What is going on with Apple’s 2018 iPhone range? Expected to launch later this year, rumors are spreading about a 6.5-inch iPhone X Plus, a 5.8-inch iPhone X, and a 6.1-inch iPhone that may be cheaper than the other two models. The names are not certain either, and the 2018 iPhone models have also been linked with the names iPhone 9, and iPhone 11, due to the iPhone X’s introduction in late 2017. There is also the chance Apple will come up with an entirely new way of naming its iPhones.
There are a lot of intertwined rumors, sometimes related to each other, sometimes not, and almost always confusing. We’ve done our best to make sense of them, so here is our rundown of what to expect from the 2018 iPhone range.
Release date, availability, and price
iPhone announcement day is one of the most anticipated days of the year. The tech world leaves its calendar option for that special day in September when Tim Cook will tell us all about the new crop of iPhones. While we typically have a rough idea of when the announcement will take place, we never know for sure until the invitations are sent. This year, however, it looks like German carriers may have jumped the gun. German tech site Macerkopf reports the iPhone pre-order date is Friday, September 14. That means the announcement date for the next iPhone will likely be September 11 or 12.
While some smartphone manufacturers have raised prices on their flagships in 2018, it looks like Apple may be planning to reduce the price of its iPhone lineup in 2018. According to analysts at Trend Force, Apple has been working with suppliers to reduce component costs on the upcoming iPhones. These savings, at least in part, will be passed on to consumers.
According to Trend Force, Apple anticipates its 6.1-inch LCD iPhone to be its most popular model. The analysts with Trend Force state that the 6.1-inch “budget” iPhone will account for 50 percent of iPhone production in 2018. While we don’t know pricing, analysts and journalists believe the phone will be priced between $650 and $800.
The 5.8-inch OLED model could start at $899 — leaving the iPhone X Plus to start at $999. Daryanani believes Apple will lower the starting price of the next-generation iPhone X by $100 in order to strengthen and boost sales of the device. That way, the company can then push the iPhone X Plus into the $999 price range instead.
As for release date information, we’re anticipating Apple will announce its newest iPhones in early September. When you will be able to get the phones in your hands, however, is another question. Katy Huberty, an analyst for Morgan Stanley, predicts both the 5.8-inch and 6.5-inch iPhones will be available by the end of September.
The 6.1-inch “budget” iPhone, however, will not start shipping until early October. Huberty attributes the delay for the 6.1-inch model to manufacturing issues. Apparently, Apple is facing issues “with LED backlight leakage [that] has caused a one-month delay in mass production of the 6.1 LCD iPhone.”
Battery and wireless charging
The 2017 lineup of iPhones were the first to get wireless charging. And while some users were elated for the new feature, others grumbled about how slow wireless charging was on the iPhone compared to other phones like the Samsung Galaxy S8. Well, it looks like the tech giant may have listened. According to the China Times, Apple will use copper charging coil instead of the FPC coil on at least one of the new iPhones for 2018. Copper coil would allow the new iPhone to charge quicker and at a higher wattage without overheating.
It looks like Apple will also offer another quick charging feature for its 2018 trio of iPhones. A leaked photo appears to show a prototype for the 18W USB-C quick charger that will ship, with this year’s crop of iPhones. An earlier story, first reported on MacRumors, seems to support this, stating the 2018 lineup of iPhones will ship with an 18W USB-C adapter, as well as a USB-C to Lightning cable. With an 18W USB-C power adapter, you could expect to see your phone charge from zero to 30 percent in about 30 minutes.
And while the upcoming iPhone will likely ship with a quick-charging adapter, don’t expect to find it available for sale in your local Apple store. Japanese tech site Macotakara reports that Apple will only sell the adapters bundled with the 2018 iPhones for at least the first few months. The decision was reportedly made to ensure there are enough adapters to meet customer demand for the new iPhones.
To make matter worse, Makotakura is reporting that Apple’s trio of iPhones for 2018 will require users to use a certified USB-C charger for quick charging. The report states Apple will add C-AUTH support to the upcoming iPhones, meaning they will only charge when a charger has a USB PD 3.0 standard certification
All three 2018 iPhone models will feature more powerful batteries, according to information from KGI Securities that was first reported on MacRumors. Both the 5.8- and 6.5-inch iPhones will take advantage of the new L-shaped battery design used in the iPhone X. Apple’s budget model, the 6.1-inch LCD iPhone, will likely have a rectangular battery in order to keep costs down. The report from KGI Securities says the 5.8-inch iPhone will likely have a 2,900-3,000mAh battery. In a separate report, KGI reports the 6.5-inch iPhone will feature a 3,300 to 3,400mAH battery, while the 5.8-inch iPhone will have a 2,800mAh battery.
