Six Colors
Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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Report: Apple prepping new flagship phone, two overhauled phones for fall

Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman and Min Jeong Lee have posted a lengthy dive into what they’ve heard about the new iPhones due out this fall, which reportedly include a redesigned new high-end phone as well as upgraded versions of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus:

For the premium model, Apple is testing a screen that covers almost the entire front of the device, according to people familiar with the matter. That results in a display slightly larger than that of the iPhone 7 Plus but an overall size closer to the iPhone 7, the people said. Apple is also aiming to reduce the overall size of the handset by integrating the home button into the screen itself via software in a similar manner to Samsung’s S8, the people said.

Also said to be in the work for the new iPhones are OLED displays, a vertical dual camera array possibly to be used for AR features, and a potentially relocated Touch ID sensor if the company can’t figure out how to embed it in the display.

None of those seem outlandish, though the relocation of the Touch ID sensor would no doubt trigger some sound and fury. OLED screens have recently become more cost-effective–see the Galaxy S8, for which reviews dropped this morning–and Apple’s made a habit of trying to push its displays forward on a regular basis.

Rumors of an edge-to-edge screen have been prevalent for the last several years, and since I doubt Apple wants to make its phones any larger physically, bigger screens in a roughly similar sized chassis are currently the only option. That does, however, mean retraining a legion of iPhone users not only with regard to the Touch ID sensor, but also to however the company decides to handle the embedded Home button. I’ve gotten perfectly used to the iPhone 7’s ersatz Home button over the last six months or so1, but a software-designed button might have a sharper curve.

Of course, the big caveat is that all of this is subject to change, since the thrust of the story actually seems to suggest that Apple has not finalized the design of this fall’s smartphones.

The other big question mark is the shipping. Lots of rumors have suggested that the new phone may not ship immediately, thanks to supply and manufacturing challenges. That won’t stop many from ordering them, but in concert with the lengthy wait times for AirPods, it definitely paints an unflattering picture of Apple’s supply chain these days–especially given that’s supposed to be Tim Cook’s particular specialty.

  1. Except occasionally when the phone is powered off and I stab at the button and remember that it’s just one big slab. 
—Linked by Dan Moren

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