What we think we know about iPhone 2020

It'll be faster, equipped with 5G, include powerful depth sensors and be available in up to six models.

Apple, iPhone, iOS, rumour, mobile, 5G

As the new decade dawns, speculation season begins with the annual raft of rumors that always precedes launch of a new iPhone.

Here are the highlights at the start of the year:

More models than ever?

Can anyone recall a time when there was only one iPhone model? That changed several years ago.

Today, you can purchase four different kinds of Apple mobile from the company store – with some carriers offering even more smartphone choice. It now appears the company intends further diversification of its line-up.

Digitimes claims Apple plans to introduce two iPhone SE-type devices; a second report from analyst Ming Chi Kuo suggests the ompany may call it the iPhone 9. These devices would join the iPhone 12 range.

Such diversification would broaden Apple’s addressable market, hopefully enhancing market share. As a result, Apple could be offering four OLED and two LCD models of iPhone for a six-strong range.

Apple continues to refuse a 4-in. iPhone...

The bad news is that Apple seems committed to resisting the millions of iPhone fans who would like a 4-inch model. I’ve no idea why it insists on this.

At present, rumors envision 5.4-in. and 6.1-in. devices, so there will be a model that’s a little smaller – though not quite as small as some people actually want. You may also see a 6.7-in. iPhone 12 Pro Max.

...but loses the notch

The company has applied for three design patents in Japan. These include a model without a notch that is equipped with an in-display fingerprint reader and an under-screen camera.

Apple has been working to hide biometrics under the display for years and the fruits of this travail get real in 2020, a report claims.

A14: A new frontier

We’ve been expecting that the iPhone 12 processor will be a 5-nanometer chip designed to further increase Apple’s performance lead on rivals. This won’t be unused capacity and you can expect improvements in graphics, AI, app and network performance within this.

As of now, TSMC is likely to build these processors.

One more thought: These 5nm chips may be suitable for use in wearable devices on account of their high performance and low power. Your AirPods will eventually replace your iPhone – particularly as TSMC drives toward 3nm chips by 2023.

The 5G dawn

The first 5G iPhones are expected this year. Devices equipped to meet the standard are expected to support both the mmWave and sub-6GHz bands. (Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has predicted that 5G iPhones won’t cost significantly more than their non-5G equivalents.)

All the same, most of us will be waiting a while longer for consistent service availability, which means we'll still spend most of our time on 4G.

Expect more RAM

Barclays analyst Blayne Curtis predicts the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max will likely have 6GB of RAM, up from 4GB in the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max.

The base model will hold 4GB RAM, while the iPhone SE replacement carries 3GB.

Apple maintains its focus on imaging

The camera improves with an advanced 3D depth perception camera designed for augmented reality (AR). That means perspective in AR applications will be more accurate, will enable far more realistic object modeling and may empower development of new breeds of productive AR apps – particularly in retail, medical and enterprise communications.

The camera means the iPhone will be able to map its environment accurately, which may have additional implications in conjunction with the UWB (U1) chip introduced in iPhone 11.

Apple is expected to deploy a stabilization technology called sensor shift that will vastly reduce camera shake by using real-time software analysis of gyroscopic data to compensate.

There is some expectation the optical zoom will improve from the current 2x in iPhone. (Apple does offer 10x digital zoom.)

A better display

There have been claims Apple intends to equip iPhones with faster 120Hz ProMotion dislays. This means four OLED and two LCD models in a range of sizes from 5.4-inches to 6.7-inches.

What is an iPhone?

The iPhone will look like an iPhone. It may have smaller bezels. It will have better displays and be available in a range of different sizes. Pundits will still moan. That’s what they do.

We may see new colors

Apple CEO Tim Cook visited iPhone supplier Seiko Advance in December. While there, he explained that the company is the reason iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max are available in Midnight Green.

I can’t help but wonder what other colors we might encounter in iPhone 12 and to what extent Apple hopes to make these devices collectible by constraining color availability.

More news this fall

Apple is expected to maintain its fall iPhone launch – but don’t ignore speculation in 2019 that suggested a mid-2020 launch for an iPhone SE replacement.

While this conversation seems to have atrophied, it makes sense: Apple could certainly generate a more predictable flow of iPhone sales by making staggered product introductions across the year. At present, the sales peak is in one quarter of its year.

We'll get some insight into the first quarter of iPhone sales during Apple's Q1 fiscal call on January 28.

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Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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