Update: Wireless charging might not be ready in time for the launch of the iPhone 8 Plus, but the phone could have a mirrored finish and a new video shows off a dummy iPhone 8 unit in detail.
This year marks the tenth anniversary of the original iPhone. It has almost been 10 years since Steve Jobs walked out on stage and changed the way we use our mobile phones, so you can expect Apple to celebrate with major upgrades on the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus.
That stacks up with some of the rumors we’re already hearing, which suggest the iPhone 8 Plus will see a lot of improvements.
We’ve already had word that the iPhone 8 Plus may come in two different models, and heard rumors of it having a fully upgraded spec as well.
Apple’s usual naming convention suggests it will go for the iPhone 7S Plus, but the company may decide to use the tenth anniversary as an excuse to skip a generation, for a major upgrade in 2017.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? The next phablet iPhone
- When is it out? Probably September 2017, or maybe 2018
- What will it cost? Lots and lots of money
iPhone 8 Plus release date
For the last few years Apple has announced new iPhones at the start of September, and then released the phone later in the month.
That’s exactly when we’d expect the iPhone 8 Plus to launch in 2017. The only iPhone to not be launched in September in recent years is the iPhone SE, but we’d expect the iPhone 8 Plus to follow a year after the iPhone 7 Plus, which launched in September 2016.
There’s also a chance this may be called the iPhone 7S Plus – in which case the handset called the iPhone 8 Plus won’t be here until 2018.
Usually we’d expect Apple to introduce an S model the year after a new numbered phone, but this year a lot of rumors have suggested it may just jump straight to the iPhone 8 Plus.
But even assuming the late 2017 launch, it’s possible that the iPhone 8 Plus won’t land in September, as rumors suggest there are issues with laminating the display, which could cause it to be delayed until October or November.
TechRadar’s take: September 2017 looks likely, but it may be called the iPhone 7S Plus instead of the iPhone 8 Plus, and a delay is possible.
iPhone 8 Plus screen
- There will be two versions: one with an OLED screen and one LCD
- Some rumors suggest the screen size will increase
- It could have a True Tone display
Apple may be making two versions of the iPhone 8 Plus in 2017, and the biggest difference between the two could be the screen technology each uses.
A KGI Securities analyst has suggested that one version of the iPhone 8 Plus will come with an LCD screen (as is used by current Apple phones), while another will come with OLED.
Rumor has it Apple wants to upgrade the screen technology to OLED on all of its iPhone models, but demand for the tech is too high at the moment for Apple to build enough OLED screens, so it may only do it on one version of the iPhone 8 Plus.
Though recent rumors from The Investor suggest Apple could have secured 160 million OLED panels, which should be enough for most models.
It seems the OLED models may be sourced from Samsung, and could be made of plastic.
Expect the OLED version of the iPhone 8 Plus to cost a little more than the LCD version. The possible lack of OLED stock may also mean this version of the Plus will be in higher demand.
Supply chain sources claim the OLED handset will have an edge-to-edge screen with a fingerprint scanner embedded into it, and that this model is currently codenamed “Ferrari.”
Perhaps our best look at this design is in the image below, showing a render of the all-screen iPhone 8 with the display on.
If Apple does place the scanner in the screen, it might add a ‘function area’ at the bottom, similar to the Touch Bar on the MacBook Pro, according to a research note. This would be in place of the hardware home button found on current models.
Apple may also decide to up the size of the iPhone 8 Plus’s screen.
The iPhone Plus range has always had 5.5-inch screens, but one analyst believes the screen will be upped to 5.8-inches on the iPhone 8 Plus, as there’s now a demand for larger screen phones. That’s a rumor that’s popped up more than once, so it’s looking quite likely.
It may be that Apple decides to keep this size jump just for the OLED version though, if it happens at all.
It’s also possible that we’ll get a curved iPhone 8 Plus, in fact a rumor talks about a curved OLED screen, and one which could potentially have a higher-than-QHD resolution.
Apple has supposedly ordered 70 million curved OLED panels from Samsung, though these could be intended for next year’s handsets, given that the order seemingly wasn’t placed until April and that leaked images of the iPhone 8 Plus don’t show a curved screen.
Whenever a curved screen iPhone arrives it might not be as dramatically curved as the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S8 though, according to one source, which adds that the curves also won’t add significant new functions to the phone.
There’s also the very, very slim chance Apple will be able to include a flexible screen on the iPhone 8 Plus.
Patently Apple has pointed out that the company patented the technology for a foldable iPhone a few years back, with the patent describing a screen that can fold in two, much like a book, but this hasn’t been specifically linked to the iPhone 8 Plus.
