6/16/2017

APPLE IPHONE X (2017) RUMORS AND NEWS

3D camera for next iPhone's facial/iris recognition reportedly on track for delivery
 Update: Apple’s 3D camera supplier is apparently on track to deliver sensors for the next iPhone’s iris and facial recognition.
Apple’s next iPhone isn’t supposed to arrive until much later in 2017, but that hasn’t stopped legions of fans from fervently speculating about it. Things may be a little different this year, as it’s the 10th anniversary of the iPhone. Rumors suggest we may see up to three models — the iPhone 7S, the 7S Plus, and the iPhone X (aka, the iPhone 8). The latter is expected to be an expensive, technical showcase phone released as a celebratory model.


If you want to learn more about the iPhone 7S and 7S Plus, head over here. A lot of the information on the iPhone X is up in the air, but what we’re hearing is keeping us interested. Very interested. Here’s what we’ve learned so far about the iPhone X.

Rear dual camera setup and ‘revolutionary’ 3D front camera


The camera has always been a strong feature on the iPhone, so what have we heard about the iPhone X? This front-camera may also be used to power iris-sensor technology, like Samsung’s Galaxy S8.

Rumors have suggested the iPhone X will have a thing or two in common with Microsoft’s depth-sensing Kinect sensor. According to a report published by Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, the upcoming iPhone’s front camera boasts a “revolutionary” infrared sensor that can sense the three-dimensional space in front of it. That report has been corroborated by Apple’s 3D camera supplier, Largan Precision, which says it’s on track to deliver 3D sensors for the phone for iris and facial recognition.

It’s also said to be aimed at taking selfies. According to Kuo, the front sensor merges depth information with 2D images for features like facial recognition in tandem with Touch ID. It could be used to replace a video game character’s head with that of the user or to generate a 3D selfie that would integrate seamlessly with virtual reality applications.  The technology is being developed by PrimeSense, the company behind Microsoft’s Kinect; and Apple is likely to open these 3D scanning capabilities to third-party developers.


For the front camera, Apple’s testing dual lenses. That’s according to Bloomberg, which reports that the company using camera components from Sony.

A dual-lens rear camera is expected on the rear, a la the iPhone 7, but it may shift orientation to a vertical layout. This has been seen in several schematics based on rumor, and according to MacOtakara. In a later rumor, the site says the cameras are likely to have similar functionality to the existing iPhone 7 Plus, but adds the vertical layout may be to enable better use inside a virtual reality headset.

According to a report from The Korea Economic Daily, Apple is collaborating with LG to create a dual-camera module that would allow for 3D photography. While Apple previously patented 3D-object and gesture recognition, it’s unclear whether the upcoming iPhone will bring these patents to life.

Design


The iPhone X may look different than rumors initially suggested. According to well-placed sources within Apple’s supply chain, the upcoming iPhone looks “more like an iPhone 7 with glass.” The rear camera has been reoriented, the bezel on the phone will be thinner on the Y axis, and a “front facing camera module” will enable facial and retinal scanning, much like Samsung’s Galaxy S8. It’s said to sport 3GB of RAM, a water-resistant, composite glass body that will allow wireless charging.

Still, recent leaks give us a pretty good idea at what the new phone may look like. The leaks come in the form of photos that show iPhone parts, and seemingly confirm the full-front display with a small cutout for a speaker and front-facing camera. The photos also show a rear panel with a cutout for a vertical dual camera, which is pretty much in line with other leaks we have seen over the past few months. The leak comes from a Reddit user, and also seem to show what could be the iPhone 7S, which is expected to launch alongside the iPhone 8.


Rumors have long suggested that Apple will be moving its Touch ID sensor into the display of the phone for the iPhone X, but a recent leak indicates that may not be the case. Sources claim that Apple’s produced “test units with fingerprint scanners mounted below the glass, but performance and yield rates were not good.”

It is possible the iPhone X could sport a fingerprint sensor on its back — much like many other Android phones out there. That’s not the best news for those hoping for advances in technology and suggests that Apple could be having some issues with implementing the Touch ID in the display. The leak comes from iPhoneros and can be seen below.


