After roughly a decade of almost total predictability and product upgrade monotony, it’s become practically impossible all of a sudden to guess what’s next for Apple’s increasingly successful iPhone lineup.

Is a low-cost SE 2 coming in 2018? Will Cupertino permanently switch to a three-model release strategy? Is Touch ID a goner? How about LCD screen technology?

We won’t get definitive answers to any of those questions in the near future from even the most trusted tipsters and analysts out there, but reports are sure piling up in support of a few theories.

It’s looking very likely all three next-gen iPhones will adopt facial recognition, as well as join the bezel-slaying movement, though Apple may not be ready just yet to embrace OLED panels across the board.

That’s simply not a sensible business decision right now, as it would mean relying exclusively on the services of arch-rival Samsung for the entire 2018 iPhone X family. LG is expected to only be theoretically capable of supplying 10 million flexible OLED screens next year, while Japan Display and Foxconn-owned Sharp need more time to set up mass production.

Hence, it makes sense on a number of different levels to prepare 5.8 and 6.3-inch OLED iPhone X sequels, as well as a 6.1-inch LCD version possibly borrowing the “traditional” build materials of older iOS handsets.

We’re talking metal backplates, which are less likely to catch the eye of many fashion-focused power users, but may also resist drops a little better and make repairs and replacements slightly more affordable.

If this is indeed Apple’s grand 2018 plan, Sharp and JDI can breathe easily and start manufacturing large edge-to-edge LCD panels, with several other parts suppliers likely to get a piece of the 6.1-inch iPhone action, including metal casing maker Casetek and its ODM parent Pegatron.

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