Silly Season is almost over. And Stupid Season is almost upon us. The months before a new iPhone is announce, people start evaluating their relationship with their current phone. Sometimes, like me, they determine that there is nothing wrong with the phone they happen to be rocking. They also decide that there is nothing particularly exciting about the rumored features of the new phone that it soon to arrive.
But something happens as silly season nears an end. They decide (like me) that they might as well upgrade to the new phone regardless of what it might be. The rumors have finally gotten to them. They get fixated on one or two features they are certain will be true. And that knot of tech lust takes hold in their gut. Any other season, and that knot would be diagnosed as irritable bowel.
But we all know what time it is. It is the time when silly rumors come to an end and the new iPhone madness takes hold. We go from level headed individuals, to mindless drones collectively shouting at Apple to “shut up and take my money!” For many of us, that relationship with Apple is mediated by the carriers.
I will be dealing with T-Mobile and the Jump plan. That means I will have zero chance of getting a first-day iPhone. You can’t order them online through that program. So preorders are out for me. You have to go through T-Mobile directly. And that means finding a T-Mobile store on launch day and waiting in line, only to be told that they didn’t get any shipments of the phone you wanted.
It will be at least a month before I have a reasonable chance of getting the new iPhone, and it might end up being an after Christmas thing this time around, as I and my wife are going for the one people are calling the iPhone 8. We T-Mobile Jump customers going for that one are in for a long wait.
I suspect that some people will switch carriers to get it sooner. I, for one, will apply for the Apple installment program. Though my credit score says I have a better chance winning the lottery than getting approved.
Part of the madness is that we know the super phone will be on short supply. We are also pretty certain that the starting price will be about $1,000. If Apple thought that price would help control supply and demand, they were dead wrong. That price just makes me curse more while I wait in line. It is either a slightly higher monthly payment, or a bit of a downpayment on the Jump plan. No big deal.
Let’s start with the price. That’s what everyone will be doing anyway. We don’t care about what’s in the phone. We just care about how we are going to pay for it. The price only matters to those who are going to be paying for it in full. I have never purchased an iPhone at full retail, and never plan to do so. I suspect the same is true for the vast majority of smartphone users.
If you are coming from an upgrade plan where you get your next phone free every year, provided it is the same price as your last one, then the math is easy. If you paid the traditional $650, then expect to add $350 as a deposit. This is just a throwback to when we had subsidized smartphone contracts. The amount is not that outrageous. If your current phone is in the $769 territory, you are looking at less than $250 down.
If Apple thinks people are going to walk away from what they want for the sake of a down payment that we all used to pay not that long ago, they have another thing coming. No one walks away from the iPhone 8 over $300.
The same thing is true for those who are on the installment plan from Apple. Perhaps they pay $30 a month. They won’t even notice if that goes up to $40 a month. Price simply is not going to be a barrier. A whole lot of people will be celebrating stupid season with cash in hand. They may not think so right now. But those same skeptics will be in front of you in line when the time comes.
Bezels Be Gone
If there is one thing the press has taught us about ourselves during this rumor cycle is that we all hate bezels with a passion. The bezel is that part that surrounds the screen that doesn’t show information. Bezels are the letter boxing of digital devices. And we are all quite ready to be shed of them.
A few notable competitors have already done so. As the rumors go, the iPhone 8 will be in that group of phones that will lose the much hated bezel. And there also lies the challenge. The iPhones 7s is slated to continue with the bezels with all their glory. Since the new narrative is getting rid of the bezel, I have no idea how Apple will sell the 7s (same as the 7) bezel-laden device.
Since writing the first part of this article, I have learned that the name of the New iPhones will be iPhone 8 and iPhone X (pronounced iPhone Ten). This presents a bit of a problem for those of us who write about these things before the announcement. By the time you read this, the correct nomenclature will be commonly known. But right now, people are still referring to the iPhone 7s and the iPhone 8 as placeholders. I will continue with those placeholders for the sake of clarity. But I already know those are not the official name.
