No, the iPhone 11 doesn't need a smaller notch or 5G connectivity

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
No, the iPhone 11 doesn't need a smaller notch or 5G connectivity
The iPhone X 

The iPhone 11 Pro is now just twelve days away and that means it won’t be long until Apple’s new triple-camera setup is announced. The latter has caused quite a bit of controversy this year due to its rather unique looks, something I understand completely because the design’s certainly not for everyone, but this is far from the only negativity the iPhone 11 has faced.

Apple’s next-gen devices have also been heavily criticized by people who believe 5G connectivity and a smaller notch should be present. In this particular case, though, I disagree. In fact, I’d say the decision to retain the existing notch for another twelve months and stick with 4G LTE networks is a great move.

The iPhone's notch is perfect the way it is


Admittedly, I was quite disappointed when it became apparent Apple wasn’t planning any changes to its notch this year. Huawei and Xiaomi are using waterdrop-like implementations and Samsung has fully embraced the punch hole so surely Apple could have made some improvements of its own. Obviously, I never expected the company to create an iPhone with a tiny notch because Face ID isn’t going anywhere, but we’re two years on from its debut and a small size reduction must be possible.

As it turns out, it is – Apple even prototyped the design earlier this year – but it wouldn't have been the right move for the company. Before the iPhone X arrived in 2017, the iPhone was on sale for a total of ten years. During that time Apple released 15 different models yet stuck to just four variants of what’s essentially the same front panel design. Why? Recognition.

In a world where Samsung makes constant improvements, Apple's lack of change can often feel quite frustrating to people inside the tech community. The reality, however, is that most consumers don't care and this has arguably given Apple one big advantage over the years when it comes to marketing – the iPhone is unmistakably an iPhone. Show regular people a Huawei, LG, or Xiaomi and the chances are they might not know what brand of phone they're looking at. Show them an iPhone, though, and they'll most likely know it came from Apple despite not necessarily being able to identify the exact model.

Nowadays, the iconic home button and thick bezels that were previously synonymous with Apple's smartphones have been replaced by a controversial notch and uniform bezels. The new design is just as recognizable, though, and the majority of buyers still aren't bothered about it being reused year after year. This means there's essentially no need for Apple to make any modifications on this year's iPhone 11. In fact, they should probably keep reusing the current notch until a large enough group of consumers grow tired of it or until a drastic redesign such as an all-screen device is ready to be deployed. But let me explain further.

Take these two silhouettes below. Both iPhone designs are immediately recognizable thanks to the key features mentioned above. But if Apple were to reduce the notch's size on the upcoming iPhone 11 series so that it can please just a small group of tech fans, the next-gen flagships would become noticeably less distinguishable and the iPhone's overall brand power would be weakened. As examples, a slightly more compact notch puts the design at risk of being confused with that of the LG G8 ThinQ or the Nokia 7.1. A waterdrop notch, on the other hand, could be associated with any recent Huawei smartphone and many of Samsung's mid-range devices.

Don't get me wrong, I'd love a smaller notch on the iPhone 11 and I know some other people would too, but at the end of the day a large part of Apple's business is built on brand recognition and to understand why the company's making these decisions people need to look at this all from a business perspective and accept the fact Apple caters towards the masses, not the few. 

Also, before anyone starts saying the lack of change this year is about saving money – that's highly unlikely. Apple already spent time and resources prototyping a smaller notch earlier this year and that design certainly isn't anything revolutionary. It simply involves moving the in-ear speaker towards the edge of the frame to free up space in the middle of the notch.

There's absolutely no need for a 5G iPhone in 2019


Next-gen mobile networks are only up and running across small areas of select cities in a handful of countries across the globe right now. That means the immense majority of consumers don't have access to 5G and therefore have zero need for a compatible smartphone. This situation is unlikely to change drastically anytime soon yet many people seem to believe the iPhone 11 should support 5G networks. Some have even called Apple out for lagging behind the competition or attempting to rip off customers because of this. But that's simply untrue.

A need to boost brand recognition or a need to show off next-gen modem technology are the only reasons a company would create a 5G smartphone in 2019. The likes of LG and Xiaomi cover the first category while Samsung and Huawei are motivated primarily by the second one. In all cases, though, the resulting product is one that sells in very low quantities and costs significantly more than its 4G LTE version.

