Updated 04/20/18: Japanese blog Mac Otakara spoke with some iPhone case makers at a trade show who expect the new iPhone SE to have the same size and shape, but without a headphone jack.
Now that we’re well into 2018, rumors about the next iPhone have started to pile up. We’ll keep track of everything that’s being said and analyze what seems feasible in this article so you can keep up with the latest iPhone gossip.
New iPhone SE in May, without headphone jack
According to the Mac Otakara blog, the new iPhone SE is due to release in May and will not have a headphone jack.
The Japanese site spoke with “many iPhone case makers” at the Global Sources Mobile Electronics trade show. Those case manufacturers say they expect the upgraded iPhone SE to have the same size and dimensions as the current iPhone SE, and to continue using Touch ID. But they expect it not to have a headphone jack. That means, once the iPhone 6 and 6s are discontinued (likely late this year), Apple will not sell any iPhones with headphone jacks.
Though the outside physical dimensions and overall design is said to be nearly identical to the current iPhone SE, the case makers expect the phone to have Qi wireless charging just like the latest iPhones, which will almost certainly mean a switch to a glass back. The internals should get a bump, too, to an A10 Fusion chip (current iPhone SE models use the A9), which will improve speed and enable advanced image capabilities like support for the HEIF and HEVC compression standards.
Plausible? Apple seems hell-bent on getting rid of headphone jacks, but it does seem a little odd to do it on its “affordable” phone. All the other rumors lately agree on an upgrade to the A10 processor, and that the new iPhone SE will keep the same size and shape as the current model. Those rumors make perfect sense, too.
When it comes to wireless charging, put the odds at about 50/50. It adds a bit of cost and complexity, but not too much. Beyond that, we expect the iPhone SE 2 to have mostly internal changes, keeping the same size, shape, display, and low cost of the current model.
What’s the latest?
This rumor was reported on April 18, 2018.
While we had all but given up on the release of a new iPhone SE this year, a filing by the Eurasian Economic Commission suggests a sequel to the 2-year-old handset may indeed be on the way. As spotted by French site Consomac, the filing lists 11 previously unseen models of iPhone: A1920, A1921, A1984, A2097, A2098, A2099, A2101, A2103, A2104, A2105 and A2106.
Apple typically differentiates its iPhones by the modem inside them, and 11 is an abnormally large number of models (the iPhone X only has three, by comparison). However, Consomac notes that sales of this particular model have been approved in the Armenian, Belorussian, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, and Russian regions, which suggests Apple is expanding the iPhone SE’s reach into more markets.
Plausible? It’s been a while since we heard a rumor about the iPhone SE, but the last one did say it would arrive in the first half of 2018. And it should be noted that the Eurasian Economic Commission also outed the model numbers of the new 9.7-inch iPad, so it’s safe to assume that the information here is accurate. Since it’s way too early for iPhone X2 model numbers, it’s probable that a new iPhone SE model could land before WWDC kicks off in early June.
New iPhone X could start at $899
This rumor was reported on March 26, 2018.
RBC Capital Markets analyst Amit Daryanani has issued a research note to investors that predicts the price of Apple’s iPhone lineup this year. Specifically, it says that the second-generation iPhone X (whatever Apple will call it) will cost $100 less than the current model, starting at $899. A larger 6.5-inch “Plus” model will debut this year at a $999 starting price.
The report does not mention price of the widely-rumored 6.1-inch LCD-based model, though it is expected to cost less than the two OLED iPhones, probably with lesser specs like a single rear camera or a less speedy processor. It makes sense for it to cost around $799.
Plausible? If true, Apple’s iPhone lineup this year would probably look something like this:
- iPhone X Plus (6.5-inch): $999
- iPhone X (2nd gen 5.8-inch): $899
- iPhone X LCD (6.1-inch): $799
- iPhone 8 Plus: $669
- iPhone 8: $549
- iPhone 7 Plus: $549
- iPhone 7: $449
That seems perfectly reasonable. There’s no doubt that making the iPhone X available only to those who are willing to spend $1,000 or more makes it hard to obtain, but Apple had two other new phones this year (the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus) at other price points. Whatever Apple calls its iPhones this year, it will have to make sure there are new models available around $800 or less if it wants to maintain its sales volume.
Another report on iPhone specs
This rumor was reported on February 26, 2018.
Mark Gurman and Debby Wu’s report for Bloomberg offers more details on the specs of the new iPhones that could be coming this fall.
Bloomberg says the largest iPhone, code-named D33, will be the same size as the iPhone 8 Plus, but the edge-to-edge screen makes the screen size an inch larger than the Plus phone. The OLED screen will have a resolution of 1,242 x 2,688 pixels. You’ll probably be able to use split-screen mode on some apps, like you can on the iPhone 8 Plus.
The 6.5-inch iPhone will have Face ID, though Bloomberg did not specifically say if there will be a notch like that on the iPhone X. Apple is considering dual-SIM card support in some regions where the feature in popular (Europe and Asia), but the company would rather use E-SIM, which allows users to switch service providers without charging a physical SIM card.
The second new iPhone would essentially be an update of the current 5.8-inch iPhone X. Both of the new iPhones would have Apple’s A12 processor and iOS 12. Apple may offer a gold finish for both the 6.5- and 5.8-inch iPhones, though Apple wanted to produce a gold iPhone X and ran into production problems.
The third new iPhone, according to Bloomberg, will be a new lower-priced model, but will feature an edge-to-edge LCD screen and Face ID. The edges will be aluminum, not the stainless steel that will be on the other two iPhones. The back will be glass to allow for wireless charging.
