When is iPhone 9 being released? What will the specs be? Will it have special features? Here’s everything we know!
iPhone 9 — or iPhone X2, or whatever Apple ends up calling the 2018 iPhone — is widely expected to come next fall. But with iPhone 8 and iPhone X both on the market now, there are several ways Apple could go for the next generation. This article is continuously updated to include the latest news and rumors so you can be among the first to find out. Bookmark it, save it, share it, and check back often!
November 13, 2017: As many as three full-screen iPhones could be coming 2018
KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claims that Apple is planning three full-screen iPhones for 2018. In addition to an updated of the 5.8-inch model of the iPhone X, the company will also reportedly launch a bigger ‘Plus’ variant with a 6.5-inch OLED display, along with an all-screen LCD model with a 6.1-inch display. All of this comes in a KGI note to investors (via MacRumors):
Two new OLED models target high-end market; new TFT-LCD model aims at low-end & midrange markets: We believe the major hardware difference in the two new OLED models is size, in a bid to satisfy various needs of the high-end market. The new TFT-LCD model will differ significantly from the OLED models in hardware and design specs (for instance, the PPI will be lower). The primary selling points of the TFT-LCD model may be the innovative user experience of an integrated full-screen design and 3D sensing with a lower price tag (we expect it will likely be US$649-749).
October 13, 2017: Apple rumored to be bringing Pencil to iPhone… in 2019
iPad Pro launched with Apple Pencil, a device that turned the tablet into an artists canvas. iPhone is much smaller but there are times when it would be useful to be able to scribble down sketches and notes on the go. And a new rumor says Apple is considering just that kind of support.
sources say Apple engineers have recently been working on a new iPhone that comes with a digital pen.
“Apple is preparing to launch the phone as early as 2019,” an industry source told The Investor on condition of anonymity. “It is also in talks with a couple of stylus makers for a partnership.”
This rumor suggests it wouldn’t be direct Apple Pencil support, but a different type of device:
the iPhone stylus is likely to adopt a supercapacitor stylus type for price benefits.
“A supercapacitor type is cheaper to make compared to the EMR stylus. It also offers a more pen-like feel,” another source said.
That sounds odd. There would be huge benefits to one device — a next-generation Apple Pencil — supporting both iPad and iPhone platforms, rather than separate devices for each.
Another odd bit:
Along with the stylus technology, the source said, Apple’s current A-series mobile chip should undergo a drastic upgrade to better support handwriting functions of the planned stylus.
A11 Bionic is plenty powerful enough for handwriting. So were the last few Apple chipsets. A11 would even support neural networks for handwriting recognition at the chipset level.
There may be a substantial amount of broken telephone going on between what Apple’s doing and what The Investor is printing. That said, I’d love Apple Pencil support for iPhone to come out of the labs and into the shipping product.
October 9, 2017: All 2018 iPhone models to sport TrueDepth camera systems
Apple is all-in on Face ID, face tracking for AR, and the TrueDepth camera system launching alongside iPhone X. So, to the surprise of no one, new rumors suggest that TrueDepth camera system will be making its way to all iPhones launched in 2018. (Namely, a second generation iPhone X and whatever smaller and/or larger version comes with it.)
Ming Chi Kuo, as quoted by MacRumors:
We predict iOS devices to be equipped with TrueDepth Camera in 2018F will include iPhone X and 2018 new iPhone and iPad models. Because of this, we believe more developers will pay attention to TrueDepth Camera/ facial recognition related applications. We expect Apple’s (US) major promotion of facial recognition related applications will encourage the Android camp to also dedicate more resources to developing hardware and facial recognition applications.
August 4, 2017: New iPhone SE could be coming in 2018
A new report from Focus Taiwan claims that a new version of the iPhone SE, Apple’s smaller, more budget-friendly iPhone, will be coming in early 2018. Wistron will reportedly assemble the phone in India
According to the sources, Wistron is expected to start to ship the new iPhone SE — which is expected to be more affordable than larger iPhones for many Indian consumers — in the first quarter of next year.
