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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 17 December 2018

The new iPhone: everything we know so far

There may be as many as three new models in 2018, including an 'entry-level' device and a larger version costing as much as $1,100

Taiwanese women hold the Apple iPhone X at an Apple store in Taipei last November. EPA
Taiwanese women hold the Apple iPhone X at an Apple store in Taipei last November. EPA

It’s that time of year when excitement builds among Apple fans - the arrival of the latest iPhone.

Since the first iPhone was unveiled in 2007, a new or updated model has been released each year, and in recent times the big reveal has been in September.

Last year Apple launched its biggest and most expensive model to date, the iPhone X, to mark the 10th anniversary.

But how does it plan to follow up? Apple is notoriously secretive, but leaks from suppliers and industry figures are rife.

The National has rounded up the rumours on your behalf.

When will the new model be unveiled?

Apple watchers believe the world will get its first glimpse of Apple’s three new phones (more to follow on that) on September 12 and pre-orders from September 14. This is partly from educated guesswork by the people at CNET, who worked out that for the past six years Apple has unveiled its products on a Tuesday or Wednesday no later than the second full week of September. The launch was also on September 12 last year.

When will they be available to buy in UAE stores?

In recent years Apple has made its phones available for sale in all of its stores globally on the same day, rather than rolling it out in primary markets first and secondary markets a day or two later. Two of last year’s models – the iPhone 8S – were unveiled on September 15 and went on sale the following week. But fans had to wait two months to buy the iPhone X on November 3.

Tech commentators hope that happens again this year.

"Hopefully they will launch in the UAE with all of the other global markets. They have been doing that for the last few years where we get the phone on the same day as the US or the UK," said Abbas Ali, managing editor of TechRadar Middle East.

So, what will the iPhones be like?

Well, there will be three, according to the rumour mill.

"The sizes are expected to be 5.8inches, which will be the follow up to last year’s iPhone X. Then there is supposed to be a larger 6.4inch model, which is supposed be the Plus version of the iPhone X," said Mr Ali.

"I would love it if they called it the iPhone XL, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. And then in the middle there will be a 6.1inch model, which is supposed to be the cheapest of the bunch."

Experts are pre-emptively calling that model the iPhone 9. It will apparently feature an 'iPhone X-like' 6.1in LCD screen, according to reports. Although it is probably safe to say that is where the similarity will end between the high-end model and entry-level option.

Tim Cook, Chief Executive Officer of Apple Inc., takes a selfie with a customer and her iPhone as he visits the Apple Store in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., March 27, 2018. REUTERS/John Gress
Apple chief executive Tim Cook takes a selfie with a customer at the Apple store in Chicago. Reuters

It will not feature an edge to edge screen, like the Samsung Edge, according to leaked pictures of glass panels.

The belief is that those interested in buying the iPhone 9 will have to wait until October due to issues with the LED backlight, according to industry reports.

The other models are expected to be called iPhone 11 and 11 Plus - or iPhone X2 and iPhone X Plus. They will have OLED screens, which are known for richer colours and contrast. Rumours also abound about an upgraded camera and a brand new USB-C charger which will be exclusive to 2018 phones. The iPhone X Plus will be bigger, as has been the case with previous ‘plus’ phones in the series.

How have the new models improved?

One of the phones – presumably the most expensive of the three – is rumoured to feature three rear cameras. This would apparently enhance the camera’s rear zoom capacity and improve the picture quality in low lighting - something the iPhone has lagged behind rivals on. The more expensive OLED phones may feature an ‘Apple Pencil,’ or stylus, say some.

There are also new colours expected. The current iPhone X is only available in plain white and plain black, but a gold version is expected next month.

And the iPhone 9 may come in a variety of colours.

"What they are saying is the middle one, the cheaper one, the 6.1inch one, might come in a variety of colours like blue, yellow and orange. But as far as the follow up to the iPhone X and the larger version, the Plus size, that will just be black and white and then probably a gold colour on top," said Mr Ali.

Will they fix glitches?

Mr Ali is not hopeful.

"There are a few things like maps which don’t work locally and directions to maps turn by turn don’t work over here. But I haven’t heard anything about them trying to get that working with the launch," he said. "From a software perspective it is pretty much going to be the same."

Now the important part - how much will it cost?

The price for the entry level iPhone 9 is expected to be around $600-$700, according to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. This has been described as ‘affordable’ by some but needless to say, there is a vast swathe of people in the UAE, and other countries, who could not easily afford to buy it.

The other two are likely to be a much higher price point, like the iPhone X was last year at $999. According to investment analysts at UBS, this year’s flagship phone could cost an eye watering $1,100.

Are people going to be prepared to pay that?

Yes, in a word.

"The iPhone X did well and people love upgrading their phones over here, especially the more expensive ones. I think they are doing to do pretty good over here in the region," said Mr Ali.

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