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Bye, bye Home button! Apple’s premium iPhone 8 will steal the show with this new feature

With the inevitable arrival of this year’s iPhone, fans and pundits are hoping that it will be a revolutionary, not just an evolutionary, step for Apple’s flagship device. After all, this year marks the iPhone’s 10-year anniversary and anything less than spectacular will be considered a letdown.

So far, the rumors are living up to the expectations. Ferrari, iPhone X, three different versions, edgeless screen, new form factor, IP68 waterproofing, facial recognition and gesture controls – we try and keep up with all of the iPhone 8 rumors and they’re coming in fast!

Recently, we told you about Apple joining the Wireless Power Consortium, which more than likely confirms the introduction of the Qi wireless charging standard to the next iPhone. Now, we might see the debut of another radical change.

A new investor note from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, a well-known and reliable source of Apple leaks, suggests that the next iPhone will ditch the Touch ID Home button and replace it with an always-on “function area” that will sport virtual buttons instead.

Apple Insider reports that this iPhone is expected to have a 5.8-inch edgeless OLED screen but check this out, it will be squeezed into the same form factor as the 4.7-inch iPhone 7.

This means this new iPhone may be virtually all screen with an active display of about 5.15 inches on the diagonal. The remaining bottom area will then be dedicated to the all new “function area” virtual buttons.

According to the note, these virtual buttons will be always-on, static system controls but it’s uncertain if this function area converts as part of the main display for activities like video watching or video gaming. (If you can recall, the new MacBook’s Touch Bar similarly provides contextual system controls.)

This new report is in line with earlier predictions that suggested the removal of the home button, allowing a thinner bezel and a virtually borderless screen.

This new 5.8-inch version also agrees with Kuo’s report late last year that three iPhone versions will be released this year: a new 4.7-inch model, the 5.5-inch Plus model, and a new 5.8-inch display model.

This 5.8-inch model may be the rumored premium “Ferrari/iPhone X” model that will have all the radical and revolutionary changes. The 4.7 and 5.5-inch versions will likely be just upgraded “s” versions of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.

With the removal of the current version of Touch ID, Kuo thinks that new biometric systems will assist in this iPhone model’s security and app authentications such as Apple Pay. This may include exciting technologies like 3D facial recognition and hand gesture control, which will be a first in an iPhone. This is in line with earlier rumors that suggests the introduction of the same biometric sensors.

Also, Apple was granted a patent this week for fingerprint-reading capable micro LED touchscreen display, which adds credence to the rumored incorporation of Touch ID to the display itself.

Excited yet? Well, all these whiz-bang, wow-factor innovations may come at a steep price. As reported recently, the premium iPhone may cost over $1,000. This cost is due to the 50 to 60 percent increase in this model’s production cost compared to this year’s  “s” models of the iPhone 7. This suggests that the iPhone 7 “s” models will retain the current price points of last year’s models.

Another note from Kuo sent out earlier this week confirms a bigger 2,700 battery and two-unit logic board that will make more room for internal components.

With talks of three separate iPhone models this year and the rapid rush of rumors, it can get confusing. Although it’s hard to distinguish which changes are going solely to the premium version and what features will grace the “s” models, one thing is for sure, this is shaping up to be a big year for the iPhone.

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