Rumors about Apple's 2019 iPhone lineup.
At a Glance
- Apple is expected to debut refreshed iPhones in September 2019, and rumors about the new devices are already circulating.
Early Rumored Features
- Three sizes
- OLED and LCD displays
- Triple-lens rear camera
- Upgraded TrueDepth camera
- Apple Pencil support?
2019 iPhone Rumors
In 2019, Apple is expected to continue offering iPhones in multiple sizes and at multiple price points to provide customers with choice.
2018 brought the iPhone XS (5.8 inches), the iPhone XS Max (6.5 inches), and the iPhone XR (6.1 inches). The two XS devices have higher price tags starting at $999, while the XR is priced starting at $749.
We're expecting a similar lineup in 2019, perhaps with a continuation of both the iPhone XS and XR devices, with rumors suggesting we'll see 5.8 and 6.5-inch OLED iPhones along with a 6.1-inch LCD iPhone. We don't yet know what Apple will call the new iPhones, but iPhone XI or iPhone 11 are possibilities for the iPhone XS successors. Given that naming is up in the air, we're going to be referring to the upcoming iPhones as the "2019 iPhones" for now.
Rumors about the 2019 iPhones started before the iPhone XS and XR were even announced, and we've heard quite a few details on what we can expect.
Apple is expected to continue using OLED displays for the 2019 devices, and while some rumors suggest Apple may go with an all OLED lineup, doing away with the LED displays of the iPhone XR, other rumors believe Apple will stick with LEDs because of the high price of OLED displays.
All 2019 iPhones are likely to adopt upgraded A13 chips from TSMC, Apple's chip supplier. Chip upgrades typically bring improved performance and efficiency, and the A13 will be no different.
Rumors suggest the next-generation 6.5-inch iPhone will feature a triple-lens rear camera, while the other models, which will be successors to the iPhone XR and iPhone XS, will feature a dual-lens camera. We don't know what the triple-lens camera will look like, and Apple is said to be working on multiple prototypes.
A triple-lens camera has the potential to include benefits like better 3D sensing for augmented reality purposes, 3x optical zoom capabilities, up from 2x optical zoom in the 2018 iPhones, and better performance in low light.
We may also see a revamped front-facing TrueDepth camera system, with rumors suggesting either a smaller notch or no notch at all. It's not quite clear how Apple would pull that off, but there are some technologies that would allow for it.
Apple eliminated 3D Touch in the iPhone XR, replacing it with a new Haptic Touch feature, and rumors have suggested the same thing could happen in the 2019 iPhone lineup, with 3D Touch set to be removed.
There have been some rumors of Apple Pencil support in the 2019 iPhones, which would allow the devices to work with Apple's stylus, but we've heard nothing concrete just yet.
Keep an eye on this roundup, because we'll be updating it regularly with all of the rumors about the 2019 iPhones ahead of their launch. We're expecting to see the 2019 devices debut in September 2019, in line with Apple's traditional yearly iPhone launch schedule.
Leaker Steve Hemmerstoffer, who has a reputation for sharing details on unreleased Apple devices, has partnered with two different sites to create renderings of what he says the next-generation iPhone will look like based on supply chain leaks.
There are two separate sets of renderings because Hemmerstoffer says Apple is working on two possible prototype designs, both of which are said to still be in the EVT or Engineering Validation Test stage.
Apple has allegedly yet to decide on a final design, and both of the below design options are said to be in the running.
The device in the first rendering features a large, square-shaped protruding rear camera that houses three lenses in a triangular configuration, a flash, and a microphone.
The device depicted in the rendering looks extremely odd, so much so that we'd normally dismiss it as fake, but Hemmerstoffer has provided reliable smartphone details in the past.
The second rendering features a more mainstream-looking rear camera in a horizontal layout with a flash located around the middle of the three lenses.
A microphone is located below, while the volume buttons are on the left side of the device and the power button is on the right, in line with current devices. At the front, there's a slimmed down notch for the front-facing TrueDepth camera system.
There are indeed supporting rumors that have suggested Apple is planning to introduce a three camera system in at least one 2019 iPhone model, but rumors have not commented on the camera configuration and thus none of these renderings can be confirmed as accurate at the current time.
Apple deviated from its standard naming scheme with the iPhone X (pronounced iPhone 10) in 2017, and in 2018, we got the iPhone XS and the iPhone XR. Apple went from iPhone 8 to iPhone XR (10R) and we never had an iPhone 9.
