Another year, another iPhone. Apple is planning to host its annual fall event — rumored to be on September 10, based on some promotional images shared with developers — and while the company hasn't come out and said it yet, we all know that it'll introduce the latest version of its extraordinarily popular smartphone. While Apple has, in typical fashion, remained mum on what it's planning, there are plenty of little nuggets and new iPhone rumors out there that give us an idea of what to expect out the upcoming flagship smartphone. Here's everything that you can expect when Tim Cook takes the stage with the next device that you'll want in your pocket.
Apple has gotten into the habit of rolling out three new phones each cycle: a budget-friendly option, the standard model and a larger, premium version that straddles into "phablet" range. It seems likely that the company will continue this convention in 2019. Rumors suggest that, once again, this will be how Apple approaches this year's lineup of iPhones.
Leaked device models given to third-party case makers shows a 5.8- and 6.5-inch model, the same basic framework used for the iPhone XS and XS Max. A leak of renders of the upcoming iPhones provided to Cashkaro showed essentially the exact same, suggesting a smaller, standard model and a larger, premium version. MacRumors also got its hands on "dummy" models of upcoming iPhones, which also showed the standard and supersized frames, as well as an in-between model that features a 6.1-inch display. That falls in line with what the iPhone XR, Apple's more affordable model device that it introduced last year, measured up as.
Ever since Apple made the decision to skip the iPhone 9, the naming convention for the device has been a little difficult to follow — not that it was always easy prior to that. Apple has typically introduced an "s" model of its phone in between making a full, numerical jump (i.e., iPhone 4, iPhone 4s, iPhone 5) and snuck in some continuity breakers like the iPhone SE. When Apple introduced its iPhone X in 2017, it was brought out alongside the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus. Last year, the company brought its entire lineup to the X naming convention with the introduction of the iPhone XR, XS and XS Max.
All of that is to say, it's hard to know just what way apple will go with its device names this year. The upcoming iPhone is often referred to as the iPhone 11 just for the sake of simplicity, but it would break with the current naming convention that uses Roman numerals (though Apple insists that you're supposed to pronounce it as "ten" rather than "X"). Apple could keep this up, going with iPhone XI (pronounced as "11"). However, some rumors suggest that the company will return to more traditional numerical naming and call the device the iPhone 11.
Whatever base name Apple goes with, it appears there is likely going to be another change to the naming conventions. A Twitter user going by CoinX who successfully predicted the iPhone XS and XR names of last year's devices said that Apple would roll out an iPhone with a "Pro" branding, similar to the company's MacBook and iPad lineup. Others have floated the possibility of an iPhone XT, which would fit into the XR and XS naming scheme, but it's not clear how that device would fit into the new lineup — perhaps as a budget model that offers upgrades to last year's model.
Will it be 5G?
While 5G is all the rage among phone carriers right now, Apple isn't expected to announce a 5G-compatible smartphone this year. All of the rumors suggest the company will make 5G a central selling point of its 2020 iPhone lineup instead. The delay, if you want to call it that (it's not clear that Apple ever intended to introduce 5G phone this year) can be attributed in part to the company's ongoing beef with Qualcomm. While Apple was planning to include an Intel-made 5G chip in its 2020 smartphones, the chipmaker has since ditched the 5G market, leaving Apple to continue working with Qualcomm to put necessary chips in its future iPhones. All of the company's 2020 lineup is expected to have 5G compatibility, but the feature isn't expected to be mentioned much on stage this year.
Apple gave the iPhone XS and XS Max an OLED screen, and it seems likely that it will continue equipping its flagship devices with that display this year. Late last year, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicted that Apple would continue to give its flagship phones the OLED display while giving its budget-friendly option an LCD screen, as it did with the iPhone XR. Apple has reportedly been trying to ditch LCD displays all together and has been ramping up its supply chain to make that switch, discussing it with suppliers including Samsung and LG, but it seems like if that is coming, it won't be until 2020 at least. Apple also likely won't jump onto the folding screen display this year despite competitors getting in on the action (to mixed results). All signs point to the iPhones of 2019 will stick with pretty conventional displays.
One significant difference that may actually be noticeable with the new iPhone screen is actually the removal of a feature rather than the addition of one. Apple may do away with its under-utilized 3D Touch feature. The company already dropped it in the iPhone XR, so it makes sense that it may standardize the presence of the feature across its full line of devices, especially since it just hasn't caught on in any meaningful way. Odds are you haven't used this feature a whole lot anyway — at least not on purpose — so you probably won't notice if it's missing, either.
Perhaps the biggest change coming to the upcoming lineup of iPhones, assuming the current rumors hold true, will be to the camera — at least on Apple's premium model device. Apple already gave its cameras a significant upgrade when it launched its iPhone X line, as all the devices have the company's TrueDepth camera system that enables Face ID to work. Some tweaks to those lenses and upgrades to the rear-facing camera appear to be on the way.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Apple will be focusing on upgrading the camera on the larger, premium iPhone model (perhaps named the iPhone 11 Pro) this year. The device will reportedly feature a three-lens camera. That will increase the quality of photos the device can snap. Another three-lens camera found on the Samsung Galaxy A7 has a resolution of 24MP, double that of what the current iPhone XS is capable of. The triple-lens scheme will also increase the field of view and allow for wider and deeper zoom range. It also may enable a feature that Apple has been working on, as reported by Bloomberg, that would automatically repair photos and add in subjects that may have been cut out of the initial shot.