As we mentioned above, Apple only caters towards the masses. A 5G smartphone that'll sell in small numbers clearly doesn't fit into that strategy but let's just imagine for a second that all iPhone 11 models will feature 5G as standard. The end products would likely cost a minimum of $200 more than usual yet only a handful of people will feel the benefit of all that extra cash upon purchase. That, in turn, would result in quite a lot of heavy criticism and would undoubtedly affect sales massively. Sticking to 4G LTE support for another twelve months, on the other hand, should help maintain existing prices while keeping the vast majority of consumers happy.

Related phones

iPhone 11 Pro Max
  • Display 6.5" 1242 x 2688 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP / 12 MP front
  • Processor Apple A13 Bionic, Hexa-core, 2650 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB
  • Battery 3969 mAh
iPhone 11
  • Display 6.1" 828 x 1792 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP / 12 MP front
  • Processor Apple A13 Bionic, Hexa-core, 2650 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB
  • Battery 3110 mAh

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71 Comments

1. corvette72778

Posts: 166; Member since: Feb 25, 2012

The notch is hideous! It's a very bad design that Steve Jobs would never be ok with. Apple sales are on the decline. It will be a losing fight going down but at least it will be slow.

14. email678

Posts: 1; Member since: Aug 30, 2019

all smartphones are on the decline not just the iphone.

41. Kloak

Posts: 82; Member since: May 27, 2018

All smartphones as a whole, but not all brands, Huawei, Xiaomi, OPPO, those brands for example are selling more phones than before.

56. baldilocks

Posts: 1545; Member since: Dec 14, 2008

Kia sells more cars than McClaren. Doesn’t mean they are better.

65. Vancetastic

Posts: 1754; Member since: May 17, 2017

Maybe, but I'm having trouble picturing mom and the the kids hitting the grocery store in a McClaren.

78. jsdechavez

Posts: 814; Member since: Jul 20, 2012

They're buying smart.

82. OneLove123

Posts: 1257; Member since: Aug 28, 2018

Yeah, the iPhone people loves buying their Kia aka Apple.

84. Kloak

Posts: 82; Member since: May 27, 2018

When they use to sell more it was "the numbers speaks for itself", now is "just because it sells more doesn't mean its better", Apple fanboys are funny.

88. oldskool50 unregistered

Yep. They are all opportunists. When opportunity is in their favor, they hold on to it for dear life. When it's not, amazing how they simply repeat the th im ngs Android users say. Classically hypocritical is what they all are.

30. Georgio

Posts: 293; Member since: Nov 21, 2016

The notch is beautiful and it's a very good design!! Steve Jobs love's it !! Apple will make lots money from all their products and services ; don't u worry about them.

38. ijuanp03

Posts: 655; Member since: Dec 30, 2014

Apple will make money even if they sell you and outdated design and just hd display. Selling phones isn't the issue here.

2. Millenialssux

Posts: 36; Member since: Jan 22, 2014

Even before the phone is released, the Iphone apologists are out in force. Samsung, LG, etc., would have been slammed by PA for the thinking espoused in this article. You guys are truly insufferable!

3. joshuaswingle

Posts: 653; Member since: Apr 03, 2018

Stop generalising PA! This is MY opinion not the whole website's!

4. Millenialssux

Posts: 36; Member since: Jan 22, 2014

Um, okay.

17. Heisenberg

Posts: 378; Member since: Feb 11, 2015

Only you has as opinion, others dont hence the reason they didnt write any article. You guys must think kiddos are the readers here

58. Knownhost

Posts: 112; Member since: Nov 13, 2017

I personally wouldn't buy an iPhone with a three-year-old design, no 5g ability, a camera setup that basically just catches up to the competition, and stale operating system. The author makes clear that this article is an opinion piece. However, there is another viewpoint here to be explored. Not everyone is a fan of Apple's way of doing business. Their passion extends only to their profit margin nowadays.

64. Mike88

Posts: 438; Member since: Mar 05, 2019

A good and accurate article, it’s true apple iPhones have always been the most recognized phones in the market and the new design makes it one of the most beautiful and highly recognizable design. The notch size and almost no bezels and chin makes it an iPhone in the crowd of android phones. I think even the back didn’t need to change for another year but they had to go for the new camera setup. 4G’s latest tech is more advanced then 5G initial tech so that’s also true that a 5G phone isn’t needed in 2019 coz new bands are coming next year and all 5G phones of this year will be outdated and won’t support new bands

6. RevolutionA

Posts: 474; Member since: Sep 30, 2017

Doesn't matter. The article clearly points out the greatness of iPhone in an impeccable way. Yes! They don't need a smaller notch or 5G 6G to become great, they themselves are great and when greatness does something everyone admires like nothches

10. dazed1

Posts: 806; Member since: Jul 28, 2015

Iphone being great ended in 2010

11. tedkord

Posts: 17463; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

Actually, the article draws attention to, then tries to apologize for, Apple's lack of any real innovation the past 6 years.

