In a new report by KGI’s Ming-Chi Kuo, the reliable Apple analyst claims that the iPhone will be seeing a major redesign in 2017, dropping the iconic aluminum casing for an all-glass enclosure with AMOLED screen. This follows on from another of Kuo’s reports in late March, where he first suggested Apple will return to an iPhone design akin to the iPhone 4. It does not seem like the iPhone 7 for 2016 will be seeing such a major overhaul, breaking Apple’s tick-tock pattern of a significant chassis redesign every other generation.
Kuo believes that Apple will be moving to an all-glass enclosure, dropping aluminum completely as it will no longer appear modern or fresh in 2017. Apple’s smartphone competitors are also adopting aluminum designs in droves, making it more likely Apple will want to differentiate with entirely new materials.
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Kuo does not elaborate on how Apple will make the next iPhone entirely out of glass, so currently the specifics of the drastic redesign will have to be left to the imagination. Apple used glass for the iPhone 4/4s front and back, but this was sandwiched together with a stainless steel band. It’s currently unclear how an iPhone could be constructed primarily out of glass.
The new glass phone will also feature a new AMOLED display panel, which will be thinner and lighter to compensate for the slight weight increase of glass compared with metal exteriors. Kuo does not believe that drop test issues will be a roadblock in Apple’s decision making, given the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4s already relied heavily on glass front and back. Last week, Apple reportedly reached a $2.6 billion agreement with Samsung to supply OLED panels for iPhone displays.
It definitely seems like Apple is saving a major new iPhone form factor for 2017, which leaves Apple’s 2016 iPhone 7 refresh somewhat in question. Leaks to date have shown very modest changes for the iPhone 7, with a design largely the same as the existing iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus models. It certainly looks like Apple’s next big refresh for the iPhone will not come to light this year, perhaps earlier in 2017 if not the fall. So far, the biggest new thing for the iPhone 7 appears to be the addition of a dual-camera for better pictures, although rumors have indicated this will be exclusive to the 5.5 inch iPhone 7 Plus.