Beyond iPhone 13: Long-Term iPhone Rumors
Apple is believed to plan its new iPhones several years in advance of their release, so it is highly likely that plans for 2022 and 2023 iPhone models are well underway at Apple. There have now been a sufficiently large number of reports from reliable sources about Apple's plans for the iPhone over the next few years, allowing us to build a provisional idea of what may be in store.
2022: iPhone 14 and iPhone SE 3?
In 2022, the iPhone will celebrate its fifteenth anniversary. It will mark five years since the first "all-screen" iPhone design, which premiered with the iPhone X in 2017. Currently, the tentatively titled "iPhone 14" is expected to feature:
- Hole-punch front-facing camera design, replacing the notch.
- Snapdragon X65 10 Gigabit 5G modem and antenna system.
- A16 chip, manufactured using a 4nm fabrication process.
- Vapor chamber thermal sytem for improved cooling.
- Unibody lens design for flatter rear camera bump.
- Upgraded telephoto camera.
- Upgraded ultra wide cameras expanded to all models.
Android-Style Hole-Punch Camera Design
In 2022, Apple is expected to make some substantial design changes to the iPhone. Most strikingly, iPhone 14 Pro models will allegedly see their notch replaced with a punch-hole design, as seen on a number of premium Android devices.
While the change is expected for the high-end 2022 iPhones, if manufacturing yields are sufficient, the lower-end iPhone 14 models could also feature the same design.
Apple has applied for a number of patents related to under-display Face ID technologies, but the company could also conceivably push some Face ID components and the front-facing speaker into the top bezel.
Barclays analysts believe that a smaller notch on iPhone 13 models will be the result of a "more tightly integrated version of the current structured light system" for Face ID, adding that a "bigger shift" is likely to come in 2022, with Apple apparently aiming to adopt time-of-flight architecture for Face ID that would allow for an "even smaller footprint."
The World's First 10 Gigabit 5G Modem and Antenna
In February 2021, Qualcomm introduced the the Snapdragon X65, which is the world's first 10 Gigabit 5G modem and antenna system for smartphones. While the X65 is not expected to be used for the iPhone 13 in 2021, it is expected to be added to Apple's 2022 iPhone.
4nm A16 Chip
TrendForce believes it is highly likely that the A16 chip in 2022 iPhones will be manufactured based on TSMC's upcoming 4nm process, paving the way for further improvements to performance, power efficiency, and density.
Flatter Rear Camera Bump
The 2022 iPhone models are said to be adopting a new "unibody lens design," which Apple will use to reduce the thickness of the rear camera module.
Redesigned Cooling System
Starting in 2022, high-end iPhone models are likely to adopt a vapor chamber thermal system, providing it meets Apple's requirements for reliability. The system is said to be currently undergoing aggressive testing.
The VC thermal system will be purportedly be required for the high-end iPhones to enable better performance and faster 5G connection speeds. There are already smartphones from companies like Samsung, Razer, and LG that use vapor chamber cooling technology to keep devices at a lower temperature when under heavy strain.
Telephoto and Ultra Wide Camera Upgrades
All 2022 iPhone models are currently expected to see significant camera upgrades. The iPhone 14 Pro models could feature camera improvements that focus on the telephoto lens, with Apple upgrading from a 6-element lens to a 7-element lens.
In 2021, the iPhone 13 Pro models are expected to get significantly upgraded Ultra Wide cameras, increasing from f/2.4 to f/1.8 and from a five-element lens to a six-element lens, also gaining autofocus instead of the current fixed focus. In 2022, these upgrades to the Ultra Wide camera are expected to trickle down to the entire iPhone 14 lineup instead of being reserved for the Pro models.
Third-Generation iPhone SE
There is some uncertainty around whether the device will keep its current design with a 4.7-inch display or mirror the iPhone 11 with a 6.1-inch display, but it is expected to retain the Touch ID fingerprint scanner and LCD display technology. Upgrades are likely to include sub-6GHz 5G and a newer A-series processor. There is also the chance of the iPhone SE adopting the iPhone 11's dual camera system with an added Ultra Wide lens.
2023: iPhone 15 and Foldable iPhone?
In 2023, it will be ten years since the launch of the popular iPhone 5s, and five years since Apple revealed the first large full-screen iPhone design in the iPhone XS Max. 2023's presumably-titled "iPhone 15" is currently rumored to feature:
- A true full-screen design with no notch or hole-punch.
- Under-display Touch ID fingerprint scanner.
- Periscopic telephoto camera.
- A17 chip, manufactured using a 3nm fabrication process.
- Apple-designed 5G modem.
Rumors have also indicated that a new iPhone model with a clamshell folding design may debut in 2023. Keep in mind that the 2023 iPhone rumors are still years off, and what we're hearing now in terms of rumors may not actually materialize.
The First Truly Full-Screen iPhone
A minimum of one high-end iPhone model in 2023 is expected to feature the first true full-screen design with no notch or hole punch.
Presumably, if the hole-punch front-facing camera design is not rolled out to all iPhone models in 2022, being kept for Pro models only, then in 2023 the design will reach the lower-end models too.
Under-Display Touch ID
Apple is believed to be planning to implement a fingerprint scanner under the display of at least one high-end iPhone in 2023.
In 2023, the iPhone is expected to adopt a "periscopic telephoto lens" for the first time. Periscope technology would allow for significantly increased optical zoom on iPhones, well beyond the current 2x and 2.5x limits on the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max, respectively. Huawei's P40 Pro+ smartphone, for example, features a periscope lens with up to 10x optical zoom.
Apple has allegedly run into trouble developing its own periscope camera system because much of the technology is guarded by other patents, and thus Apple is instead exploring purchasing the components from the patent holders instead. Samsung, for example, owns the "ball-type actuator" technology used in many periscope lenses.
3nm A17 Chip
Apple has committed to order chips fabricated using TSMC's 3nm process, which will be used for the A17 chip. The 3nm process yields 30 percent and 15 percent power consumption and performance improvements over the 5nm process, respectively, indicating notable advancements.
Apple-designed 5G Modem
Amid rumors of Apple working on its own 5G modem to move away from Qualcomm, recent reports have indicated that Apple could debut its custom-designed 5G cellular modem in all 2023 iPhone models.
Apple reportedly began developing the modem in 2020, after acquiring the majority of Intel's smartphone modem business a year earlier to bolster its efforts, and 2023 may be when the modems are ready to be included in iPhones. Barclays previously said the modem will support both sub-6GHz and mmWave bands of 5G.
The First Foldable iPhone
Apple is purported to have started work on an iPhone with a foldable display. Multiple sources have stated that Apple could release a foldable iPhone with a 7 to 8-inch flexible OLED display as soon as 2023.
There have also been various corroborated rumors from the Asian supply chain about a foldable iPhone being tested.
This may also be the first iPhone to feature Apple Pencil support due to its larger screen size.
For more on Apple's foray into foldable devices, make sure to check out our foldable iPhone guide.
It is essential to take rumors surrounding future iPhones with a pinch of salt, as there is still plenty of time for Apple's plans to change. Nonetheless, given the track record of many of the analysts and leakers from whom these reports are derived, it is likely that there is some truth to them.
For now, eyes are set on the iPhone 13 lineup, expected to arrive later this year. For more on Apple's most immediate new generation of iPhones due to arrive later this year, see our detailed roundup.