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iPhone 8 rumours: Are we ready for a curved, plastic iPhone?

Will Apple and Samsung be working together on the next iPhone?

The rumours coming out of Apple’s supply chain are that the next-generation iPhone – let’s just call it the 8, although some reports have hinted at the iPhone 7s – will feature a curved plastic OLED screen made by Samsung.

A source that spoke with The Korea Herald also had some other tidbits, saying:

Samsung is capable of supplying a little less than 100 million units of curved OLED displays to Apple. The upcoming iPhone may use new sensing technology, which enables the phone to respond when users touch any side of the device. But, Apple may not adopt this technology.

The curved OLED screen isn’t exactly new to the smartphone world. The Samsung S6 Edge, Galaxy S7 Edge, and (doomed) Galaxy Note 7 all feature such panels.

The advantages of plastic OLED is that it requires less power (saving battery life), and is naturally colourful and bright. Unlike glass, the plastic is flexible so it won’t shatter either. Which may mean I can finally stop imprisoning my beautiful iPhone in a case.

It isn’t all rosy though. Plastic may not shatter but it does dent and scratch easily. Also, plastic feels kinda cheap, and I have personally always appreciated that extra bit of weight and feel that glass gives.

Regarding the curviness, we aren’t talking a U-shaped or foldable iPhone. Most likely the edges will be slightly curved as we have seen on the Samsung phones. And according to Forbes, while the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge is “dual-curved”, the iPhone 8 may go for a “quad curve” around every edge of the screen.

And, oh damn, how did we not mention this sooner? There’s a rumour that a red version of the iPhone will be released. Spiderman-loving toddlers and teenagers with racing car beds around the globe, rejoice!

Red iPhone (in a case)

For some, this will all be good news as people wait for Apple to do something new.

Let’s face it, the iPhone 7 wasn’t exactly a world-beater, but then again it wasn’t really meant to be.

Apple is the world’s valuable brand, and was once touted as the King of Innovation. Remember the iconic 1984-themed ad that started it all?

The promise was to shatter norms, and – ambitiously – change the world.

And for a while, that did happen. For example, the first iPhone, iPod and iPad were all great leaps forward. They were game-changing devices that – I say this without exaggerating – did change the world.

Some may say this pioneering spirit died with Steve Jobs, but I don’t buy it. I think what’s more likely is we have reached a point where the smartphone can’t get that much better, until the next major breakthrough happens. We’re treading water for a while, and that’s fine.

In recent years Apple has been accused of forgoing the bold innovation for the sake of something called “iterative improvement”, which is the practice of making kick-ass things just slightly better.

The iPhone 7 is a good example of this. I mean, apart from the whole 3.5mm jack thing (which, predictably, people seem to have forgotten about already) the 7 isn’t too different from the 6S or the 6. So that’s three iterative improvements in a row, without any major changes.

We simply can’t – and shouldn’t – expect Apple to reinvent the wheel every September. Creativity doesn’t work like that, and innovation and inventions don’t either.

Stylised impression of a curved iPhone

Stylised impression of a curved iPhone

The first iPhone, iPad and iPod represented a perfect storm of computing possibility, engineering capability and consumer desire. They were major breakthroughs, and students of history know that such breakthroughs don’t happen continuously.

In other words, going forward we may want to manage our expectations regarding iPhones. So the next one will probably be just the same but plastic and curvy. Will people cry about it? Definitely.

The next big leap looks like it will be in the AR/ VR realm, so we can look to these spaces for life-changing devices.

In the meantime lets not get too salty about iPhones getting a bit better every year.

About the author

Stefan is an Adelaide-based freelance writer. In his spare time, he plays tennis badly, collects vinyl and brushes up on his Mandarin. Follow Stefan on Twitter

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