iPhone 8 Rumor Rollup: thrown for a curve, glass crack clues & 3D sensing

Apple patent filing hints at sophisticated sensor network for sniffing out iPhone glass cracks

iPhone 8 Rumor Rollup: thrown for a curve, glass crack clues & 3D sensing
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iPhone 8 rumors can become a snooze when they focus too much on the inside of Apple’s anticipated next flagship smartphones, but this week most of the scuttlebutt is thankfully centered around the shiny new display.

Rumor fans also seemed excited to have a new source of information rather than the usual suspects (we’ll get to them later…) 

A TrendForce of Nature

Market watcher TrendForce created a stir on Tuesday by releasing a report in which it says, based on information from the supply chain, Apple won’t have a curved AMOLED display after all in its next flagship iPhone (so that’s one area where Apple might not match or surpass what Samsung is doing with its phones, like the Galaxy S7 Edge). The expected 5.8-inch iPhone will still have an energy-efficient and bright AMOLED screen, but production issues have forced Apple to hold off on the curved design, according to the report. “Thus, the next high-end iPhone is expected to have the same 2.5D glass for display cover as the current models,” TrendForce says. 

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TrendForce reinforces rumored advances for the 10th anniversary iPhone, such as the removal of the physical home button. A virtual functions area is expected to take its place, perhaps providing a similar experience to that found with the MacBook Pro’s Touch Bar, which morphs depending upon which applications are being used.

A new iphone 8 concept video even depicts such a new function bar.

3D sensing technology is also expected by TrendForce to be featured in the next major iPhone, and it could be used for both facial recognition and to support augmented reality capabilities. TrendForce expects the new iPhone to boast 3GB of memory and start at 64GB of storage.

Clues about glass cracks

Apple files for scads of patents and in fact was No. 11 in the 2016 rankings of U.S. patents awarded with more than 2,100. So certainly not every Apple patent turns into a commercial product or feature, but at least iPhone rumors that stem from patent filings feel as though they have some legitimate basis.

AppleInsider posted an intriguing piece this week on Apple’s filing for “Coverglass fracture detection” that describes a sophisticated system of sensors and software that could sniff out screen cracks early on and might help users get their phones fixed before major damage results. The post explains: 

“In some embodiments, the invention uses touch sensors already embedded in device displays to detect cracks, as such fissures are also likely to separate portions of the active matrix substrate. Alternatively, piezoelectric actuators can be positioned under the coverglass and send out vibrations targeting various sections of the screen. Cracks, chips and other defects might be detected depending on vibratory response.”

If new models of the iPhone really wind up costing upwards of $1,000, as some speculation suggests, customers are going to want such an early alarm system more than ever. 

Back to that 3D sensing technology

And back to KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, the most prolific pronouncer of iPhone futures. Business Insider reports on Kuo’s latest client note, which describes a new front-facing camera that not only could enable even better selfies, but allow for iris recognition and support augmented reality. "We think the advanced 3D front camera system will allow the new iPhone to perform 3D sensing and modeling," BI quotes Kuo as saying.

Apple watchers point to the company’s recent acquisitions of companies such as Faceshift and PrimeSense as evidence of its interest in building advanced facial recognition into its devices. (Apple also has been said to acquitted another facial recognition startup, dubbed RealFace.)

MacRumors also pounced on the Kuo comments about a “revolutionary” new front-facing camera system that boasts infrared transmitting and receiving modules designed to pinpoint objects in front of the phone. For now, it looks as though a rear-facing camera with similar features is a ways off.

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