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iPhone 8 Rumored to Include AirPods and Feature ‘Enhanced’ Sound

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Among the long list of next-generation features and refinements, Apple’s highly-anticipated iPhone 8 will reportedly boast an “enhanced receiver” with “further improvements to stereo sound,” according to the latest research note released by a group of JP Morgan analysts, including Gokul Hariharan, who periodically track the latest happenings within Apple’s Asia-Pacific supply chain.

The iPhone’s receiver is the small, mesh-grilled cutout on the top-center of the device, which is also commonly referred to as the earpiece through which users can hear the caller on the other end of the line. The iPhone 7’s earpiece was the first to be redesigned as an actual loud speaker, meaning that the 2016 handset features stereo-quality audio output from both its top and bottom ends. Apple claims that with two speakers, “iPhone 7 delivers two times the audio output of an iPhone 6s with increased dynamic range.”

The research note apparently stops short of providing any details about what acoustical improvements iPhone 8 hopefuls can expect with the enhanced audio technology, however at the very least, we can expect better sound quality and a higher peak volume for audio output. The report also alleges that the speaker, itself, will be equipped with better waterproofing, echoing the sentiments of a previous report that suggested the iPhone 8 will ship featuring advanced, IP68 dust- and water-proofing certification.

iPhone 8 Could Come Bundled with AirPods

Interestingly, the note goes on to allege that instead of Apple’s standard EarPods with a Lightning to 3.5mm headset adapter, Apple will ship a free pair of its super-premium wireless AirPods with every iPhone 8 — which could also be called the iPhone Edition.

While the likelihood of this rumor being true is slim, it’s actually not impossible. We know that Apple’s top-of-the-line, 10th anniversary handset will be special, boasting a myriad of next-generation technologies and fulfilling almost all of our iPhone feature fantasies. We also know, based on previous reports, that the flagship will command a hefty price — perhaps somewhere in the ballpark of $1,000 for the base-model featuring 64 GB of storage.

Therefore, while it’s unlikely that Apple will replace its $29 EarPods (which cost practically nothing to manufacture) with a pair of $159 AirPods, we’ll encourage you take this rumor with a grain of salt, at least until we see what Apple has to say when the device is unveiled later on this year.

In the interim, the rumor mill has provided us with a whirlwind of information pertaining to the iPhone Edition’s advanced feature set, which will include a dramatic redesign in the form of a glass and steel frame, next-generation internals including a beastly A11 SoC, a larger battery with wireless charging capabilities, a gorgeous 5.8-inch OLED display, IP68 dust- and water-proofing, and Apple’s revolutionary new 3D facial recognition platform. JPMorgan estimates that the device will cost between $75 and $80 more to manufacture than the iPhone 7

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Everything that I keep reading says that Touch ID sensor should be embedded under the display

 Also, the camera is supposed to be embedded under the display as well

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iPhone 8 Expected Release Date

Last year, Apple announced its long-awaited iPhone 7 on September 7 – and it’s quite obvious why Apple would seize the opportunity to associate the model number with the corresponding date. It only seems logical that Apple would continue this canny pattern when launching its latest iPhone. It’s also worth noting that the days at which Apple has launched their flagship phones are varied (the iPhone 6s was launched on a Friday, and the iPhone 7 was launched on a Wednesday).

Because of our previous knowledge of Apple’s iPhone announcement dates, the spontaneous days of the week they fall on, and the logical nature of releasing a numbered iPhone with its corresponding calendar date, we can safely estimate Apple’s iPhone 8 will be announced this coming fall on Friday September 8, 2017. However, that is if all goes according to plan. Recent trials and tribulations in Apple’s supply chain have pushed analysts’ estimates for the iPhone 8 launch somewhere between October and November, 2017.

Hidden Touch ID

Apple has patented technology that would allow the company to place its famed Touch ID system underneath the iPhone 8’s display, which would be a revolutionary advancement in security technology. Not to mention Touch ID underneath the display would make a physically larger display possible by removing the extra space on the front of the device that’s currently occupied by the Touch ID home button. Though, it has been reported that Apple’s suppliers haven’t been able to keep up with demand for the hidden Touch ID technology, and the technology itself hasn’t been the most reliable. This hidden Touch ID system could be a game changer, however various Android devices currently feature a fingerprint sensor on the rear, a loophole Apple has been rumored to take if Touch ID underneath the display doesn’t work the way it’s intended. It’s unlikely that Apple will ship the iPhone 8 with a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor due to its clunky and unrefined nature, but we won’t know for sure if Apple will be able to work out the new technology’s kinks until later this year.

