One artist’s rendering showing how the iPhone 8 (center) may look, based on previous news leaks.
Longtime Apple (AAPL) pundit Gene Munster says Apple’s iPhone 8 should have three key features to stand out from the competition when it’s announced this Tuesday, Sept. 12.
“Apple needs to show a different form factor that gets people excited,” summed up Munster, a longtime Apple pundit and managing director of the venture capital firm Loup Ventures.
Munster contended just three new features are crucial for the iPhone 8, including a larger 5.8-inch OLED screen, which he said is preferred by two-thirds of all smartphone owners; wireless charging that ditches the “plug and unplug hassles we all face’” and 3-D mapping technology like facial recognition, which developers could tap into to create software experiences that overlay information on top of images and video from the real world (read: augmented reality).
We can also probably expect a faster processor, glass case, facial recognition, and wireless charging. But offering up an iPhone with more AR features is critical, according to Munster.
“AR-enabled devices will eventually replace phones,” he predicted. “You don’t need a touchscreen to access information. In that respect, the opportunity is limitless.”
Much is at stake for the Cupertino, California-based tech company with this particular launch. This year marks the 10th anniversary of Apple’s popular device, and expectations are riding particularly high for an all-new design.
If Apple delivers, Munster predicted, the company’s overall iPhone unit sales could increase 10% over the next 12 months. And even if it doesn’t, he contended there’s so much pent-up demand now for a new Apple device, the iPhone 8 could still drive up overall iPhone sales by 5% during the same period.
Brian White, the global head of technology and software for Drexel Hamilton, agrees with Munster. White, who visited China earlier this year and met with a number of Apple competitors, smartphone component companies and cellphone carriers, contended that reports on the iPhone 8’s purported features had already done an excellent job of teeing up excitement for the device.
“I do feel like this device has sold itself already,” White said. “When people hear it’s going to get a 5.8-inch OLED screen, for example, that’s very exciting.”
A tougher smartphone market
Over the last 12 months alone, competition in the smartphone market has become more heated. The market share for smartphones in the world running Apple’s iOS dipped 3.5% from fourth-quarter 2016 to first-quarter 2017, according to IDC, while Android’s market share climbed 3.6% during the same period.
Chalk up some of that market share give-and-take to the introduction of attractive, high-end Android phones, and declining average selling prices. Android creator Andy Rubin launched The Essential Phone last month — a sleek, powerful device priced at $699 to start, which is hundreds of dollars less than what the iPhone 8 could reportedly cost. Meanwhile, Apple’s largest smartphone competitor, Samsung, plans on launching its own Galaxy Note 8 on Sept. 15, which my colleague Dan Howley recently reviewed and liked despite its high price. Both devices sport cutting-edge features and blistering speeds.
“Android and its many partners have come forth with new experiences and hardware, and now it’s Apple’s turn to either keep pace or slightly ahead,” contended Ramon Llamas, research manager for IDC. “And because there are many areas for Apple to address by itself whilst Android can look to many companies, the pressure is on Apple to stay on the leading edge.”
Of course, there’s only one way to know whether Apple actually delivers: wait, and see.