The iPhone X was the first to feature an L-shaped battery. The new L-shaped battery allows Apple to make more efficient use of the limited space inside the chassis. KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said this design also allows the battery to charge more quickly. A report earlier this year in Chosun Ilbo confirmed Apple had chosen LG Chem to supply the L-shaped batteries in 2018 iPhones. While Apple relies on a number of companies to supply batteries for the iPhone, LG Chem is the only company that makes L-shaped batteries.
Apple has also been rumored to be working with a company called Energous since 2015. Energous created a charging method that would allow you to charge your iPhone X Plus up to 15 feet away from one of its transmitters. While there were rumors that last year’s crop of iPhones would include Energous wireless charging, the company was unable to ship its transmitters in time.
Almost every iteration of the iPhone has seen some internal improvements that make it faster, stronger, and better than the iPhones that came before. This time around, however, Apple may remove something from the iPhone’s box — the Lightning to 3.5mm adapter. What that means is that if you use wired headphones and didn’t already have an adapter, you will have to buy one separately. The report comes from Apple Insider, which cites Cirrus Logic as telling investors that its guidance for the fiscal second quarter “all but confirms that Apple will not bundle the DAC headset converter ‘dongle’ in its new iPhone models.”
In 2017, we reported that Apple may be creating a special version of the Pencil for at least one model of this year’s iPhone. While the Pencil debuted with the iPad Pro in 2015, the company has yet to make a Pencil that is compatible with the iPhone. That may be changing if a prediction Trend Force is to be believed. The firm believes Apple will add Pencil support to all the upcoming 2018 iPhones. This may place the upcoming handsets in direct competition with the recently introduced Samsung Galaxy Note 9.201
Apple may introduce dual SIM support — a first for the range — for the 6.1-inch phone, according to data discovered in the beta version of iOS 12. The 6.1-inch phone is expected to cost less than other iPhone models in 2018, and adding dual-SIM support could make it even more attractive in regions where such a feature is almost a necessity. In China, India, and parts of Europe, second SIMs are common on competing smartphones.
The code inside iOS 12 has entries for checking if the device is a dual-SIM model and the status of the second SIM. Apple will release iOS 12 in time for it to be pre-installed on this year’s new phones and it currently does not offer any with dual-SIM capability. This follows an earlier report claiming a 2018 iPhone may come with dual-SIM capabilities in China. Economic Daily News, a Chinese language paper, states it has talked to multiple Foxconn employees who confirm the dual-sim iPhone is known as model 804 and it will only be available in China.
Also, rumors suggest the 2018 iPhone models could have eSIM support, according to a report from Barrons. An electronic SIM card is built into a phone, allowing you to switch between carriers whenever you want — without the need to go to a store and pick up a physical SIM card. Apple already uses eSIMs in the Apple Watch and some iPad models.
The modem may also be different in this year’s iPhones. Qualcomm CFO George Davis told investors, analysts, and the press, “We believe Apple intends to solely use our competitor’s modems rather than our modems in its next iPhone release.” Since the announcement of the next iPhone is likely coming within the next few months, we can be sure that Davis is certain Qualcomm modems will not be used in the upcoming iPhone. If Apple does rely solely on Intel’s modems for the next-gen iPhone, data speeds may be slower than that of competing handsets featuring the Qualcomm modem. However, this may only affect phones connected to certain networks, in certain regions around the world.
KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo also predicted 2018 iPhones will feature baseband chips from Intel, not Qualcomm. It’s also possible the next iPhone may offer 5G technology, Business Insider reports, based on Apple applying to the Federal Communications Commission for a new wireless technology called millimeter wave. This technology allows devices to access more bandwidth than is currently possible on existing cellular networks.
Apple partner Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing has begun production of the next series of the chip we expect to see in this year’s iPhone. Likely named the A12, the new chip will apparently use a 7-nanometer design that will help make it smaller, faster, and more power efficient than the 10-nanometer chips currently in circulation in the latest series of the iPhone.
A benchmark test for an unreleased iPhone running iOS 12 showed the mystery device running 4GB of RAM, higher than is available in current iPhone models. This may join the new processor for additional performance, but benchmark results are easily faked and cannot be taken as absolute proof.
AppleInsider reports that Apple has developed a relationship with LG Innotek to create flexible circuit boards for the next iPhone. These flexible circuit boards, already used in some devices like the Samsung Galaxy, would allow Apple to create an iPhone with a curved display.
What will the new iPhone models look like? Right now it looks like Apple will release at least three new iPhones in 2018 — a 5.8-inch phone, a 6.1-inch, and a 6.5-inch model. The latest leak, showing two different sized iPhone icons with Face ID, comes courtesy of glyphs in Apple’s PassKitUIFoundation. The glyphs were spotted by Guilherme Rambo of 9 to 5 Mac.
Visual leaks of supposed upcoming iPhones have come from images of dummy units leaked on Twitter. In early August phone leaker Benjamin Geskin showed off all three phones with the 6.1-inch model in the center: It stands out because it has a single camera lens. Aside from this, the design does not differ greatly between them, and all three phones have a screen notch when viewed from the front.
