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Updates Apple should consider for the next iPhone

Edit: Except for the battery, the iPhone 11 does not have any of these so this article still holds up for iPhone 2020. At least the watch got an Always on Display!

Despite the many products Apple has, the iPhone is its biggest product and the key to the Apple ecosystem of products. Every year it is the most sold Apple product and this does not seem to be changing anytime soon. Given that this is a major upgrade year rather than an incremental one, I thought it would be valuable to give my thoughts on some areas I believe Apple can look to change. I tried keeping these suggestions ones that Apple may actually implement next year and thus have excluded scenarios like a folding iPhone. Perhaps they may do it in a couple of years but I think they will probably wait to see the reception Samsung gets first before taking any steps in that direction. Anyway these are my suggestions!

  1. Move from Lightning to USB C

This was one of the most glaring misses with the iPhone XS as I believed with the hard-lined stance Apple took with the Macbook Pro and at the time, the rumours surrounding the next iPad being USB-C that the XS would be USB-C as well.

The new iPad Pro’s USB C Connectivity. Source: 9to5Mac

Although it didn’t happen, it seems like a given at this point that the next iPhone will have USB C. I will be highly surprised if it is snubbed again and am really start to question why it hasn’t been implemented yet given that now the Macbook and iPad are both fully USB C. Its time to welcome the iPhone and make the change here as well.

2. Make the display 120 Hz and add an Always On Display feature

Apple took its time moving from LCD to OLED panels but is now definitely competing with top level flagships for the best looking display on the market. I believe the next step Apple should take is to make the display 120Hz to creat smooth viewing experiences for the customer. We have already seen a great implementation of this on the iPad with “ProMotion” and so it seems only logical that this makes its way to the next batch of iPhones. In doing so Apple would offer a distinct advantage over its competitors as only a handful of other phones such as the Razer Phone have made their displays 120Hz and those phones currently are no match for the display currently in the iPhone XS and XS Max.

How Always on Display Looks Like on a Samsung Galaxy S8. Source: CNBC

One of the best features of an OLED panel is how it can light up pixels individually rather than having to illuminate the entire back panel like an LCD panel. This allows OLED panels to have great black hues and the ability to save battery life by not having to illuminate the screen on black colors. Because of this the Always on Display (AOD) feature was born where your screen can always have a clock and some general information illuminated on your screen. This feature is extremely useful and does not take much battery life because of OLED technology. I am surprised that Apple still hasn’t implemented this given how many others have and would like to see it in the next iPhone. (Side note: It is pretty ridiculous that this hasn’t been implemented on the Apple Series 4 Watch given how its also has an OLED panel and this feature would be EXTREMELY useful for a watch)

3. Update of the Design

Usually the major upgrade years sees changes in the iPhone’s design and this year will probably be no different. Now I do not believe it will be a big change like the iPhone 7 to iPhone X was but more of a smaller change like the iPhone 5 to iPhone 6. I know Samsung is going with their hole punch design in their Galaxy S10 but I believe that it is very unlikely that Apple make a similar design change anytime soon. They just completely redesigned iOS to account for the notch and third party developers have now finally completed adopting the UI changes that it entails. I don’t believe it is like Apple to completely abandon these major strides in UI/UX navigation . Instead I believe that Apple will keep the notch and opt to just make it smaller.

Please do not go the Pixel 3 XL Notch route though. Source: Digital Trends

In doing so the UI principles that the notch brings still exists and Apple will not have to refactor iOS to account for this notch-less hole punch design. Although some may be disappointed to hear this, I believe the notch is here to stay.

4. Increase the capacity of the battery

Apple has always stayed competitive with their battery life due to great optimization of their software and power efficient CPU’s. I believe that it is time for Apple to now actually bring their physical battery capacities to the same standard as the competition. The iPhone XS is said to have a 2658 mAh capacity battery while the XS Max has a 3,174 mAh capacity battery. Despite the fact that the XS max has the largest battery ever put in an iPhone it is seriously lacking in comparison to other flagship smartphones on the market.

iPhone XS and XS Max Side by Side. Source: Engadget

The iPhone XS Max’s biggest competition, Samsung Note 9, has a whooping 4000 mAh battery in a very similarly sized body. Even more shocking is how the One Plus 6T is around the size of the XS and still has a 3700 mAh battery being almost 40% bigger. If Apple were to include bigger batteries in their phone they no doubt could offer some of the best, if not, the best battery life on the market and I believe that their next generation of phones should definitely address this.