Function Area

The Function Area is rumored to be a portion of the iPhone 8’s 5.8-inch display set aside for a virtual Home button, other virtual buttons, and possibly a hidden Touch ID fingerprint reader. This function area would encompass about 5.15 inches of screen space. Renowned Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities originally made the prediction back in February — adding that the final device should be around the same size as the 4.7-inch iPhone 7, but with a much larger display. Similarly, the New York Times reported in September 2016 that the iPhone 8 would ditch physical buttons for digital ones.

The Function Area is expected to adapt to the app being used, allowing access to buttons and actions relevant to app currently running. For example, while the Music app is open, track, seek, and pause buttons could be readily available within the Function Area, ready to use at any given time. The possibilities of the Function Area are essentially limitless, only restricted by the app designers’ imaginations.

Possible Name Change

It’s clear that Apple has some major surprises in the works for the iPhone 8 and one of them could even be a name change. While “iPhone 8” is the most commonly used moniker when referencing Apple’s next iPhone, there have also been rumors speculating the next iPhone could be called the iPhone X. However, the most widely accepted alternative name for the iPhone 8 is “iPhone Edition” which has been recognized several times this year. Additionally, sources close to Apple’s supply chain referred to the iPhone 8 as the “iPhone Edition” when providing iDrop News with leaked information about Apple’s secretive smartphone.

Vertical Dual-Lens Camera with 3D Technology

Apple is currently investigating the possibility of equipping its iPhone 8 with a next-generation dual-lens camera module that’s capable of capturing vivid images with a three dimensional (3D) depth of field. Allegedly, Apple is working directly with its current dual-lens camera supplier, LG Innotek, to develop and test these new, highly-advanced camera modules. This is more than likely due to LG’s exclusivity in providing Apple with dual-lens camera modules for its iPhone 7 Plus, but also because LG has previous experience developing a smartphone capable of capturing 3D images.

Back in 2011, albeit to mixed reviews, LG introduced its iconic Optimus 3D smartphone, which was touted as the first of such devices to boast authentic 3D-quality imaging capabilities. The Optimus 3D was a bit of a hit-or-miss device, however, what users seemed to love most about it, was that the smartphone could seamlessly transition between standard 2D and 3D photos with the mere toggle of a switch – something Apple might be keen to include on the upcoming iPhone 8.

Also likely to help Apple in its pursuit to a 3D-capable camera, is the company’s 2015 acquisition of LinX Computational Imaging — the Israel-based motion imaging firm known best for having developed its own 3D mapping interface.

Also worth noting, the current dual-lens camera setup found on the rear of the iPhone 7 Plus will make its way to the iPhone 8 however the lenses are expected to be rotated vertically, increasing the camera’s depth of field effectiveness when the phone is held horizontally in AR and VR scenarios.

Revamped 3D Touch System

Ming-Chi Kuo, a well-respected Apple analyst, indicated that Apple’s forthcoming iPhone 8 will sport “a new, improved, 3D Touch system for enhanced pressure sensitivity.”

Noting that Apple’s high-end iPhone 8 will boast an advanced, flexible OLED display panel, (which will curve slightly at the edges so as to cover the entire front surface of the device), Kuo sounded the alarm that Apple’s existing 3D Touch panels would be incompatible with such display. As such, the company is planning to switch from its current “FBCB” sensor employed in the iPhone 6s/7, to a new film-based 3D Touch layer. This will not only be more flexible, but will also boast much higher touch sensitivity, opening the door to the company employing a wider range of 3D Touch gestures on the device.

Kuo noted, however, that because OLED panels are generally more fragile than their LCD counterparts, Apple will also employ a metal, structural reinforcing component of some sort. This will be to supplement the new film-based 3D Touch layer around the delicate, curved edges of the device. What’s unknown at this point is whether that metal structure will be a visible component, or merely an under layer resting deeper beneath the display, itself.

Nearly Edge-to-Edge Display

A bezel-less iPhone 8 with an OLED display was one of ten different prototypes that Apple was reportedly testing, however rumors of an iPhone with a fully curved OLED display have been dormant for some time. And according to the most recent leaks acquired by iDrop News, it seems as if two iPhone 8 prototypes have made their way through Apple’s advanced stages of testing and neither of them have a fully edge-to-edge display. There is room for a larger 18.5:9 aspect ratio display however, as the iPhone 8’s bezels are believed to measure only 4mm around the entire device.

