It’s official: Apple will announce new products on September 12. The spotlight rests on new iPhone handsets, and rumors and leaks are at a fever pitch. This year we believe Apple will unveil a 6.5-inch, 5.8-inch, and 6.1-inch iPhone — you heard that right, three iPhones, yet again.
The names are not certain either, but recent reports suggests Apple will opt to call its new phones — at least some of them — iPhone XS. We’ve done our best to make sense of all the leaks and rumors, and here’s our rundown of what to expect from the 2018 iPhone range.
Recently, it was reported that both the 5.8-inch and 6.5-inch handset will be referred to as the iPhone XS. But it’s still unclear how Apple will differentiate between the various sizes. According to the latest report by 9to5Mac, sources with close ties to the matter claim the 6.5-inch will apparently be called the iPhone XS Max — rather than using the Plus label as it has in the past.
There’s no confirmed name for the third 6.1-inch LCD iPhone just yet, though early speculation reported it would be called the iPhone 9. However, Bloomberg reported in early September it would be called the iPhone Xr.
Design and display
What will the iPhone XS look like? 9to5Mac shared a leaked image that showcases a brilliant gold color — much like the gold on Apple’s September event invites — as well as an edge-to-edge screen. The notch, the little cutout found at the top of the iPhone X, is hidden in the image, but likely still present. The bottom handset appears to be the 6.5-inch iPhone XS Max while the top is the 5.8-inch iPhone XS.
Overall, both the iPhone XS and XS Max will look a lot like the iPhone X. It reportedly has the same glass sandwich body as its predecessor along the ever popular top notch. At launch, we believe the iPhone XS and XS Max will be available in silver, space grey, and gold.
It’s likely both the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max will have OLED displays. Although the iPhone X was Apple’s first phone to feature an OLED display, the technology has become the default option for premium smartphones. OLED displays have excellent color accuracy, inky blacks, and great viewing angles that can’t be replicated on less expensive LCD displays.
While the 9to5Mac leak doesn’t show the 6.1-inch iPhone, other renders and leaks suggest it keeps the same design aesthetic as its more expensive counterparts. There is one key difference, however: The iPhone 9 will likely feature an aluminum frame and come in a wide range of colors. Leaked images from Weibo, published shortly before the iPhone Xr announcement, show the phone may come in space grey, silver, red, blue, and a copper color that looks similar to the keynote invitation. Apple also reportedly cut costs on the iPhone 9 by using a less expensive LCD display as well as a single rear camera sensor.
Although Apple will reportedly ditch the OLED display to keep costs down on the iPhone 9, the tech giant isn’t planning to use just any old LCD screen. The Wall Street Journal reported the iPhone 9 will feature a Full Active LCD display from Japan Display. Full Active displays have darker blacks than what you’ll find on a traditional iPhone display as well as smaller bezels. We also believe the phone will have a TrueDepth camera, though an earlier rumor stated it would use an in-display fingerprint technology called Glass Cover Sensor.
Specs and battery
After Apple’s explosive launch of the iPhone X in 2017, we believe 2018 will be an S-year, meaning that specification updates to the phones will be a little more modest. So what should we expect on this year’s trio of iPhones.
First off, we believe all three phones will ship with Apple’s A12 processor. The A12 will likely be Apple’s first 7-nanometer chip. This smaller design will make the chip faster and more power efficient than its predecessor.
When it comes to RAM, it appears that the iPhone XS and XS Max will ship with 4GB. We’re not entirely sure what to expect for the less expensive iPhone 9, though it wouldn’t be surprising to see 4GB on this phone as well.
As for storage, it looks like the iPhone XS and XS Max may have three different options: 64GB, 256GB, and 512GB. The iPhone 9 will only be offered in 64GB and 256GB configurations.
We may also see a few other exciting spec updates for the 2018 iPhone lineup. In an iOS 12 teardown, it looks like Apple is planning to add dual SIM support for the iPhone 9 in some regions. This addition was also reported on earlier this year in the Economic Daily News. While Dual SIMs have become common on many smartphones, but Apple has yet to bring the feature to any iPhone.
Barron’s also reports that the 2018 iPhone will have eSIM support. Adding electronic SIM cards to the iPhone lineup would make it easier for consumers to switch between carriers since they would no longer need to request a physical SIM from their carrier. eSIMs would also make phones safer since they are built into the phone and cannot be swiped by hackers.
There is one possible sour note when it comes to the 2018 iPhone lineup, however. It appears that Apple will exclusively use Intel modems this year instead of Qualcomm. This change will result in slower data speeds on at least some networks compared to handsets with Qualcomm modems.
All three 2018 iPhone models will feature more powerful batteries, according to information from KGI Securities that was first reported on MacRumors. Both the iPhone XS and XS Max will take advantage of the new L-shaped battery design used in the iPhone X. The iPhone 9 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 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.
Software and special features
All three upcoming iPhones will ship with iOS 12. The latest version of iOS mostly refines existing features in the operating system though there are a few nice surprises. This year you’ll find the addition of Memoji–illustrated avatars in a variety of quirky scenarios, along with Group FaceTime (later this fall), and Siri Shortcuts.
Since all three phones are expected to have TrueDepth cameras facial authentication will probably replace the Home button this year and add Memoji and Animoji functionality to millions of new users.
After last year’s launch of the TrueDepth camera on the iPhone X, does Apple have any plans to top itself in 2018? While the rumors around the cameras on the 2018 iPhones are still sparse, we believe most of the camera updates this year will be fairly modest in keeping with the S year trend.
Both the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max will likely house dual camera modules on their backs. While there were some rumors earlier in the year about TrueDepth rear cameras, that rumor appears to be unfounded.
The front facing cameras on both phones, however will have TrueDepth cameras. In addition to unlocking the iPhone XS and XS Max, the TrueDepth cameras will also be used for Animojis and Memojis in iOS 12.
As for the 6.1-inch iPhone, you’ll find a single camera lens on its back. And like its more expensive siblings, you’ll find a TrueDepth camera on the front of the phone.
Release date and price
Apple will officially announce its latest crop of iPhones, Apple Watch Series 4, and likely a few other surprises on September 12, at the Steve Jobs theater. We’ll be covering the event live from Apple’s campus, so stay tuned for details.
We still don’t have an actual release date for the phones, but we believe that date will likely be on September 21 — a week after pre-orders begin. While we’d hope to see all of the 2018 iPhone devices hit store shelves simultaneously, there’s a chance that the 6.1-inch LCD model will be delayed for several weeks.
According to Trend Force, Apple anticipates its 6.1-inch LCD iPhone to be its most popular model. Analysts at Trend Force said the 6.1-inch 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 $ 850.
The 5.8-inch iPhone XS could start at $ 900 — leaving the iPhone XS Plus to start at $ 1,000. There is speculation that 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 XS Max into the $ 1.000 price range instead.
Katy Huberty, an analyst for Morgan Stanley, predicts the 6.1-inch iPhone will not start shipping until early October. Huberty attributes the potential delay for the 6.1-inch model to manufacturing issues.
An analyst for Morgan Stanley, however, says the 6.1 inch iPhone will be available in limited quantities when first released. 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.”
Updated on September 11: iPhone Xr may come in five colors.