Before this, a look at the 6.5-inch iPhone X Plus and the smaller, 6.1-inch iPhone with an LCD screen came from dummy units of the devices leaked on Twitter. Dummy units have been commonly leaked before, and are often 3D mockups based on either specification used by manufacturers, or specs obtained from leaks. Therefore, they should be treated as visualizations of what we currently expect a phone to look like.
The design of the iPhone X Plus does not differ greatly from the existing iPhone X, with a dual, vertically stacked camera lens and what looks like a glass body. The 6.1-inch iPhone, which will apparently have an LCD screen for a lower price, also has a notch on the screen which may enable Face ID technology. Previous leaks have shown all three 2018 phones will have screen notches, but the 5.8-inch model has not been pictured above. The phone also has a single-lens camera on the back.
The 6.5-inch, OLED iPhone X Plus has been rumored to look like the iPhone X already analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claiming the phone will be sold in three colors at launch: Black, white, and gold. He continues to add that Apple’s 6.1-inch phone, possibly called the iPhone 8S, will feature an aluminum body, LCD display, and Face ID. This phone will be the least expensive of the trio and will be available in gray, white, red, blue, and orange. However, we’re not at all certain about the color lineup just yet as another analyst predicted this model would be available in pastel shades including yellow, pink, and blue.
The final phone to round up the iPhone lineup for 2018 will be one with a 5.8-inch OLED display that looks similar to the current iPhone X.
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
The size of the screen is one of the main differentiating factors between iPhone models. Rumors suggest the 2018 models will come with a 6.5-inch screen, a 6.1-inch screen, and a 5.8-inch screen. To get an idea of how this will look, an image was posted on Twitter showing glass screens from the three models next to each other. It’s not certain whether this is a genuine image or not, but the leaker has a decent track record with Apple leaks, but even if it’s a concept it’s still an interesting visual reference point for the potential iPhone lineup this year.
At least two of the next iPhones will likely have OLED displays, according to The Investor. Despite being rumored to place an order with Samsung for 5.2-inch, 5.8-inch, and 6.5-inch displays, a subsequent report in September 2017 said Apple canceled the 5.2-inch display order, possibly due to low marketability.
Sources familiar with Apple’s 2018 plan claim there will be two OLED iPhone models and one with an LCD screen. The LCD phones will make up the majority of its sales The Wall Street Journal reports.
It’s not certain if the 6.1-inch iPhone will have an LCD screen. Mobile leaker Mr. White posted images said to be of Apple’s 6.1-inch OLED screen production, rather than an LCD panel.
There are reportedly continuing battles over the cost of OLED panels, which gave the iPhone X its high price tag, and which company supplies Apple for 2018. The Bell, says Samsung will produce 75 million OLED screens for 2018 iPhone models, and may have negotiated a $10 price cut per panel. But Apple is apparently asking for price cuts — the company is said to have paid $110 per OLED panel for the iPhone X to Samsung and is expected to pay about $100 per panel this year. Samsung Display may have been preparing to produce new OLED iPhone screens in May, ET News reports.
Samsung might be Apple’s only choice as an OLED supplier, as The Wall Street Journal reports LG’s production of OLED screens fell behind schedule due to manufacturing issues — which has left it struggling to reach demand. According to an analyst, LG is expected to supply 20 percent of OLED displays for the 2018 iPhones, leaving Samsung to supply the other 80 percent.
For the LCD panel, The Wall Street Journal reports Apple may use Japan Display for a 6.1-inch model. If it selects Japan Display’s Full Active LCD display, the phones may show darker blacks than a traditional LCD display, and used with wet hands. A report from KGI Securities andNikkei supports that information, stating that iPhone will produce a 6.1-inch budget iPhone with an LCD screen with a lower resolution and Face ID in 2018. With a Fully Active LCD display, the bezels are as low as 0.5mm whereas current OLED smartphone panels have a bezel that measures at about one millimeter.
However, a report from KGI Securities notes the 6.1-inch phone may not include Apple’s 3D Touch. A report from the Chinese website Feng, states the reason Apple is dropping 3D Touch on the upcoming 6.1-inch iPhone is to balance costs. The 6.1-inch iPhone may a lighter and more durable display compared to the other iPhones rumored to be announced this year, due to a new display technology called Glass Cover Sensor (GCS) which moves the touch module from the display to the surface glass via “a thin film sensor.”
No major rumors regarding the main rear cameras, or the front cameras, have spread yet. It’s possible the 6.1-inch iPhone model will have a single camera lens, like the current iPhone 8, according to KGI Securities.
While Apple’s TrueDepth technology will almost certainly continue to be used on the front cameras for Face ID and other features, a rumor early on stated the next iPhone will not add the tech to the iPhone’s rear cameras, despite previous speculation from KGI Securities that the next iPhones would feature the TrueDepth 3D rear cameras.
Updated on August 20: Added pre-order date information.