New 5.8-inch Display Size

Famed KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo suggested that Apple is preparing to defect from its current, two-variant iPhone sales strategy next year — opting, in addition to the standard LCD-equipped 4.7- and 5.5-inch iPhones, to construct and offer a radically redesigned, super-premium 5.8-inch model, boasting a curved OLED display, among other technological advancements.

In his report, Kuo suggested that this mysterious new 5.8-inch iPhone 8 will contain the most “new stuff.” Therefore, out of all three 2017 iPhone models, Apple’s top-tier 5.5-inch Plus variant will no longer be the company’s most premium offering. But rather, the all-new 5.8-inch iPhone 8 will take center stage as Apple’s premium iPhone offering next fall.

Advanced Siri Capabilities

Another rumor, which surfaced from DigiTimes, alleges that Apple’s forthcoming iPhone 8 will ship with “enhanced Siri capabilities.” However, the report failed to mention what exactly those “enhanced capabilities” will entail.

The report did state that Apple is gearing up to incorporate a slew of advanced new Siri features, thanks in part to the Artificial Intelligence-based (AI) software acquired through the company’s August, 2016 acquisition of Turi.

“Apple acquired Australia-based machine learning startup Turi in August 2016, aiming to further strengthen the functionality, as well as the market share, of its Siri intelligent personal assistant,” reads the DigiTimes report. “Meanwhile, market sources have also indicated that Apple’s next-generation iPhone devices are likely to come with enhanced Siri.”

Durable Steel Frame

Apple’s next generation iPhone will abandon aluminum, opting instead for “two reinforced glass panels and a metal frame in the middle,” reminiscent of the iPhone 4 design. The metal bezel will allegedly “be made of stainless steel using a forging process to enhance its sturdiness and reduce costs and manufacturing time.”

The DigitTimes report, which cites “sources from the upstream supply chain” also claims that manufacturing for the steel frame will be handled by Foxconn Electronics and US-based Jabil, the same two companies that were responsible for manufacturing the frame for the iPhone 4.

Wireless Charging

It’s looking more and more certain that the iPhone 8 will feature wireless charging capabilities. A report has surfaced indicating that Taiwan-based Lite-On Semiconductor has been tapped to manufacture half the GPP bridge rectifiers needed to support fast wireless charging in Apple’s next-gen flagship smartphone.

Lite-On Semiconductor, a manufacturer of discrete and analog integrated chip components, did not comment on the report that it had entered Apple’s global supply chain, although its stock rallied by its daily 10% limit to $0.91 when the story emerged on January 19.

Wireless charging for smartphones has been a subject of much discussion and rumor over the years. The rumors intensified when Apple received a patent in 2012 for wireless charging utilizing near field magnetic resonance.

Last year, Energous announced a collaboration with long-time Apple supplier Dialog Semiconductor to manufacture and market hardware components. Energous is a US startup that specializes in long-range wireless charging technology. A year before the Dialog deal was even publicized, Energous CEO obliquely referred to a development and licensing agreement with a “tier one” consumer electronics company, fueling further speculation about integration of such technology into future iPhones.

Laser-Guided Facial Recognition System

Timothy Arcuri, of the market research and financial services firm, Cowen and Company, told his firm’s investors in a research note this week that Apple’s iPhone 8 flagship — unlike its moderately improved, iPhone 7s and iPhone 7s Plus counterparts — will launch featuring what he described as “some form of facial/gesture recognition supported by a new laser sensor and an infrared sensor mounted near the front-facing camera.”

Thus far, a standard and universal facial recognition protocol has yet to be implemented into any of Apple’s major products. However, Apple has used modified iterations of the underlying technology, for example, with the introduction of advanced object and facial recognition features built into its Photos app.

A standalone, hardware sensor, though — akin to the kind that Arcuri is describing — has not yet been explored by Apple. And, furthermore, there have thus far been no rumors or hints from Apple’s vast supply chain that such a feature is even impending. Sure, Apple could always change its mind and course at any time, but of all the ‘iPhone 8’ rumors we’ve heard so far, this facial recognition laser simply is not among them. Although Tim Cook, himself, did recently hint that Apple had big plans in the works for Augmented Reality (AR)-based protocols — so, take it with a grain of salt.

