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The iPhone 8 is going to have the best graphics we’ve ever seen in a smartphone

Published Mar 10th, 2017 5:25PM EST

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We’ve got a good idea about what the iPhone 8 is going to look like on the outside. It might only be February, but we’ve already got leaks, renders and concepts strongly hinting that it’s going to have an all-glass front display with no buttons and very little bezel.

It all sounds lovely, but it’s what’s lying underneath the hood that could make the biggest difference. Apple has long relied on graphics architecture from UK-based firm Imagination Technologies. So, when I.T. announced a brand-new chip tech aimed at improving graphical performance in smartphones, it’s safe to assume that the innovations are going to show up in the next iPhone.

Imagination Technologies has updated its PowerVR Furian architecture, which is likely to feature in the iPhone 8. The new chip has a much higher computational density than its predecessors, which means that the same-sized chip is significantly more powerful.

The end result should be much better performance for gaming and graphics-heavy operations. But the biggest improvements could be in AR rather than gaming. Augmented reality is tipped to play a part in the iPhone 8 design, so a more powerful graphics chip capable of processing and rendering AR graphics in real time would make a whole bunch of sense.

It could also help utilize the rumored dual-camera system better. The iPhone 7 Plus already uses fancy computational tricks and the dual camera system to take incredible photos, and a similar dual-camera system is rumored for the iPhone 8. With two camera lenses and all sorts of computational power — say, what you’d get from IT’s new chip — the possibilities for what Apple could do AR-wise increase.

Tim Cook has made it clear in a series of interviews that Apple very much sees AR as a vital future technology. So far, Apple has not made in a play in the VR or AR industry, but there’s rumored to be a giant secretive project in the works.

Apple’s going to need all the tricks it can muster to go toe-to-toe with the new Galaxy S8. Rumors and leaked pics of that phone have shown that it will have a similar no-bezel design, and it’s going to use Qualcomm’s brand-new Snapdragon 835 processor. Samsung’s phone will be in stores by the end of April, and with the iPhone 8 launch likely to happen in the fall, Apple’s going to have a lot of ground to make up.

Chris Mills
Chris Mills News Editor

Chris Mills has been a news editor and writer for over 15 years, starting at Future Publishing, Gawker Media, and then BGR. He studied at McGill University in Quebec, Canada.