5. Make Siri more useful

Now Siri isn’t only offered on iPhone but is an essential component to maximize what Apple can offer in their next generation smartphone. Right now, Google Assistant feels like its a generation above Siri and makes Siri seem like a demo rather than a full fledged assistant. From a base level, Google Assistant seems to recognize my voice far better than Siri and thud works a lot more like how I would expect it to. To add to this, the results Google Assistant brings in general are much more relevant to what I asked than ones Siri brings to me.

Same Question but Google gave a much better answer while Siri hardly answered my question

There are many more ways Google Assistant has an advantage over Siri but it may be better discussed in a future article. I hope Apple invests a lot of time and resources into making a more compelling product that can actually compete with Google Assistant rather than live in its shadow.

6. Bring back Touch ID (This one is a long-shot)

Although it is a long-shot, I know many iPhone users would love if Apple brought back Touch ID someway. Face ID is no doubt the best mobile facial recognition system and is a worthy successor to Touch ID in terms of security but still cannot offer the same type of flexibility Touch ID offers. The ability to just touch your phone versus having to point the phone at your face offers much more convenience for the end user.

How Authentication used to work just a couple of years ago

With Face ID, simple tasks like wanting to unlock your phone while lying in bed require you to bring the phone to your face and then bring it down to the comfortable resting position rather than simply holding your thumb on the home button. Now Apple understandably removed Touch ID in order to account for an all screen display but there are ways I believe it could be reimplemented.

The easiest but unlikely way would repurpose the Apple Logo on the back of the phone as a fingerprint sensor. However if Apple were actually going to do this they would’ve done it when the iPhone X came out and I doubt they would do something like this two years later.

How the first In Screen Fingerprint Sensor looked like. Source: CNET

The more likely way Touch ID would come back is with an in-screen fingerprint sensor. We have seen companies like Huawei and One Plus implement it successfully and Apple could look to incorporate in the next iPhone if they choose to. However given their history, Apple is not the type to backtrack on a design decision and thus it seems like having Face ID as the sole mode of authentication is going to stay.

7. Change the Default Storage Option

Apple is always slow to update their iPhone’s storage capacity but the 64 GB model should’ve already gone. I believe even Apple recognizes this as the current lineup is offered in 64GB, 256GB and 512GB. 128 GB should be the starting standard especially considering the price of the phone starts at $1000 US and I would be extremely surprised if the next iteration of the iPhone still started with a 64 GB model.

These are just some suggestions that I could think of for the next iPhone. I know I did not mention camera but I honestly do not really see how they could update it in the short term. I have heard rumours about a triple lens camera with a 3D sensor but think its unlikely we see something like that implemented soon.

Some of the crazy concepts I have seen. Source: Waqar Khan

I think it is more likely that Apple just focuses on developing software enhancements for images like Google has currently with the Pixel. I am definitely excited to see what is in store during the September keynote.

I hope you enjoyed reading this article and will stay tuned for more articles coming in the future! Please let me know if I may have forgotten a feature or you disagree with something I have said.

I started a Podcast! You can check it out using the links in the article below!

Please check out more great content by Waterloo students at uWaterloo Voice, a publication dedicated to showcasing articles by uWaterloo students and alumni:

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Thanks for reading,

Daivik Goel

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uWaterloo Voice is an unofficial student run publication aiming to showcase articles created by University of Waterloo students. These articles can be of any topic and anybody from the University of Waterloo is able to write for this publication.

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Daivik Goel

Daivik Goel

Product Manager | Founder of uWaterloo Voice | Computer Engineering Graduate | University of Waterloo

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