By Scott Baughman

Anyone who has read any installment of this column – or heck, ever spoken to me in person – knows there are few things I love in this world more than my Apple computer products. I think Star Wars movies might come close, but there have been times in my life where the two fandoms have been neck and neck. And right now I’ve got the best of both worlds in my pocket with an iPhone wallet case that is adorned with images of the cutest little droid buddy you could ever have in a galaxy far, far away – BB8! He’s the lovable orange and white astromech that looks like a soccer ball with a head on top from Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

But later this year I may have to replace BB8 with a new iPhone case because the geniuses in Cupertino are about to unleash another seismic shift on the tech world with the advent of the iPhone 8. Or maybe not. It’s all still a little up in the air as to when the new iPhone might actually be coming out. We know there’s SOMETHING coming from Apple in the way of a new iPhone this year, it just might not be called “iPhone 8” when it does. Current rumors put the release date for the new iPhone anywhere between September and November so by the time you read this column it may be on your new iPhone!

So, what exactly is changing from the iPhone 7 to the iPhone 8? In doing my research I began to suspect that it would be shorter to write about what was NOT changing. But here are the main highlights of how this I going to be a brand new beast for Apple fans.

First, there’s the processor. The iPhone 7 has a lightning fast and ultra powerful A10 fusion chip as the center of its computer brain – and heart, so to speak. To tech-heads like myself who cut our teeth on the 80386 chip in massive desktop computers from the 1990s, this thing is a modern marvel. But the iPhone 8 is going to eclipse the performance of its older brother with a new chip (of course) that is unsurprisingly named the A11. But the differences are much larger than can be exemplified by one tiny numeric increase.

The A11 will be more than double the processing speed of the A10’s 64-bit architecture, but perhaps more interesting for tech-savvy consumers today it will use LESS electric power for that speed. In smartphones, having a smaller power requirement is key because it lets users get more screen time out of one charge on their device. Surely we’ve all been somewhere and lamented that our phone was about to die at a crucial moment. The iPhone 8 aims to overcome this classic complaint with a brain that uses less power AND a new way to charge your device.

The A11 chip will enable the new iPhone to charge with an induction system. This may sound weird, and very high tech – and it is – but if you know anyone with an Apple watch, this is the “charging pad” technology those already use. Next up is the fact that the iPhone 8 will do away with the black plastic edges at the top and bottom of the screen. There will be no more physical home button and the touch ID sensor to check your fingerprint may be built into the touch screen itself. This means less phone “frame” and more phone display space.

Finally, the other big advancement is Apple’s embracing of facial recognition software. The iPhone 8 will reportedly come with the option of unlocking only for the face of its registered user! So, you can look at my phone all you want, but Siri won’t open for you. But when I look at it, the phone will open right up.

Other rumors report that the iPhone 8 will include a smaller front-facing camera but offer a “dual lens” model for better picture quality. And the back of the phone will include a vertical camera for better picture quality, 3-D renderings and enhanced Augmented Reality functions. That sounds weird but it’s really a fancy way of saying games like Pokemon Go.

Obviously, I’m salivating at the prospect of a new device – even if it means saying goodbye to my BB8 case. Until next time, download complete!