Apple isn't exactly in a rush when it comes to redesigning products. The company has had a rather methodical and calculated approach in shaping the look and feel of its products over the years. So much so, in fact, that it's often drawn criticisms over this, with many feeling like Apple is playing too much on the safe side.
One thing is for sure, though—when Apple changes the design of one of its products, it always feels like a big thing. And maybe that's in part because we've been conditioned to expect incremental updates, but it's also because most major changes come after years of deliberation and research.
Let's take the iPhone, for example. Arguably the most dramatic change of the way Apple phones look came with the iPhone X and its tall notched display. But other than that, all iPhones feel as though they were cast in the same mould as the iPhone 6, which was introduced in 2014. The rounded edges, the bulbous frame, the contoured (2.5D) screen glass – all staples of the iPhone design that have barely changed over the past 5 years.
This may change, however, with the introduction of the 2020 iPhone models, through which Apple is rumored to be reviving a classic design from the decade prior—that of the iPhone 4.
The soft, round shape that Apple phones have had since the very beginning—save for the iPhone 4 and iPhone 5—makes sense in the grand scheme of things, as it is designed to fit well in any palm and facilitates the prolonged use of the device. That shape has worked so well, in fact, that we'd be hard-pressed to find many phones nowadays that don't have rounded edges.
With the iPhone 12, however, Apple is rumored to be moving away from the softer contours of present models in favor of a sharper, boxier aesthetic that channels the design sensibilities of the iPhone 4 and 5. Actually, Apple has already tried something similar with the new iPad Pro, which has decidedly sharper edges than previous models. The MacBook, too, has shifted to a similar design, so it would make sense for the iPhone to join them. After all, Apple is all about consistency.
Based on the rumors that the next iPhone models may channel this boxier aesthetic, we've created some concept renders to illustrate this shift in product design. And we've got to say—even leaving the topic of consistency across different product lines aside—this design looks really cool.
It's still very early on, so we can't promise that the 2020 iPhones will look exactly like that, but going from rumors—and seeing as how the new design would fit right in alongside the iPad and MacBook lines—we'd say there's a fair chance.
According to a recent rumor, Apple may be experimenting with an iPhone prototype that has no notch, but thicker bezels. The idea is that the company will be able to miniaturize the TrueDepth Face ID camera, earpiece, and front-facing camera so that they could fit in the top bezel of the phone. Of course, this would result in thicker bezels all around, but may be a good trade-off, should it ever come to pass.
Another more widely-spread rumor claims that the iPhone 12 won't be the true all-screen phone that we've been waiting for, but will instead shrink the notch down considerably, all the while retaining the full capabilities of Face ID.
There's this so-called "3-year product refresh cycle" that Apple seems to be operating on (for the most part, at least). That is, when a big change is introduced, it is then iterated on and polished for three generations until another refresh comes in. This pattern has lead many to believe, us included, that the iPhone 12 will bring something new in terms of design. Whether the change will be as big as removing the notch, remains to be seen.
Apple has been investing heavily in AR in recent years. With ARKit established as a capable platform for mobile augmented reality, and with work on the Apple Glasses reportedly moving along at a healthy pace, we weren't the least bit surprised when Apple launched the new iPad Pro with a LiDAR scanner on the back. At this point, we are practically expecting the iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max to also be equipped with LiDAR scanners.
A light detection and ranging scanner (or LiDAR for short) can measure depth much more accurately than a regular camera, so it a perfect choice for augmented reality uses. A LiDAR camera uses ultraviolet or near-infrared light to map its surroundings in great detail. It works in conjunction with a sensor that pulses light signals, which bounce off of the environment and return to the sensor. The phone then calculates the time it took the signal to bounce back into the sensor, thus creating a more accurate depth map of the scene than a regular camera could.
Unfortunately for those who were hoping for an actual fourth camera, the LiDAR is not that. It is solely used for measuring depth and not for taking actual photos or videos.
Space Gray and Silver are absolute staples of Apple's product design, but what about other colors? Well, with the iPhone 11 Pro we got an interesting new addition in the form of Midnight Green, which we quite liked, though that didn't stop us from yearning for more options. Not even new ones, necessarily.
Rose Gold was arguably one of the most popular iPhone colors back in the day, but we haven't seen one since the iPhone 7. The iPhone XS and 11 Pro introduced New Gold, which is supposed to bridge the gap between regular Gold and Rose Gold, but it is neither. We'd like to see a new iPhone that flaunts the rosy shade of some of its predecessors, even if it is in a more understated manner than before.
As far as Midnight colors go, we'd be stoked about a Midnight Blue version! We think a dark blue-gray shade would really suit the style of the iPhone, so we played around with the idea until we reached what we think is a very good-looking result.
Disclaimer: The images featured in this article are concept design renders of the iPhone 12. They are based on preliminary available information about the device, and may not be representative of its final design. Feel free to use them, as long as you credit PhoneArena by including a link to this article.