The iPhone X might be a lot “heftier” than the iPhone 7. That is according to iDrop News, citing “factory workers with intimate knowledge” of Apple’s plans. According to the publication, the iPhone X will measure 143.59 by 70.49 by 7.57 mm versus the iPhone 7 at 138.3 by 67.1 by 7.1 mm. It will reportedly be thicker than the iPhone 7 Plus, which measures 158.2 by 77.9 by 7.3 mm, but have a smaller overall footprint.


Our latest look at the iPhone X’s design comes via Slashleaks and leaker Benjamin Geskin. Both sources have shared what look to be CAD drawings of each side of the device. The schematics appeared first on Slashleaks, and then Geskin separately shared them on Twitter, saying he had been holding onto the images “for some time.” They provide a pretty comprehensive look at the iPhone X, if they are indeed true.

At the front, we see that the phone’s screen, represented by a yellow outline, dominates the surface area but doesn’t flow over the curved edges. It also leaves a peculiar gap at the top bezel, where the screen is cut away to store the speaker, front-facing camera, and other sensors. This is not the first time we have seen an iPhone X design with these features, but they have been cropping up lately with increasing intensity — indicating perhaps Apple’s ambition of embedding these elements underneath the display will not be realized in its next flagship.

Moving to the back, we see the same vertical dual-camera stack that has become a standout feature in rumors, along with a central circular cutout. Common intuition would suggest that this is a rear-mounted Touch ID fingerprint sensor, but Geskin stated on Twitter that it’s actually placement for the Apple logo. He also said the “entire glass back” would be used for charging.

Geskin’s clarification about the fingerprint sensor corroborates a recent report from China’s Economic Daily News by way of Digitimes. In that report, a representative from Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), one of Apple’s suppliers, reiterates that the device will launch with the fingerprint sensor mounted within the display, rather than on the back. Additionally, the aspect ratio of the screen is claimed to be wider than previous iPhones, at 18:5:9 — similar to Samsung’s Galaxy S8 or the LG G6.

Additionally, the TSMC source mentioned that the rear camera would be flanked by several infrared sensors designed to improve the phone’s augmented reality functions.

If the iPhone X is made to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the iPhone range, then it’s logical to expect Apple to make it look special. Over the last months, the overall design of the phone has been revealed in a series of consistent leaks. It’s not certain the device’s look is final, or even if it’s the version Apple will chose to put on sale. In late May, a video gave us a quick spin around a prototype device that was claimed to be the iPhone X, and it matches the look we’ve seen before.


The dummy device, which doesn’t operate, is highly reminiscent of the phone shown in photos obtained by BGR from earlier in May, which appears to be a design mockup for the phone. Notably, the leaks show the phone from all different angles — so we finally have a look at all the different edges and sides of the phone. We can see what appears to be 2.5D curved glass panels on both the front and the back of the phone, with what seems to be a stainless-steel frame holding those panels together. Check out the images for yourself below.

Previously, we saw a leak that comes in the form of a render created by OnLeaks in partnership with MySmartPrice, and while the render doesn’t come from Apple itself, it is based on previous leaks and alleged factory designs. It’s important to note that while this render does fall in line with previous leaks, some speculation suggests that this is just a prototype design and that the real device may end up being a little different. In any case, check out the render for yourself below.


Previously, a Twitter leak showed a transparent case with a large, vertically orientated camera cutout, speaker cutouts that closely resemble the iPhone 7, and an oversize sleep/wake key cover. These aspects all match previous rumors about the phone, but the source of the case isn’t clear. The case could also be a prototype built only on leaked specifications — which may not end up being accurate. For now, it’s an interesting look at how rumors are shaping our perception of the iPhone X, rather than solid proof that this will be the final design.

