When will Apple release its follow-up to the iPhone 8 and X? We round up all the rumours about the release date, new features, UK price and tech specs of the 2018 iPhone – which may be called iPhone 11, XI or X Plus
- > Release date
- > Camera updates
- > Price
- > Tech specs
- > Screen
- > Design changes
- > New features
Apple has only just launched the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X, but we’re already looking ahead to the 2018 updates. In this article we round up the early rumours about the new iPhones expected to launch in autumn next year, whether they’re called iPhone 11, iPhone XI, iPhone X Plus or just plain iPhone.
The latest speculation suggests that we should expect a rear-facing 3D scanner designed to add a range of new augmented reality features.
For advice related to the current lineup, you may prefer to read our iPhone buying guide or our roundup of the best iPhone deals.
Apple releases new iPhones each autumn, and we expect the iPhone 11 to be unveiled in September 2018. But we don’t know how many new iPhones Apple will be launching in 2018.
One analyst is expecting three new iPhones from the company: KGI Securities’ analyst Ming-Chi Kuo reckons that all three models will have the same all-screen design with the now familiar notch.
If the iPhone X launch is anything to go by, it’s possible that the actual launch may be delayed until a month or two later – but we feel that the delay with the iPhone X was unprecedented and it’s unlikely that Apple will attempt a redesign that is so radical (and challenging, in terms of manufacturing) two years in a row.
In 2018 we expect that Apple will avoid a staggered launch, with all its new phones coming out at the same time (Does this also mean we won’t see a new iPhone SE in the spring?)
Ming-Chi Kuo doesn’t think Apple will miss the launch date in 2018. Kuo believes Apple’s focus in 2018 will be to ensure that all the models are ready to meet the same shipping date. “Achieving stable shipments and on-time shipping,” he said in a research note to clients.
Apple is reportedly working on bringing the prices of the next flagship iPhone down – if a Chinese-language Economic Daily article is to be believed. Allegedly not happy with the high price point of this year’s iPhone X, Apple is aiming to bring the premium to the masses. But how?
More than one iPhone X-styled smartphone is said to be in the works – along with the top-tier iPhone in 2018, there will be more budget friendly model to attract new customers. It’ll feature many of the same features as the iPhone X including a bezel-less display, and according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo it will feature a LCD-TFT screen, fewer pixels, and will cost between $649 and $749.
Here are the early rumours related to the new iPhone’s display.
New iPhone 11 (2018) release date, UK price & specs rumours
When will Apple release its follow-up to the iPhone 8 and X? We round up…
New screen sizes
Sources suggest that Apple’s 2018 iPhone updates will include as many as three new screen sizes – including the biggest screen on an iPhone yet.
The Bell (via The Investor), quoting anonymous industry sources, claimed in May 2017 that Apple and Samsung had signed a deal for the supply of OLED panels in iPhones next year, and that these would be supplied in 5.28in and 6.46in sizes. That’s a significant increase on the 4.7in and 5.5in screen sizes in the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus respectively. (The iPhone X has a 5.8in screen.)
But in August 2017 a new report claimed the 5.28in model had been canned, and that we will be getting iPhone handsets with 5.85in and 6.46in OLED panels: so that both new models will be larger than the currently largest iPhone screen.
Then in November 2017, Ming-Chi Kuo predicted that there will be three new iPhone models. A 6.5in, 6.1in and a 5.8in model.
According to Kuo, two of the 2018 iPhones will feature a OLED screen, like the current iPhone X, but one will have an LCD-TFT display, and therefore a lower price. The resolution of that model will be lower too. However, the model to get the ‘budget’ features will have a 6.1in screen, rather than the smaller 5.8in model he is also predicting.
He said: “Two new OLED models target high-end market; new TFT-LCD model aims at low-end & midrange markets: We believe the major hardware difference in the two new OLED models is size, in a bid to satisfy various needs of the high-end market. The new TFT-LCD model will differ significantly from the OLED models in hardware and design specs (for instance, the PPI will be lower). The primary selling points of the TFT-LCD model may be the innovative user experience of an integrated full-screen design and 3D sensing with a lower price tag (we expect it will likely be US$649-749).”
The late-2017 iPhones added Face ID and wireless charging features. Here’s what we’re expecting in 2018.
Face ID on all models… but in-screen Touch ID still possible
The well-known analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has published a report in which he predicts that Apple will expand its new Face ID facial recognition tech to all new iPhones released in autumn 2018 because in-screen Touch ID fingerprint scanning remains a technological challenge – but adds that the latter is still a possibility.
Kuo warns that Apple’s plans are likely to depend on how favourably Face ID is received when the iPhone X launches in November. If users find it difficult, annoying or unreliable in use, the company will plough more resources into solving the under-screen fingerprint scanner problem.
