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article imageReport: Apple planning three new iPhone 8 versions for 2017

By James Walker     Nov 16, 2016 in Technology
Apple is planning to release three versions of the iPhone 8 next year, according to a credible report. Apple will use a new OLED display on one of the models and offer two alternatives with its current LCD panel. It's possible there will be three sizes.
The information was revealed by KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. Kuo has a track record of accurately leaking Apple product details ahead of time. In a new research note obtained by MacRumours, the analyst said he expects three new iPhones to emerge in 2017.
The first two will replace the existing iPhone 7 models. These will have 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch TFT LCD displays, offering no discernible upgrade over the display on the iPhone 7. Apple is also planning a version with an OLED panel though. OLED screens offer richer colours and deeper contrast and are now used by the majority of Apple's flagship smartphone rivals.
Kuo did not state what sized display the OLED iPhone will feature. It could have the same 5.5-inch form factor as the regular LCD model. He has previously suggested Apple will develop a new 5.8-inch design for the handset, a claim recently corroborated by analysts at Barclays. It is now thought iPhone buyers next year will have the choice of three sizes and two display types.
It isn't clear why Apple will continue to sell LCD panels alongside the markedly improved OLED phones. It may be cautiously approaching OLED to see how many it can sell. The company could also be facing difficulties amassing the number of OLED screens required for the launch.
Alternatively, Apple could use it as a marketing device, placing the OLED version next to LCD models in stores. Apple retail locations could be used to demonstrate the superior technology and convince people to buy the pricier phone. Apple currently uses OLED displays on the Apple Watch and its new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar. It is yet to offer a large OLED panel on any of its devices.
Kuo also detailed Apple's plans for the camera gear on the next-generation hardware. He expects Apple to use the dual-lens system introduced with the iPhone 7 Plus on the 5.5-inch and OLED versions of the iPhone 8. The 4.7-inch phone will continue to use a single-lens camera, further fragmenting Apple's once unified mobile ecosystem.
Apple will be offering more choice with next year's range but it could also increase confusion among consumers. Apple built its brand on its simple and cohesive image, offering one iPhone model each year in a predictable manner that customers understood. By diversifying its range, Apple can vary the pricing of its products but risks losing the simplicity that defines it.
It's expected that Apple will unveil its new line-up during its usual September launch window. The company is thought to be returning to a glass-backed design for the upcoming handsets, a style last used on the iPhone 4. Apple is focusing on a complete hardware overhaul to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the iPhone, including its first external redesign in three years and upgraded internals.
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