While the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR haven’t been around for that long, rumors for the next iPhone are already surfacing. While the information has yet to be confirmed, it seems Apple’s 2019 flagships could include a variety of upgrades ranging from a new design to enhanced features. Here’s everything we know about the devices so far.
What do we know about the technical specification for the 2019 iPhone? One interesting rumor that continues to spread is the introduction of what’s being called “bilateral wireless charging,” or two-way charging, which will let the iPhone wirelessly charge other devices. Huawei introduced a similar system with the Mate 20 Pro, and Samsung did the same for the Galaxy S10.
Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said in an investors report that he expects the 2019 iPhone models to support the feature, indicating it may be available across the range, rather than limited to a single model. Apple’s version may only charge other Apple devices such as the Apple Watch, or a the new Airpods with a wireless charging case. The battery capacity inside the phones may also increase — by up to 15-percent in the XS Max sequel, and by up to 25-percent in the XS sequel.
Additionally, it’s possible the phones will have improved connectivity for indoor navigation and positioning, and improved Face ID. In 2018 more than one rumor said Apple may drop 3D Touch in 2019, a feature which doesn’t appear on the current iPhone XR.
What will Apple do with the iPhone design in 2019? The latest leak pertaining to the iPhone’s design is essentially a schematic that was shared by serial Twitter leaker OnLeaks. The schematic seems to show the back of the iPhone, with a tri-lens camera in the top left-hand corner arranged in a square. If the schematic turns out to be real, then Apple may have decided against the triple-lens camera being arranged in the middle of the back of the device.
There are many rumors surrounding the introduction of USB Type-C; but despite early rumors suggesting this year’s iPhone could use the universal connection, along with reports of tests, the indication is the Lightning connector will remain. All the 2019 iPhone models will have a Lightning connector, says analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, as does Macotakara.
Rumors about Apple flirting with USB-C for iPhone are fairly common. Apple adopted the USB-C port for 2018’s iPad Pro, as it allows for much the same functionality as the Lightning port, but has a much wider repository of accessories to draw from, and this has fueled rumors that Apple is setting up for a more universal iPhone. Plus, the European Union started pushing for a universal phone charging standard again in 2018, which may eventually force Apple’s hand.
In other design news, a leaked render, said to be based on an engineering prototype, shows an iPhone that looks similar to current models from the front, but very different from the back. The horizontal camera module is mounted at the top, and in the center. The module contains three camera lenses, with the middle lens surrounded by a flash unit. The leak, from OnLeaks and compareaja.in, is not official and is not final evidence of what this year’s iPhone will look like. However, the site claims it’s one of the designs being examined by Apple, and it’s a very different look to the current models.
While this render has a notch, there are rumors Apple may introduce a hole-punch display, as used on the Honor View 20 and the Samsung Galaxy A8s. While a patent filed in June 2018 suggested Apple would be chasing that same trend in 2019’s iPhone, noted leaker Ice Universe claims 2019’s iPhone will still rock a notch — and the earliest we can expect to see an iPhone with a holed display is 2020.
Another patent from Apple relates to manufacturing ceramic iPhone bodies in a variety of colors, which could alter the way future iPhones look. The patent shows a device with colored bars on its back, specifically on the top and bottom. It’s also possible the Apple logo could be a different color to the rest of the iPhone.
Currently, the iPhone XS and XS Max sport OLED screens while the iPhone XR sports Apple’s proprietary Liquid Retina LCD. So should we expect more of the same for 2019? For 2019, Apple is likely to retain the same 5.8-inch, 6.1-inch, and 6.5-inch screen sizes, says analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who previously stated the LCD model will continue this year, and may also outsell the OLED iPhone models.
The Wall Street Journal is also claiming 2019’s iPhone range will include an iPhone XR-style model with an LCD display, while two, more expensive models will include OLED panels. This goes against earlier rumors from South Korean news source ETNews, who claimed the company had chosen OLED screens for “all three models.”
The camera has always been one of the iPhone’s top features. How will Apple upgrade it in 2019? There are several reports linking this year’s iPhone models to a three-camera setup, and a 3D sensor as well. For this year’s iPhone XS Max replacement, the rear camera will have a third sensor, according to sources speaking to Bloomberg. This will provide a wider angle for a greater field of view, and the accompanying software may provide unusual editing features, including the ability to add more information from the scene initially not in the original photo. This is backed up by a DigiTimes report that Largan Precision, a major lens module supplier, is expecting to see more orders for triple-lens setups. However, it’s important to note Largan supplies other major manufacturer and not just Apple, so this isn’t clinching proof.
It’s not the first time we’ve heard this. The Wall Street Journal also claims the largest iPhone will have three lenses, while two other models will stick with a dual-lens setup. In May, Taiwanese publication Economic News Daily also talked about three camera lenses on the 2019 iPhone, stating each will have 12 megapixels and additional camera features such as increased detail or greater zoom mode.
However, Bloomberg says plans to include a 3D sensor on the 2019 iPhone models have been delayed, and the technology will come on the 2020 iPhones after making a debut on a future iPad. Previously, Economic Daily News reported the upcoming phones will feature more advanced stereoscopic imaging to capture objects and scenes from multiple angles and triangulate multiple perspectives into 3D images. Deutsche Securities analyst Lu Jialin also discussed the integration of two stereo-vision lenses and a telephoto lens into the three-lens camera to understand 3D space in a manner similar to the iPhone X’s TrueDepth front camera.
The eventual 3D camera system will tie into Apple’s work on ARKit, with the company having introduced ARKit 2.0 as part of iOS 12 with improved face tracking, support for 3D object detection and realistic rendering. Bloomberg notes Apple is still working on an AR headset for 2020. Other rumored features for the 2019 iPhone’s camera include a new version of Live Photo, which extends the time for the short videos from three seconds to six.
Updated on April 2, 2019: Further rumors the 2019 iPhone will have reverse charging