The 2020 iPhone: What It Will Have & What It Still Needs

The upcoming 2020 iPhone is packed with new features — will it be the consumer success story that Apple desperately needs?

Tim Ventura
Dec 28, 2019 · 6 min read

Apple’s sales have been waning, and back in late 2018 Tim Cook issued a letter to shareholders slashing its earnings forecast after the iPhone came in 1.5 million units short of projections.

Tim Cook blamed the slowdown on changes in the Chinese economy, but the media says the problem is closer to home: Mashable’s said “It’s official: iPhones are too expensive”, and CNBC bluntly stated, “Apple’s newest iPhone relies on cameras to hide its lack of innovation

Now let’s be clear: Apple is not starving. The company made over $265 billion in revenue & nearly $102 billion in gross profits in 2018. The rumors of Apple’s death aren’t just premature — they’re ridiculous.

Nonetheless, iPhone sales are slowing, consumers aren’t upgrading as often as they used to, and after 2 years of relative stagnation with their flagship product, the iPhone, Apple really needs to score a home run.

It’s a long time until September, but the leaks & rumors are already out with specs for the upcoming device — which appears to solve some of Apple’s issues but ignores others completely. Will the 2020 iPhone be the game-changer that Apple needs, and if not, what will it take to bolster flagging sales?

No more notch? According to Ben Geskin Apple will be removing it.

Upgrades to the 2020 iPhone

According to TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo — a long-time source of information about upcoming iPhones — we’ll have a number of new features across the iPhone lineup to look forward to, including:

The ubituous “notch” housing the FaceID sensors will be reportedly going away — at least according to Twitter leaker Ben Geskin, who posted a pic that he claims is a “2020 prototype”. His mockup shows the FaceID system being miniaturized and set into the top bezel of the phone, and the China Times suggests that at least the front-camera may be set behind the iPhone screen.

A Korean publication called The Elec claims that changes to the battery protection modules used in the iPhone 11 will reduce its save for the upcoming 2020 model, allowing Apple to fill the space with a larger battery.

Ming-Chi Kuo claims that in the upcoming iPhone, “the front and rear 2/2.5D glass are still used, but the metal frame surface will be changed to a similar design to the iPhone 4, replacing the current surface design.”

The 2020 iPhones will have faster data speed & suffer less network congestion on 5G networks like the kind T-Mobile is rolling out, thanks to new 5G modems. Existing 5G coverage is spotty, but as it rolls out worldwide it will give iPhones LTE performance comparable to being on a wifi connection.

Reportedly, the new iPhone will use motion feedback data from the phone’s built-in motion sensors to provide digital image stabilization for the iPhone cameras. This may either augment or entirely replace the gyroscopic array currently used for optical image stabilization, which could result in lower production costs & potentially a smaller camera array.

Kuo said that Apple may move away from LCD screens for all iPhone models and use OLED displays across the board. OLED screens display deeper blacks and have better contrast than LED screens, which are currently still in use on the 2 least expensive iPhone models.

Bloomberg reports that the new iPhones may feature enhancements to the 3D camera on the back of the phone, which may include a laser “time of flight” sensor for better depth perception. This will have multiple applications, including helping to provide better augmented reality experiences.

Barclays Analyst Blayne Curtis says some iPhone models will have in-screen Touch ID.

Apple’s most expensive phones eliminated Touch ID when the iPhone X came out in favor of facial recognition, but Barclay’s analyst Blayne Curtis suggests that it a new, buttonless version of Touch ID might read your fingerprint right from the screen of the phone — perhaps as a way to keep fingerprint scanning available as 2nd-tier selling point on lower priced iPhone models.

Rumors indicate that Apple will be using a 5-nanometer process A14 chip in the upcoming 2020 iPhone, which is expected to be smaller, faster & more energy efficient than the current processor.

Techradar reports that the 2020 iPhone may be getting an upgrade to the refresh rate on its display, taking it from 60hz to 120hz, which would provide smoother interactions & more fluid user interaction with the screen.

In addition to better refresh rates, display sizes may be increasing — but just a bit. Ming-Chi Kuo has also claimed that the Pro Max model could have a 6.7-inch screen (up from 6.5"), and the iPhone 12 Pro could have a 5.45-inch screen (down from 5.8"). This rumor claims the standard base model would remain unchanged with a 6.1" display.

Ming-Chi Kuo’s depiction of the 2020 iPhone Display sizes (9to5Mac)

What It Still Needs

Despite the big changes I’ve described above coming to the next generation of iPhones, there remain nagging issues that Apple doesn’t appear to be addressing — and at least one of them could be make or break for them.

Adding 3 (or maybe 4) cameras to the iPhone still hasn’t increased the resolution from 12 megapixels. Unfortunately, when you view those photos on a PC or Mac or try to crop them to a smaller size, the grain becomes very noticeable. Huawei and other manufacturers currently offer cameras over 40 megapixels — so why is Apple so far behind when the iPhone costs 2x more than those competitors?

I’ve written about Apple’s flawed Lightning Cable in the past, and it appears that the 2020 iPhone will still rely on it rather than going to the industry-standard USB-C connector. There are rumors that Apple will remove the Lightning Port & go 100% wireless on future phones, but only on the most expensive models.

Going back to the Mashable article I cited at the beginning of this story, “It’s official: iPhones are too expensive”. If you want all the amazing features I’ve listed above in the 2020 iPhone, you’ll still be spending over $1,000 for it — perhaps as much as $1,500, depending on options. I haven’t seen any rumors indicating that the flagship iPhones will cost any less in 2020.

Conclusion

It’s been over two years since Peter Thiel said the age of Apple is over, stating, “We know what a smartphone looks like and does. It’s not the fault of Tim Cook, but it’s not an area where there will be any more innovation.”

The upcoming 2020 iPhones don’t prove Thiel wrong, but they certainly show that Apple is willing to give him a run for his money. However, despite all the changes coming to the next generation iPhone, it remains an expensive luxury that an increasing number of people are choosing not to afford.

In order to turn around iPhone sales figures, Apple will need a home run: something with enough spark of innovation to motivate existing iPhone users to upgrade. Will removing the notch or 5G connectivity be enough to do it? Only time will tell.

Mac O’Clock

The best stories for Apple owners and enthusiasts

Tim Ventura

Written by

Futurist, marketing executive and sometime writer with 25+ years of tech industry experience and a passion for the future. https://www.timventura.com

Mac O’Clock

The best stories for Apple owners and enthusiasts

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