The iPhone that Apple plans to launch next year could look much different than the devices previously unveiled by the tech giant.
The iPhone 7S—the presumed name Apple (aapl) will use for the smartphone expected to debut in 2017—will come with an all-glass enclosure, according to KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. It would be a quasi-return to the past for Apple, which has used glass for the iPhone 4 that shipped in 2010.
The analyst, whose note to investors was earlier reported on by Apple-tracking site 9to5Mac, is one of the more notable Apple-watchers in the industry. Indeed, Kuo has been credited with correctly predicting the features in the latest iPhone SE as well as several Apple other products. In a world filled with Apple device forecasters, Kuo is among the elite.
If Kuo is right this time around, it would mark an important departure for Apple. While the company had used a glass enclosure with the iPhone 4, Apple also used metal around the spine to reinforce the iPhone's corners. Still, the glass was prone to cracking and breaking upon falls, prompting Apple to quickly change over to an aluminum design with the iPhone 5. The company hasn't looked back since.
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Now, though, Kuo argues, Apple would be able to deliver an entirely glass-based smartphone that could be less prone to the issues iPhone 4 and 4S owners experienced. He didn't elaborate, however, on how the device would be designed, what technology Apple would use to harden its glass, and what it might look like.
It's worth noting, though, that Kuo is talking about the iPhone 7S and not the iPhone 7 that Apple is expected to launch later this year. That device, most analysts (including Kuo) predict will come with an aluminum-based design somewhat similar to Apple's flagship iPhone 6S line. Apple is not expected to make a move towards glass until 2017 with the iPhone 7S.
The idea that Apple would make a drastic design change in an "S" year, however, might cause some to question Kuo's prediction.
Historically, Apple has delivered major design enhancements to its newly branded devices, such as the iPhone 4, iPhone 5, and iPhone 6. A year later, Apple typically releases an "S" model that comes with a nearly identical design to the previous version but features better components. The iPhone 6S, for instance, is nearly identical to the new design Apple introduced with the iPhone 6, but it sports a faster processor, among other features.
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Kuo suggests that this year's iPhone 7 will fly in the face of history and deliver a design similar to that of the iPhone 6s, continuing on that Apple will then offer its new design concept with the S model.
Kuo's claims, which come from unidentified sources, follow reports out of Korea last week saying that the iPhone 7S would be the first from the company to feature an OLED screen. Those reports claimed Apple signed a $2.6 billion deal with Samsung Display to make 100 million OLEDs for its iPhone 7S line. Every iPhone released so far has come with an LCD screen.
If both predictions are true, it sounds like the iPhone 7S, and not the iPhone 7, would be the major upgrade Apple fans for which fans are hoping.
Apple did not respond to a request for comment.