Before this, photos of a “CNC dummy unit,” were posted on Twitter by @VenyaGeskin1. Geskin has also been responsible for other iPhone X leaks. The source isn’t confirmed, but the dummy phone was apparently obtained from a Foxconn employee. Such a device would be used during the design and development process, but isn’t proof of the final design. Other companies, such as those that make accessories, may also make this type of dummy phone based on rumored dimensions, so don’t take it as final evidence of a future iPhone design.

According to the leak, the screen takes up the front of the phone, but still has 4mm bezels. The images show dual front cameras, glass on the front and back, and a metal frame. On the rear is a vertical camera arrangement, similar to that seen in other rumors, along with a larger power button on the side. It’s speculated the final version will be black, rather than silver as seen here, and this has been visualized in a considerably more attractive concept render created by Instagram user le.pich.


The images are close to previous rumors, but in a report from iDropNews citing a Foxconn employee, Apple is supposedly working on two different versions of the iPhone X concurrently, but will ultimately choose just one for release. The primary difference between them appears to be the placement of Touch ID.

Throughout the many months of speculation, this has been one of the biggest question marks regarding the iPhone X’s design at this stage is the location of the phone’s fingerprint sensor. Multiple reports suggest Apple would prefer to launch the phone with Touch ID embedded into the display, but production bottlenecks could make that unfeasible. Furthermore, the edge-to-edge display means Apple has no room to place it within the bottom bezel, like all previous iPhone models.


As a backup plan, the company may opt to move the sensor to the rear of the phone, below the Apple logo — similar to many Android devices, like Google’s Pixel. Sketches of iPhone X models with rear-mounted fingerprint sensors have leaked before, and on May 21 yet another surfaced on Slashleaks. That device, shown above, also features a vertically stacked camera setup with the flash located underneath the housing — a departure from some leaks, which situated the flash sandwiched between the two lenses.

However, there might be a third option in the Touch ID dilemma. According to 9to5Mac, Apple has also tested devices with a longer power button — possibly indicating it may serve double duty as a fingerprint sensor as well. This is a less popular option among smartphones, but a few, like Sony’s Xperia line, have taken this approach. At this point, it’s unknown which solution Apple will use.


The version with Touch ID in the screen is said to have the same dimensions as the iPhone 7, with a 5.8-inch OLED screen that runs over the entire surface of the device and 4mm bezels on every side. The display matches the contours of the phone, with heavily rounded corners, and also conceals the front-facing camera. The report also mentions a large power button with two points of contact but did not clarify its purpose. The render for that device is shown here.


The curved screen design isn’t absolutely certain to happen, and Apple’s other rumored version of the iPhone X trades those more ambitious features for more conventional ones. The purported schematics for this model have appeared on SlashLeaks, and show a device that actually looks quite similar to the LG G6, at least from the front. This iPhone X would be larger than the other (as well as the iPhone 7) in every dimension, with more pronounced bezels and the top and bottom, and a conventional display that ditches the rounded corners. With the larger bezels, the front-facing camera can return to its current position along the top of the phone. Touch ID, on the other hand, is relegated to the middle rear.

Before this, a report from market research firm Cowen and Company suggested the iPhone X’s earpiece, FaceTime camera, and Touch ID fingerprint sensor would be embedded into the screen, allowing for a seamless edge-to-edge front panel. It said Apple may switch to Synaptic’s optical-based fingerprint reader for the new Touch ID, citing it as “currently the only workable solution” for detecting a fingerprint through a smartphone screen. But the designs are posing a challenge for Apple’s suppliers. According to Apple Insider, yields of the under-screen Touch ID sensor are low — so low that Apple may consider alternative designs if the production problems can’t be solved.

OLED technology


ios android kantar world panel Apple iPhone 7 plus review 8
One rumor that constantly crops up is the possible use of an Organic LED (OLED) screen on the iPhone X. OLED screens can offer deeper blacks and are often thinner than LCDs, and Apple has used this technology before with the Apple Watch. AMOLED is a different type of OLED, and Samsung, as well as many other manufacturers, have been using it on Android smartphones for years.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Samsung is shaping up to be the biggest supplier of OLED displays for the upcoming iPhone. A new report from DigiTimes notes that the company is on track to deliver 80 million OLED screens for the phone before the end of the year. DigiTimes argues that Apple will likely only ship around 50 million iPhone units before the end of the year, but that does not mean Apple won’t have stocked up on supply for 2018.

