, it is claimed that Apple could catch up within three weeks. 

Lightning to USB-C

It is possible Apple may change the Lightning cable included in the box, used for charging the iPhone and syncing data. A note from KGI Securities by analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claims all of the upcoming iPhones will use "Type-C Power Delivery," which may entail changing the Lightning-to-USB cable from a typical USB connector to one for USB-C. 

The switch would allow for the Lightning-equipped iPhones to be charged directly from the USB-C ports on a MacBook or MacBook Pro, without the need for an additional dongle. 

Kuo's comments refuted a rumor that the "iPhone 8" would be switching from a Lightning port to USB-C, though the "iPhone 7s" and "Plus" versions would stick with Lightning. Kuo also mentioned the "iPhone 8" would get fast-charging capabilities, though it is unclear if a similar feature will be introduced on the other iPhone models expected to arrive in the fall. 

 

True Tone

A research note from Barclays analysts in March 2017 suggest all three iPhones expected this year to include True Tone technology, with the full spectral sensing ambient light sensors supplied by AMS of Austria. 

First introduced in the iPad Pro 9.7-inch, True Tone is a system that uses four sensors to detect the ambient light conditions, and then alter the display's white point and brightness to better suit where the iPad is being used. By slightly changing the brightness and color of the screen, this is said to help ease eyestrain and prevent overexposure to blue-toned light, which is said to interrupt sleep patterns. 

Apple has, in patents, expressed an interest in using the display technology in other areas, and could potentially include it in other devices, both for future iPad Pro models and iPhones.  

Better version of Siri

Apple’s 2017 iPhone models will likely ship with an enhanced version of Siri, reflecting growing competition in the AI assistant space. Exact details are unknown at this time, but the company has bought machine learning startups like Turi and Perceptio that could aide Siri. 
 
Any Siri improvements would presumably be tied to iOS 11, which should be announced at June's Worldwide Developers Conference and launched in the fall, if Apple follows traditional schedules. 
 

Memory and Storage

A report from TrendForce in February claims the 5.5-inch model will use 3 gigabytes of DRAM, while the 4.7-inch version will be equipped with a lower 2-gigabyte memory. This is a similar scenario to the iPhone 7 generation, where the standard and Plus models have 2 gigabytes and 3 gigabytes of memory respectively. 
 
Storage for the iPhone 7s phones are thought to start from 32 gigabytes at the lower end of the scale, according to the same TrendForce report. While there is no word on other storage capacities for the 4.7-inch model, the 5.5-inch version is believed to include an option for 256 gigabytes of storage. 
 

Headphone Adapter

For the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, Apple dropped the analog headphone jack, nudging users into using either wireless headphones using Bluetooth or Lightning-equipped versions. As a compromise, Apple includes a Lightning to 3.5mm Headphone Jack Adapter in the box, allowing existing audio accessories to connect to the iPhone.
 
While it is highly unlikely Apple will revert to including a headphone jack for the iPhone 7s, one rumor suggests the company may continue to push its customers away from the connectivity option.
 
According to Mac Otakara, Apple may decide to leave the adapter out of the box for future iPhones, giving customers the choice of either aquiring the accessory separately or completing the switch over to Bluetooth or Lightning headphones.  

 

Wistron bringing iPhone production to India

Rumors claim Apple has selected Wistron to be the first iPhone manufacturer in India, with plans to produce the 2017 iPhones later this year. Wistron has also reportedly expanded in Kunshan, China, in preparation for production. 

Apple representatives are expected to speak with government officials in India to discuss concessions the company wants before it can commit to manufacturing in the country. As iPhone manufacturing usually starts two to three months in advance of the launch, this gives Apple until June or July to secure production in time. 

June report cites Wistron CEO Robery Hwang as confirming new features that will be included in the next generation of iPhones, including waterproofing for the "iPhone 7s" range and "wireless charging" for both the "7s" and "8" models. 

Pricing

In an investor note primarily discussing the "iPhone 8" price, UBS analyst Steven Milunovich wrote in April he believes Apple will decrease the price of the "iPhone 7s" and "iPhone 7s Plus" by about $100 per model, compared to the prices of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. 

