- New iPhone to be released in September 2019
- Three screen sizes: 5.8in, 6.1in and 6.5in
- Folding design unlikely to launch this year
- Chinese variant will have under-display fingerprint sensor
- A13 processor chip made with 7nm+ process for improved power efficiency
- Triple-lens rear camera
- USB-C port instead of Lightning
- Prices likely to start at £999/$999
There's roughly two months until the 2019 iPhone launch, and the hype machine is going wild with predictions and rumours. In this article we look ahead to the next flagship iPhone, discussing the new handset's release date, design, new features, tech specs and price.
Looking for the latest news? Apple has filed a patent for a foldable iPhone that heats up so the screen doesn't get damaged, while yet more sources point to a triple-lens camera in a square design. And alleged CAD designs of the new iPhone have been posted online.
There's even a YouTube video claiming to show off an iPhone 11, 11 Mac and 11R in a hands-on comparison... More on that below.
In separate articles we look at the 2019 iPhone XR update, and rumours of a 5G iPhone. And if you'd prefer advice related to the current range, have a look at our iPhone buying guide and roundup of the best iPhone deals.
Release date: When is the new iPhone coming out?
- New iPhone release date: September 2019
Is Apple coming out with a new phone in 2019? Of course it is! In fact we expect three new iPhones (with three different screen sizes) to be announced in September 2019. The onsale date will be a few weeks later.
Apple is a creature of habit when it comes to iPhone launches, and has released new handsets every autumn for the past eight years. (The only exception was the iPhone SE in spring 2016. It's possible we'll see the iPhone SE 2 in spring 2020, although we're not convinced.)
Looking further ahead, it's believed that four new iPhones will be released in 2020, to include a low-cost version as well models with 5G capabilities.
What will the new iPhone be called?
The new iPhone will probably be called the iPhone 11. At least that's the name which is starting to trend for the device on the internet.
However, there are other options which Apple might go with including the iPhone XI - ie 11 in roman numerals, following the same convention as the iPhone X, which is pronounced "ten".
This is Apple, so we must also bear in mind that a curve ball is always possible. Like previous iPad models, we might be getting a 2019 model simply called iPhone or New iPhone. Hopefully not, though - it would be rather confusing.
Price: How much will the iPhone 11 cost?
- New iPhone 2019 price: From £999/$999
How much is the new iPhone likely to cost? Our best guess is that it will cost the same as XS generation. Here are the current prices for the iPhone XS, as of May 2019:
- iPhone XS (64GB): £999/$999
- iPhone XS (256GB): £1,149/$1,149
- iPhone XS (512GB): £1,349/$1,349
After the hefty price rises of the past couple of years we're hopeful that Apple will try to stabilise things this time around, and get the iPhone 2019 out at a similar starting price.
But we will add that the company is more likely to achieve this in the US than in the UK; Britain is scheduled to leave the European Union in 2019 (even if the exact date is something of a mystery...), and political uncertainty may lead to a loss of confidence in the pound, and consequent price rises for UK customers buying imported goods.
In this section we look at some of the new design changes coming to iPhone design, whether for reasons of utility, protection or pure cosmetic beauty.
Twin-lens rear cameras are looking increasingly old-fashioned - by the end of 2019 we expect most new Android handsets to have three lenses on the back - and a widespread rumour holds that Apple is going to step up its game in this area.
The earliest image of this was posted by prolific leaker OnLeaks, and shows the three lenses and the flash arranged in an irregular square. He emphasised in a subsequent tweet, however, that it was "a freakingly [sic] early leak and thus, things may change until official launch". He further added, when comments expressed dislike of the design, that "it will look much smaller" in real life.
This render from January 2019, based on leaked information by Steve Hemmerstoffer and posted by Compareraja, puts the rear triple camera at the centre of the chassis - a major departure from all previous iPhone designs (although plenty of Android phones look like this).
"The camera unit comprises of three sensors + a circle flash around the centre camera lens + mic below the centre camera," explains the site.
The respected Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo backed up the triple-lens theory in an investor note released in February 2019. Digitimes, meanwhile, reports that Largan Precision, which makes iPhone camera lenses, "remains optimistic about adoption of 3-lens or more modules for flagship smartphone models and will continue expanding its production capacity".
