We are now well into 2017, and with just six months to go until the traditional September launch of iPhone 8, the rumour mill is in full swing. There have been countless reports and leaks all providing information what new innovations Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is going to introduce in its next flagship iPhone. By all early indications, the new iPhone 8 – it may be named “iPhone X” instead – is quickly shaping out to be a complete redesign rather than the iterative updates of the past few years. Innovation and revamps, however, come at a cost and are susceptible to production issues, component availability and other growing pains.
There have been several contradicting reports in recent weeks about when the new iPhone will go into production. Some are suggesting an early start to brace high consumer demand and to ensure proper QA, while others suggest production being delayed until September.
So, the question remains, Will Apple end up paying the price of being too innovative with iPhone 8? Let’s find out.
iPhone 8: New Features Breakdown
According to Forbes, the new iPhone 8 is set to boast an all-glass chassis, with a 5.8 inch curved OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) display which is completely bezel-less. Another major departure is the removal of Touch ID in favour of a new in-house solution. 9to5Mac claim the iPhone 8 will reportedly have a “function area”, with a fingerprint sensor integrated into the glass itself using Authentec’s algorithms and Privaris glass technology. Other significant upgrades are the reported introduction of quick charging and wireless charging features for the first time ever in an iPhone.
So many radical changes in one generation are highly unusual for Apple, and so is the launch of iPhone 8 in anything but September.
The Launch of iPhone 8: Production Issues And Delay
In recent weeks, multiple reports have pointed towards the unlikely occurrence that the production and subsequent launch of iPhone 8 are set to be delayed beyond the traditional launch of Apple iPhone in September. According to Digitimes, one of the main causes for the delay is the production issues surrounding the new “function area”. Ditching Synaptics or Qualcomm’s offerings, Apple seems to have decided to favour an in-house solution for its fingerprint sensor. The production is unlikely to commence before September due to this radical redesign.
Another cause for the delay is the all new OLED display. Apple is widely expected to introduce a curved OLED display in the iPhone 8 providing more natural colours and richer blacks. The availability, however, of these screens is in short supply. As stated by The Express, these hi-tech OLED displays are made only by a few select manufacturers, and the manufacture of a sufficient amount of the new displays is expected to delay production. These displays are now in high demand, especially since the rumoured Samsung Galaxy S8 is reportedly going to boast a similar display.
What This Means For Apple And the iPhone 8
As we approach the 10th anniversary of the iPhone, Apple seems to be taking a significant risk with the iPhone 8/iPhone X. Its radical new design along with the flurry of new features could cause a significant number of problems during and after production. As Samsung’s Note 7 fiasco demonstrated last year, pushing too many new technologies can come at the expense of QA and can have potentially disastrous consequences. For a company whose smartphone business is the major driver of profit, such a situation can be very harmful indeed.
While some reports claim a delay in production, Analysts at Bluefin believe that Apple might actually start the production process as soon as June itself. This timeline better fits with Apple’s history of September iPhone launches, while also providing enough time to build up stock and avoiding production issues like the ones that affected the iPhone 6. However, early production would invariably mean the omission of certain key rumoured features. Forbes claims that the curved OLED display is set to be cancelled, with the 2.5D glass used in current generation iPhones to be used instead. According to Cowen and Company, long range wireless charging capabilities are also set to be axed, opting instead for more conventional contact based Qi or Airfuel wireless charging standards.
This is a lower risk model which is more in line with the precedent set by Apple during Tim Cook’s regime as CEO. However, with the new iPhone reportedly set to cost a whopping $1000, it remains to be seen if most customers will be willing to shell out that much money for what is essentially just incremental updates.
Nevertheless, this kind of incremental, safe update pattern has served Apple well in the past, and the new function area, conventional wireless charging, camera improvements and bump in base storage capacity might just be enough to convince users to buy the iPhone 8.