21. joshuaswingle

Posts: 653; Member since: Apr 03, 2018

No, it points out the fact Apple doesn't NEED to change the notch or add 5G this year because consumers don't yet care enough. That doesn't mean it shouldn't. I'm looking at things from a business point of view. Obviously as a tech fan I think they should have shrunk the notch this year. Not bothered about 5G though as the network's aren't running where I live.

43. Kloak

Posts: 82; Member since: May 27, 2018

I think you should have write THEIR consumers, Apple consumers will stick with whatever they sell even if its outdated, not all consumers want to pay a premium price for outdated hardware.

44. maherk

Posts: 7011; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

I don't get it why people are going after you. It's clear from your tone, that you're not defending Apple and saying they shouldn't innovate or that the iPhone is flawless product, you're simply presenting the reasons behind Apple's strategy, which is trying to keep their loyal base while milking them by offering their new services. Funny how you get attacked by both Android fans and Apple fans whenever they disagree with you, and both camps shower you with compliments whenever they do agree with you.

45. Ashoaib

Posts: 3309; Member since: Nov 15, 2013

People are going after Joshua because usually most people understand things on face value and doesn't try to understand the deeper meanings. It's not everyone's cup of tea to comprehend.

50. maherk

Posts: 7011; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

Fanboys on both camps are so fickle, watch those attacking Joshua fully support him with his next article.

54. Back_from_beyond

Posts: 1472; Member since: Sep 04, 2015

This year's iPhone is unneeded really. Sure 5G isn't readily available yet, but if people are upgrading on a near 3 year basis nowadays, iPhone7, 8 or X users are likely to skip it because it doesn't bring anything remarkably new like 5G. If you're not sure about paying full price for it, buy a refurbished or second hand iPhone X and save the rest for a 5G model.

60. sgodsell

Posts: 7573; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

Business point of view. Well Apple's sales declined the most from a business point of view, especially compared to the other OEMs. Why? We can speculate all we want. But Apple really increased the price of their iPhones without adding much. That's my opinion, and from a business point of view. Just look at the the older iPhone 7+ was $750. It came with a dual camera, a full HD resolution display, 3D touch, TouchID, and 3 GB of RAM. It even came with an audio dongle in the box. The iPhone XR has a lower resolution HD+ display with a huge bite mark out of the display, a single camera, no 3D touch, no TouchID, no audio dongle, 3 GB of RAM, but it comes with FaceID. To me you are getting worse hardware specs in some areas, or roughly the same in other areas, and for the same money as iPhones a few years prior. Naturally this is from a business point of view.

77. TheOracle1

Posts: 2340; Member since: May 04, 2015

Whilst I agree with you on 5G, I think you're wrong about the notch. It's actually become an albatross for Apple in terms of design because they'll be behind the design trend when it does come time to get rid of it. Others have moved on and there are already numerous notchless design solutions that Apple will be copying down the road. This won't make a difference to their brainwashed fans because they'll insist on perpetuating the fallacy that Apple were the first as usual.

5. Tomfromsouth

Posts: 88; Member since: Apr 02, 2012

Logic = Let's keep a because a big notch so we can be recognizable. Practicality, innovation and better customer experience are for the ants. Or said another way, 'Let's do it the stupid way because its easier for you'. Do you really believe they are keeping the notch for brand recognition, or maybe, just maybe, it's costly (which you pointed out, but lacked any resolve) and difficult challenge to solve? Most customers don't care, or is this just a sweeping statement - have you actually asked non-tech people if they would prefer to have a phone without a notch. Even one? #justsaying

24. joshuaswingle

Posts: 653; Member since: Apr 03, 2018

As in pointed out, the smaller iPhone notch they prototyped earlier this year shouldn't add any cost to the phone. I mean it literally just involves moving the in-ear speaker which is simple. An iPhone without a notch is a completely different story on the other hand. I assume many people would prefer that but it's not really what the article's about. I'm looking at things from a business point of view. Do they *need* to change the notch right now? No. Should they change the notch to keep up with the competition? Probably, yes.

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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