Apple (AAPL) is expected to unveil its newest iPhones on Tuesday, leaving some consumers wondering exactly what to expect amid talk the new devices could represent a major step forward on last year's model.
For some, the first reaction may be sticker shock. The premium version of the iPhone 8, as consumers and pundits have taken to calling it, may carry a price tag that tops $1,000. That's about 30 percent more than the priciest phone in Apple's current lineup, the $769 iPhone 7 Plus. Yet analysts expect robust demand for the next iPhone, thanks partly to the many consumers who never upgraded to the iPhone 7.
Speculation, leaks and expectations about the next version of the iPhone abound, but experts agree that the newest iPhones will amount to a significant advance on the 7 and the 7 Plus. Among its new design features, the flagship version of the iPhone 8 is expected to have an OLED display, technology known to provide sharp resolution and bright colors, along with facial-recognition capabilities.
"We fully expect the iPhone 8 to be a major step forward in terms of design and technology," said Clement Thibault, senior analyst at Investing.com, via email. "While the iPhone 7 sold well, there was criticism regarding Apple's lack of innovation. We believe that Apple will take this opportunity to show the world it hasn't lost a step."
He added, "Apple has never been afraid to charge a premium for its devices, and we don't expect to start thinking about pricing in line with the market now. As smartphones take a bigger and bigger presence in our lives, one could theoretically justify a $1,000 phone."
Consumer interest in upgrading to a new iPhone is on par with last year, according to PiperJaffray analyst Michael Olson, who surveyed more than 400 iPhone users ahead of next week's rollout. About 16 percent said they expect to upgrade, while 24 percent said they might consider it, compared with about 15 percent and 29 percent a year earlier.
About 330 million customers currently use iPhones that are at least two years old, which could help spur demand for the newest version, he added.
"We believe a sizable portion of these users, in addition to users with newer devices, will look to upgrade due to the age of their device and the more significant changes to the device," Olson noted. "The device is likely to see a more robust uptake rate than previous iPhone cycles, except perhaps the iPhone 6 launch."
Apple could sell about 242 million new iPhones in the year following the launch, he predicted. That would surpass annual sales in the previous two fiscal years.
Here's more information on the iPhone 8:
When will Apple announce the new phones? The event is expected to take place on Sept. 12 at 10 a.m. PST/1 p.m. EST at the Steve Jobs Theater at Apple's new headquarters in Cupertino, California. The company is providing a live stream of the event for customers interested in watching remotely.
How much will it cost? The flagship iPhone is expected to cost around $1,000, although some reports have speculated the price might be pegged as high as $1,400. Some consumers may opt to buy the new iPhone 8 on a monthly installment plan, which would make the cost more palatable. There are likely to be two other iPhone versions, the 7S and 7S Plus, which are expected to cost less than the iPhone 8.
What new flashy tech will it include? Speculation runs the gamut, but there is consensus that the iPhone 8 will include a few big upgrades: wireless charging, facial recognition as an alternative to Touch ID and a curved OLED display. It may also be more waterproof and eliminate the home button.
What's so important about OLED? OLED stands for organic LED, and it's the standard used in Samsung's flagship Galaxy phones. Apple has relied on LED-backlit screens for its phones, but critics say OLED provides brighter, clearer images. Because of the way OLEDs emit light, they allow for thinner displays.
When can I get one? That will be a major question for both Apple investors and consumers. Apple may provide details on shipping dates when it announces the new devices on Sept. 12. Consumers are likely to have no problem buying a 7S, perhaps as early as October, but some analysts have predicted delays with the iPhone 8 or shortages because of supply chain issues with the OLED screens.
Will Apple announce any other products? All eyes will be on the new iPhones, partly because of the device's importance to Apple's bottom line since it was introduced 10 years ago, but the tech giant is also expected to announce a few other new products. Those are likely to include an Apple Watch 3 and a new Apple TV.