The iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR are halfway through their estimated life spans, and rumors about the next iPhone models are becoming more detailed every day. Apple’s 2019 iPhones could include a variety of upgrades ranging from a new design to a triple-lens camera and other enhanced features. Here’s everything we know about the devices so far.
How many models?
In 2019, sequels to the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR are highly likely, and most leaked specifications and details seem to relate to these models. A recent report from 9to5Mac suggests that the new iPhone 11 models are known as the D42, which is the iPhone XS replacement, the D43, which replaces the iPhone XS Max, and the N104, which is a sequel to the iPhone XR.
But Apple may be planning an iPhone X-style surprise, in that it may also launch two completely new phones this year. The unnamed iPhone devices may feature triple-lens cameras, while the other three iPhone devices will only receive internal updates. If accurate, this may mean Apple will announce five new iPhone models this year.
A 6.1-inch version and a 6.5-inch version are rumored, each with a slightly thicker body to accommodate the larger camera sensors — although this may only be a difference of a half-millimeter. The two phones are being linked with USB Type-C charging, and a reverse charge feature to power up the Apple Watch or AirPodsC with wireless charging. These two new phones seem to combine many of the features already rumored for the standard 2019 iPhone, and therefore the rumor may not be accurate. The rumor comes from the supply chain in China, as reported by the often reliable Macotakara, though, so it should not instantly be dismissed.
What do we know about the technical specification for the 2019 iPhone? The processor is likely to get an upgrade, according to a report from 9to5Mac. The report notes that all three rumored models will feature a new Apple A13 chip, currently code-named Cebu. The report also notes that a new iPhone 11 will have a Taptic Engine, which may help provide better haptic feedback in the absence of 3D Touch.
The Bluetooth connection on a future iPhone may get a small upgrade, adding the ability to stream audio to two connected Bluetooth devices. How would it be used? Friends could watch the same movie while listening over separate Bluetooth headphones, for example. We have already seen this on several Android phones already — Samsung’s Dual Audio feature, for example — and it is part of the Bluetooth 5.0 codec. Supplier sources speaking to Macotakara stated it was not certain which iPhone this feature could arrive on, or whether it will apply to only pairing two Bluetooth headphones, or combinations of products, such as headphones and an automotive system.
One 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 the new AirPods with a wireless charging case. The battery capacity inside the phones may also increase — by up to 15% in the XS Max sequel, and by up to 25% 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.
The camera has always been one of the iPhone’s top features. How will Apple upgrade it in 2019? There are several reports, including one from 9to5Mac, linking this year’s iPhone models to a three-camera setup, and possibly a 3D sensor as well. Each camera may have 12 megapixels and be produced by Sony, with a telephoto, wide-angle, and super wide-angle configurations, according to research analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. The selfie camera may also have 12 megapixels, up from 7 megapixels in the current range.
According to the 9to5Mac report, the three-camera setup will enable a new feature called Smart Frame, which essentially captures the area around the framed area, allowing the user to adjust the framing even after taking the photo.
Exactly which phones will have three lenses is still unknown. Kuo says the 5.8-inch and 6.5-inch models will, but a report by Bloomberg indicated only the 6.5-inch model will. The accompanying software may provide unusual editing features, including the ability to add more information from the scene not initially in the original photo, enabled by the new wide-angle lens. 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.
The Wall Street Journal previously claimed only the largest iPhone will have three lenses, while two other models will stick with a dual-lens setup. Those rumors seem to be at odds with the latest rumors, which see a triple-camera setup on the basic iPhone. 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.
The rumored 3D sensor may have been delayed, and will appear on the 2020 iPhone instead, 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.
What will Apple do with the iPhone design in 2019? It could look very different from the current iPhone, particularly from the back, where a new camera lens array may split opinion on design. The unofficial renders and case leaks mostly show a large camera bump in the rear top corner containing several camera lenses and a flash unit. Aside from the unusual arrangement of the lenses, what stands out is that the rear panel may be made of a single piece of glass. The front of the iPhone in renders and leaks shows the screen retains the same wide notch introduced on the iPhone X.
These rumors have been backed up by a series of CAD renders that claim to show all three new models, including the iPhone XI, iPhone XI Max, and the iPhone XIR. These renders seemingly confirm the return of the Lightning port, and the fact that the only real changes are found in the squared camera module on the back and an additional camera lens on each model.
A leak published on Twitter shows clear plastic cases that are likely based around current renders.
— Ben Geskin (@BenGeskin) May 23, 2019
This video claims to show the next model of the iPhone XR in its full, 360-degree glory, with a new dual-lens camera set into a square camera bump visible on the back. From the front, it’s extremely similar to the 2018 XR, with a notched 6.1-inch display and slim bezels.
Other artists have published renders of the next iPhone. In this video the camera bump’s rounded square has been colored to match each iPhone’s color:
While this artist shows the unusual camera bump can look more attractive when presented in the right way.
To help disguise the odd camera lens placement, Apple may use a special lens coating to make them less noticeable, according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. This does not seem to be present, or if it is, is not very effective, in many of the renders. The renders below, shared by OnLeaks and Cashkaro, are similar to a schematic also previously shared by Twitter leaker OnLeaks.
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.
Apple normally releases new iPhone models in mid-September, and it’s likely the same will happen again this year. According to known leaker Evan Blass, who got his hands on a leaked Verizon marketing calendar, the iPhone will launch in late September — which could mean an announcement happens in that same month. That’s pretty much what we’d expect from an iPhone launch. Last year, the iPhone XS was announced on September 12.
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.”
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.
Updated on July 1, 2019: Added the new CAD renders to the roundup.