Phones
Sims

iPhone 8

Apple's iPhone 8 is less than a month away from hitting the shelves - and yet many of its details remain shrouded in mystery.

This is because the electronics giant has promised this time to break new ground in the smartphone market it has dominated for the last decade.

Here's what we know so far.

Launch

First, the iPhone 8 is being launched alongside two other models - namely, the 7s and the 7s Plus, which are effectively the companion pieces of last year's iPhone 7 (and therefore can expect only piecemeal ugprades such as longer battery life).

The phone is expected to be on sale at the end of September - although Apple is expected to ship a limited supply in the initial few months as it looks to continue the marketing strategy that has been used to such great effect in years past.

Design

The iPhone 8, according to insiders, is going to be released in three colours, with a snazzy gold hue joining the traditional black and white.

The biggest change, in terms of appearance, is that the screen commands a greater share of the overall phone chassis, with a 5.8 inch display (just slightly bigger than that of previous models, thanks to the removal of the home button).

This all means that the standard iPhone 8 model will offer dimensions similar to the appointed "Plus" models of previous generations.

Features

To mark the 10th anniversary of the iPhone, Apple is said to have developed radical new features to set their latest product apart from many if its predecessors.

What we know is that the iPhone "home" button - formerly a pyhsical push-button beneath the screen - will be replaced with a pressure-sensitive touch-screen one within the screen itself (this was also the case with the iPhone 7, but earlier rumours had predicted they would reinstate the original design).

Reports are also suggesting Apple will be removing the Touch ID feature used to verify users' identity and unlock their device; this means they will instead be banking on upgraded facial recognition technology, which is bound to have teething problems in the early goings.

Wireless charging is also finally coming to the iPhone, after Samsung beat them to the punch two years ago by introducing the feature to its Galaxy range. This may appear minor at first - but anyone who has burned through their often flimsy USB cables will know how advantageous this could prove in the long run.

Apple's new camera technology has been variously described as "cutting edge", and if you can work around the stabilisation issues you could have a seriously useful piece of kit.

As well as augmented reality features - which help tourists navigate around unfamiliar cities - the iPhone 8 will also come fitted with SmartCam, software which identifies objects placed in the camera's view (your friend's frowny face, for example).

Verdict

It looks like Apple is finally pushing the boat out in genuinely perceptible upgrades this time around, although much of them won't become public knowledge until the launch date later this month.

What's clear is that the increased size and brand new features will make the 7s and 7s Plus redundant, so give those a miss unless you're absolutely desperate for a quicker processor and longer battery life.