The latest report from KGI suggests Apple will breakaway from the existing two phone strategy next year with another high-end tier. The report says Apple is planning one new iPhone, dubbed iPhone 8, with major chassis redesigns and component upgrades featuring an OLED screen about 5.2-inches in size. It will also make two new iPhones with 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch displays; these will be more iterative successors to the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.
The OLED iPhone appears to be the most interesting phone that will include the most ‘new’ stuff. If the KGI report comes to pass, in 2017 the high-end iPhone will not be the one with the biggest screen.
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The report notes that the OLED iPhone will have an ‘active screen area’ of 5.1- to 5.2-inches but the panel itself may be up to 5.8-inches diagonally. This probably means the user-interactive touchscreen will be about 5.2 inches with the remaining area wrapping around the edge of the phone, as rumored.
A detailed description of the OLED iPhone changes was not given but it seems like it will feature a bezel-less front design with the Home Button somehow integrated into the display. The screen panel would extend around the sides of the phone for aesthetics similar to the Galaxy S7 Edge. KGI says the OLED panel for the iPhone will be supplied exclusively by Samsung.
The report explains that Apple will put the latest designs and developments into the OLED iPhone, essentially making it the flagship 2017 Apple iPhone despite not having the largest touchscreen. With the current phones, the largest 5.5-inch ‘Plus’ model is technically superior to the 4.7 inch phone with a dual-camera. According to KGI, display size will no longer be the differentiating factor between high-end and low-end iPhone devices. (KGI also says that the dual-camera component will get upgraded next year to add optical image stabilization to both the telephoto and wide-angle lenses).
The aforementioned 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch iPhones will still have updates but they will largely resemble the industrial design of the current iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. KGI says that these devices will likely adopt glass casing instead of metal, in the same general design as current iPhone models.
The purpose of the iterative 4.7-inch and iPhone 5.5-inch is unknown. KGI speculates they may be offered at lower price points, attracting more price-conscious customers, allowing Apple to pack advanced technology into the premium (undoubtedly more expensive) OLED flagship iPhone.
This report implies the biggest shakeup between iPhone SKUs so far as previously iPhones have been pretty similar apart from screen size. It would mean the new iPhones using two different display technologies, external chassis design and more. Keeping OLED to just one model may be a supply chain limitation; last night, Bloomberg said Apple was struggling to secure OLED displays for iPhones in sufficient quantities.