According to a new report, three new iPhones will launch in 2018, all derived from the design and features of the iPhone X. One would be a direct successor to the iPhone X, another would be a significantly larger cousin with the biggest smartphone screen Apple has yet produced, and the third would be a cheaper version that makes some concessions for cost. The source, Bloomberg, cites “people familiar with the products.” This report follows several rumors from various points in Apple’s supply chain that have described a similar lineup. The launches are still months away (they will likely come during September, October, or November, given Apple’s past releases), so plans are still subject to change.
According to the report, every model will come with a TrueDepth sensor array for Face ID instead of the Touch ID fingerprint reader. Each would also have an edge-to-edge screen. In other words, the iPhone X is the model for the next wave of Apple smartphones, not the iPhone 8 design whose basic elements can be traced back to 2014’s iPhone 6.
The largest of the phones, codenamed D33, will be about the same size as the iPhone 8 Plus, but it will have an OLED screen that is almost 6.5 inches in size thanks to a reduction of the bezels. Apple may intend to offer multitasking and split-screen features on this phone that will not be available on the two smaller models. One working resolution in current prototypes is 1,242 x 2,688 pixels; this would come out to roughly 455 pixels per inch (ppi), very close to the iPhone X’s 458 ppi. That’s lower than the 570 ppi of Samsung’s recently-announced Galaxy S9.
Less is known about the direct successor to the iPhone X; it is codenamed D32, it will ship with an A12 processor, and it will retain the iPhone X’s core features, including OLED and Face ID.
Finally, the cheapest model will ship with Face ID and an edge-to-edge display, but it will have an LCD panel and will retain the aluminum-and-glass materials found in the iPhone 8, without the stainless steel edges we’ve seen on the iPhone X. The report does not specify this phone’s size.
The iPhone X successor and its larger counterpart will be offered in an optional gold finish, which is popular in China. Each phone will ship with the new iOS 12 operating system, currently codenamed Peace. We will probably learn more about that OS at Apple’s WWDC event in June, but we already know that the focus is on improving stability and consistency, not new features. Apple is also reportedly exploring offering a dual-SIM card option, but the door has not been closed on waiting for E-SIM.
Notably absent from this report is any mention of a successor to the four-inch iPhone SE, which launched in 2016 as an entry-level phone for users who wanted the basic iPhone software experience but in a small form factor. That phone retained design elements from the iPhone 5. If all these reports are true, a major update to the iPhone SE—which has an A9 processor—seems unlikely.
The iPhone led smartphone sales in the fourth quarter of 2017, and the iPhone X was the best-selling iPhone model during that period. But smartphone sales overall were down across the industry for the first time, and Apple’s total sales fell short of estimates—albeit just barely, and with an increase of revenue regardless.
This lineup of three phones attempts to address several markets that couldn’t all be satisfactorily served by a single model, but the iPhone X is clearly the blueprint for all of them. The report did not indicate which older models—such as the iPhone 7, iPhone 8, iPhone X, or iPhone SE—might continue to be sold after these 2018 models launch.