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Apple could surprise us with a 5.8-inch OLED iPhone in 2017

The move would see Apple break from its usual release cycle, offering an all-new hardware design in a so-called "S" year
March 27, 2016

Apple could be about to surprise us all, according to KGI Securities analyst (and all-round Apple guru) Ming-Chi Kuo. Because in a recent research note published to investors, the analyst has argued the case for a big surprise in 2017 – one that could see Apple break from its usual iPhone release cycle and bring an all-new hardware design to its iPhone line in a so-called “S” year.

Expect the unexpected?

Expect the unexpected?

Expect the unexpected?

Last year, Apple released the iPhone 6s. This year, we’re expecting the next-generation “iPhone 7,” featuring a new hardware design. And so it stands to reason that the following year, 2017, will see Apple release another “S” product – dare it be said, the “iPhone 7s.” However, Kuo believes that Apple’s release cycle is about to shift.

In his latest note (via MacRumors), the analyst argues the case for an all-new iPhone design in 2017: he believes Apple “is planning a major overhaul of the iPhone” for that year, “including the adoption of an all-new curved glass casing paired with a curved 5.8-inch AMOLED display,” MacRumors explains. The move would not only see Apple harken back to the glory days of the iPhone 4 and 4s, which itself included a glass back, but it’d also see Cupertino “move away from the metal casing designs that are no longer unique.”

The next level

However, that’s not all. Because as MacRumors adds, Apple will be taking this glass-back design “to the next level” through incorporating some interesting new features. Here’s Kuo himself discussing his prediction for 2017:

We expect the 2017 new iPhone model to adopt a structural design similar to that of iPhone 4/ 4s, meaning it will be equipped with glass on both the front and back sides, and a metal frame surrounded the edges. The difference is that the new model will likely come with a curved screen and curved glass casing, with other important features including a 5.8-inch AMOLED display, wireless charging, and more biometric recognitions (facial or iris). Given the curved design, the new model may look smaller than an existing 5.5-inch iPhone.

- Ming-Chu Kuo

Interesting. Kuo goes on, as MacRumors notes, to outline two possible routes for Apple to take in 2017. First, provided AMOLED production is decent, there’d be two new handsets: one, a 4.7-inch iPhone, and the other, a 5.8-inch AMOLED handset (thereby preserving the current standard and “Plus” lineup).

The second route, though, could be taken if AMOLED production isn’t so great: here, Kuo anticipates the release of 4.7- and 5.5-inch LCD iPhones, alongside a third, higher-end 5.8-inch AMOLED smartphone.

Either route would nevertheless see a break in Apple’s release cycle. Most of us are anticipating the release of a couple of “S” handsets from Apple in 2017, offering a hardware design identical to that of this year’s “iPhone 7,” but with internal enhancements and potentially-exclusive software functionality.

Kuo’s predictions are out there, but grounded in his knowledge of Apple’s supply chain. It’ll be interesting to see what happens in 2017, though for now the release of an “iPhone 7” and “iPhone 7 Plus” is closer on the horizon. An event in September should reveal all.