Apple (AAPL) has an uphill task to make the next iPhone, rumored to be the iPhone 8, truly distinctive and appealing. What the company would want to avoid is merely catching up with the competition, as it would not help it much in stabilizing iPhone sales or returning to growth in the smartphone market.
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Apple sold a record 78.3 million iPhones in fiscal 1Q17 and beat the consensus estimate of 77 million units. Nevertheless, Apple has recently struggled with weak demand for its iPhones, as shown in the chart above.
Apple doesn’t share its product development plans publicly, leaving those eager to know what’s happening within its Cupertino walls to speculate. Several rumors have been tossed around about what is likely to come with the iPhone 8.
One potential upgrade is wireless charging. While it would be a first for an iPhone, it wouldn’t be a head-turning upgrade—several smartphones, such as those by Samsung (SSNLF) and Alphabet’s (GOOGL) Google, already support wireless charging.
Another upgrade hinted at is facial recognition for device unlocking. Again, this isn’t new, as Microsoft (MSFT) and Google offer it in their handsets. An OLED (organic light-emitting diode) display, also hinted at, would be a first for an iPhone, but Samsung, Asus, Lenovo, and other smartphone brands already sell devices with OLED screens.
Apple has a reputation for transforming existing technologies into stunning products, and it could do the same with the next iPhone. Apple is fighting to defend its market share amid growing competition from Microsoft, Google, BlackBerry (BBRY), and Chinese brands Huawei and Xiaomi.