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Many new products released by Apple this year were widely rumored in the months leading up to their introductions, including the iPhone X, iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, Apple Watch Series 3, Apple TV 4K, HomePod, and new iPads. We even had an advanced look at software features like Animoji.
2017 was a particularly interesting year for Apple rumors given leaked or prematurely released versions of iOS 11 and HomePod firmware contained references to several products that had yet to be announced. While not every rumor proved true, much of Apple’s roadmap this year was revealed ahead of time.
We’ve rounded up some of the most notable rumors and leaks of the year, primarily focusing on information that proved to be accurate.
2017 in Rumors
iPhone X is so radically different that rumors about the device began to surface all the way back in early 2016, so we’ll start with a primer.
The first report about Apple’s plans to release a high-end iPhone with an OLED display this year came from Japan’s Nikkei Asian Review in March 2016, roughly a year and a half before the iPhone X was unveiled.
In the same month, DigiTimes revealed the device would have a 5.8-inch display, and KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said it would have glass on both the front and back sides, a metal frame, wireless charging, and facial or iris recognition.
By April 2016, the device was being called the iPhone 8. Barclays analyst Mark Moskowitz said it wouldn’t have a home button.
In May 2016, Daring Fireball‘s John Gruber heard early scuttlebutt suggesting the device would have an edge-to-edge display, with the front-facing camera, Touch ID, and other sensors hidden under the display.
The information provided to Gruber wasn’t entirely accurate, but he was on the right track. Rumors continued to surface about Apple removing the home button and adopting facial or iris recognition in lieu of Touch ID.
In September 2016, Kuo said stainless steel would likely be Apple’s metal of choice for the iPhone X’s frame, with slightly curved 2.5D cover glass on top of the display, as used since the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.
By the end of 2016, several reports had claimed Apple would release a trio of new iPhones in 2017, including the all-new 5.8-inch model and updated 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch models to replace the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.
The first iPhone X rumors of 2017 lent credence to the device having a stainless steel frame, facial recognition, and support for inductive charging, rather than RF-based over-the-air wireless charging from Energous.
February was a busy month for iPhone X rumors, with the device said to have 64GB and 256GB storage options, 3GB of RAM, no Touch ID, a higher-capacity two-cell L-shaped battery pack, and a “revolutionary” front camera with 3D facial recognition that we now know as the TrueDepth system.
Around that time, we also learned the device would have a starting price of at least $1,000 in the United States.
In March, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo dismissed a rumor about the iPhone X having a USB-C connector, noting that it would still have a Lightning connector with support for fast charging via USB-C Power Delivery.
In late March, analysts at Barclays said the iPhone X would have a True Tone display that shifts colors based on ambient lighting.
In April, we saw the first schematic of the iPhone X’s sensor housing, more commonly known as the notch. The notch houses the front camera, an infrared camera, a flood illuminator, a dot projector, a microphone, an ambient light sensor, a proximity sensor, and an earpiece that doubles as a speaker.
Rumors about Apple placing Touch ID on the back of the iPhone X persisted into May, but they ultimately proved to be inaccurate. Also in May, we learned the device would have louder stereo speakers.
June was filled with the first iPhone X part leaks, mockups, screen protectors, and dummy units that all pointed towards the device having an all-screen design except for the notch. MacRumors also saw hints of the iPhone 8 showing up in web analytics, suggesting Apple was testing the device internally.
July saw both KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo and Bloomberg confirm that Face ID would fully replace Touch ID on the iPhone X.
Perhaps the biggest iPhone X leak to date came in late July courtesy of Apple itself. Shortly after the company accidentally released an internal version of firmware for its upcoming HomePod speaker, developers uncovered a glyph of an iPhone with an all-screen design except for a notch at the top.
The HomePod firmware proved to be a gold mine for iPhone X leaks, revealing the device’s infrared face detection, tap to wake function, split-up status bar, 4K video recording at up to 60 FPS, Face ID compatibility with Apple Pay, suppressed notification sounds when looking at the screen, and much more.
Despite so much of the iPhone X being revealed in the HomePod firmware, August still saw some fresh leaks, including a photo of the device’s A11 Bionic chip. Japanese website Mac Otakara also reported that the iPhone X’s inductive charging ability would support transmission of up to 7.5 watts of power.
As if the HomePod firmware leaks weren’t bad enough for Apple, MacRumors was anonymously provided with download links to a final version of iOS 11 in early September. The software update contained several unredacted references to unannounced iPhone X hardware and software features.
MacRumors uncovered iPhone X screenshots within the iOS 11 filesystem that showed off the new gesture-based home screen indicator. There were also hints that the elongated side button, previously known as the sleep-wake button, could be held to activate Siri or double tapped to bring up the Apple Pay wallet.
The golden master of iOS 11 also referenced the Face ID name for Apple’s facial recognition system, True Tone support, a collection of new iPhone X wallpapers, and Apple’s new Portrait Lighting feature, including the Contour Light, Natural Light, Stage Light, Stage Light Mono, and Studio Light options.
Within the iOS 11 filesystem, we also found a video file showing four different Animoji characters, including a monkey, cat, dog, and robot. The discovery made it clear that Apple had been working on animated emoji that could presumably be controlled with the iPhone X’s then-rumored facial recognition system.
The iOS 11 golden master soon made its way into the hands of some developers, who continued to make discoveries, including technical details about the A11 Bionic being a six-core chip with two high power cores and four low power cores.
The golden master also contained a device tree that confirmed the iPhone X, iPhone 8, and iPhone 8 Plus names of Apple’s latest smartphones. Continue reading “2017’s Biggest Apple Leaks: iPhone X, Apple Watch Series 3, HomePod, Apple TV 4K, and More”