The iPhone 8 Plus might also inherit an iPad Pro 9.7 feature according to one report, namely a True Tone display, which would allow it to automatically adjust the screen colors based on the ambient light around you. It’s a feature that would make sense to add, since an Apple product already has it.
TechRadar’s take: It looks like the iPhone 8 Plus will come in two models. One will feature an OLED screen and another will feature an LCD display (and may be called the iPhone 7S Plus). A size boost is also starting to look likely, but we wouldn’t count on curves.
iPhone 8 Plus design
- A major change compared to previous models
- It’ll still be a large phone, but one version may be glass instead of metal
- The Touch ID fingerprint scanner may be integrated into the screen
One of the biggest criticisms of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus was the fact that neither had a new design.
In fact, Apple handsets from the iPhone 6 Plus onward look largely the same, so there may be some big design changes coming on the iPhone 8 Plus.
One analyst from China expects the biggest change in the design to be a move toward a curved glass back, rather than the metal used on other iPhone models.
The CEO of the company that makes the iPhone’s metal casing has even said back in 2016 that one model of the iPhone 8 “will adopt glass casing next year”. And we’ve also heard more reports of a glass back, with a steel frame to hold it together. You can see how that might look in the image of a dummy handset below.
It would make sense for the most premium and expensive iPhone model to get the new material rather than the normal iPhone 8. Though it’s also possible that all iPhone 8 models will get a glass back, according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.
Another source has also suggested the phone will come with a “glass sandwich design”, so it may be that the iPhone 8 Plus looks quite a bit like the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. You can see more images of how that might look below, and there’s even a video of a dummy unit.
The other big rumored design change is dropping the Touch ID scanner from the iPhone 8 Plus. Most sources have said it would be integrated into the screen instead, while other sources suggest it will be moved to the back of the phone, and there’s even some evidence that it could be built into the power button.
But there’s a chance we won’t see much change to the design at all, with another source claiming the iPhone 7S Plus will look a lot like the iPhone 7 Plus, albeit with a new red color added to the mix. And speaking of colors, there might also be a version with a mirror-like finish.
Either way, expect the iPhone 8 Plus to keep its waterproof build (possibly even slightly more waterproof, with IP68 certification in place of IP67, according to The Investor), as well as a 3.5mm headphone jack-less design.
TechRadar’s take: It’s about time Apple changed up the design, and the iPhone’s tenth anniversary is the perfect time to do it.
iPhone 8 Plus camera and battery
- Optical image stabilization looks almost certain
- Expect a similar 7MP selfie shooter
- Wireless charging may finally come to the iPhone
The camera was perhaps the biggest upgrade for the iPhone 7 Plus, so we’d expect to see a similar spec on the iPhone 8 Plus shooter.
Respected Chinese analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has suggested the dual-lens camera will remain limited to the Plus model, and that both lenses will benefit from optical image stabilization, where currently only the wide-angle lens features OIS on the iPhone 7 Plus.
More evidence of this comes from leaked sketches, drawn by a factory worker. The annotations aren’t in English, but apparently mention 3D cameras on both the front and back. The cameras may also switch from a horizontal alignment to a vertical one, as you can see in the image below.
As for the front camera, we’d expect it to stay at the 7MP mark on the iPhone 8 Plus, as it was upgraded for the last phone, but there’s nothing in particular rumored yet for the selfie shooter.
In terms of the battery size, there are no clear rumors for the iPhone 8 Plus.
The biggest upgrade for the phone may be the introduction of wireless charging technology. Some form of that is all but guaranteed after the CEO of one of Apple’s suppliers said as much, but it might go beyond what we’ve seen on other devices.
Apple has been rumored to be working on wireless charging tech that can work up to 18 feet away from the phone, or rather, Energous – a company working on the tech – is said to be collaborating with a “tier 1” smartphone maker, and has also claimed to be working with one of the largest consumer electronics companies in the world, on a solution due to ship this year.
This would be truly wireless charging – and while “tier 1” doesn’t necessarily refer to Apple, BGR claims the company working on the tech has received an investment of $10 million from one of Apple’s major suppliers, making Apple the obvious guess.
It’s also been revealed that a senior Apple employee has been hired by Energous, and that the company plans to release a product in time for the iPhone 8’s launch.
If Apple is working on this, and if it’s ready for the iPhone 8 Plus, it would be a game changer feature that no other phone maker is currently capable of providing.
