Everything We Think We Know About Apple's Next iPhone So Far

Updated: Feb 16, 2017 3:27 PM UTC | Originally published: Nov 28, 2016

Apple doesn't usually unveil its new iPhones until September, but the rumors are already circulating about what fans should expect from this year's model. The successor to the iPhone 7, which may be called the iPhone 7s or iPhone 8, could be a more noticeable departure from the current iPhone's design. This year's release will also mark 10 years since the original iPhone launched in 2007.

Here's a look at what's been reported about Apple's next iPhone so far.

Better screen technology

Apple may use an OLED (organic light emitting diode) screen for its next iPhone instead of an LCD display, according to reports from The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg. These types of screens offer better contrast than LCD displays, and are often brighter. The blacks in OLED screens are also deeper than those of LCD displays, making colors pop more prominently.

Apple already uses OLED display technology for the Apple Watch, while other tech giants, like Samsung, have been using variants of OLED screens in their smartphones for years. It's unclear whether or not all new iPhone models will feature an OLED screen or if Apple will reserve them for its high-end variant, as a report from Nikkei Asian Review indicates.

A curved screen

Certain iPhone models may feature a screen that's curved on both sides similar to Samsung's Galaxy S7 Edge, according to Nikkei Asian Review. This rounded model will likely be more expensive than the standard edition and may be 5.5-inches or larger, says the report. If Apple indeed decides to give its next iPhone a curved screen, it will likely use an OLED display, as those types of screens are more flexible than their LCD counterparts.

Facial recognition

Apple could add facial recognition to its upcoming iPhone, according to Cowen and Company's Timothy Arcuri. In a recent note, which Apple Insider published, Arcuri predicts Apple may place an infrared sensor next to the front-facing camera to enable the phone to recognize a user's face. Separately, Digitimes has reported that Apple plans to add an iris scanner to its next iPhone, although it's worth noting the website hasn't always been accurate about future Apple products in the past. Samsung introduced a similar feature on its ill-fated Galaxy Note 7, which included an iris scanner that allowed owners to unlock their phone just by looking at it.

A new name

Apple traditionally releases its new iPhones on a tick-tock cycle, either giving them a title that includes just a number or a number paired with an "S." For its next iPhone, however, the company may break this habit by simply calling it iPhone X, as Loup Venture's Gene Munster predicts.

"Apple will likely break from its historical naming convention and call this iPhone something other than iPhone 7S or iPhone 8 because it will be the 10th anniversary iPhone," Munster writes. "Like they did with the 10th version of the Mac OS, it seems logical that they’ll call the next iPhone: iPhone X."

Three models to choose from

The introduction of a curved iPhone could mean that Apple plans to offer its next smartphone in three variants instead of two. Apple may release 4.7 and 5.5-inch iPhones with flat screens and then an additional model with a rounded display, according to Nikkei Asian Review.

A new design with no home button

Apple hasn't significantly redesigned its iPhone since it unveiled the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in 2014. That could change in 2017. The company reportedly plans to overhaul the next iPhone with a new design that includes an edge-to-edge glass screen and no home button, according to The Wall Street Journal. The Touch ID fingerprint sensor, meanwhile, could be built directly into the iPhone's screen.

Ming-Chi Kuo, an analyst with KGI Securities, offered an idea for how Apple may fill the space underneath the screen where the home button currently sits. The company could place virtual buttons in this area dedicated to specific tasks, Kuo said in a note published by Apple Insider. Kuo calls this the "function area," and it sounds similar to the capacitive buttons found on some Android phones like the Galaxy S7. While Samsung's phone has a physical home button, flat keys for browsing through currently open apps and navigating backward appear below the screen as needed.

Further changes could include a glass back similar to that of the iPhone 4 and 4s rather than the aluminum design of Apple's more recent iPhones, says another note from Kuo.

Wireless charging

Future iPhone owners may not have to plug their phones into a power cord to charge it. Apple is said to be testing wireless charging technology that could appear in iPhones as soon as 2017, according to reports from Bloomberg and Nikkei Asian Review. Wireless charging has existed in certain Android smartphones for years, but Apple could be exploring a method that makes it possible to power iPhones from a distance, Bloomberg reports. It's unclear how close that technology is to a commercial release, however.

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