Plausible? There are a lot of similarities between the Bloomberg report and Ming-Chi Kuo’s prediction this past January. Kuo also said that Apple will release a 6.5-inch iPhone and a new 5.8-inch model at the higher price range, with an LCD-based iPhone in the lower price range. Knowing what we do about iPhone sales, it’s not surprising that Apple is hoping to boost sales by making an affordable iPhone with many of the bells and whistles of the high-end model. Now that there are two similar reports by people who tend to have a good track record on Apple’s plans, it looks like we’ll see three new iPhones this fall.
Two high-end iPhones and a new low-end model
This rumor was reported on January 23, 2018.
The ever-popular iPhone tipster Ming-Chi Kuo from KGI Securities, who predicts iPhone details based primarily on watching the supply and manufacturing chain, has issued a report with new details on what he believes will be some of the major differences between iPhone models this year.
As previously reported, the new iPhones this year will, Kuo believes, consist of two models similar to the iPhone X—one at the same 5.8 inch size and one larger model. Size differences aside (and perhaps display resolution), these phones will be identical.
Then, instead of continuing to sell this year’s iPhone X at a reduced price as Apple typically does, the company will instead produce a new LCD-based iPhone with many of the same design cues, including a taller aspect ratio and very slim bezels. We should point out that the image above shows bezels all around the display on the LCD model that may be too small to achieve with an LCD display.
Now, Kuo has predictions on what else will be different about that 6.1-inch model (which he expects to sell for $700-800, slightly higher than his original $650-750 estimate).
In addition to the LCD screen with a lower resolution, the 6.1-inch model will have a single camera instead of a dual camera setup, 3GB of RAM instead of 4GB, and an aluminum frame instead of a steel frame. Note that this is just the frame, not the body, which may still be primarily glass in order to enable wireless charging. Kuo believes the phone will also forego 3D touch. As far as construction goes, it should be simpler than the iPhone X (or it’s replacements), by virtue of using a regular non-stacked logic board and rectangular, rather than L-shaped, battery.
Plausible? Most of these rumors seem reasonable as cost-saving measures, though they’re a little disappointing. Apple’s current lineup features the iPhone 7 Plus in the $669-769 price point and larger size of this new iPhone, at it has the dual-camera setup. Depending on what other new things Apple brings to the table in this device, buying the year-old (by then) iPhone 8 Plus might be a better value. Losing 3D touch would be odd, too. The only phone in Apple’s current lineup that doesn’t have this technology is the $349 iPhone SE. It would be rather strange for the company to take a step back in a new phone at a high price point.
iPhone X to cease production this summer
This rumor was reported on January 22, 2018.
Oft-accurate KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is back with more 2018 iPhone rumors, and he’s doubling down on larger displays. In his note, Kuo writes that “the addition of 6.5-inch OLED and 6.1-inch LCD iPhone models will boost Apple’s market share in China, and that the US$650-750 6.1-inch LCD iPhone will make it easier for users worldwide to own a 3D sensing and full-screen design iPhone which offers an innovative user experience.”
To back up his claims, Kuo says that the iPhone X hasn’t made much of a splash in China, as the size and price of the phone dulled sales there. As such, he believes that the so-called “super cycle” of upgrades will kick in next year with the release of larger sizes of iPhone X-styled phones.
Speaking of iPhone X, Kuo says Apple will be ceasing production of the iPhone X in the summer, significantly earlier than usual. Apple traditionally continues to make older models after new ones arrive, but Kuo sees the 6.1-inch LCD model filling the role of the discounted iPhone X. Consequently, he’s lowered his iPhone X 2018 sales estimates from 80 million to 62 million. In a follow-up note on Monday, he clarified this position, adding that price, not demand os the impetus for discontinuing production: “Lowering iPhone X’s price after the (2018) new models launch would be a negative to product brand value given 3D sensing and OLED display are features of the new high-price model. Additionally, to sell iPhone X at a lower price may have a negative impact on shipments of the new 6.1-inch LCD iPhone.”
LG to provide 6.5-inch displays
This rumor was reported on January 3, 2018.
A report from Electronic Times in Korea states that LG Display has an order with Apple to produce 15-16 million phone displays in 2018. The displays are all said to be 6.5 inches, which means one thing: LG is going to make the display for the supposed larger iPhone X sequel (call it an “iPhone X Plus”), while Samsung will continue to be the primary OLED display supplier for the new 5.8-inch model, just as they are with the current iPhone X.
15-16 million units for 2018 may not seem a like a lot, but consider all the factors. First, we’re only looking at 2-3 months of supply, as the new iPhones are once again expected to land in October or November. Second, this is only the larger (and presumably more expensive) of the two new iPhone X replacements. And third, if other rumors are true, there will still be a less-expensive LCD-based iPhone in addition to the OLED models. So, we’re looking at just a few months of sales for only the largest and most expensive of three iPhone models. Given that Apple usually sells 75-80 million iPhones in the 4th quarter of the year, the 15-16 million figure for the top-end model sounds about right.
An Apple custom power management chip
This rumor was reported on November 30, 2017.
A report in Nikkei Asian Review claims that Apple is working on its own power management chips for iOS devices, which it will start integrating into iOS devices in 2018.
Current iOS devices use power management chips made by the UK company Dialog Semiconductor. These chips manage battery charging and the power supplied from the battery to the various components within the phone. Nikkei’s sources say Apple’s new chip will be the most advanced in the industry, and would allow Apple to deliver better performance with longer battery life.
There is some uncertainty as to the timing, however. One of Nikkei’s sources says it will show up in some products next year, while another thinks it might not appear until 2019.