Water Resistance

The iPhone 8 will carry a water- and dust-resistance rating of IP68, according to industry sources cited by The Korea Herald. That’s a step above the IP67 water-resistance rating that the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus currently carry.

“Apple’s iPhone 8 will feature the IP68 rating as part of drastic upgrades marking the 10th anniversary of the iPhone this year,” the anonymous source told The Korea Herald.

From a practical standpoint, that means that Apple’s next generation of iPhone will be able to withstand being submerged in water of depths up to 1.5 meters (just under 5 feet) for up to 30 minutes, according to the International Electrotechnical Commission, the organization that publishes the guidelines for the IP standards.

The “6” found within the IP rating, denotes an essentially dustproof device. The iPhone 7, which Apple only calls “splash resistant,” carries an IP67 rating. That means that the device is rated to be immersed in water under 1 meter, or 3.3 feet, for 30 minutes. While keeping a device dry is the safest way of ensuring it won’t be damaged, many tests have found that the iPhone 7 is more water resistant than advertised.

Tap to Wake

A ‘Tap to Wake’ feature, similar to the one employed by Samsung on some of its premium Galaxy S handsets, will be coming to iPhone this year. However, the feature will reportedly be an exclusive to Apple’s uber-premium, curved OLED-equipped iPhone 8, which has been codenamed ‘Ferrari’.

The reason why ‘Tap to Wake’ will be exclusive to Apple’s high-end iPhone remains unclear. However, it’s quite possible that the superior, battery-sipping technology OLED display, which has long been rumored to debut as a cornerstone feature of Apple’s iPhone 8, is in some way a prerequisite factor to make the feature work properly.

Apple Pencil Compatibility

Published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Apple’s patent (No. 20160364091) is described only as “Devices and Methods for Manipulating User Interfaces with a Stylus,” according to Patently Apple; and is essentially a further expansion on previous patent filings we reported on earlier this year, suggesting that Apple Pencil functionality could one day come to the company’s smaller, touchscreen-enabled devices.

Apple’s most recent patent application discusses the inclusion of “multiple new sensors” being embedded underneath the device’s display, allowing for deeper interaction with Apple Pencil on iPhone. For instance, the filing describes various sensors that would be able to detect the nearness of Apple’s Pencil to the display — prior to launching “a special menu” showing options for carrying out stylus-based actions.

Additionally, not only will the stylus be able to open certain pre-specified apps directly from the iOS lock screen, but the iPhone-friendly stylus tool will also be able to do things like draw or trace pictures, write to enter text, and more — meaning that Apple Pencil functionality on the iPhone, if indeed it ultimately comes to be, won’t be limited to just the iOS Notes app.

iOS 11

Not much is known about the impending iOS 11 release, however there has been word regarding the possibility of a group FaceTime calling feature making its way to the iPhone. In practice, the feature would allow iOS users to communicate via Apple’s advanced video conferencing protocol in groups consisting of greater than two users. Group FaceTime calling is a feature that has long been requested by Apple fans and loyalists, alike.

The rumor was first reported by the Israeli publication, The Verifier, citing unnamed sources with knowledge of Apple’s imminent plans. It’s important to note that Israel has become a hub for technological growth and innovation over the last few years, and is the home country of such firms as LinX, which was acquired by Apple in late 2015 and was responsible for part of what went into the company’s dual-lens camera on the iPhone 7 Plus. So while the sources of this rumor may be unidentifiable by name, there’s a reasonable chance they are in some way affiliated with Apple, or any of the few-dozen Engineers that Cupertino currently has working in the country.

Higher Price Tag

The iPhone 8 is likely to be a “premium model.” Combine that with the fact that Apple is expected to keep the price points for the iPhone 7s and 7s Plus the same as their predecessors, and you have the recipe for a very expensive iPhone.

Of course, predicting just how expensive the iPhone 8 could be is speculation, but current pricing strategies are a decent gauge for what to expect. For example, the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are currently priced between $649 and $969, depending on model. Since the smaller of the two phones runs $120 cheaper than its larger brother, it’s not too much of a venture to say that a premium iPhone 8 could cost anywhere from $120 to $200 more than an iPhone 7s Plus.

That could mean a 256-gigabyte iPhone 8 would run you $1,200 — and would line up with Apple’s aim to increase its margins on its high-end flagship.

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