If you were hoping for something big from Apple’s iPhone line this year, you might be out of luck.
In a note to investors, Credit Suisse researchers said that they expect a “muted” iPhone 7 launch this year. The researchers, who did not say how they are basing their predictions, added that the smartphone will likely only feature “modest” improvements, including a slimmer design, additional storage capacity, and a dual camera—features that have been rumored over the last several months.
Despite those troubles, Apple could still have an uptick year. In fact, Credit Suisse’s analysts say Apple (AAPL) will still be able to ship 215 million iPhones this year despite the relatively minor upgrade compared to the iPhone 6s, rising 4.2% year over year.
The main attraction, the analysts say, will be next year’s iPhone 8, which they believe, will launch in September 2017. The analysts called the iPhone 8 a “super-cycle,” adding that the smartphone will come with a wide range of new features, including organic-light-emitting-diode (OLED) screen, wireless charging, and a better camera. It’s even possible, the analysts say, that Apple could eliminate the iPhone 8’s home button and create a full touch display without any physical buttons on the face. Apple’s Touch ID biometric sensor, therefore, would be baked into the glass, rather than on the home button, where it sits now.
One other possibility: Apple’s decision to boost the size of the screen in its “plus” model to 5.85 inches, up from 5.5 inches currently.
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The analyst report follows a steady stream of rumors surrounding Apple’s plans for its next iPhone. While the secretive technology giant hasn’t said what it has planned, several reports have surfaced, saying that Apple will launch a minor upgrade in the iPhone 7 this year. The big upgrade, nearly all reports citing sources claim, will come in 2017.
Indeed, over the last several weeks, reports have been swirling out of Korea and China that Apple has placed orders on OLED displays, which would be bundled in next year’s iPhone. It would be the first iPhone to not run a liquid crystal display, which is thicker and doesn’t deliver the same color quality as an OLED alternative. Other analysts, citing supply chain checks, have said that Apple will also launch an all-glass iPhone next year and nix the company’s current use of metal case designs.
If all that’s true—and more evidence is piling up in favor of those plans—it would mark a radical shift in Apple’s upgrade lifecycle.
The company has historically launched major upgrades every other year. Apple’s last major upgrade came in 2014 with the launch of the iPhone 6. In interim periods, Apple launches so-called “S” models that come with the same design concepts as the previous year’s model, but offer internal component upgrades. Since Apple launched the iPhone 6s last year, it was expected to offer a major upgrade in 2016.
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However, analysts and market researchers say Apple can no longer keep that cadence as the pace of innovation in smartphone components starts to slow. Instead, Apple will likely shift to a three-year lifecycle for its products, starting in 2017 with the major upgrade.
Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.