The elimination of the iPhone's headphone jack was a radical step by Apple, but it's only the prelude to something even bigger: iPhones that are completely wireless, and completely portless. Rumours about this kind of ultra-minimalist design have been around for years, and at one stage it looked like it would happen in 2021, but it's now more likely in 2022 or beyond.
At least, that's the general consensus. But a site named Appleosophy - which hasn't got much of a track record for accurate predictions, so take this with a punch of salt - reckons there is a "portless variant" of the iPhone 13.
It isn't entirely clear from Appleosophy's write-up how the variant fits into Apple's strategy for the iPhone 13, but the impression is that it currently exists as a prototype for testing longer-term plans rather than as a commercially viable project. It seems unlikely that Apple would launch both versions (ported and portless) at once, nor that the company would be considering two such radically different designs at a time that is, in developmental terms, very close to launch.
It may be more illuminating, then, to consider the iPhone 13 variant as a guide to Apple's plans for future designs, rather than as an indicator of this year's design.
Many of the ingredients for the move to a portless design are already in place. We already have wireless charging, and users can already set up and use their iPhone without any cables. (However, you need the right hardware to go with the phone: a wireless charging accessory and Bluetooth headphones.) Setup and recovery can also be carried out using other Apple devices and iCloud without a cable connection.
In this respect, the foundation for an iPhone without a cable connection has already been laid. But a problem occurs when the device no longer reacts to input from the user, and you can no longer access your iCloud backups. To get the iPhone working again, you may need to restore iOS.
According to Appleosophy, Apple is well on top of this problem and has formulated several approaches with the portless iPhone 13:
- The user activates a special recovery mode that triggers the "Internet Restore broadcast feature" - a signal is sent out over the internet and picked up by Macs or Windows PCs with iTunes. These guide the user through the recovery process.
- The second option is identical to the first, only that the iPhone will automatically start the recovery mode in case of a problem.
- As a last resort, the iPhone remains connected to a nearby device via Bluetooth. A recovery mode is also required for this. This option is the least desirable, as data is sent much more slowly via Bluetooth than via Wi-Fi.
Apple is already working on these options, but has not yet reached the desired speeds. Further development is therefore still necessary.
This article originally appeared on Macwelt. Translation by David Price.