In June 2019, brands began releasing tempered glass camera protectors for the upcoming iPhone, notably making room for three camera lenses. Olixar, one such brand, has a strong recent reputation with releasing early accessories, as its cases for the iPhone XS and XS Max, Samsung Galaxy S10 and OnePlus 7 Pro all turning out to be accurate.
We look at the specs and features of the triple camera in the features section.
The Android phone market is fascinated with folding devices right now - we've already reviewed the Royole FlexPai, while MWC saw the unveiling of the Huawei Mate X and Samsung Galaxy Fold - but this hasn't reached the iPhone range just yet. That could be about to change, if patent activity is anything to go by, although the issues with Galaxy Fold units breaking offers a cautionary tale against rushing to market.
Apple has filed a patent for a phone with a flexible, hinged display in a clamshell design. "When the housing portions in a device are rotated relative to each other, the flexible device may bend," the abstract reads.
The patent was filed in October 2018, and published on Valentine's Day 2019, but is a continuation of a series of patents dating back as far as 2011.
For more clues, see this Apple patent published on 28 February 2019 (but filed on 13 December 2017), which addresses the potential problem of a display sustaining damage when folded.
"To facilitate bending about the bend axis without damage when the display is cold," the description reads, "a portion of the display that overlaps the bend axis may be selectively heated."
It adds that a latching mechanism would be added "that prevents opening and closing of the electronic device when the temperature of the portion of the display that overlaps the bend axis is below a predetermined temperature".
For more on this subject, read our article discussing foldable iPhone rumours.
The 'notch' on the X-series iPhones' displays has provoked mixed emotions. Some find it distracting; others appreciate that Apple has used every available millimetre of potential screen space; and some even argue that it is an iconic, recognisable piece of design comparable to the Home button on the original iPhone.
All parties will be interested to hear that rumours suggest the notch could get smaller in 2019, or disappear altogether.
Back in January 2018 South Korea's ET News reported that Apple is "looking into combination of a face recognition module with a camera module", a move which would allow the company to shrink the notch - if it wants to. Then in March 2018 the same site claimed Apple had found a way to get rid of the notch completely.
Removing the notch may be made possible by a patent related to displays with microscopic openings in between pixels. The sensors would thus be embedded in the display itself, according to Digital Trends.
Over the years the iPhone has become more and more water-resistant, but this will always be made more difficult by the existence of the charging port. This is particularly so if you want to use an iPhone underwater while an accessory is connected.
To deal with all this, Apple could be planning to change the design of the Lightning port, according to The Verge in March 2018. A patent awarded to Apple describes a port with a liquid-tight seal, made from a deformable material that would expand once triggered by software on the phone.
iOS 13 is out now in beta form, and it's been noticed that the developer beta displays a new graphic when you need to plug your iPhone into a Mac. Instead of the old picture of a Lightning cable, it appears to show USB-C.
Apple has already switched from its proprietary Lightning standard to USB-C on the iPad Pro models from 2018; is it about to do the same for its iPhones? It seems counterintuitive to us, but this isn't the first piece of evidence.
A report from DigiTimes in June 2018 made the same suggestion. Analog IC venders believed that by adopting USB Type C on the iPhone, Apple would accelerate the adoption of the new interface across the industry. At the time we pointed out that the company itself didn't appear to benefit from this.
Furthermore, USB-C is specifically used on the iPad Pros so that creative professionals can more easily connect digital cameras and transfer high-quality images - not something frequently demanded by iPhone users.
Not everyone is convinced. Mac Otakara believes, for example, that Lightning will remain for reasons of cost, and analyst Ming-Chi Kuo made a similar prediction in a February 2019 report.
Leaked photos, videos and illustrations
As we approach an iPhone update, leaked images start to emerge from Apple's supply chain - smuggled photos of components, prototype models and even, eventually, the finished devices. And before we get to that point, unofficial concept illustrations will be posted online.
In this section we'll post the most interesting and plausible images of the new phones.
This video, published by Mobile Fun, who tend to be pretty good for information in the run up to an iPhone launch, shows three "highly convincing replicas" (their words) of the upcomming iPhones. The three minute video demonstrates how similar the new mdoels are to the XS range, with the exception of the cameras on the back. The video doesn't really give anything else away.
We haven't had confirmation on the reliability of this image, but a Slashleaks user has posted what are claimed to be CAD designs of the iPhone 11 (or rather iPhone XI Max, per the post).