Kuo doesn’t believe that Face ID, or any of the TrueDepth technology, will ever make it to the iPhone’s rear-facing camera.
Rear-facing 3D scanner (for AR)
Bloomberg has predicted that the iPhone 11 will have a 3D scanner on its rear sensor array, citing “people familiar with the plan”. This is in addition to – and distinct from – the existing TrueDepth scanner on the front, which is used for Face ID, Animoji and similar features, and which “relies on a structured-light technique that projects a pattern of 30,000 laser dots onto a user’s face and measures the distortion”.
Instead, the new system would use “a time-of-flight approach that calculates the time it takes for a laser to bounce off surrounding objects”, the site argues.
It’s believed that this new scanner will be used primarily for augmented reality (AR) applications: building a 3D model of the surrounding environment, and then delivering information and functionality related to this model. Apple has already gone big on AR, with the launch of ARKit at WWDC 2017.
Long-range wireless charging
The wireless charging you get with the iPhone 8 is the kind, commonplace with today’s technology’s standards, where you still have to physically place the device on a charging mat. It’s convenient, but not exactly a gamechanger, since the two elements have to be in contact.
Bloomberg, however, reckons Apple is working on longer-range wireless charging, potentially charging at a distance of about 1 metre using near-field magnetic resonance. And some cryptic comments from the CEO of a charging company suggest Apple may be planning something even more ambitious.
Steve Rizzone, CEO of Energous, spoke to The Verge before CES 2017 and dropped some major hints about an exclusive “key strategic partnership” that the company signed a couple of years back and which has delayed the launch of its wireless charging tech… which has a range of 15 feet.
“That ‘key’ partner is suspected to be Apple,” observes The Verge, “and Energous – though declining to state its partner’s name – is certainly happy to fuel the speculation. Rizzone says the partnership is with ‘one of the largest consumer electronic companies in the world. I cannot tell you who it is, but I can virtual guarantee that you have products from this company on your person, sitting on your desk, or at home.'”
Energous isn’t the only company working on long-range wireless charging. In February 2017 it was reported that Disney Research have come up with a new method for wirelessly transmitting power throughout a room: users would be able to charge electronic devices anywhere in that room, much as they connect to WiFi with current technology.
“In this work, we’ve demonstrated room-scale wireless power,” said associate lab director Alanson Sample, “but there’s no reason we couldn’t scale this down to the size of a toy chest or up to the size of a warehouse.”
LG to manufacture L-shaped batteries
Korea Economic Daily claims that Apple has chosen LG Chem as the exclusive supplier for batteries that will be featured in the next-generation iPhone, due out in 2018. Citing an unnamed source, the report claims that LG has invested “hundreds of billions” in battery manufacturing facilities and that it’ll be ready to begin full-scale production in early 2018, just in time for the ‘iPhone 11’.
That’s not all, either; the report also claims that Apple’s next-generation iPhone will adopt a ‘bent’ battery module shaped like the letter ‘L’. It’s said that the optimised shape of the battery maximises internal space and also boosts charging speeds, two features that the iPhone desperately needs.
Apple currently utilises two batteries in an L formation inside the iPhone X, as you can see in this image from iFixIt’s teardown of the iPhone.
Stacked battery cells
Alternatively, one persistent rumour holds that Apple will take the battery tech it developed for the original 12-inch MacBook (and retained for the 2016 version) – whereby contoured, layered battery units are stacked inside the chassis in order to take up every possible inch of space – and use these to squeeze more battery capacity inside the fixed or even reduced volume that will be available in future iPhones.
Apple could even, thanks to the new technology, make more radical changes to the overall design of the iPhone, because its engineers would no longer to base their work on a fixed battery shape. Although the smartphone is such a mature market now that it would take a brave manufacturer to change its essential form – a bit like a mad microwave designer inventing one that’s spherical.
The iPhone X already uses a double layered logicboard to save space.
Apple Pencil compatibility
iPhone fans have been requesting this for a while, and although the case for stylus input on iPhone is less clear-cut than on iPad, there are definitely situations where it would be helpful. And the bigger the screens get, the more useful a stylus would be – which makes the iPhone X, and even more so the rumoured iPhone X Plus, strong candidates for Apple Pencil compatibility.
One source, sadly, predicts that we’re a little further away than that. Speaking to the Korea Herald, the anonymous industry sources claimed Apple is already working on a smartphone that comes with a “digital pen” – not necessarily the Apple Pencil – and this will be launched in 2019.
Touch ID display
Apple is understood to be exploring the possibility of integrating the Touch ID fingerprint scanner into the display of a smartphone or tablet. In fact, Apple filed a patent describing a Touch ID display back in January 2013.
This technology means that you could place your finger on the display to scan it, instead of the Home Button. We’re not sure if this technology was an original variation to the Home Button scanner found on the iPhone 5S, or if it’ll be combined with the Haptics & Tactile technology to remove the Home Button on a future iPhone and replace it with a virtual on-screen button.