With the jump to the "X" name, it's difficult to predict what Apple will call the 2019 iPhones. iPhone XI or iPhone 11 are both possibilities, but what comes after "XR" is a mystery we have yet to solve. Apple's iPhone names for the last 11 years are below:
2007 - iPhone
2008 - iPhone 3G
2009 - iPhone 3GS
2010 - iPhone 4 (new design)
2011 - iPhone 4s
2012 - iPhone 5 (new design)
2013 - iPhone 5s
2014 - iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus (new design)
2015 - iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus
2016 - iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus
2017 - iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X (new design)
2018 - iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR
2019 - iPhone XI and XI Max?
Apple could opt to go with an entirely different name like it did with the iPhone X, and because Apple uses codenames for development, the company's naming schemes often remain unknown until right before new devices launch.
With no clear picture of what Apple plans to name the devices that will launch in 2019, we will refer to them as the "2019 iPhones" until we get a clearer picture of the company's naming intentions.
For the last few years, Apple has been working to bolster its OLED display supply chain for diversification purposes and to cut down its reliance on Samsung, the company that has supplied displays for the iPhone X, iPhone XS, and iPhone XS Max.
Apple has mulled a partnership with Japan Display, pushed LG Display to build out its OLED display production facilities, and has purchased equipment to build an OLED panel research and development site in Taiwan.
Apple is said to be aiming for an all OLED lineup at some point in the future, perhaps in 2019, but it's not clear if that will be possible given the high price of OLED displays.
Rumors have disagreed on Apple's 2019 display plans, with some rumors pointing towards an all OLED display and other rumors suggesting Apple will continue to use some LCDs.
It's likely the 2019 iPhone lineup will look like the 2018 lineup, with premium OLED devices offered alongside more affordable LCD options.
Apple's 2019 iPhones could potentially be thinner and lighter due to the adoption of Samsung-designed OLED display technology called Y-OCTA, which integrates the touchscreen layer into the display panel.
Given that the display panel is already a thin component, it's not clear how much thickness reduction we'll see, but apple is likely to use the technology due to its lower cost.
Barclays analyst Blayne Curtis, who has a somewhat mixed track record, has suggested that all 2019 iPhones will do away with 3D Touch. Apple did eliminate 3D Touch in the lower-priced 6.1-inch iPhone XR, and the company could be planning to remove the feature entirely in the future.
The Wall Street Journal has also said that all three iPhone models could ship without support for 3D Touch.
TSMC will be the sole supplier of the next-generation "A13" ships that will be used in the 2019 iPhone lineup, and iPhones coming in the future. The A13 is expected to be built on TSMC's 7nm+ package with extreme ultraviolet lithography.
The A13, like all chip upgrades, should bring performance and efficiency improvements.
Rumors suggest that Apple is perhaps working on 3D depth sensing technology for the rear-facing camera, which could come in 2019.
Taiwan's Economic Daily News, for example, has suggested the 2019 iPhones will use a triple-lens rear-facing camera system that offers "more advanced" sensing than the front-facing TrueDepth camera system through a time-of-flight (ToF) depth sensing system.
ToF systems use a laser to measure the light between the camera and the subject to calculate metrics like distance and depth, while the TrueDepth camera system uses a dot projection method.
A triple-lens rear camera could provide a number of benefits, such as better low-light performance, AR improvements and better 3D spatial recognition, possible support for stereoscopic imaging, allowing the iPhone to capture images of an object from different angles and triangulate distance, and optical 3x zoom for the first time.
It is not known if a triple-lens rear camera would provide all of these benefits in the next-generation iPhone, but these are certainly some of the possible features that could come with such a setup.
The Wall Street Journal has confirmed that Apple is planning on introducing a triple-lens camera system in at least one of the iPhones coming in 2019. According to the site, the second-generation iPhone XS Max will feature a three-lens camera, while the successors to the iPhone XS and iPhone XR will continue to use dual-lens cameras.
Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who often accurately predicts Apple's plans, is skeptical that the 2019 iPhones will include more advanced depth-sensing features.
Kuo believes that the distance and depth information provided by a time-of-flight system is currently insufficient for creating the "revolutionary AR experience" Apple is aiming for. He also does not believe it would provide better photos, which is another reason why Apple might not use the technology. According to Kuo, the AR experience Apple wants will require 5G connectivity, augmented reality glasses, and a "more powerful Apple Maps database," so more advanced depth sensing technology may not be introduced at this time.
The iPhone with a three lens setup could feature one 10 megapixel camera, one 14 megapixel camera, and a third camera with the details of the sensor unknown as of yet.
