The iPhone 7 wasn’t the most exciting addition to Apple’s iPhone lineup. As rumors had indicated before its launch, the device wouldn’t bring any major design changes or significant specification upgrades. In fact, plenty of iPhone fans who own the iPhone 6s have opted not to buy the iPhone 7 and wait for 2017’s iPhone 8 instead. (If only to take another year to get used to the idea of having no headphone jack.)
So there’s a lot of pressure on Apple to deliver a 10th-anniversary iPhone that will stand out. Fans want an iPhone that will feel like a brand-new device instead of an incremental update. So what kinds of features will the iPhone 8 need to be worth the upgrade?
1. An exciting new design
Customers spending lots of money on a new iPhone want it to look different from their old iPhone. (That’s why many iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s owners were disappointed by the iPhone 7, which uses the same aluminum casing.) New colors, like the matte black and jet black that Apple introduced with the iPhone 7, can help. But more important is a redesign that feels novel and innovative. If current rumors prove true, that’s exactly what Apple is planning for 2017. An edge-to-edge display, a glass casing, an OLED screen with curved edges, and a fingerprint scanner embedded into the display have all been reported as features Apple is considering for the iPhone 8. Apple may disprove many or all of these rumors. But they at least offer hope of a radical redesign for the iPhone 8.
2. Features that might necessitate a redesign
Even if you were hoping for a redesign for the iPhone 7 and are holding out for one with the iPhone 8, a redesign isn’t all that exciting unless it really changes the way the phone feels. And that often depends on incorporating new features that actually necessitate a new design. In the case of the iPhone 8, that could mean a screen that’s larger but has smaller bezels, or perhaps a wireless charging solution. As Walt Mossberg explains in a post on the iPhone 7 for The Verge:
I am not for a redesign just for the hell of it. There are good reasons to change the look and feel of the iPhone, some of them evident in Samsung models. For instance, Samsung and others manage to fit a large screen like the one on the iPhone Plus into a smaller body and still squeeze in a big battery. But the iPhones still have big footprints for their screen sizes and big top and bottom bezels.
Another example: the iPhones still lack wireless or inductive charging. Adding that might require a redesign.
3. Advanced cameras across the iPhone 8 lineup
Some people like big phones. But as Apple seemed to acknowledge with the introduction of the iPhone SE, others don’t. So with the iPhone 8, Apple may consider introducing upgraded cameras across the iPhone lineup, not just with the larger “Plus” model. The iPhone 7 Plus got a dual-camera system with two 12MP sensors while the standard iPhone 7 got only one. Dual-camera systems can offer new features, better performance, and more versatility than single-camera systems. And it’s not just people who like larger-screened smartphones who would be interested in an iPhone with an eye-catching camera system — even if the dual cameras remain exclusive to the larger iPhone 8 models.
4. 3GB of RAM (or more) for all iPhone 8 models
Another feature that iPhone fans would probably like to see implemented on both — or all, seeing as there may be three — sizes of Apple’s 2017 iPhone? Enough RAM to make those models equally fast. The iPhone 7 has 2GB of RAM while the iPhone 7 Plus has 3GB — a difference big enough that the larger phone is notably speedier than its smaller sibling. Again, customers who prefer a smaller iPhone will probably be more likely to upgrade to the iPhone 8 if they can get top-tier performance without buying a phone that’s larger than what they really want, especially if the iPhone 8 gets an upgraded processor, as is widely expected.
5. Wireless charging
By dropping the headphone jack from the iPhone 7, Apple presented users with a dilemma. They can listen to music via wired headphones or charge their phones — but not both at the same time. Apple could fix the problem and give users more flexibility in 2017 if it adds wireless or inductive charging to the iPhone 8. Well-connected KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is just one source who’s expecting to see the feature in 2017. Wireless charging is a feature that could make the iPhone 8 an appealing upgrade to a wide range of iPhone fans — even if Apple’s implementation offers standard wireless charging, not long-distance wireless charging.
6. OLED displays instead of LCD screens
Apple routinely opts for LCD screens instead of OLED displays. But as Killian Bell reports for Cult of Mac, Samsung’s flagship phones demonstrate “why the iPhone needs an OLED display.” As Bell notes, “Apple prides itself on delivering the best LCD displays you’ll find in a smartphone, but they pale in comparison to the OLED screens offered by its rivals.” OLED displays are more energy-efficient than LCDs (which could help with battery life — a perennial complaint among iPhone owners). They also offer brighter colors and deeper blacks. Rumor has it that Apple is considering a switch from LCD to OLED in 2017, a move that, by many accounts, is long overdue.