Persistent Software Problems With iPhone 8 Wireless Charging and 3D Sensor Causing ‘Panic’ at Apple

As the prospective September launch date of the iPhone 8 fast approaches, designers and engineers at Apple are said to be working "feverishly" to fix software problems in the device that could lead to production delays, reports Fast Company.

Citing a source "knowledge of the situation," the site says there's a "sense of panic" in the air because should the problems not be resolved, the device might ship without major features enabled.

One feature that might be delayed is wireless charging. Apple is said to be planning to implement inductive wireless charging in the iPhone 8, but rumors suggest it will be enabled through a standalone charger purchased separately. As previously shared by Apple blogger John Gruber, Apple may not ship the inductive wireless charging accessory until later in the year alongside an iOS 11.1 update.

iPhone 8 renders from iDrop News

While Gruber didn't offer an explanation, Fast Company says software issues, not components, are the problem. If the software isn't ready, wireless charging could be unavailable when the phone first begins shipping.

Apple is also said to be struggling with the 3D sensor expected to be built into the front-facing camera, which is rumored to enable a facial scanning system that could replace Touch ID.
Without confirming that's what the front-facing 3D sensor is for, my source says Apple has been struggling to get the sensor to work reliably. Again, the sensor hardware is not the problem, but rather the accompanying software.

The source believes Apple will likely have the 3D software working in time. But if not, the company could include the sensor in the phone anyway, and turn it on later on with a software update.
On the subject of Touch ID, Fast Company's source believes Apple could still be working to add it under the display. Yesterday, a report from KeyBanc Capital Markets suggested Apple was continuing to struggle to put the fingerprint sensor under the glass of the device, and that the company had "just a couple of weeks" to solve the problem.

Though this sounds unlikely because new device designs are often finalized months ahead of production, Fast Company's source calls the report "plausible" and says "in all likelihood, the fingerprint sensor will be embedded under the display." The source also says iPhone features "can remain fluid until deep in the summer" ahead of an iPhone launch.

With multiple reputable sources (Bloomberg and KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo) reporting Apple has adopted a superior facial recognition system to replace Touch ID, it's not clear how accurate Fast Company's information is, but given the number of conflicting rumors we've heard over the course of the iPhone 8's development, it's still difficult to predict exactly what we're going to see when the device debuts in September.

We've previously heard of problems with the display, the 3D sensor, and Touch ID, all of which have led to multiple rumors pointing towards serious supply issues. The iPhone 8, which will be sold alongside an "iPhone 7s" and an "iPhone 7s Plus," may not be widely available until late in 2017 or early in 2018 due to a later production ramp-up schedule, according to the latest rumor.

Related Roundup: iPhone 8
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The 2017 iPhone Could Cost Upwards of $1,000

Apple's 2017 iPhone, which is expected to feature premium parts and radical design changes, could cost "north of $1,000," reports Fast Company, citing a source with "knowledge of Apple's plans."

Rumors suggest the upcoming iPhone, which may be called the iPhone 8, will feature an OLED display that's more expensive than traditional LED displays. Other improvements, such as an increase in memory and wireless charging functionality may also drive up the price. It's not hard to imagine the iPhone hitting that price point when the 256GB iPhone 7 Plus is already at $969 in the United States, and previous rumors have also suggested it will be a "premium" device.

Fast Company's source also confirms some iPhone 8 design rumors, describing the device as "something like a smooth black monolith, with few visual interruptions to its sleek design." That jibes with rumors indicating Apple design chief Jony Ive has been aiming for an iPhone that looks like a single sheet of glass with the Home button and Touch ID fingerprint sensor located under the display.

iPhone 8 concept image via Thadeu Brandão

The Home button technology is still "evolving" according to Fast Company's source, but Apple's goal is to get it done in time for inclusion in the iPhone 8. Physical buttons, such as the volume button, power button, and mute switch could also be eliminated, a rumor we haven't heard before, and the iPhone 8 is said to include a "far bigger battery."

The source also claims Apple is working with Lumentum to develop 3D sensing technology that will be used in the device, but did not provide details on how the feature will be used.
It remains unclear how the technology will be applied, however. It could be used to recognize the user's face for authentication. It could also be used in the camera to provide better image resolution. It could even be used in some form of augmented reality application, according to our source.
The iPhone 8 is expected to include a glass body with a stainless steel frame for durability, and while Fast Company suggests the display will measure in at 5.8 inches, rumors disagree on this point. We've heard everything from 5 inches to 5.8-inches and don't yet have a clear picture on sizing.

With Apple likely planning to position the new OLED iPhone as a high-end premium device with a premium price tag, the company is also rumored to be planning to introduce two more affordable devices with LCD displays that are closer in design to the existing iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, measuring in at 4.7 and 5.5-inches.

These two devices may feature similar design changes, such as a glass body, but will have pared down features like an LCD display to keep the price down.

With such major changes expected for the 2017 iPhone, which marks the 10th anniversary of the device, rumors have been running rampant for months, making it hard to suss out some of the exact specifications of the device, including display design, screen size, and wireless charging functionality.

As we creep closer to September and start to see the first part leaks, we can expect to have a much clearer picture of what to expect from the first significant iPhone redesign since 2014.

Related Roundup: iPhone 8 (2017)
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