7 Apple Rumors: Will the iPhone 8 Get a Curved Display?

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’iPhone 8, upcoming iPads, and other future Apple products made their rounds online. Read on to catch up on the week’s most exciting Apple rumors.

1. Apple’s 2017 iPhone 8 could get a curved display

An Apple employee prepares Apple iPhone 7 phones

The iPhone may get a curved display in the future | Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Takashi Mochizuki and Eun-Young Jeong report for The Wall Street Journal that Apple could launch an iPhone with a curved display as soon as 2017. The Journal reports that Apple has asked its suppliers to increase output of OLED screens. It also wants them to submit prototype screens with better resolution than ones used by Samsung.

An iPhone 8 with an OLED screen “could be introduced as one of several models to be unveiled, people familiar with the matter said, but would come with a higher price tag because OLED displays are more expensive to produce.” The Journal notes that Apple might decide not to release an OLED model in 2017. The company is reportedly considering more than 10 prototypes for next year’s iPhone. 

2. The iPhone 8 could also be equipped with a 3D camera

A Chinese woman tests the new iPhone 7 during the opening sale launch at an Apple store

The iPhone is going to get a major camera upgrade | Johannes Eisele/Getty Images

Luke Dormehl reports for Cult of Mac that Apple is considering equipping the iPhone 8’s camera with a 3D array. According to a Korea Herald report that cites supply chain sources, Apple is investigating the idea of adding a module that would enable 3D depth mapping. Apple is reportedly talking with LG Innotek about sourcing the necessary modules. Dormehl notes that LG first experimented with 3D cameras in 2011, with its Optimus 3D phone.

That device was met with mixed reviews but enabled users to switch between 2D and 3D modes when taking photographs. LG Innotek is already Apple’s supplier for the dual-camera module used in the iPhone 7 Plus. In considering a 3D camera, Apple will also likely be helped by its acquisition of Israeli camera technology company LinX Computational Imaging, which specializes in 3D image mapping.

3. Apple may choose a glass enclosure for the iPhone 8

iPhones in boxes

The iPhone 8 looks like it could be “all glass” | George Frey/Getty Images

Killian Bell reports for Cult of Mac that Apple has patented a glass enclosure that could be perfect for an all-glass iPhone 8. According to the patent, the enclosure is designed to be thin, light, scratch-resistant, and radio-transparent. The filing seems to lend credence to speculation that Apple’s 10th anniversary iPhone could feature a glass enclosure without much metal. Bell notes that the application describes using a glass tube rather than an enclosure made of several different layers, which would make it easier for Apple to ensure that the device is water-resistant.

Luke Dormehl reports for the publication that the glass design could finally enable Apple to add wireless charging. According to Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities, all 2017 iPhones will feature wireless charging technology. Dormehl notes that glass and plastic are the two most common materials associated with wireless charging. (An electromagnetic field can pass through both materials over a distance between 5mm and 40mm.) It’s long been speculated that Apple would want to implement wireless charging in the iPhone lineup, and the company has made a number of hires related to the feature.

4. The next iPad Pro could be thicker than the current models

Photographers at an Apple event

The iPad Pro may get a new look in the future | Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images

Buster Hein reports for Cult of Mac that Apple is planning to launch new iPad Pros in the first half of 2017, and those models could be thicker than the previous models. According to a report from Macotakara, the next 12.9-inch iPad Pro could be 0.3mm thicker than the current model. The site, citing an “informed source in Taiwan,” also reports that the successor to the current 9.7-inch iPad Pro will retain the same thickness and size but will come with a 10.9-inch display.

To make room for that larger display, Apple will reportedly switch to a bezel-less design. That would necessitate removing the home button. But Hein notes that the FaceTime camera is expected to remain on the front of the device. It’s so far unclear whether Apple plans for the side bezels to remain the same size. However, it’s reportedly unlikely that Apple will add an OLED display until 2018. The new iPad Pro models could be announced as early as March 2017. 

5. A future Apple Watch could get a circular display

Apple Watches in a display case

The Apple Watch may look much different in the coming years | Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Mikey Campbell reports for AppleInsider that a pair of patent applications reveals that Apple has been at least considering a circular display for the Apple Watch. Two filings, both titled “Electronic device having display with curved edges,” reveal that Apple was actively investigating non-rectangular displays as recently as January of 2016. The documents outline driver technology and other plans for powering a circular display.

Campbell characterizes Apple’s solution as “fairly straightforward.” He notes that it borrows a general architecture from traditional rectangular displays. In some embodiments described in the filings, the display would sit in a housing surrounded by an inactive border region. Driver circuitry, interconnect lines, and other supporting hardware could be hidden in that region. Campbell notes that it’s unlikely that Apple will introduce a circular Apple Watch anytime soon since Apple has committed to a rectangular design. But it’s interesting, nonetheless, that the company is considering design variations.

6. Apple could use data collected by drones to improve Maps

The new iPhone 7 and the 7 Plus are displayed on a table at an Apple store

The Maps app will likely get some help from drones | Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Mark Gurman and Alan Levin report for Bloomberg that Apple plans to use drones and indoor navigation for data collection to improve its Maps data. The company is reportedly assembling a team of robotics and data collection experts. The team will use drones to capture and update map information faster than is possible with Apple’s fleet of camera and sensor-equipped minivans.

Drones could examine street signs, track changes to roads, and monitor whether areas are under construction. That would enable Apple to quickly update Maps with fresh information that will make the software more helpful to users. The company is also reportedly developing new Maps features, including views inside buildings and improvements to navigation features for drivers.

7. Future iPhones and Apple Watches could warn users about environmental dangers

Users looking at the Apple Watch

Future iPhones could alert users of environmental dangers | Kristy Sparow/Getty Images

Mikey Campbell reports for AppleInsider that according to a recent patent application, future iPhones and Apple Watches could be equipped with an environmental sensor to warn users about dangers like high concentrations of carbon monoxide or high ozone levels. The filing details a method of integrating an environmental sensor into a device’s speaker cavity, where it could sample material and be protected from the elements.

Campbell says that this sensor is likely to cover many different bases:

Apple notes that the proposed sensor suite can include any number of components, including a temperature sensor, a volatile organic compound sensor, a particulate sensor, a carbon monoxide sensor, a carbon dioxide sensor, an oxygen sensor, an ozone sensor, other gas sensors, a humidity sensor, a moisture sensor, chemical and biological substance sensors and more.

The device could take readings from such sensors, keep logs, and issue notifications if it detects dangerous conditions in the user’s environment.