I also know most of the details about the new phones at the time of this writing. There have been leaks from what is likely a disgruntled employee. You can find all that information if you really want it. But I am going to try to keep this spoiler free as much as possible.
Regardless of what they call the new set of phones (we think there will be three), do you really want your next phone to have the huge bezels of your current iPhone knowing that there is an option to have one with no bezels at all? Bezels never bothered me before. But now, I can’t stand to look at them. Never mind functionality. For purely cosmetic reasons, I want them gone. I suspect when you see the new one in person, you will too.
Organic light emitting diode (OLED) is the technology that gives your screen ultimate contrast due to the fact that only the needed pixels light up. The rest of the screen stays unlit. If you have an Apple Watch, just note how the screen is completely black except for the elements being shown on the screen. That is because it has an OLED display.
Historically, there have been serious technical problems with OLED displays. Apple thinks the technology is ready to replace their advanced IPS LCD tech they have been using for years. I suspect they wouldn’t switch to OLED if that wasn’t the case. But OLED has another major problem: It is extremely expensive. Just price out one of the new OLED TVs to see what I mean.
There is some question about whether only the new high-end phones will have OLED. The 7-style phones will only have LCD due to cost. Beyond cost is difficulty of manufacture. As hard as it is to make OLED screens, you can bet that Apple has inserted some proprietary secret sauce that makes it much harder. There simply are not enough OLED screen manufacturers out there that can handle an Apple-sized order right now. Samsung is said to be their only supplier. This will be a big part of that $999 price tag.
That said, the screens will be amazing. It will be the biggest jump in iPhone screens since Retina. If you think you are glued to your screen now, you won’t be able to tear yourself away from the iPhone 8 if you are fortunate enough to get one. Apple is not going to have any trouble moving these, even at $1,000 a pop.
In Your Face
We’re getting into spoiler territory. But much of this is already known or heavily speculated.
There has never been an iPhone more all up in your face as this one. That front camera array is getting a complete makeover.
Your face will be used to unlock the phone, as well as make iTunes purchases, autofill passwords, and the like. There is a good chance that none of the iPhones will have Touch ID, or a Home button for that matter. But they will certainly be absent on the new high-end model.
Some have expressed concern about using one’s face to unlock and secure the phone. After all, it has been tried by the likes of Samsung. And it hasn’t worked out so well. But I just don’t think Apple would implement the feature if they hadn’t solved the problems with it. Solving technical problems others struggle with is their specialty.
Just know that security is not the only face trick Apple has planned. Imagine making customizable emoji with your face. Choose your favorite emoji from a limited selection, then watch it shape itself based on your facial expression. Just imagine…
Realer than Real
Apple is all in on augmented reality (AR). They have nailed their flag to the AR mast. While I have seen no leaks on this, I am 99% certain that the new phones will feature some type of special hardware and software that will take advantage of AR in some new way.
They have already told us about ARKit. And we have already seen numerous examples of apps and app demos from developers exploiting the new kit. What we haven’t seen is something from Apple. I believe the new phones will feature something mind-blowing from Apple that makes reality seem passé.
Conclusion: All the Things
Despite the leaks, I still have a few questions about the new iPhones. But those questions will be answered in a couple of days from the time of this writing. Thing is, iPhones are not the only items Apple will be announcing at the event. There will also be a new Apple Watch with LTE. And by all indications, that LTE will be the kind that allows phone calls from your current number.
For the three of you with a 4K TV, you might be interested in the new Apple TV box with updated remote control. Though it will not be ready, I expect we will see another demo of the HomePod Siri speaker that will be coming out later this year. Apple will not just be talking about a new set of phones. They will be talking about the entire ecosystem of things surrounding the iPhone.
Once you have the new thing, you are going to want all the things. That is how silly season turns into stupid season. I encourage you to exercise some measure of self-control and don’t stand in line for the new iPhone. Besides, you are going to have to get up pretty early in the morning to get in line in front of me. In my heart, I’m already there.