What has been most controversial about Apple's reported three-lens camera is how it will be arranged on the device. While there have been some suggestions that the lenses will sit in a straight, horizontal line or even vertically across the top left-hand corner of the device, the most reputable suggestions at this point would point to Apple using an arrangement that will place a noticeable square bump on the phone. Reports suggest that a large square cut out in the upper left will house the three lenses, which will be arranged in a triangular shape. It's a set up that definitely stands out, and not necessarily in a way that people are excited about.
While the premium iPhone will almost definitely be getting a camera upgrade this year, it's not clear what the standard and budget models will be equipped with. Odds are that at the very least, Apple will boost the quality of lenses on the devices. But there are mixed reports on if either device will get a triple-lens camera like the premium model is expected to get. The Wall Street Journal suggested Apple will stick to the current two-lens camera scheme that uses on the iPhone X series, but other reports, including one from Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, have pointed toward both the standard and premium model of iPhone getting the three-lens upgrade. A report from ET News suggesting that LG, a supplier for Apple, is ramping up production on a triple-lens camera suggests that it may appear on multiple devices rather than just the premium model.
There have also been some whispers of Apple introducing a 3D camera that would enable new augmented reality features, but it seems that has been delayed until 2020.
Apple's front-facing camera is already a pretty impressive lens thanks to the TrueDepth Camera system that enables Face ID, but rumors suggest that some change is coming. Apple will reportedly upgrade the front-facing camera from a 7-megapixel lens found in the iPhone X line up to a 12-megapixel lens for all of its upcoming devices, according to a rumor from Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. The analyst, who is well-versed on all things Apple, has also suggested that the front-facing camera will also get a new flood illuminator that will improve Face ID's ability to recognize a user's face and lower the effect of invisible light.
If you were hoping that Apple would ditch the notch on its display that leaves room for the front-facing camera, you're unfortunately likely out of luck this year. While there have been some rumors suggesting that Apple wants to get rid of the noticeable notch, it isn't expected to happen until 2020. Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo indicated that the notch isn't expected to go away this year.
It's standard fare for Apple to upgrade the guys of its device by introducing a new processor, and rumors indicate that will likely be the case with the new iPhone line. A report from DigiTimes suggested that the upcoming iPhones will feature an Apple A13 processor chip. The report said that the processor will be manufactured by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), which falls in line with a Bloomberg report that noted TSMC started production of a new chip earlier this year. It is believed that chip is the A13 processor for Apple's upcoming iPhones.
As for just what the A13 will bring to the device, it's hard to say. Apple already has a very powerful processor in its iPhone X model devices, and the A13 will likely be an upgrade over that. Analyst Ben Thompson has suggested the processor will be far and away ahead of any other smartphone processor available and will be competitive with the most powerful Android processors that will come to market in the next two years.
The Battery and Charging
The battery and charging capabilities of the upcoming iPhone have been subject of a significant amount of discussion. Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has suggested that Apple's upcoming lineup of smartphones will feature larger batteries that will increase the life of the devices by as much as 10 to 15 percent in the premium model smartphone and by up to 25 percent over the standard model. Another report from The Elec seems to back this up, suggesting the next budget model iPhone will feature a 3,110 mAh battery — nearly six percent larger than the current 2,942 mAh battery in the iPhone XR.
With the introduction of a new, bigger battery, Apple may also introduce bilateral wireless charging. The two-way charging feature, raised by Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, would allow people to charge another person's iPhone wirelessly with their own device, or charge other devices with bilateral charging, like Apple's newest generation of Airpods. Any Qi-based device should be compatible with the charging feature, including wireless charging pads that would let you charge the device without needing to plug it in.
USB-C or Lightning?
There has been some suggestion that Apple might finally ditch its Lightning cable and move to USB-C on its new iPhones. The change would make sense, seeing as Apple went all-in on USB-C with its new lineup of MacBooks. A report from Mac Otakara suggested Apple will move its iPhones to USB-C this year, ditching the Lightning plug in favor of the more universal port. However, analyst Steve Hemmerstoffer has suggested the upcoming iPhones will continue to use the Lightning ports that have been standard on iPhones for years now. Bloomberg noted that Apple has reportedly tested some versions of iPhones that replace the Lightning port with USB-C, but it's not clear if it will actually follow through with those tests and introduce a USB-C model device this year. Most reports, including one from Ming-Chi Kuo, suggest Apple will stick with its Lightning port for the time being.
Apple Pencil Support
Apple introduced new iPads with Apple Pencil support in 2018, so there is some interest in having the company expand the functionality of its stylus to new iPhones as well. A report from The Investor has suggested the company will introduce either support for its current stylus or introduce a new version of it that will be compatible with the upcoming iPhones. Experts at Citi Research have likewise suggested that Apple will add support for the stylus to its phones this year. Ming-Chi Kuo has noted that support for the Apple Pencil seems possible at some point, but there's no guarantee that it will come this year.