The patent describes a touchscreen display with a fingerprint-sensing layer that could be used to introduce advanced multi-user support.
For example, Apple could use the fingerprint sensing display to only allow particular users to open certain apps. This could be useful for those with children who like to explore the iPad, for example.
Additionally, Apple could take the display even further. It could be used in conjunction with a piano app, for example, to teach users the correct finger placement for the instrument.
Here’s where we see the iPhone camera heading in the 2018 update.
In June 2016, Apple filed a patent to prevent people from recording at concerts through an infrared signal. This is to address the complaints made by artists that fans are uploading bad quality videos of their performances, quality control being the issue here.
The patent has been met with some critics; with some saying it invades their privacy. Others have seen it as a good move for artists and those who want a non-smartphone environment. This can also be used in an educational way, with an infrared signal used to give more details about a certain object, such as a plant.
It’s still not clear how the technology will really be utilised, but it’s clear that Apple is thinking about it.
Apple seems to be keen to improve the camera capabilities of its iOS devices, and one patent published by USPTO in May 2014 suggests we could soon see iPhones that are able to capture “Super-resolution” photos thanks to optical image stabilisation, which is already a feature of the iPhone 6 Plus.
The patent describes a system that takes a series of photographs at slightly different angles and stitches them together to create a ‘super resolution’ photograph.
Apple doesn’t suggest a device would capture every photo this way. Instead, the user would have the option to turn super-resolution mode on, much like HDR and Panorama modes.
Several rumours suggest that Apple plans to introduce a feature like this with an iPhone in the near future, with reports pointing to a ‘DSLR-quality’ capability that would represent the biggest camera jump in iPhone upgrade history.
DigiTimes has reported that Apple is already booking in production for iPhone cameras above 12Mp in resolution. This is at a new factory built by lens maker Largan Precision in Taiwan.
Interchangeable camera lenses
Apple is also investigating the possibility of making interchangeable iPhone camera lenses.
In January 2014, the company was issued two patents that describe methods of attaching camera modules to devices such as the iPhone and iPad.
The first patent, titled “Back panel for a portable electronic device with different camera lens options”, describes a portable electronic device that has a removable case that would allow camera attachments such as wide-angle or fisheye lenses.
The second patent, titled “Magnetic add-on lenses with alignment ridge,” offers an alternative method of attaching new camera lenses to the iPhone using magnets.
It’s already possible to use detachable iPhone camera lenses, of course, but at present those are exterior accessories made by third parties. You can read about our pick of the best iPhone camera lens accessories here: Best iPhone camera lenses.
It’s too early to know precisely what specs to expect from the 2018 iPhone, but one thing is sure: chip builder and longtime Apple partner Imagination won’t be designing the GPUs for iPhones much longer. Apple will be doing this itself.
The company, whose designs have been used in every iPhone so far, issued a statement in early April 2017 revealing that Apple would be winding down its use of Imagination IPs (intellectual properties) and “will no longer use the Group’s IP in its new products in 15 months to two years”. In other words, the late-2018 iPhones may be the first generation without these components.
It added that “Apple has asserted that it has been working on a separate, independent graphics design in order to control its products” – although, significantly, the statement further argues that Apple will struggle to create a GPU design that is not derivative of or dependent on the work Imagination has done on previous iPhones, and that it expects IP royalty payments to continue beyond the point at which the two companies stop working together.
A lawsuit could be in the pipeline…
One of the landmarks in iPhone history was the inclusion of 3G in its second-generation model; with the launch of the iPhone 5 Apple fans got 4G as well. Now it seems that 5G could be on its way, if testing works out.
Apple has submitted an application, obtained by Business Insider, to test “cellular link performance in direct path and multi-path environments between base station transmitters and receivers” using the 28GHz and 39GHz bands, approved for 5G, and ‘millimetre wave’ wireless technology.
“These assessments will provide engineering data relevant to the operation of devices on wireless carriers’ future 5G networks,” the application adds.
5G will deliver faster cellular internet connections, but the details remain fuzzy: currently, there are no standards for 5G, although many companies are working towards agreeing on technology and specifications. You can read more about the latest 5G developments and announcements here: What is 5G?
In this section we look at some of the new design changes we expect to come to the iPhone.
What will the new iPhone look like?
Ahead of an iPhone launch designers and illustrators around the world put their brains to the task of imagining radical new designs. (Of course, it’s one thing to decide how a device should look and quite another to actually execute that as a practical object; so don’t assume these are likely to bear any great resemblance to the real thing. These are for interest more than for predictive value.)
In this section we’ll post the best artists’ renders as they appear. When we get closer to the launch we should start seeing product leaks, and those really will give us a sense of Apple’s plans, but it’s too early for that just yet.
The first renders in are by iDrop News: