The Unicorn iPhone 

Over the weekend, a story broke that Apple is working create a next-generation version of Touch ID. At the bottom of the story about it on MacRumors, this paragraph appears:

Kuo’s latest report builds on previous predictions regarding this year’s “10th anniversary” iPhone, which is expected to feature a radical redesign with an embedded home button in an edge-to-edge display, a glass body, and potentially wireless charging. Previous rumors suggesting the iPhone 8 could include advanced biometric features like facial recognition or iris scanning have pointed to the possibility that they could also power augmented reality camera functions.

There’s been a lot of talk about this “10th anniversary” iPhone. If rumors are to be believed, it will mark a huge change to the phone.

Most of it sounds pretty awesome, actually. I’d love a phone with the screen size of my 7 Plus, but in a smaller chassis. The forehead and chin of the iPhone look old compared to some of the design work coming out of Samsung and others. Wireless charging has been around for ages on Android phones, and would be a welcome addition as well.

Part of me looks at the fact that the iPhone 7 uses the same basic case design as found on the 6 and 6S as evidence that they are working hard on something new, and needed to bunt a little bit this year. That doesn’t seem like something Apple would do with their flagship device, but I can see a world in which something didn’t get finished in time and had to be kicked down the road a little bit.

Then there’s this, by John Gruber back in October:

Apple is not going to make a special edition of any product — let alone the iPhone, their most important product — just to mark an anniversary. Don’t tell me about the 20th Anniversary Macintosh1 — that was a product from the old Apple that was heading toward bankruptcy, and a perfect example of why they shouldn’t do something special to mark something as arbitrary as an anniversary.

While Tim Cook’s Apple is certainly more retrospective than under Steve Jobs, I think Gruber is right. A special anniversary edition of the iPhone would be a huge break from convention.

Whether Apple calls the next iPhone a special edition or not, clearly part of the company’s fanbase is going to be expecting something big. Some will surely be disappointed if the next iPhone doesn’t bring drastic changes with it.

(Just think about the reaction if, that instead of an all-new iPhone 8 later this year, Apple releases a 7S that looks basically like the 7 that looked basically like the 6S that looked basically like the 6…)

My hope is that the next iPhone will feature a new design that will really move the ball forward.2 It won’t fulfill everyone’s wildest dreams, and I’d be willing to bet that it won’t come with a special “Anniversary” label beyond a mention in the keynote.

I expect to see leaks sooner or later to tamp the expectations down, if indeed the hype has gotten out of hand. Remember the months of conversation about the lack of a headphone jack on the 7? A lot of that took place — and was resolved — before the phone was even announced. I suspect 2017 may bring more of the same.


  1. Ahem. 
  2. Ironically, a lot of that conversation started with an episode of Gruber’s podcast.