The designs appear to confirm a number of expected characteristics of the new iPhones: the notch remains, for example, and there is again no headphone port, but the triple-lens rear camera is there in all its square glory. The post's 'Trust Score' is 80 percent, for what that's worth.
Another Slashleaks user has posted a photograph of (supposedly) the logic board of a 2019 iPhone - we don't know which one, but the fact that it's rectangular rather than L-shaped suggests it's a successor to the iPhone XR rather than the XS or XS Max.
The user, named Leakspinner, is rated with an accuracy of 74%, but we wouldn't regard this as confirmed until we hear more evidence.
Jermaine Smit, who goes by the name Concept Creator and is well regarded for his often prophetic concepts, has made a video showing the rumoured design of the iPhone 11 in superb detail. Check it out:
One of the hottest rumours concerns a triple-lens camera. But how will this be designed? The first concept illustration for this came out in January, and showed the camera in an uneven square.
Back from September 2019, I bring you the very 1st and very early glimpse at which I guess #Apple will unveil as #iPhoneXI!!! Yes, time has already come to meet the new #iPhone through gorgeous 5K renders made on behalf of new coming Partner @digitindia -> https://t.co/b6SxFUS2tx pic.twitter.com/97jrlTHQ5G— Steve H.McFly (@OnLeaks) January 6, 2019
The square concept was backed up in March 2019 by Macotakara's sources among the Chinese supply chain, and by a supposedly leaked component of the chassis:
The below render of an iPhone 11 Max case by Olixar shows this same square camera array with the rumoured three lenses and flash. It also shows a circular mute switch. This and a few other cases can already be pre-ordered from Mobile Fun, seemingly confirming the design.
The screen is an iPhone's centrepiece and crowning glory: the medium via which you interact with your phone and your phone tells you about the world. Here's where we see the iPhone screen heading in the next generation of handsets.
After the addition of three entirely new screen sizes over the past two years (the 5.8in of the X and XS, the 6.1 of the XR, and the 6.5in of the XS Max), we expect Apple to settle down in 2019. Our prediction is that the 2019 range will fit into those same three sizes.
And it's not just us saying this. Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo made the same prediction in his February 2019 report.
The iPhone X, XS and XS Max, unlike all other iPhones (which are based on LCD), have OLED screens. In most respects OLED is great: it offers deeper blacks than LCD, brighter whites, overall better colour reproduction and even superior power efficiency. But it's more expensive to make, and there are worries about screen burn-in.
According to a report from the South Korean Electronic Times in May 2018, Apple plans to switch entirely to OLED from 2019. This was taken so seriously that various display companies who have worked with Apple in the past saw substantial dips in their share value (if they are committed to LCD) or rises (if they work with OLED).
Ming-Chi Kuo's June 2019 update concurred with this, suggesting that flagship 6.7 and 5.4 inch models will be joined with OLED technology by a lower-end 6.1in variant. Kuo went on to suggest the higher-end models would even support 5G.
iPhone screens are already far tougher than your average piece of glass (they're made of a proprietary material called Gorilla Glass), but they do sometimes crack or shatter when dropped. Screens made of Sapphire glass would be more resistant still, and Apple is already using sapphire in the display of the Apple Watch: it's possible that the company is now ready to import this material into its smartphone line-up.
Rumoured plans to rely on an Apple-backed sapphire plant in Arizona (which had the capacity to manufacture 200 million 5in iPhone displays per year) fell through. But more recent reports suggest that long-term Apple supplier Foxconn is gearing up to build its own sapphire plant in Taiwan at a cost of $2.6bn.
Mind you, Apple hasn't given up on Corning's Gorilla Glass. In May 2017 it announced that $200m of its recently announced Advanced Manufacturing Fund would be invested in Corning, in order to "support Corning's R&D, capital equipment needs and state-of-the-art glass processing".
Specs and new features
Let's head inside the new iPhone and check out its specs and new features.
A13 processor chip
The iPhone has always had its 'own' processors, in the sense that Apple has unique proprietary A10, A11 and A12 chips that you won't find in other manufacturers' phones. (These have historically been made for the company by TSMC, however - but that may soon change, as we'll discuss in a moment.) No prizes, then, for guessing that the next batch of iPhones will feature an A13... but how fast will the A13 be, and and how much of a boost will it provide?