Front-Facing TrueDepth Camera System
Rumors suggest Apple is planning to make changes to the front-facing TrueDepth Camera System that enables Face ID in the 2019 iPhones.
Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes 2019 iPhones will feature a new flood illuminator that will improve Face ID by lowering the impact of the invisible light from the environment.
Apple may be able to introduce a smaller notch by combining the front-facing camera and the Face ID sensors into a single face recognition module.
Apple supplier AMS has announced new sensor technology that allows the RBG light and the IR proximity sensor used for the front-facing TrueDepth camera system to be embedded under an OLED display.
Apple could potentially be planning to introduce the new sensor tech in its 2019 iPhones, and this would allow Apple to create an iPhone with a smaller Face ID notch.
Another rumor suggests Apple could potentially introduce an iPhone design that will eliminate the notch entirely. It's not yet clear how Apple would accomplish this feat, but the report, from Korean news site ET News, suggests Apple could drill holes in the display itself for the camera equipment or use a patented multi-layer Black matrix display.
Apple is said to be planning to introduce an upgraded TrueDepth Camera System with new AR related features in the 2019 iPhones that will consume more power, therefore requiring larger batteries.
The front-facing TrueDepth camera system will reportedly feature a 10-megapixel front-facing camera.
Apple Pencil Support
Korean site The Investor, which does not have an established track record for accuracy, has suggested Apple is considering offering an Apple Pencil-style stylus alongside the 2019 iPhone models.
It's not clear if this is accurate, but Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who is reliable, has said that Apple Pencil support is a possibility for a future iPhone.
Atherton Research analyst Jean Baptiste Su believes Apple will transition away from Lightning, introducing a USB-C port instead of a Lightning port as the company did with the iPad Pro. We've heard few supporting rumors, however, so it's not clear if this prediction will come true.
Japanese site Mac Otakara also believes the 2019 iPhones could potentially feature a USB-C port, based on supply chain sources. The USB-C port has not yet reached a design reference step so it's not known if the feature will make it into the new iPhones before they are finalized.
According to Steve Hemmerstoffer, who allegedly has details on 2019 iPhone prototypes, the devices do not feature a USB-C port and instead use Lightning ports.
Under-Display Touch ID
Su has also suggested that Apple will introduce under-display Touch ID, a guess that may be a miss given that Apple has fully embraced Face ID in the iPhone and iPad Pro lineups.
Barclays analyst Blame Curtis believes Apple may be planning to implement support for Wi-Fi 6, aka 802.11ax, in the 2019 iPhone lineup.
Wi-Fi 6 brings higher data rates, increased capacity, better performance in dense environments like concerts and sporting events, and improved power efficiency to better conserve battery on smartphones, tablets, and other battery-powered devices.
The next-generation version of the iPhone XR may feature a 4x4 MIMO antenna design, allowing for faster LTE speeds. The current iPhone XR only supports 2x2 MIMO, compared to 4x4 MIMO in the XS and XS Max. With the change, all three iPhones in 2019 could feature the same LTE equipment.
We've heard several other rumors about features that could come to iPhones in the years beyond 2019.
Apple and Intel are rumored to be working on 5G hardware for the widespread rollout of 5G technology, which is expected in 2020. Apple is said to be planning to roll out its first 5G iPhone in 2020 using modem chips sourced from Intel.
5G network technology is expected to become available starting in 2019, but Apple does not plan to release a 5G iPhone until at least 2020, according to rumors. Apple will delay support for the feature as it has done with past network technology upgrades due to the potential for poor coverage and other issues.
Apple may be delaying 5G support because it is no longer using Qualcomm modem chips and Intel's technology, which Apple is now using, won't be ready until 2019.
Analysts at Barclays believe Apple will be forced to use Qualcomm's 5G modems in its 2020 iPhones due to Intel's shortcomings, which could lead Apple and Qualcomm to settle their current legal battle. Other rumors, though, suggest Apple has not reopened conversations with Qualcomm and is instead considering modems from MediaTek and Samsung.
Apple designers are said to be aiming to remove most of the external ports and buttons on the iPhone for a clean, streamlined device. Apple is expected to work towards this goal with each iPhone iteration, and the first port to go could be the Lightning port once wireless charging technology improves.
As for the more outlandish, Apple is said to be developing an iPhone with a foldable display in partnership with LG Display, with panel production for an iPhone with a folding display set to kick off in 2020. Apple is also said to be working on touchless gesture controls and curved screens, technologies that could launch within three years.
If Apple sticks with its standard yearly iPhone upgrade cycle, we will see the new 2019 iPhones in September 2019.