This is getting serious: While Apple-related rumors are never to be fully trusted, we now have nearly every credible source and leaker chirping in unison that Apple’s upcoming iPhone 8 might be one or even two months late.
The latest to join the fray is noted Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who was slightly more explicit than others. According to 9to5Mac, he said the iPhone 8 launch would likely be pushed to October or November.
The delay, Kuo claims, is due to production difficulties for several custom components Apple has ordered. There’s no word on which components, exactly, are the culprit, but previous reports indicated that Apple (just like Samsung) is having trouble making the under-the-glass fingerprint sensor to work reliably. The iPhone 8 is also rumored to have a (possibly curved) OLED display and 3D-sensing front cameras, which are new technologies for Apple’s iPhone and could also cause production delays
The iPhone 8 (another possible name being thrown around is iPhone X), alongside the more iterative updates to iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, is expected to be announced in September. Kuo claims the more conservative new models, likely dubbed iPhone 7S and 7S Plus, would not be delayed.
Apple typically makes new models available a week or two after launch, but not always in equal quantities; for example, the Jet Black iPhone 7 sold out minutes after pre-orders went up and it was essentially delayed by a month or more. Going further back, the white iPhone 4 took nearly a year to finally ship.
But those were just different colors of the same phone. Other than Apple pushing the iPhone launch schedule from summer to fall for the iPhone 4S in 2011 (which technically wasn’t a delay), a major new version of the iPhone was never very late.
And this launch is different, because Apple is rumored to be launching three new models instead of two. If the 7S and 7S Plus hit the market a month or two earlier, it might make buying a new iPhone in the fall an unusually complex decision.
Why buy a brand new iPhone 7S Plus, when an infinitely more cool model is coming within a few months?
Think about it: Why buy a brand new iPhone 7S Plus, when a (possibly) infinitely more cool model is coming within a few months? And how will Apple price these phones? Would a maxed out 7S Plus cost more than the entry-level iPhone 8? Will there even be an entry-level iPhone 8, or will it just start at $1,000+ (as some have predicted) with 256GB of storage?
One could argue that the iPhone 8 being late wouldn’t confuse the Apple faithful too much; all it takes is sufficiently different price points to make customers stand in different lines, a few weeks’ wait be damned. And the sort-of-delayed Jet Black iPhone 7 is proof of this: Without a good technological reason, Apple only released this variant with 128GB or 256GB of storage, making it more expensive from the start. Sure enough, after an initial storm of protests, the complaints soon subsided, and the customers who didn’t absolutely need to have that particular variant simply settled for a different color. And, ultimately, iPhone 7 sales were overall amazing.
On the other hand, after a few iterative updates, the wait for a new, revolutionary iPhone has been long — too long, perhaps, for many. Samsung’s Galaxy S8 just launched; it’s nice and shiny, and, even though its fingerprint sensor is placed horribly, most who have seen it in the flesh agree that it makes the iPhone 7 and it enormous bezels look obsolete. If the reports about the iPhone 8 being late are correct, we’ll soon enough see whether Apple can afford to linger onto the iPhone 7’s aging design while its biggest competitor has moved on.
There’s a third — potentially the worst — option, too. According to numerous reports, Apple still hasn’t settled on a final design for the iPhone 8. If the company decides that bringing the iPhone 8 to market late would hurt it too much, it might opt for a less drastic redesign, with a fingerprint sensor on the back of the phone. That might mean the iPhone 8 would come on time, but it could also be a lot less desirable than it could’ve been.