Apple’s iPhone product development cycle is like clockwork, that means it is very predictable, so it is a pretty safe guess that the company is already making plans for its next big iPhone announcement.
You can expect the announcement to happen sometime towards the tail end of the third quarter of this year and “people familiar to the matter” have told The Wall Street Journal that Apple will release three new models.
One with the triple rear camera
The top of the range upcoming iPhone will have three rear cameras and a host of new camera features to further differentiate it from its stablemates beyond just display sizes. The other two new iPhones, meanwhile, will continue to feature a double rear camera setup.
Apple’s current flagship iPhone is the iPhone XS Max but there is very little separating the iPhone XS Max and the smaller iPhone XS. In fact, both have identical specifications (processor, camera and features) safe for their screen sizes and battery capacity – the iPhone XS has a 5.8-inch display and a 2,658mAh battery while the iPhone Xs Max features a 6.5-inch display and a 3,174mAh battery.
One to replace the budget iPhone XR
Apple will continue to offer a “budget” version of the iPhone similar to the iPhone XR and like the iPhone XR, the new budget iPhone will continue to use LCD technology for its display. This is probably partly due to the surplus LCD supply Apple has in its inventory as a result of the iPhone XR sales being much lower than expected.
The people also said that Apple may switch to OLED displays for its lower end iPhones in 2020. Does this mean the budget version may get a mid-life refresh sometime next year? Well, it depends on how fast Apple can move the current iPhone XR and how well the new budget model will sell, and how much of a gap Apple to close in terms of revenue next year. I would say, it is possible to see a mid-life update, but we’ll see.
While the LCD display maybe similar to the current iPhone XR, the new budget model will have two rear cameras instead of the one in the iPhone XR.
What about that fancy 3D camera?
Earlier this month Sony dropped this biggest clue that the next big thing to come to the iPhone could be long-range 3D imaging. Sony alluded to this while speaking to Bloomberg saying that the company will kick off mass production of its next-generation 3D imaging sensor soon after several clients have shown interest in the tech – one of which is Apple.
The new 3D imaging sensor can be used to refresh Apple’s Face ID tech. The current technology used in the iPhone X, XS and XR are is two generations old already and could be due for a refresh.
Or the 3D camera can be one of the cameras that will make up the triple-camera array in the new flagship iPhone enabling the device with more features to get users excited to upgrade.
However, WSJ did not mention anything about the 3D camera making it to the new iPhone.
Will the new iPhones be a worthwhile upgrade?
Honestly, it’s too early to tell but there are some indicators that tell me the new iPhones might be a worthwhile upgrade over the current gen, especially in the camera department.
If you’re familiar with the “tick-tock” upgrade cycle, you’ll notice Apple (and a number of other manufacturers) follow this pattern very closely. A “tick” upgrade is a major change in the design, specs and features of a product while a “tock” upgrade offers up only minor changes or revisions to the product. As an example, the iPhone X was a tick upgrade for the iPhone line up while the iPhone XS is a tock with very minor changes.
You can expect the new iPhones – very likely to be called iPhone XI (pronounced “eleven”) – to be a tock upgrade with the new design, specs and features.
What would make the iPhone appealing to more people?
The obvious answer is of course price. The iPhone has the distinction of being among the most mobile devices in the market right now and that puts it out of reach to a lot of buyers. However, improving Apple’s situation is more complicated than just lower prices. The company has to consider a multitude of factors from the perspective of existing and potential customers, investors and Apple itself, the situation is certainly very complicated and there are no easy answers.
Having said that there are a number of things that Apple can do to make me want to switch to the iPhone. Here are my top three requests:
- Make the operating system more open and flexible like Android. I like Android because it plays nice with everyone. iOS on the other hand just plays by itself. Take WhatsApp for example, on iOS, I can only backup my chats over iCloud and if I want to move from Android there’s no way for me to transfer my backup over. And that’s just one example. Making iOS more open and flexible for other devices, apps and services, will make the iPhone appealing to power users and might just convince me to make the switch.
- Ditch Lighting and embrace USB-C. The MacBook uses USB-C, the new iPad Pro uses USB-C, why is the iPhone still using the Lighting connector? It just doesn’t make sense. Switching to USB-C in the new iPhones would be a huge gesture to non-iPhone users enticing them to move to Apple. I know I would take notice. It also opens up the possibility of making the iPhone a more flexible platform.
- Lower the prices. Of course, to sweeten the deal, it would be great if the new iPhones retain or are priced lower than the current iPhones. If Apple does number one and number two and packaged it in a reasonable price point. They might just have a winner in their hands.