Yet another iPhone 9 variant might be in the works, this one with Face ID


Just when it seemed like the second-gen iPhone SE rumor saga was drawing to an end, with a direct iPhone 8 sequel most likely dubbed iPhone 9 expected by many reliable insiders and prolific leakers to keep the Touch ID flame burning inside a relatively compact body, the folks over at Macotakara are here to mess with our heads once again based on discussions with "many Apple suppliers exhibiting at the CES 2020" trade fair.

These suppliers are reportedly under the impression that the Cupertino-based tech giant is "developing Face ID models besides Touch ID models as an updated version of iPhone 8 incorporating A13 Bionic chip." The phrasing is a little confusing, as is often the case with this publication's Japanese language reports clumsily translated in English, but the general idea feels pretty clear.

Specifically, if this fresh gossip proves trustworthy, Apple could release multiple variants of the so-called iPhone 9 (also known as iPhone SE 2, with neither of those two names etched in stone just yet), one of which is expected to embrace a "modern" design language with a state-of-the-art 3D facial scanner in tow rather than go back to a prominent home button doubling as a fingerprint reader.

A 5.4-inch screen squeezing into an iPhone 7 chassis with the iPhone 11 chip under the hood

As exciting as it might sound to see the beloved Touch ID fingerprint sensor revived on a budget-friendly device packing a hot new processor that completely crushes Qualcomm's latest flagship SoC for Android handsets (although not the upcoming Snapdragon 865 as well) in most popular benchmarks, it's certainly not great that the recently leaked 4.7-inch iPhone 9 looks so much like the iPhone 8 on the outside.

This newly rumored iPhone 9... Plus (?) is something else, of course, purportedly sporting a 5.4-inch display with little to no bezels apart from the no doubt massive cutout needed to accommodate the TrueDepth camera system making the Face ID magic possible. All in all, this second variant of a long overdue iPhone 8 "update" should "return" to the iPhone 7 in terms of "body size" while squeezing somewhere between the iPhone 11 series and iPhone XS family as far as the "receiver size" is concerned.

The iPhone 7 is not very different from the iPhone 8, mind you, measuring 138.3 x 67.1 x 7.1mm and tipping the scales at 138 grams. If Apple can indeed pull those numbers off with a substantially larger 5.4-inch screen and a blazing fast A13 Bionic processor on deck, we can't help but wonder what would the point of the other iPhone 9 variant even be.

A "much bigger" rear camera and an unknown price point

Naturally, if the 4.7-inch iPhone 9 with massive screen borders and a conventional fingerprint scanner is expected to start at a reasonable price of $399, a 5.4-incher rocking Face ID recognition and an "all-screen" design is likely to cost significantly more. Perhaps as much as $599 in an entry-level configuration, although we obviously wouldn't bet the house on that wild guess coming true.

While this relatively viable candidate for the iPhone 9 Plus moniker is unsurprisingly tipped to come with a single rear-facing shooter, just like the iPhone 8 and iPhone 7, said new imaging sensor could be "much bigger" than the one mounted on the iPhone 8's back, further leading us to anticipate a not-very-reasonable price tag.

What's odd about this entire story is that an iPhone 9 Plus of sorts was already rumored a couple of weeks back to arrive by the end of the year or sometime in early 2020 with either a 5.5-inch display and a classic Touch ID home button or an expansive 6.1-inch screen surrounded by razor-thin bezels. Clearly, someone is either lying or simply feeding us a false story with or without the intent to deceive.

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