Our colleagues on Macworld US have speculated about the A13's design process and characteristics. The expected switch from a 7nm to a 5nm process won't, they believe, be ready until 2020 (Apple was still using a 10nm process as recently as the A11); but there may be an interim switch to "7nm+", which uses Extreme Ultraviolet lithography to achieve 20 percent better logic density and 10 percent better power efficiency.
A consistent rumour has held that Apple will soon take back the reins of A-class chip design, and firm evidence of this plan came in the form of a secret (or formerly secret) research base in St Albans, where engineers are working on the iPhone chips of the future.
"To mark its commitment to beefing up its chip-making division in the UK, Apple invited students from 20 schools into its London headquarters to meet the engineers working at the St. Albans UK Silicon Design Centre," reported Metro.
This is perhaps the biggest bombshell from the February 2019 Kuo report. Bilateral charging refers to the ability of a device to both charge and be charged, and is something we saw for the first time among iOS devices in the 2018 iPad Pros, which are designed to charge iPhones from their own, larger batteries.
Ming-Chi Kuo didn't go into great depth about the bilateral charging he foresees in the 2019 iPhones, but one of the more obvious applications would be AirPods. It's easy to imagine a use case in which the new wireless-charging AirPods case could sit on the back of an iPhone and draw charge from it.
The analyst also said we should expect the new iPhones for 2019 to have a larger battery capacity, which would help to make this feature a practical benefit.
We discussed this from an aesthetic point of view in the design section, but the prospective triple-lens camera is clearly more important from a features perspective.
An Economic Daily News report sourced from the Asian supply chain predicts that in the second half of 2019, Apple will release an iPhone with three rear-facing camera lenses. It adds that the most powerful of these will be rated at 12Mp, which is the same as on the 2018 models.
EDN cites increasing competition (the obvious comparison point is the triple-lensed Huawei P20 Pro, which tops out at 40Mp) and the need to stand out in a crowded marketplace for the move, which in practical terms should offer improved low-light performance and high-powered zoom but may be more valuable for its wow factor.
This was backed up by a brief and relatively throwaway comment at the start of May 2018, in which analyst Jeff Pu of Yuanta Securities (discussing the financial prospects for lens companies) predicted that Apple will release an iPhone with triple camera lenses in the second half of 2019.
This is based on patent activity, so take it with a pinch of salt - patents are often filed speculatively, or even to confuse rivals. But it looks like Apple is exploring technology that would let an iPhone (or an Apple Watch) 'smell' the odours that would indicate a person is suffering from low blood sugar.
The patent application, Systems and Methods for Environment Sensing, focuses largely on the ability to detect hazardous gases and pollution. But there are more intimate health implications too, with the background description mentioning the ability to "measure compounds in human sweat and alert the user about his sugar levels".
Apple's Face ID face-recognition tech will remain in the 2019 iPhones; analyst Ming-Chi Kuo (in his February 2019 report) reckons the Face ID scanner will be upgraded with a more powerful 'flood illuminator'.
However! Supply-chain sources say that Apple will cut costs on a separate variant model by leaving out the expensive light laser emitter required for Face ID. Instead, this model, intended for the Chinese market, will feature an under-display Touch ID fingerprint sensor.
Admittedly this seems like an odd way of going about things. Many of us have been hoping for under-display Touch ID (alongside Face ID, rather than replacing it) for a while, but were led to believe that the technology to allow this was too new and too expensive to be feasible. It's hard to believe the savings of this strategy would be anywhere near those of putting the fingerprint sensor in the Home button or on the rear of the device.
The sources concede that this "could be a preliminary plan"; at this point we choose to remain sceptical.
Recent iPhones like the SE and XR did not have 3D Touch, the latter instead having what Apple calls Haptic Touch.
3D Touch is the function that acts like a right click when you physically push harder on the display. It has featured in most iPhones since the 6s, and is in the XS. But the XR does not have it, partly so Apple was able to stretch the edges of the LCD display.
Haptic Touch is just a long press coupled with vibration. MacRumors reported that 3D Touch might be dropped from all iPhones in 2019, including the successor to the XS. We reckon this is not accurate seeing as 3D Touch is on the OLED display of the XS, but maybe expect that any new LCD screen iPhone to lack it in favour of Haptic Touch.