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Apple’s most affordable iPhone X replacement is going to be impossible to find in stores

Published Aug 27th, 2018 12:57PM EDT
2018 iPhone x vs iPhone XL
Image: Zach Epstein, BGR

Apple’s fall iPhone event is just weeks away, according to every reputable source in the industry, which means that the trickle of iPhone leaks is gradually turning into a torrent. Earlier today, a Bloomberg report confirmed a bunch of details about the three new iPhones that Apple is expected to launch in September; now, thanks to ever-reliable Apple supply source Ming-Chi Kuo, we’ve got more information about the timing of the launch itself, as well as some cold water to pour on one of this season’s more outlandish iPhone rumors.

First, the debunking: Kuo says that none of the 2018 iPhones will support the Apple Pencil, contrary to reporting we heard earlier in the cycle. In a note to investors seen by MacRumors, Kuo says that the Apple Pencil did not offer a “good user experience,” which suggests that Apple had been playing with the idea of stylus support before deciding to drop it.

In reality, the decision to stick with strictly finger-based input is the least surprising thing that Apple could have done. The only phone that’s ever been known for its stylus support is Samsung’s Galaxy Note, and even then, Samsung has to work hard to make the stylus useful and relevant. There’s also the fact that if Apple introduced stylus support to its iPhones, every blog on the internet would have a field day replaying this clip of Steve Jobs’s opinion on styluses.

Other unsurpising news from Kuo’s note concerns the launch date. He’s expecting an unveiling the “week of September 9th,” with a pre-order date of September 14th and an in-store date of September 21st. That lines up with everything we’ve heard so far, meaning that yes, you can go pencil in September 12th as the Apple event.

As we’ve come to expect from Kuo, the really interesting stuff concerns the production details for the different models. According to the note, the two more expensive OLED iPhone models, tentatively called the iPhone Xs and iPhone XL, will be on track for the aforementioned September launch. Production issues with the cheaper 6.1-inch LCD iPhone could delay its launch and see it hit the market “slightly later due to its production schedule,” which could mean October or November — much like the iPhone X launch last year, which trailed the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus.

Assuming that production issues are the cause of the delay, that also means that the cheaper LCD iPhone will be near-impossible to find in stores for the rest of 2018. Last year’s iPhone X was challenging to buy unless you got lucky on the pre-orders, and that was for a brand-new $999 device. If the new LCD iPhone really is like a cheaper iPhone X, it’s already going to be in demand; add in supply issues, and you can guarantee that this will be the hardest iPhone to buy in stores.

In addition to the production details, Kuo also shared a chart showing some predicted specs for the new 2018 iPhones. All three devices get the new A12 processor and a minimum 64GB of storage, but the OLED models get a dual-camera setup on the back, higher screen resolution, faster wireless, and 4GB of RAM rather than 3GB.