July 6, 2017: Three OLED iPhones rumored to be coming in 2018
According to Nikkei, Apple may be planning on releasing three new iPhones in 2018, each sporting an OLED display. Apple is currently rumored to be producing one iPhone model this year with an OLED display.
Apple is planning to use advanced organic light-emitting diode displays in all new iPhone models launched from the second half of 2018, according to two industry sources.
One said that Apple is tentatively looking at releasing three new models next year. Apple did not respond to an email seeking comments.
What will the next iPhone be called?
Up until this year, Apple’s naming pattern had been consistent: iPhone [Number] followed by iPhone [Number + s].
- iPhone: 2007
- iPhone 3G: 2008
- iPhone 3GS: 2009
- iPhone 4: 2010
- iPhone 4s: 2011
- iPhone 5: 2012
- iPhone 5s: 2013
- iPhone 6: 2014
- iPhone 6s: 2015
- iPhone 7: 2016
But 2017 changed everything. Instead of iPhone 7s, we got:
- iPhone 8
- iPhone X (iPhone “Ten”)
So, what follows iPhone 8 and iPhone X? Will it be iPhone 9 and iPhone X2? Just iPhone 9 or iPhone X2? Something else entirely?
Apple can name the next iPhone anything it wants. iPhone 9. iPhone X2. iPhone Edition. iPhone Pro. iPhone Mother of Dragons. It’s purely a marketing decision.
For the sake of simplicity, iPhone 9 will be used in our rumor roundup until we hear otherwise.
Will there be an iPhone 9 Plus or an iPhone 9 SE?
Quite possibly. The advantage of iPhone X is that it puts a bigger-than-iPhone-Plus display into a roughly the same size casing as a regular iPhone. That leaves open two possibilities:
- iPhone 9 Plus: Same size as iPhone 8 Plus but with an even bigger, 6-inch (ish) display.
- iPhone 9 SE: Same size as iPhone SE but with an iPhone 8-like 4.7-inch (ish) display.
When will the iPhone 9 be released?
Since the iPhone 5, Apple has announced every flagship iPhone during a special event held the first or second Tuesday or Wednesday of September.
- iPhone 5: September 12, 2012
- iPhone 5s: September 10, 2013
- iPhone 6: September 9, 2014
- iPhone 6s: September 9, 2015
- iPhone 7: September 7, 2016
- iPhone 8: September 12, 2017
- iPhone X: September 12, 2017
Likewise, since the iPhone 5, Apple has shipped every flagship iPhone the second Friday following the event, with the exception of the iPhone 6s in 2015, which shipped the third Friday following the event, and iPhone X, which shipped on November 3:
- iPhone 5: September 21, 2012
- iPhone 5S: September 20, 2013
- iPhone 6: September 19, 2014
- iPhone 6s: September 25, 2015
- iPhone 7: September 16, 2016
- iPhone 8: September 22, 2017
- iPhone X: November 3, 2017
Past patterns are the best indicator of future events, but they aren’t perfect. Apple can and will throw curveballs whenever the company’s logistics or strategy demands. So, be aware of the dates but don’t be bound to them.
What can we expect in the iPhone 9 design?
Now that Apple has debuted an all-new design language with iPhone X, it’s possible the company will stick with it for at least another generation. That was the pattern with iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 and iPhone 4s, and iPhone 5 and iPhone 5s. With iPhone 6 through iPhone 8, Apple changed materials and manufacturing processes but stuck with the same design language for four years.
- iPhone 3G: 2008 — Plastic shell.
- iPhone 4: 2010 — Antenna band and glass back.
- iPhone 5: 2012 — 16:9 aspect ratio, chamfered edges.
- iPhone 6: 2014 — Bigger screens, rounded edges.
- iPhone X: 2017 — Edge-to-edge display.
There’s always a possibility Apple will iterate more quickly following iPhone X, but it’s likely what we’ll see with iPhone 9 is multiple sizes of the same design.
Will touch ID make a comeback?
With iPhone X, Apple deleted the Home button and Touch ID along with it. Instead, we got Face ID. It’s always possible Apple will bring Touch ID back, implementing it below the OLED display.
What colors will the iPhone 9 be offered in?
