We live in a world where smartphones are no longer a privilege but rather a necessity to get things done. Its not only convenient but apps like Uber exist only on a smartphone and as a student living in a country that heavily relies on personal cars for transportation I can say that living without a smartphone can be very difficult. There are undoubtedly only two players in the smartphone market right now. Google, with their Android Operating system taking a major share in the world market, and Apple with their iPhone that started it all. So the question is what could Apple have in store for the next iPhone this year? I will try and make a few guesses based on what makes sense and we will find out in a few months if I am right.
What will it look like?
The biggest excitement around any iPhone has to be arguably the fact that Apple will redesign it and it will look like something out of this world. Apple has had 5 different designs in the last 10 iPhones and each one has definitely taken everyone by surprise on its design. I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple chooses to stick with the current iPhone7 design for yet another year. Although if Apple is ready with their final designs and also if they think they can meet the demand (unlike iPhone7 which had serious supply issues in the beginning) then I think we are in for a major redesign of the iPhone. My first iPhone was the iPhone4 back when it had launched, that design was probably the best designed phone in the market. The antennae around the phone smartly disguised as aluminum rim with full front and back glass was something of an eye catcher. It definitely looked like something from the future.
Apple will switch to glass front and back I believe again this year. And there is a good reason for that. Glass has come a long way since the iPhone4 for smartphones. They are now tougher and cheaper. A glass back can show a lot less scratches than an aluminum iPhone back. The only problem with this is that Apple has 5 color options today with their iPhones and customers are now used to how these colors look on an aluminum finish. Switching to glass could make them glossy instead of matte and Apple would have to manage that change very carefully. But maybe the Jet black was a secret experiment from Apple to see if people would like a switch to glossy back iPhones. And we all know the result of that experiment!
Lets face it, the bezels on the iPhone are getting kind of old tech now. Apple has a rounded design from the iPhone6 onwards unlike the four iPhones before it. A rounded bezel-less iPhone may not play well with cases and depending on how you hold the phone, Apple would have to add some sort of software feature like the iPad Mini where the multitouch ignores the touch on the sides while holding the device. But instead what I think is that it would be easier and would make more sense to take a flat screen design than a curved one. Cheaper to manufacture as well. With a flat display and very less bezels, you can expect a bigger display in the same form factor. This way you are still going to feel the same size in the hand but also have more area to work with.
There is a very high possibility that the new iPhone will have an OLED display. This is not only pending but also the OLED displays have matured enough to be just as good if not better than current IPS displays used in the iPhones. The only thing holding back would be the cost of the displays for the quality required and also the supply of these displays. The iPhone displays have been nothing but spectacular and the next iPhones will definitely have great ones as well. I have been hearing rumors about three different display sizes for the next iPhone but I believe that Apple will stick with the current form factor. They will already have bigger display area if they cut on bezels and with the iPhone SE likely to stick around in cheaper markets and the US market as well, we already have three display sizes. However they could include a third category of ‘Pro’ like they did with the iPad.
Apple is not known to drastically make changes in its lineup but make subtle ones every year to add up to big changes over the years. I only expect Apple to make such changes in its current range and maybe add a category and then let everyone blend into it over time like with the iPad Pro.
The magical moment?
There is also a rumor that Apple will embed the fingerprint sensor into the screen. First of all that sounds like an engineering stunt that only someone like Apple can perform. It would take some real effort to get it done and when you hold the bezel less glass front and back glossy phone with a beautiful OLED display with an embedded Touch ID I can assure you, it will feel magical. Apple has not lost its magic when making products. But I don’t know what people are expecting from Apple each year. The iPhone7 was not a major redesign and on some levels (like the headphone jack), it was even a deal breaker for some. But it had an absolutely stunning best in class camera that took social media to a new level, which consumers absolutely missed to point out.
A few other changes
I am completely betting on the fact that Apple will stick with lightning connector on the iPhone. There is absolutely no way anyone can convince Apple to switch to USB-C. Devices are expected to get thinner and lighter and moving to USB-C is exactly opposite in the first place. Secondly, the lightning connecter was introduced 5 years ago and I am pretty sure Apple had thought it through to stick with it for 10 years. Cables will however move to USB-C to lightning. Faster charging and faster data rates are expected with the new cables. Backing up even a 128Gb iPhone7 on a USB2.0 cable took ages for me and I don’t even want to think about a 256GB iPhone being backed up when full using a USB2.0 cable.
So how much will it cost? I’m guessing the same as it costed last year. Though I wont be surprised if Apple raised the price by 49$ on the each model. That’s because if Apple does really come up with everything rumored, it would mean that the manufacturing cost would slightly go up. Also since the iPhone has costed more or less the same for so many years, Apple could decide to raise the price if they think that they could still sell the same number of iPhones and more as last year due to the major design change. All in all you should be preparing to expect flagship phones to go up slightly this year or maybe next. Thats because other competitors can only increase their prices once Apple does since everyone is simply competing with the iPhone when it comes to flagship whether you like it or not.
I am hoping Apple will surprise us this year with a new design. A new design paired with some new ideas usually attracts switchers from other platforms. The thing is Google is always experimenting when it comes to products. The Pixel is a great phone and its next version will even be better but Apple just has too much control with the carriers and customer base in the markets that can afford flagships. So if Apple were to come up with the same design for another year, they will still sell just as good as the previous model in these markets.
A redesign is imminent. But the question is how will Apple surprise us this year? Only time will tell.