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iPhone 8 and beyond: The future of smartphones

David Price | June 24, 2016
Future smartphone developments, from graphene and lithium-air batteries to holograms, OLED and motion charging

The end of the iPhone 'S' convention

But it's possible that Apple won't continue the S generation strategy for much longer. Many of us have pointed out that it's a risky policy, tacitly acknowledging that iPhone generations alternate between major and minor updates - when the average user hears that the new iPhone hasn't even been considered worthy of a full version number upgrade, how likely are they to crack open the old wallet?

On this principle, therefore, we could see the iPhone 7 in autumn 2016 and the iPhone 8 the year after. At this point, nobody knows - but as soon as we hear more, we'll update this article.

Now, what new features and tech developments can we expect in the next few generations of Apple smartphone?

iPhone 8 and beyond: Battery & power developments

Again and again the UK Tech Weekly Podcast returns to the topic of 'peak smartphone': the idea that the smartphone's golden period of rapid technological advances and wide experiential differences (between one generation and the next, or between one manufacturer and another) is now over. The smartphone has become commoditised, and there are only small, iterative differences between the phone that just launched and the one you bought last year - hence less incentive to upgrade. Smartphones are now essentially 'good enough'.

iPhone 8 rumours & patents: Battery life

Well, maybe. Perhaps the greatest potential growth area - yet, for various counterintuitive reasons, one of the most neglected thus far - is battery life. Battery tech keeps getting better, but smartphone makers (and Apple is guilty of this more than almost anyone) keep cramming in higher-res screens and higher-power processors that use up the extra power just as quickly; or they select a slimmer albeit more efficient battery cell so they can say the phone is thinner than ever before, with the same effect.

In the next few years, we suspect, battery life is going to become more of a priority for phone makers and consumers. Partly this is because phones are now about as slim and fast as anyone could ever want; but partly it's because some cool battery tech developments are starting to come within the reach of mobile consumer budgets.

Stacked battery cells

One persistent rumour holds that Apple will take the battery tech it developed for the original 12-inch MacBook (and retained for the 2016 version) - whereby contoured, layered battery units are stacked inside the chassis in order to take up every possible inch of space - and use these to squeeze more battery capacity inside the fixed or even reduced volume that will be available in future iPhones.

 

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