Apple is widely expected to release three new iPhones this year: the largely iterative 4.7-inch iPhone 7s and 5.5-inch iPhone 7s Plus upgrades and an all-new premium handset model with a wraparound OLED display measuring 5.8 inches diagonally (with an active display area between 5.1 and 5.2 inches).
According to Taiwanese trade publication DigiTimes on Tuesday, only the flagship iPhone 8 model will feature a brand new industrial design with an all-glass chassis while the 4.7-inch phone should continue using an aluminum-alloy chassis like prior iPhones.
Citing sources from the upstream supply chain, the publication wrote that iPhone 8 will be adopting a chassis made of reinforced glass with a stainless steel metal frame. While the 4.7-inch iPhone 7s update will continue using an aluminum-alloy chassis, the design for the 5.5-inch iPhone 7s Plus’s chassis has yet to be confirmed.
The stainless steel metal frame for iPhone 8 will be supplied by iPhone manufacturer Foxconn and US-based Jabil Circuit. The aluminum-alloy chassis for the 4.7-inch iPhone 7s model will be supplied by Catcher Technology, which has been building unibody enclosures for Apple’s smartphones and tablets for years.
Catcher said earlier that its 2017 revenues will see a significant year-on-year growth, an indication that the company has signed a lucrative contract for Apple’s next iPhone.
“Although Casetek, a metal chassis subsidiary of Pegatron Technology, has been aggressively sending engineering samples to Apple and establishing new production bases to prepare for Apple’s orders, the company has so far still not obtained significant orders for the next-generation iPhones,” notes the report.
KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicted back in April 2016 that iPhone 8 would ditch LCD technology and its unibody aluminum casing for an all-glass enclosure and a wraparound AMOLED panel protected by a curved 2.5D glass cover on the front.
He later added there was “increasing likelihood” that 2017 iPhones would have all-glass front and back, with a high-end iPhone 8 model possibly adopting a stainless steel metal frame rather than aluminum.