An exciting assortment of Apple rumors surfaces each week and offers a glimpse into the current state of speculation about upcoming iPhones, new iPads, and the next updates for Apple’s operating systems. Though you might think that the Apple rumor mill would have slowed down after the launch of this year’s iPhone 7, that hasn’t been the case so far. So this week, plenty of exciting rumors about next year’s iPhone 8, future iPhone components, and other future Apple products made their rounds online. Read on to catch up on the week’s most exciting Apple rumors.
1. The iPhone SE may not get a refresh early in 2017
MacRumors reports that, according to KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, the iPhone SE is unlikely to get a refresh in the first half of 2017. Apple’s small iPhone, which was introduced in March 2016, is equipped with many of the features and components of 2015’s iPhone 6s. It uses a frame similar to that of the iPhone 5s, and is Apple’s answer to customer demand for an iPhone smaller than its current high-end models.
It’s unclear what kind of upgrade schedule Apple is planning for the iPhone SE, particularly because the device features components that are powerful enough for the device to remain a capable phone for what MacRumors estimates will be “a couple of years.” The lack of a refresh for the iPhone SE reportedly comes as Apple attempts to maintain high margins on its high-end iPhones, exerting pressure on component suppliers to drop their prices.
2. The iPhone 8 (or a future iPhone) may be equipped with wireless charging
BGR reports that it looks like Apple “is working on the biggest mobile game-changer since the original iPhone”: an iPhone 8 that features, among other things, next-generation wireless charging built in collaboration with a company called Energous. The iPhone 8 is already expected to get a new design. (One with a glass front and back that are connected by metal around the edges. The display, which could be an OLED screen, is expected to take up much of the phone’s front thanks to the removal of the home button, and the integration of the Touch ID fingerprint sensor beneath the display.)
Apple is reportedly working with a company called Energous to integrate “next-generation wireless charging” into future iPhones. Energous technology would enable a phone to be charged wirelessly, from across a room. A chip on the phone’s main board would connect wirelessly to a base station to charge the battery from up to 15 feet away. New evidence has emerged that Apple plans to build the technology into iPhones in the near future.
Energous has repeatedly reported working with a “tier 1” smartphone manufacturer, and numerous signs have pointed to Apple. The company recently announced that it has taken a $10 million strategic investment from Dialog Semiconductor, a company that builds power management solutions and counts Apple as its top customer. Energous also recently took an investment from Pegatron, another major Apple partner. Epstein notes that this is all speculation until Energous or Apple confirms something. But the iPhone 8, or another iPhone further in Apple’s future, may end up proving the rumors true.
3. Apple may introduce an augmented reality mapping system in a future version of iOS
Apple Insider reports that Apple was recently granted a patent that details an augmented reality mapping system. The technology would use iPhone hardware to overlay “visual enhancements onto live video.” That seems to coincide with rumors that Apple plans to “implement an iOS-based AR strategy.” Mikey Campbell reports that Apple’s patent for “augmented reality maps” describes a mapping app that’s capable of tapping into the iPhone’s array of sensors in order to gives users real-time, augmented reality views of their surroundings.
Data like street names and points of interest could be overlaid on top of live video, which would be pulled from a device’s camera. A user could automatically activate the iPhone’s camera by navigating to an augmented reality feature with the Maps app. The system would correlate data from the iPhone’s sensors (like the gyroscope, compass, and accelerometer) with GPS data. That would enable it to pinpoint the iPhone’s position, and “determine an approximation the displayed live video scene.” The captured image or live video feed could then be augmented with mapping information.
The system could perform simple tasks, like providing the names of buildings or monuments. Or, it could generate “interactive route guidance,” complete with path indicators overlaid onto the live video. Depending on the way the user is holding the iPhone, the system could switch display formats, from live video to a bird’s eye view. That would make it easy to transition in and out of the augmented reality mode.
4. Apple’s AirPods may (finally) be launching soon
MacRumors reports that the repeatedly-delayed launch of Apple’s AirPods may be happening next week. Joe Rossignol reports that Apple delayed the launch of its new, wireless AirPods beyond the October timeframe it originally promised. Since that initial delay, the AirPods have been listed as “currently unavailable” on Apple’s website. And a report citing supply chain sources indicated that the AirPods may not launch until January 2017.
But an employee at Apple reseller Conrad has reportedly told a customer that the retailer expects to receive AirPods stock on November 17, and then to make them available to purchase by November 18 or November 19. MacRumors points out that Conrad’s website still says that AirPods will be available for delivery in seven to eight weeks. But for Apple fans eagerly awaiting the accessory’s launch, there’s at least some hope that the AirPods will be available for purchase before the holidays.
5. A future iPhone is likely to use OLED panels
Apple Insider reports that Apple’s most recent Securities and Exchange Commission 10-K filing includes purchase orders that reveal the company is “in the middle of a big OLED buy from Samsung.” That seems like a good indication that Apple will equip future iPhones with OLED screens. J.P. Morgan reports that Apple has placed a purchase order that has a duration of more than a year and a total of around $4 billion. The order coincides with an “off-balance sheet obligation” for the same amount from the third quarter, which analysts believe is related to long-term OLED sourcing from Samsung, likely for a future iPhone.
Apple Insider notes that the order may be related to “a change that Apple made in its risk related to component acquisition statement, adding that in addition to needing mass quantities of parts, it may have trouble acquiring troublesome components ‘on commercially reasonable terms.'” OLED technology is famously difficult to produce, since even minor impurities lead to the loss of an entire batch of screens. Rumor has it that Apple could use OLED screens for a high-end iPhone model in 2017, save it for a 2018 release, or even wait until 2019 to introduce the technology to the iPhone lineup.
6. Apple may introduce a white option for the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus
Apple Insider reports that according to a questionable rumor, Apple is planning to add a “Jet White” color option for the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. Japanese site Macotakara cites supply chain sources that claim Apple will add the color option, but the publication suggests that the information could be unreliable. The glossy Jet Black color has proven popular with iPhone 7 buyers, despite its tendency to scratch and scuff.
The popularity of the Jet Black option also comes despite the wait of three to five weeks for a Jet Black iPhone 7 Plus model to ship from Apple’s online stores. Apple Insider notes that a Jet White iPhone could prove just as popular as the Jet Black model. However, Apple hasn’t sold an iPhone with a white back since the iPhone 5c. And it would be uncharacteristic for the company to introduce new colors in the middle of a product cycle.