Even if we don’t get long-distance wireless charging, this might be the first iPhone with normal wireless charging, as according to a research note obtained by 9to5Mac all iPhone 8 models will have the feature, and a sound file buried in the iOS 11 beta hints at it too.
Although another leak suggests the phone won’t have any kind of wireless charging.
And if it does have wireless charging it might not be enabled straight away, with one rumor saying the accessories needed to charge wirelessly won’t go on sale until sometime after the phone’s launch, while another says that the software for wireless charging won’t be ready in time, so will be activated later.
Whether there’s wireless charging or not, you’re sure to want to plug the iPhone 8 Plus in at times, and surprisingly there’s some evidence that you’ll be doing that via USB Type-C, rather than a Lightning connection, though the evidence so far is flimsy.
TechRadar’s take: Look for a similar dual-lens camera, but with OIS for both lenses. Battery life improvements are possible and normal wireless charging looks likely, but don’t count on long-distance wireless charging or a USB-C port.
iPhone 8 Plus OS and power
- A focus on augmented reality
- A powerful graphics chip
Look out for AR features, improvements to Apple Pay and iMessages, and a whole new look for the App Store, among other things.
The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus both launched with upgraded A10 Fusion chipsets, so we’d expect a quad-core chip on the iPhone 8 Plus and it’s likely to be called the A11 Fusion or even just A11.
In terms of RAM, we’d expect the iPhone 8 Plus to come with 3GB or 4GB.
The iPhone 7 Plus has 3GB on board and the iPad Pro 12.9 packs 4GB, so with the iPhone 8 Plus Apple might up the RAM to 4GB.
The iPhone 8 Plus might also use a graphics chip that’s far more capable for gaming, especially in augmented reality and virtual reality, as Imagination Technologies has made just such a chip, and its tech often features in Apple’s A-series chipsets.
Augmented reality could be a big focus of the iPhone 8 Plus in fact, as Apple reportedly has up to 1,000 engineers working on an AR project that could be destined for the next iPhone.
TechRadar’s take: The iPhone 8 Plus will be the fastest Apple handset yet, with an A11 chip and at least 3GB of RAM.
iPhone 8 Plus other features
- A Smart Connector for accessories?
- It may include an iris scanner or tech to stop thieves stealing your fingerprints
- New sensors to detect touch on more than just the screen
- Facial recognition tech
Apple could make every side of the iPhone 8 Plus smart, by using new sensing technology to let the sides respond to a users touch – potentially allowing you to change the volume with a swipe along the edge and snap a photo with a tap. Though this sounds ambitious.
One Apple patent shows off a detailed system to stop thieves being able to take your fingerprints from your Touch ID sensor – so that may be included on the iPhone 8 Plus.
There’s also the chance the Smart Connector from the iPad Pro could launch on the iPhone 8 Plus.
The long rumored iPhone 7 Pro was meant to feature the Smart Connector, for accessories such as small keyboards, but Apple may be waiting to launch it on the iPhone 8 Plus instead, though there’s little evidence of this in recent leaks.
Another rumor for the iPhone 8 Plus is the addition of an iris scanner.
It’s a technology Samsung tried on its latest phablet – the Galaxy Note 7 – which allowed you to unlock your phone just by looking at it. Samsung brought the tech back for the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus, so Apple is sure to jump on board at some point.
Apple may also be looking into facial recognition as a way to secure your phone. Evidence for that is growing, as Apple has acquired a startup that works on the tech, and an analyst’s research note suggests a 3D laser face scanner will be packed into the phone, though the software that powers this might only be enabled sometime after launch.
There’s also talk that the iPhone 8 Plus could come with free AirPods in the box. Given that it almost certainly won’t have a 3.5mm headphone port it would make some sense to get wireless earbuds with it, but given that AirPods are quite pricey we’re skeptical that it will happen.
TechRadar’s take: We doubt the iPhone 8 Plus will have an iris scanner or touch-sensitive sides, but an improved fingerprint scanner is a distinct possibility, while evidence of facial recognition is hard to ignore.
iPhone 8 Plus price
We’d expect a similar price for the iPhone 8 Plus as there was for the iPhone 7 Plus.
The 32GB model costs $769 (£719, AU$1,229), while the 128GB version costs $869 (£819, AU$1,419). If you want an even bigger 256GB version you have to spend $969 (£919, AU$1,569).
We may see an even more expensive iPhone 8 Plus with an OLED screen though, in fact, some sources reckon it could be over $1000, so don’t expect your next phablet to come cheap.
TechRadar’s take: The iPhone 8 Plus is sure to cost at least as much as the iPhone 7 Plus, and some versions may be even pricier.