Apple is using an office in Israel to develop hardware for the "iPhone 8," which is expected to be released next year with a radical redesign, according to an employee at the site.
Details on the iPhone 8 are scarce at present but some reports, including this one from MacRumours, suggest that it will have an edge-to-edge display that removes the need for the top and bottom bezels where features like the fingerprint sensor and the front-facing camera are located.
Some hardware for the iPhone 8 is being created in Herzliya, Israel, according to a local Apple employee, who said employees in Israel work on all of Apple's new products.
The employee, whose identity is being concealed by Business Insider, solders components for Apple. This person didn't give too much away about the new handset other than it will be "different" to the iPhone 6s and the iPhone 7, which have been criticised for being too similar to their predecessors.
Speaking to Business Insider outside Apple's Herzliya office at Maskit Street 12, the Apple employee said staff in Israel are working on what's coming "next" in Apple's product line, giving a specific mention to "iPhone 8."
The worker used the term "iPhone 8" unprompted in our conversation. That was interesting because the next logical name for the iPhone to be released in 2017 should be "iPhone 7s." iPhone 8 isn't due until 2018. Apple has a two-year development cycle for new iPhones. However, some observers have noted that the iPhone 7 was a largely incremental update. S-series iPhones are also supposed to be incremental updates, but the phone that is coming in the 2017 "iPhone 7s" slot is expected to be a much more dramatic improvement to the line. So some people believe that Apple might break its naming tradition in 2017, skip iPhone 7s, and give the iPhone a new number or name out of step with the current sequence. "iPhone 8" would be one option.
The source added that the iPhone 8 will have a better camera than the iPhone 6s and the iPhone 7 — something that is fairly standard when a new iPhone comes onto the market and therefore not unexpected.
The employee was informed at the start of the conversation that they were talking to a journalist. When asked what Apple uses the Herzliya facility for, the source (who only spoke in broken English), said: "New products." They added that Apple doesn't actually assemble products in Israel.
A second Apple employee that Business Insider spoke to in Herzliya said they "couldn't talk" about what Apple does in Herzliya, while an employee from networking giant Cisco, which also has an office in the area, said: "I have three friends that work there. They work on the hardware side. Verifications. Something like that."
An Apple security guard told Business Insider that we could not speak to anyone inside Apple's office without an invitation.
There are about 800 employees at Apple's Herzliya office, which is around four-years-old and situated approximately 15km north of Tel Aviv city centre. The office was set up after Apple acquired two startups: flash memory designer Anobit in 2012 and 3D sensor developer PrimeSense in 2013. Apple has since acquired Israeli camera firm LinX.
Sources close to Apple said the company uses the R&D facility in Herzliya to develop hardware such as chips, storage, cameras and wireless technologies. Apple CEO Tim Cook said that the Herzliya office is Apple's second largest R&D facility in the world while on a trip to Israel in 2015, according to The Times of Israel.
The Cupertino-headquartered firm also has an office in Haifa, which is in the north of Israel and home to approximately 200 employees.
Avi Hasson, the chief scientist of the Ministry of Economy of the State of Israel, told Business Insider on Monday that almost every major Silicon Valley tech firm has an outpost in Israel, adding that the country is a "fountain of innovation."
An Apple spokesperson said the company does not comment on rumour or speculation.