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February 06, 2020

Apple Already Made A World-Beating Smartphone. Where Does It Go From Here?

The success of the Apple iPhone (News - Alert) has been nothing short of miraculous.

Here are some facts that drive the point home:

  • Apple sold more than 1.3 billion iPhones since its launch in 2007
  • Apple (News - Alert)'s stock price is up more than 15,000 percent since the depths of the dot-com bust in 2001
  • Apple has more than $300 billion in cash reserves - larger than the economy of Finland
  • More than a trillion photos are taken each year on iOS devices

The Apple iPhone is probably the product of the last decade and, if we're honest, the one before that - a remarkable achievement. The concern now is that the company will hit a ceiling, smartphone development will trail off, and the golden era of handheld devices will come to an end.

What To Expect From The iPhone 12: Refinements Of The Current Formula

The early leaks of the upcoming iPhone are already making their way out onto the internet.

Here's what we know so far:

  • The majority of new phones will feature OLED screens with refresh rates up to 120Hz - twice today's capability
  • Most new iPhone 12 handsets will be 5G-capable
  • We're expecting up to four new models coming fall 2020, or perhaps late summer
  • New iPhones will feature three rear cameras and offer a time-of-flight sensor

The improvements, therefore, are likely to be better versions of the same underlying technologies. Whether we'll see anything radically different remains to be seen.

iPhone 12 Physical Changes

Apple is unlikely to make substantial changes to the physical appearance of the iPhone 12. The current form factor works well with the human hand, and the company, like other vendors, is keen to stick with it.

Rumors from Apple Insider suggest that we will get something that looks very similar to the existing iPhone 11. There will be a few tweaks in appearance - such as a return to the boxier Apple iPhone 4 and 5 - but aside from that, little will change. The device will no doubt get thinner with advances in miniaturization, but the underlying form factor won't change. Apple will still provide a range of sizes for different types of users.

For people in the used iPhone market, this is good news. It means that buying an older model, as sold by online vendors like SellMyMobile, won't be obsolete. For those with recent handsets, such as the iPhone X and iPhone 11, there probably isn't a need to go out and immediately buy a new phone.

iPhone 12 Cameras And Capabilities

The main selling point of the new iPhone will likely be its camera abilities. Details from a Bloomberg article published in January suggest that Apple is developing 3D sensing technology, preparing users for a future of augmented reality. The scanner can detect depth-of-field up to fifteen feet, allowing Apple to populate environments with realistic-looking digital objects.

Another report from Business Insider indicates that different models of the phone will feature different cameras. The smaller 5.4- and 6.1-inch versions will have just two cameras, with the larger 6.7-inch sporting all three.

We are also likely to see the full implementation of time-of-flight sensors - a feature that can create better bokeh shots for more impressive portrait pictures.

Thus the camera technology could be a genuine leap forward. The world of augmented reality is yet to become a part of the everyday experience of smartphone users. Still, if Apple can incorporate new room scanning sensors, it may enable the technology to go mainstream.

Changes To User Identification

Apple dropped touch ID from its lineup in 2018, preferring to use a variety of different authentication methods instead, including Face ID. The company, however, may bring the technology back with the latest generation of iPhones.

This new implementation won't be anything like the old version. The idea here is to allow users to unlock their devices by touching them anywhere on the screens, according to a MacRumours leak. Apple may use Touch ID alongside other user-identification technologies - we don't know yet.

The Next iPhone - A Game-Changer?

For those thinking about buying the iPhone 11 today, it may be worth holding off until the official release of the iPhone 12 later in the year. The next iPhone is shaping up to be quite a product if you believe the leaks. The gains in technology are impressive, but more importantly, the upcoming device will offer a new experience - something users have wanted for a long time. The camera technology will open up a host application and potentially usher in mainstream augmented reality.

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