So far Apple has saved the new iPhone finishes for the years absent big redesigns, save for 2017’s iPhone 7 Project RED special edition.
- iPhone 5s: 2013 — Gold.
- iPhone 6s: 2015 — Rose gold.
- iPhone 7: 2016 — Black and jet black.
- iPhone 7: 2017 — (Product) RED.
- iPhone 8: 2018 — “New” gold.
Here again, Apple can do anything the company wants, any time the company wants, including introducing new colors at any time.
Apple Watch Series 2 being released in white ceramics sent the internet atwitter with thoughts of iPhone 9 being made out of the same material. Tougher than stainless steel, it still remains to be seen if it would hold up in a device as big as an iPhone or iPhone Plus.
Notably, Greg Koenig of Luma Labs thinks it unlikely, writing on Atomic Delights:
More bluntly, not only is Apple not using any new ceramics manufacturing technology in the new Watch Edition, they are not even utilizing the primary patent the original Quora article pins most of its extrapolations on – that patent described a vacuum liquid slurry casting process for ceramics. The Edition watch uses a very common pressed powder forming method.
In short, not only does the ceramic Watch quash any hopes of a ceramic iPhone, I think it actually indicates that Apple isn’t chasing down ceramics for iPhone production any time on the horizon.
What specs will the iPhone 9 have?
Since Apple introduced the company’s first branded system-on-a-chip (SoC) in 2010, every new iPhone has come with a new A-series chipset. If Apple sticks to that pattern, the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus will ship with Apple A11 processors. New SoC typically take advantage of better processes that let them be faster and more powerful but also more energy efficient.
Apple has also been adding coprocessors to handle motion voice activation, fusion cores, and neural engines. A12 will no longer continue to push Apple silicon forward. That inclues a second generation custom GPU as well.
What about an iPad Pro-style Smart Connector?
Apple typically introduces a technology in one device and then rolls it out across the lineup. Retina was like that with iPhone 4 and Touch ID with iPhone 5s. The Smart Connector, which debuted with the iPad Pro in the fall of 2015, attaches via a magnet and runs power, data, and ground directly from the device. It currently powers Apple’s Smart Keyboard and a similar keyboard from Logitech, with more expected to follow.
Apple could certainly engineer a Smart Connector for iPhone 9, but what it would be used for is a more interesting question. Apple made a smaller Smart Keyboard for the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, but would the company make an even smaller one for iPhone 8 Plus? For iPhone 8 standard?
What about the display? Will we get ProMotion?
With iPhone 8 and iPhone X, Apple brought TrueTone to iPhone. It makes sure the color temperature of the display matches the ambient color temperature. That way, whites don’t look yellow or blue — they look white. Like paper.
What iPhone 8 and iPhone X didn’t get was ProMotion.
Introduced with the 2017 iPads Pro, ProMotion allows dynamic refresh so the display can ramp up to support Apple Pencil and impossibly smooth scrolling, and ramp down to conserve power.
Like TrueTone, once you see it, you want it everywhere. Including the next-generation iPhone.
Will the iPhone 9 be waterproof?
iPhone 7, iPhone 8, and iPad X are water resistant but not waterproof. Rated IP67, they can survive accidental splashes, dunks, and floods, but isn’t rated as highly as some competing phones from Samsung and others.
Although swimming with an iPhone may not be on everyone’s wish-list, those whose jobs or pastimes expose them to the elements, and even those who want to do underwater photography at shallow depths would be thrilled by IP68.
Will the iPhone 9 have distance charging?
iPhone 8 and iPhone X introduced inductive charging to iPhone. It uses the Qi-standard, though, and currently requires the iPhone to be placed in direct physical contact with the charging pad.
There have been rumors for a while that suggest Apple is also working on resonant inductive coupling, which would let devices charge even at a distance. (The greater the distance, the lower the efficiency.) So, instead of having to put the iPhone in direct contact with the charging pad, you can simply put it down anywhere nearby the power station.
It would make charging even more convenient and less error-prone. If Apple can nail it.
Okay, what do we know for sure?
Only that nothing is confirmed until an Apple executive holds an iPhone 9 up on stage!