For most of the year, rumors were flying that the 2016 iPhone range would include a bigger, more tricked-out ‘Pro’ model, along with an OLED screen. The rumors about sharper screens have been pushed to next year (when it’s looking reasonably certain we’ll be seeing an OLED iPhone), and now it looks like the iPhone Pro will have to wait until 2017 too.
A report in Nikkei claims that in 2017, Apple will ship a ‘Pro’ model with a 5.5-inch curved display that will use an OLED panel. It will debut alongside two other new iPhone models, which will have flat screens with older LCD displays.
The advantages of OLED technology make it a no-brainer upgrade for Apple, which has been the only big phone manufacturer not to at least try releasing a phone with OLED display. Samsung’s curved-edge phones have also been a big hit with a particular niche of users, so Apple’s move towards a curved edge looks more and more like a play to steal back customers from the Note 7.
Along with a new Pro model wielding OLED tech, all of next year’s iPhone range should see a significant change in design. Nikkei confirms earlier reports that the 2017 iPhone will have an all-glass display and chassis, which will only be linked with a metal bezel. Major iPhone supplier Foxconn has reportedly been working hard to develop the new capability in time to make Apple’s 10th anniversary iPhone.
The move to OLED screens will be big for Apple’s other suppliers, which have seen falling sales due to slower iPhone orders this year. But numerous reports have said that Apple’s interest in OLED displays has driven growth among screen suppliers including Samsung, which is expected to make some of the displays for next year’s iPhone Pro.
The big overhaul in the iPhone line is a sign of slightly worrying times for Apple. The company is far from dead, but declining iPhone sales this year are expected to continue with the only-incremental upgrade for the iPhone 7. The slowdown is hitting Apple suppliers: Nikkei said that “major supplier has received component orders for 54 million units for the two new models, the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, according to the source familiar with the iPhone design, and the lack of demand is likely to drag down shipments for the full year to less than 200 million handsets, compared with the 231 million phones Apple sold last year.”
But set all the Apple doom and gloom aside, and Nikkei‘s report is clearly good reading for anyone that likes good phones. A third, tricked-out iPhone is a sign that Apple is starting to realize different consumers will want slightly different things from their phones. A good number of people just want a small 4 or 4.7-inch handset, and certainly don’t need oodles of RAM. But for people who understand acronyms like OLED or like the feel of a curved-edge phone, an iPhone Pro will be long overdue.
Plus, all that extra space around the side will make a great place for the headphone jack to make a triumphant 2017 return.