The iPhone 8 isn’t the only phone we expect Apple to deliver before the end of the year. Nor is it the only iPhone rumored to be giving Apple a headache at the moment. Apple is rumored to be developing an edition of the iPhone 8 that has a reflective finish.

Most of this season’s renders, mockups, and design drawings have been of the iPhone 8. Here, one shows the 10th anniversary edition’s rumored reflective finish.


Benjamin Geskin / Twittter

The company’s manufacturing woes, apparently driven by the technical complexities of producing the dramatically redesigned 10th anniversary edition iPhone — possibly called the iPhone 8 — have reportedly spread to the rumored iPhone 7S and 7S Plus in recent weeks. Now, according to some sources, all three forthcoming models are in danger of missing Apple’s usual September delivery date. (Though not everyone agrees.)

Apple typically delivers an “S” series upgrade in September in odd-numbered years, like 2017. This year, however, Apple and its suppliers are said to be struggling to mass produce the next flagship model, possibly called the iPhone 8, as well as the iPhone 7S and 7S Plus. According to a persistent series of reports by media, analysts, and supply chain sources, the debut of the “S” series, which will likely be a modestly upgraded version of the current generation iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, may be delayed.

The iPhone 7S and iPhone 7S Plus are currently scheduled to start the final phase of production in August — months behind the normal timeline. This could result in any number of previously unthinkable scenarios including a postponed announcement, a significantly delayed ship date, or an announcement followed by severe product shortages. As the drama continues to unfold, we’ll collect all of the rumors below.

iPhone 7S specs we might see:

  • Overall, an incremental update of the current generation iPhone 7
  • LCD display with TrueTone
  • Apple’s next-generation processor (the A10X or A11)
  • Physical home button with support for Touch ID
  • iOS 11 (preview)
  • Wireless charging
  • Aluminum and/or glass case
  • Enhanced waterproofing
  • New color options including red
  • 2GB of RAM
  • Priced around $649 (iPhone 7S) and $749 (iPhone 7S Plus)

Announcement and release dates

True to form, Apple has officially announced nothing about the iPhone 7S or 7S Plus. And yet if this was a typical year, we’d still have confidence that the company was set to introduce and ship the “S” series sometime during the first half of September. According to the relentless drumbeat of rumors, however, an unprecedented set of manufacturing challenges has knocked this year’s release schedule into disarray.

For months, we’ve heard speculation that Apple may not have the flagship iPhone 8 ready to go until late 2017. More recently, the postponement buzz has extended this foreboding prediction to include the “S” series; in mid-July, Economic News Daily (via MacRumors) reported that all forthcoming iPhone models are facing “production delays.” Nothing is certain — and we still may see the iPhone 7S and 7S Plus appear right on schedule in early September. But October, November, and beyond remain distinct possibilities.

What’s new with the 2017 iPhone ‘S’ series upgrade?

Pieces of the iPhone 8, iPhone 7S, and iPhone 7S Plus?

The two on the left are said to be iPhone 8 components; the two on the right are said to be coming to the iPhone 7S and iPhone 7S Plus, respectively.


kamisky via reddit

Most reports suggest that phone sizes will remain the same, setting the stage for a 4.7-inch iPhone 7S and 5.5-inch iPhone 7S Plus. The “S” family is expected to have an aluminum alloy chassis (via DigiTimes), while the iPhone 8 may get a glass and steel chassis. The forthcoming 7S Plus is nearly certain to have two cameras on the back, consistent with the current generation 7 Plus, though it’s conceivable that the entry-level iPhone 7S could also get two rear-facing lenses in order to make fuller use of the AR capabilities featured in next generation of Apple’s mobile operating system’s (more on that below).   

Much of the speculation about the iPhone 8, and one of the major factors said to be putting a crimp in production, involves a rumored virtual home button and its integration with Touch ID. The iPhone 7S and 7S Plus, however, are expected to stick with the current generation’s conventional setup: a fingerprint sensor embedded in a physical home button. We do hear that the iPhone 7S and 7S Plus will get a performance upgrade; all three 2017 models are said to use Apple’s next-generation A11 chip.

Most of the “wireless charging” rumors — technically, it’s called inductive charging — have revolved around the iPhone 8. But the CEO of Wistron, a Taiwanese iPhone assembler, reportedly revealed that that an upcoming 5.5-inch iPhone model — assumed to be the 7S Plus — would be waterproof and support wireless charging. That noted, the iPhone 8 is said to be very similar in size to the iPhone 7 Plus, so this is one of the murkier rumors around. Nevertheless, according to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, the next generation of iPhones will support faster USB-C-powered “plugged-in” charges, as well as an Apple Lightning connection.

What about the iPhone SE?

Most of the iPhone buzz has centered around the 10th anniversary model, and, to a lesser extent, the 7S and 7S Plus. There’s been hardly any discussion of the future of the littlest member of Apple’s lineup: the iPhone SE. Of course this, in and of itself, may be a signal of some kind: veteran Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has speculated that Apple will not deliver a new iPhone SE in 2017. And Pan Jiutang, another analyst, says that, given low demand for the smaller form factor, Apple may abandon the product altogether (via Cult of Mac).

The 4-inch iPhone SE debuted in March 2016, a few months after the introduction of the iPhone 6S, upon which it is closely based. Last May, Apple increased the SE’s storage capacity but left the price unchanged — $399 for the 32GB model and $499 for the 128GB edition.

How big a deal is iOS 11?

Potentially pretty big, given what we know so far. Apple delivered a preview of iOS 11 at this year’s WWDC and released the public beta in June (here’s how to install it). AR will be a big part of iOS 11, and both the iPhone 7S and 7S Plus could feature dual lens rear cameras in order to fully capitalize on iOS 11’s potential. Other highlights of the mobile operating system include a smarter, more capable Siri, screen recording, and a new Music app. Read more about iOS 11 in our preview.

Price

Given the dearth of blockbuster features, we don’t expect Apple to tinker with the “S” series pricing too much. Expect the iPhone 7S to start around $649 (£500 and AU$850) and the iPhone 7S Plus at $749 (£580 and AU$980). The iPhone 8, on the other hand, is rumored to start somewhere between $850 and $1,200.



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