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    May 9, 2017

    On again, off again: is the iPhone 8 on track for release this year?

    While reports have offered that the iPhone 8 is facing design difficulty, new rumours have indicated that the handset will be ready by the end of the year.

    Once LG and Samsung have spilled the beans on their latest flagships, the long wait begins until the iPhone rumour mill spins into fifth gear. This year, however, we’ve seen a greater degree of hype surrounding the eventual release of Apple’s iPhone 8, which has been tipped to introduce a greatly refined design language inspired by the original 2007 iPhone.

    Like any rocky relationship, however, the production of the iPhone 8 has apparently had its ups and downs, and reports have indicated that Apple is facing design and production difficulties that could well delay the iPhone 8 until 2018.

    Read: Apple is now the world’s largest wearables vendor, beating Xiaomi

    The theories so far

    There are a few hypotheses in contention here: one is that Apple will release its next, futuristic iPhone on track in September this year, where it traditionally reveals its follow-up iPhone model – in this case, the 7s and 7s Plus.

    Another is that the iPhone 8 – or, iPhone Edition – would arrive as a premium version of the iPhone (a little like the Apple Watch Edition) at some point during November, which Apple has typically reserved for special announcemnts or product offerings pertaining to the Mac or Apple TV.

    Lastly, it has been alledge that – given to substantial design difficulty – Apple could push the release of a redesigned iPhone well into 2018, leaving us with a ‘filler’ iPhone to fill the gap.

    As the calendar slowly ticks away until September, which theory looks the most likely?

    apple q2 2017 earnings

    Are we on track?

    The most recent reports have indicated that Apple is ready and rearing to sell a new range of iPhones in October following a September reveal. According to the Chinese-language publication Economic Daily News, Apple is preparing to reveal its next-generation handset this year to compete with the vision both the Samsung Galaxy S8 and LG G6 have put forward.

    According to the Economic Daily News, “…upstream to downstream suppliers in the iPhone supply chains, including Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), SLP (substrate-like PCB) makers Zhen Ding Technology and Kinsus Interconnect Technology, and battery supplier Simplo Technology, are ready to ramp up related iPhone parts starting June.”

    This would place Apple in pole position to reveal its new iPhone in September, with enough parts to satisfy production well into 2018. Should Apple be ready by that stage, it is imagined that that the company will reveal a handset with a rear-facing fingerprint scanner, as multiple reports have cited that the company – like Samsung – is facing difficulty in embedding a fingerprint scanner beneath its main display.

    apple nixes iPhone 8 wraparound display

    Give us a few minutes…

    Reports earlier this year pointed to the fact that Apple was grappling not only with component shortages, but further was facing design difficulties in planning the introduction of the iPhone 8.

    Chief among those was the introduction of the device’s Touch ID fingerprint scanner, which apparently would be housed in a touch-sensitive ‘Function Area’ rather than in a capacative Home button.

    Other reports have indicated that Apple has been short-changed by a low yield of OLED panels, which would be critical to the production of the handset. Accordingly, it has been suggested that the Cupertino company plans to reveal two ‘standard’ LCD models which could take the form of the iPhone 7s and 7s Plus.

    iPhone X iPhone 8 schematics

    Houston, we’ve had a problem here

    Lastly, the most depressing rumour surrounding the production of the iPhone 8 points to the fact that the handset might well be delayed into the latter half of 2018.

    A report from Business Insider has cited that “several supply chain reports have suggested that key component shortages and technical challenges could delay the release of a high-end iPhone 8 device this fall.” 

    Similarly, ValueWalk claimes that Apple’s largest iPhone manufacturer, Foxconn, are only expecting parts orders for an update iPhone 7s and 7s Plus.

    The road to the future

    Apple will be hard-pressed to ready its next-generation iPhone as pressure from the likes of LG and Samsung – the latter, in particular, has aggressively marketed the new form factor it debuted for the Galaxy S8, which includes an edge-to-edge display similar to the one that Apple has reportedly conceptualized for a new iPhone.

    Apple has faced slowing iPhone sales, which CEO Tim Cook has attributed to reports surrounding the development of a new, next-generation handset. While the outcome of the iPhone 8 (or iPhone Edition) will crystallize in the coming weeks, it is likely that we could see the handset before the close of the year.

    Read: Apple is reportedly prepping its own Amazon Echo competitor

    Have your say!

    What are your thoughts? Are you excited to see Apple’s next iPhone, or has the technology debuted by LG and Samsung tempted your interest instead? Be sure to let us know your opinion in the comments below!

    Follow Bryan Smith on Twitter: @bryansmithSA

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