Milunovich believes the price cut, along with the "iPhone 8" starting price of around $850, will give consumers a wider range of prices for the new mobile devices, without any significant jumps from the iPhone SE to the "iPhone 8." The lower price may also help Apple rejuvenate its iPhone sales in China, which is apparently seeing poor demand for the iPhone SE.

 

Renders and Schematics

On May 16, Engadget was reportedly sent a number of renders based on a "highly detailed CAD file" of a smartphone's chassis, claimed to be from a "reliable source" of the publication.

While claimed to be an "iPhone 8," the report seemed to suggest there would only be two different sizes of phones, rather than the three models stated in earlier rumors. If genuine, there is a possibility that the depicted smartphone may in fact be an "iPhone 7s," based on these details, with the "two" sizes referring to the "iPhone 7s" and the "iPhone 7s Plus."

Of note in the image are a vertically-arranged pair of cameras on the back, a "carved out area" for a wireless charging coil, and a glass backing. On the front are a pair of cameras, with one possibly used for a 3D sensing system or laser scanning module, and the TouchID fingerprint reader on the bottom is apparently flush with the glass. 

 

A trio of molds revealed on May 20 by Slashleaks appear to show the potential sizes of the 2017 iPhone line.  The molds are likely to be used in the creation of the chassis or the rear cover of each of the devices, if genuine, and offer little in the way of detail individually. 

It is believed the middle mold is the "iPhone 8," with the "iPhone 7s Plus" on the left and the "iPhone 7s" on the right. If the three molds are in correct order of size, something difficult to assertain due to the bottom edges of the mold being out of frame, it suggests the "iPhone 8" will be much closer to the size of the "iPhone 7s" than the "Plus" version.

Aside from size, the molds also seem to suggest that the "iPhone 8" will be the only one with a vertical dual camera arrangement, with the "iPhone 7s Plus" having the usual horizontal arrangement, and the "7s" using just one camera. Notably, the "7s" devices have spaces to the side for the flash, while the "iPhone 8" does not, which could mean the flash is integrated within the camera bump itself. 

 

In mid-June, photographs posted to Reddit allegedly show the front and rear panels of the "iPhone 8," as well as the "iPhone 7s" range. The images seem to support rumors of a glass back on all of the devices, possibly insinuating that wireless charging would be available across the board as well. 

Two photos were released, with the one above shown alongside a second just for the "iPhone 8." The group shot doesn't show that much detail for the backs of the "iPhone 7s" devices, except the dual camera on the "Plus" and the single lens on the smaller version, but it is still possible to see the difference in size between the "7s" back covers and the "8" version. 

While plausible, some doubt is raised about how genuine the image is, due to the markings on the back panel of the "iPhone 8," in the second photo. The CE (Conformite Europeene) safety logo hasn't been seen on recent iPhones, and though Apple could easily have added it to the back, it seems unlikely such a decision would have been made. 

Released in August, these mockups from Sonny Dickson again highlight the difference in size between the "iPhone 7s," "iPhone 7s Plus," and the "iPhone 8." The source of the image remains unknown, so it is unclear how authentic the hardware in the photograph is compared to what will be released. 

As in earlier rumors, the "iPhone 7s" has a single camera and flash, while the "Plus" sports a dual camera setup, in a horizontal arrangement comapred to the "iPhone 8"'s vertical version. The glass backs of the "7s" models are shown to give another advantage on top of enabling wireless charging: there are no antenna striples, as seen in the iPhone 7 range, improving the appearance of the rear. 

A mid-August release of alleged design schematics via Giga.de suggests the "iPhone 7s" will be marginally larger than the iPhone 7. According to the diagrams, the "iPhone 7s" will apparently measure 138.44 millimeters tall, 67.27 millimeters wide, and 7.21 millimeters thick. 

By contrast, the iPhone 7 measures 138.3 millimeters tall, 67.1 millimeters wide, and 7.1 millimeters in thickness, despite having the same size 4.7-inch LCD as its predecessor, and likely very similar internal components in terms of physical size. 

The reason for the larger size is, as expected, unknown, but speculation puts the increases down to the use of the glass back, required for wireless charging. 

While the overall size will apparently increase, the camera bump is thought to shrink, moving from 8.18 millimeters of total device thickness at the bump to 7.92 millimeters. It is likely that, if the "iPhone 7s" does use a glass back and ends up using these dimensions, the bump will be surrounded by a metal ring to create the contour. 

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