Apple will release the iPhone 7 in the fall, but attention has already shifted in the media to the iPhone 8. Rumors about the iPhone 8 possibly having a glass casing have been reported on many Apple sites, and if that happens it could be the biggest change to the iPhone's design in years.
Joe Rossignol reports for MacRumors:
KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has issued a new report that again predicts Apple will switch to non-aluminum casing, with glass being the most likely candidate, for the majority of new iPhone models starting in 2017. If accurate, the design change would not apply to the iPhone 7 expected to launch this September.
Specifically, Kuo believes that in order to differentiate iPhone from an increasing number of competing aluminum smartphones, Apple will return to iPhone 4s-like glass casing next year to allow for an all-new form-factor design. The switch would allow Apple to again “enhance the competitiveness” and innovation of iPhone.
Kuo notes that some investors are concerned that glass casing would be too heavy or fail a drop test. However, the analyst believes that a return to glass casing will not be problematic for Apple, and the added weight in particular could be offset by the switch to lighter AMOLED screens in 2017.
The last time Apple used glass casing was back when the iPhone 4 and 4s were released. Both of those models proved to be very popular among users, and there’s no reason to think that the iPhone 8 wouldn’t follow in their supremely successful footsteps.
But does it really make sense for Apple to do such a radical redesign with the iPhone 8?
In a word, yes.
Good riddance to the iPhone’s aluminum casing
I’ve never been much of a fan of the aluminum casing that Apple has used in its phones since the iPhone 5. It seemed to make the iPhone 5, 5s, 6 and 6s much more slippery than the iPhone 4 and 4s. I don’t remember ever having a problem holding onto the iPhone 4 or 4s, even without a case.
And the "coolness" factor for how aluminum looks doesn't end up mattering much. Given how slippery aluminum iPhones have proven to be over the years, most people put some kind of case on their iPhones. So the aesthetic appeal of iPhones with aluminum casing are mostly lost since the case covers it up anyway.
So, to put it bluntly, good riddance to the aluminum casing on the current generation of iPhones. I certainly won’t miss it, it already feels like its outstayed its welcome by a couple of years.
Of course we’ll almost certainly see the iPhone 7 with an aluminum casing. So it will still be another year and a half before we actually see a new iPhone 8 with a glass casing.
An iPhone 8 with glass casing could hurt the iPhone 7
One weird thing about all of this is the potential effect the iPhone 8 might have on iPhone 7 sales. I must admit that I’m much more likely now to hang onto my iPhone 6s Plus for an additional year rather than bother upgrading to the iPhone 7. I doubt the iPhone 7 will have anything that will compel me to upgrade.
And I’m probably not alone in feeling that way. Getting rid of the iPhone’s aluminum casing in the iPhone 8 could make a fair number of people decide to hold off until 2017 before upgrading their iPhone. Why bother buying another iPhone with aluminum casing when a redesigned iPhone 8 will be coming the year after?
Of course, given the sheer size of Apple’s customer base, the folks that hold off might just be a tiny drop in a very large bucket. Most of Apple's customers probably won't have any idea that the iPhone 8 could be a big redesign of the iPhone. We’ll just have to wait and see.
One thing is for sure, the iPhone 8 is looking more and more like it will be worth waiting for…
Or will Liquid Metal be the casing for the iPhone 8?
Update: Abdel Ibrahim at AppAdvice thinks that the iPhone 8 will actually use Liquid Metal and I sure hope he's right:
Fast forward to April and now Kuo reports that Apple will move to an “all-glass enclosure.” The problem is that he thinks the glass is Gorilla Glass. I believe he’s wrong. I think what he’s describing is Liquid Metal.
Liquid Metal is basically like a unicorn material. It is moldable like plastic, but also happens to be way stronger than steel.
There’s no question that this material could change the industrial design in a way we’ve never seen before. Imagine your phone being virtually indestructible. Imagine that it could look like a glossy metal, but if you dropped it nothing happened. Imagine if we didn’t need those ugly antenna lines anymore. How awesome would that be?
Apple has a history of taking a long time to develop certain technologies. Last year’s 3D Touch, for example, took “multi, multi, multi years” according to Jony Ive. If they’re working to use Liquid Metal as the base material of the iPhone, it’s likely been in development for a very long time. Five years at least.
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