The iPhone 9 is coming. It’s an easy assumption to make — Apple has released a new flagship smartphone every year since 2007, the company is a juggernaut of the mobile industry, and the iPhone practically reinvented cell phones. Apple will almost certainly release an iPhone in 2018. Even several months before a still hypothetical launch, reports are surfacing that the company has already made some crucial decisions.
Rumors about a phone set to launch in fall 2018 seem farfetched, but it’s important to bear in mind that the iPhone 8, the device expected to launch this year, has been heavily rumored since early last year. A 5.8-inch OLED display in a phone the same size as the 4.7-inch iPhone 7, a dual lens camera, wireless charging … the key selling points of the upcoming device have been known for a while.
In traditional fashion, Apple has not said a word about either phone, as the company tends to avoid revealing too much about its future plans. A notable exception was the company’s announcement in April that it’s working on a redesigned Mac Pro, due for launch in 2018, but because the news was so out of character, commentators immediately assumed that something was wrong and that Apple was trying to reassure its professional users. The iPhone is a massive cash cow for Apple, capturing 79 percent of all global smartphone profits last year, so it’s unlikely the company will do anything different from its usual quiet approach.
Despite that secrecy, there are a few details out there about the iPhone 9. Here’s what reports are claiming:
It will be called the iPhone 9
A report published by Korea Economic Daily on Thursday claims that the 2018 model will be dubbed the “iPhone 9.” This sounds surprising, as until now Apple has alternated years between introducing a new numbered version: The iPhone 4 came out in 2010, the iPhone 5 in 2012, the iPhone 6 in 2014, and the iPhone 7 in 2016. Odd-year releases have been “S” versions that keep the phone’s design but change the internals.
For 2017, the company is heavily rumored to introduce three new models: an iPhone 7S and 7S Plus in keeping with previous patterns, but also, an iPhone 8 priced higher than the other two that redesigns the device. If that and an iPhone 9 in 2018 are happening, it would represent a major shift in Apple’s naming strategy.
It will have an L-shaped battery
This nugget, from the same report, suggests Apple will use the same unique battery layout expected to debut in the iPhone 8. The company will stack the logic board to make room in the lower corner of the device. To make the most of that arrangement, Apple will split the battery out into two cells to extend the lower cell into the new gap.
In the iPhone 8, this is expected to offer 2,700 milliampere hours of capacity in a device the same size as the iPhone 7, which only has 1,960 mAh. LG is rumored to be the sole supplier of these batteries.
It will have an OLED screen
The expected iPhone 8 will feature an OLED screen, while the 7S and 7S Plus will only feature the thicker and heavier traditional LCD screen. This is rumored to change next year. Nikkei reported earlier this month that Apple wants every phone it releases next fall to come with an OLED screen.
OLED screens are also different from their LCD predecessors because they can produce perfect blacks. The display switches off areas displaying the black rather than LCDs that shine a backlight across every pixel. This makes elements on a black background appear as if they are floating. It also means Apple can extend the screen to the far edges of the bezel, as OLED allows for non-square screen shapes. The technology has made an appearance in numerous Android phones over the years, and it seems Apple is ready to take the jump.
It could come in two sizes
While the iPhone 8 is only expected to launch in one screen size — 5.8 inches — the 9 will reportedly come in both 5.28-inch and 6.46-inch display sizes. The latter screen would be huge in the smartphone world. The Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus, already seen as an incredibly large phone, only clocks in at 6.2 inches.
A report from The Bell in May claimed that Samsung has signed a deal with Apple to supply the displays, with shipments estimated to reach 180 million. Curiously enough, this report also refers to the 2018 device as the “iPhone 9.”
It will have a faster processor
A report from DigiTimes claims Apple is expected to ask TSMC to produce the next-generation processor, likely dubbed “Apple A12.” Samsung may also produce some of the chips. The two companies produced the chips for the iPhone 6S, but Apple switched solely to TSMC for the iPhone 7.
The iPhone 9’s chip is expected to use a transistor channel length of seven nanometers, where the iPhone 8 will use a 10-nanometer chip. In layman’s terms, the processor should have more computing power and less power consumption demands.Photos via Benjamin Geskin, Flickr / pestoverde, Gabriele Barni/Flickr