Apple hasn’t yet managed to keep up with iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus demand, suggesting that the company’s new iPhones are a hit. In fact, iPhone sales in the September quarter came in slightly higher than Wall Street was expecting, even though supply of both new models was severely constrained. But even though Apple’s iPhone 7 and 7 Plus have been so far, demand for next year’s new iPhones is expected to dwarf this year’s models thanks to a massive iPhone redesign that Apple fans have been waiting for.
As exciting as next year’s new iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus sound, however, new evidence suggests that Apple is working to bring an exciting new feature to its iPhone lineup that could be the biggest smartphone game-changer the world has seen since the first iPhone was released nearly a decade ago in 2007.
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According to a number of solid early reports, next year’s iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus are going to feature huge improvements in a number of key areas. First, they’ll sport the first big iPhone redesign since 2014, when Apple released the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Since then, Apple has used roughly the same design on 2015’s iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, as well as on the new iPhone 7 series.
In 2017, the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus will supposedly feature a fresh new design with a glass front and back that are connected by metal around the edges. The display, which is believed to be an OLED screen for the first time ever on an iPhone, will reportedly take up much more of the iPhone’s face thanks to the removal of the home button on the front of the phone. A next-generation Touch ID fingerprint scanner will then be embedded beneath the display, and 3D Touch gestures will take care of the rest of the home button’s functionality.
Apple’s upcoming new iPhones are expected to feature plenty of other enhancements as well, such as better cameras and a new A11 Fusion processor that is even faster than the A10 Fusion chip in Apple’s iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. But mounting evidence suggests that the company is working on the biggest game-changer that the smartphone industry has seen since the very first iPhone was unveiled nearly 10 years ago at the Macworld convention in January 2007.
When someone asks you about your biggest pain point, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Survey after survey suggest that battery life is at the top of most lists. Even the iPhone 7 Plus, which is among the best smartphones in the world when it comes to battery performance, needs to be charged at least once each day. Many phones won’t even carry you through a full day of usage without needing to be recharged.
Fast-charging tech is great and current wireless charging solutions are nifty as well, but what if you never had to even think about charging your smartphone again?
Earlier this year, we turned your attention to some early evidence that suggested Apple was working with a company called Energous to build next-generation wireless charging into future iPhones. When I write “wireless charging,” I’m not referring to the technology that’s already on the market in a number of Android phones and other devices. This is something completely different, as I mentioned almost two years ago when I first previewed the tech.
Using technology developed by Energous, a smartphone or just about any other gadget can be charged wirelessly from across the room. A small chip on the phone’s main board connects wirelessly to a base station and can charge a device’s battery from distances of 15 feet. In other words, a view strategically placed base stations in your home and office could ensure that your iPhone is charging constantly while it’s in use or sitting in your pocket, on your desk or anywhere else.
Ahead of Energous’ third-quarter earnings report on Monday, new evidence surfaced that seems to further suggest the company may be working with Apple to build this exciting new technology into iPhones in the near future. I don’t need to go back through all of the earlier indications that tie the two companies together, but in a nutshell: Energous has repeatedly stated on earnings calls that it is working with a “tier 1” smartphone manufacturer, and all signs in the past have pointed to Apple.
Now, the company announced that it is has taken a $10 million strategic investment from Dialog Semiconductor, a company that builds power management solutions for consumer electronics. As noted by technology analyst and Disruptive Tech Research founder Louis Basenese, Dialog Semi’s top customer is Apple. Energous also took an investment earlier this year from Pegatron, another major Apple partner.
The other possible partner that has been tossed around as the mysterious “tier 1” smartphone maker Energous keeps referring to is Samsung, but that’s looking less likely as time moves on.
“According to Bloomberg data, 68.56% of Dialog’s sales come from Apple (AAPL),” Basenese wrote in a note to investors on Monday. “The next biggest contributor is Panasonic at 1.23%. Samsung checks-in at a scant 1.03%. So this is another [Energous] partner that is a major AAPL supplier. You’ll recall, Pegatron, which WATT announced as a partner in March 2016, derives 52.98% of sales from AAPL and 0% from Samsung. The evidence in support of APPL as the Tier 1 continues to outweigh evidence pointing to Samsung.”
Again, this is all just speculation until Energous or Apple confirm something. Also, the biggest question surrounding this potential partnership remains unchanged: Why wouldn’t Apple simply acquired Energous for peanuts (the company’s market cap was about $280 million as of Monday’s close, and that was after a big spike from these new rumors) and lock in exclusivity?
Only time will tell if these rumors pan out, but don’t expect anything to materialize from this supposed partnership in 2017 with the iPhone 8. If and when Apple does add long-distance wireless charging to its iPhone lineup, however, it will be the biggest disruption the industry will have seen in more than a decade.