While Samsung is considered to be the top manufacturer of the iPhone’s OLED displays, LG seems to be gunning for second place. LG Display is planning on investing a hefty $3.56 billion into constructing new production lines for OLED displays in 2018 — and its focus will largely be on displays for smartphones, not for TVs or other screen-based devices. The report, which comes from ETNews, notes that the investment could be an attempt to become a major supplier for the iPhone.

A rumor regarding the production of 3D Touch components for OLED displays solidifies the chance that the iPhone X’s panel will employ the technology. Apple has once again partnered with TPK to develop the 3D Touch solution for the new flagship iPhone, according to Patently Apple, by way of China’s Economic Daily News. TPK has worked on the 3D Touch setup in previous iPhones, and reportedly quoted a price of $7 to $9 per phone to build it into every iPhone 7.

For the iPhone X, however, the fragility of OLED displays has required TPK to go back to the drawing board. The company will have to bond glass covers to both sides of the iPhone X’s display before attaching the sensors, and this is purported to raise the cost of production quite significantly, up to $18 to $22 per device.

Furthermore, April reports from Nikkei and Bloomberg claimed Apple placed an order for between 70 million and 100 million OLED panels from Samsung. According to the publication, the South Korean company will be the sole producer of screens for the device. Nikkei attributes the news to one of Apple’s suppliers and said Samsung could produce as many as 95 million panels for the new iPhone before the end of 2017. Still, Apple was reported to be testing both OLED and LCD panels, curved and flat, as recently as the beginning of March.

Not only could the display be OLED, but it could also be True Tone, according to a report from MacRumors citing Barclays bank. The only Apple device with a True Tone display is the 9.7-inch iPad Pro. True Tone basically changes the white balance of the display depending on the ambient light. If you’re in a room with an orange light bulb, the screen will change a little to match the scene. It’s very similar to Night Shift, which adjusts the color to cut out blue light at night. Apple’s Touch ID technology could also be revamped to complement the bezel-less device, in that it may be replaced by a facial recognition system. As there are a lot of technical challenges to the technology, the company may use a combination of fingerprint and facial recognition technology.

If the iPhone X does come with an OLED screen, it’ll likely be expensive, possibly beyond $1,000. The Wall Street Journal reports the displays are costly to produce. However, the same report notes that Apple could decide against the OLED model altogether. There’s precedent for such a 180: Last year, a global shortage of sapphire glass forced Apple to abandon the material for the iPhone 7.

No gigabit LTE?


The next iPhone may miss out on the faster gigabit LTE speeds coming soon to many carriers in the United States, according to a report from Bloomberg. Despite its legal battles with Qualcomm, Apple is still using the company’s modems in its hardware. However, in an effort to lessen its dependence on the chip manufacturer, the iPhone maker has also partnered with Intel as a second supplier.

Right now, Qualcomm’s modems are the only ones on the market capable of supporting data transfers up to gigabit speed. But sources tell Bloomberg that Apple doesn’t want to create a discrepancy between similar products, so it will intentionally disable that feature in Qualcomm-powered iPhones to achieve parity with the ones sporting Intel modems.

If this approach sounds familiar, it is more or less what Qualcomm suggested in its countersuit against Apple. The iPhone 7 also featured both Qualcomm and Intel modems — a first for the brand — and Qualcomm believes Apple deliberately capped the performance of its chipsets so they wouldn’t be superior to Intel’s.

Gigabit LTE hasn’t arrived on American carriers yet, but they’re all experimenting with the technology. Many of the newest flagship phones on the market, like Samsung’s Galaxy S8, feature Qualcomm’s X16 modem, enabling them to take advantage of the upgraded infrastructure when it finally rolls out as it is expected to later this year.