An aerial view of downtown Herzliya in Israel. An aerial view of downtown Herzliya in Israel. An aerial view of downtown Herzliya in Israel, home to Apple's development lab. (Photo: Roman Yanushevsky/Shutterstock)

Is the iPhone 8 being built in Israel?

The coastal city of Herzliya is home to the tech giant's largest R&D lab outside the U.S.

Most people are just now unpacking their new iPhone 7, booting it up for the first time and enjoying all its new whiz-bang gadgetry.

Meanwhile, tech experts are already looking to Apple's next model, the iPhone 8. That model is being met with more anticipation than usual (even by diehard Apple fan standards) as it marks the 10th anniversary since the advent of the industry-altering iPhone.

Apple, a notoriously secretive company, is already hard at work on the new model. And Business Insider is reporting that the California-based tech giant has turned to its 180,000-square-foot Mediterranean R&D lab in the coastal Israeli city of Herzliya to develop the hardware for the iPhone 8.

An architectural rendering of the O2 office park in Herzliya, home to Apple's Israel R&D offices.An architectural rendering of the O2 office park in Herzliya, home to Apple's Israel R&D offices. (Photo: Courtesy Yashar Architects)

Tech blogs are reporting that the iPhone 8 will feature a radical redesign from previous models. Some are reporting that Apple will actually ditch the home button completely, featuring a slick end-to-end screen display. A new home button, in this instance, would be built directly into the screen. Another rumor swirling around Mac communities based on a new patent filed by Apple is that they might even abandon the entire lightning port in a bid to reduce any physical imperfections on the iPhone 8’s external design.

Apple has three offices in Israel, totaling more than 1,000 employees. The company's interest in the Israeli high-tech scene began shortly after CEO Tim Cook took over the company from an ailing Steve Jobs in 2011. With the purchase of two Israeli companies – Anobit, in 2011, and PrimeSense, in 2014 – and the recruitment of more than 1,000 Israeli engineers, it has pivoted toward Israel as a base to continue research and development of hardware and semiconductors. This is essential for a company that relies heavily on smaller and more powerful processors that allow for the sleek and minimalist design of its products. Israel has proved to be an elite breeding ground for such technology.

Customers in a New York Apple store check out a new iPhone 7 model on the day of its release earlier this month.Customers in a New York Apple store check out a new iPhone 7 model on the day of its release earlier this month. (Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Some Israeli technology can already be accessed in the new iPhone 7 model. PrimeSense, for example, is behind the "3D touch" home button which reacts differently depending on how hard you press it. Anobit's flash memory technologies helped in creating the largest storage available on an iPhone – 256 gigabytes.

Another Israeli company that Apple acquired, LinX Computational Imaging Ltd, produces innovative cameras for smartphones and tablets. One of the new features on the iPhone 7 is something called "Portrait" mode. Think of a photograph you see from a wedding photographer or in the newspaper. Often the person in the picture is in focus, and the trees or whatever else is in the background is blurry. That used to be a technique only available to professional photographers. The new LinX-enabled cameras can now do that trick on the iPhone 7. (While "Portrait" mode is already available to beta testers and receiving rave reviews, it will be available to the general public later this year through a free downloadable update to your phone.)

monkeysSee how the monkeys are in focus and the background is blurry? You'll be able to do that trick with your iPhone camera. (Photo: Tibor Jager/Zoological Center Tel Aviv Ramat Gan, Safari)

With this expansion in Israel, it should come as no surprise that in 2014, Apple also moved to shore up its corporate connection to the country, appointing Israel-born Johny Srouji to Vice President of Hardware Technologies. Srouji, a graduate of Israel's Technion Institute of Technology, will be leading "all custom silicon architecture and development," and will be responsible for "many of Apple’s industry-leading devices," according to an Apple news release.

Apple's development center in Herzliya near the Mediterranean metropolis of Tel Aviv is its largest outside of the United States. And according to the company, more than 6,000 iPhone app developers also reside in Israel.

"Apple is in Israel because the engineering talent and the brilliance of the people are incredible," Cook said during a visit to Israel last year. "We have an enormous admiration for Israel."


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