19 January 2020
One or both of Apple’s upgraded versions of the iPhone XS and XS Max will feature a triple-lens camera system at the back, according to market talk. Photo: Reuters
One or both of Apple’s upgraded versions of the iPhone XS and XS Max will feature a triple-lens camera system at the back, according to market talk. Photo: Reuters

What to expect from Apple’s 2019 iPhones

With about eight weeks to go for Apple’s 2019 fall event, going by the firm’s previous timing for annual flagship product announcements, speculation is mounting as to what the iPhone maker will offer consumers this year.

The company, as usual, has been tightlipped about its plans, but that hasn’t stopped media outlets and tech bloggers from holding forth on the likely features of the upcoming iPhones, with the conclusions based on purported leaks from Apple’s supply chain and analyst chatter.   

As per the reports, Apple will unveil three new iPhones in September, maintaining the strategy it followed in the past two years. The handsets, which will be successors to the iPhone XR, XS and XS Max devices that were launched in 2018, may come in the same size as the existing offerings.

We may see little or no change in the design, with a notch on the front screen, but there is a chance that all the three new models could bear OLED screens.

The biggest change, however, may be a tri-camera system at the back on at least one high-end model, possibly the successor to the iPhone XS Max. 

According to reports, the tri-camera system could be placed in a big square at the top left hand corner on the back of the phone, unlike the existing dual camera system arranged vertically.

While the triple-lens camera system will enhance the picture taking capabilities, enabling a user to capture a larger field of view and get better zoom shots, that may come with a downside.

As rumors swirl around the camera upgrade, some Apple fans have expressed worries that the back of the phone could become quite “ugly”, reducing the appeal of the new top-end model.

Meanwhile, some users have also said that they would hold off on upgrades with the 2019 models, as they want to save their money for a possible 5G iPhone next year.

Apple’s camera-related plans come as the company has faced criticism that it has lagged behind other smartphone makers such as Samsung and Huawei in terms of adopting the tri-camera system. 

Camera is no doubt playing an important role in the next iPhone series. Market analysts and supply chain sources predicted that all three new iPhones will feature a 12-megapixel single-lens front camera, an upgrade from 7-megapixel camera on the 2018 models. Meanwhile, one or both of the upgraded versions of iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max could feature triple-lens rear cameras.

It’s crucial for Apple to have a breakthrough in photo experience as mobile photography technology is developing faster than expected. A Chinese smartphone maker, for instance, has said that it is preparing to launch a 64-megapixel camera phone in near future. Given this, Apple should realize that it cannot settle for a 12-megapixel camera system if it wants to compete in the China market.

The successors of iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max are expected to be expensive, so the key driver for holiday sales is anticipated to be the upgraded version of the iPhone XR. The upcoming iPhone XR model is tipped to have a dual-lens rear camera, upgraded from a single lens system.

The new iPhone series will face tough competition from Samsung, Huawei and Google in the Christmas season. Samsung will unveil its Galaxy Note 10 phone in early August, while the Google Pixel 4 is expected to debut in October. Huawei, meanwhile, is tipped to launch its Mate 30 series in September.

As iPhones essentially had the same broad design for three years, many Apple fans are waiting for something new, something that is unlikely to happen in 2019. With product innovation falling short of expectations, a survey has shown recently that iPhone loyalty has fallen to an all-time low. According to the survey, conducted by price comparison site BankMyCell, iPhone retention has fallen 15 percent over the last year.

The survey suggests that 26 percent of people trading in their iPhone X moved onto another brand, while just 7.7 percent of Samsung users switched to an iPhone, Apple-focused tech news website 9to5mac reported last week.

Also, 92.3 percent of people who traded in an Android phone stayed in the Android ecosystem.

In China, while iPhone XR is still a best-seller due to its lower price, the fact is that Apple may lose its competitiveness in the market as Chinese brands start offering 5G-compatible phones soon.

As 5G smartphones will be the market focus in the coming months, Apple may find its upcoming iPhone series getting the cold shoulder from many Chinese customers.

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EJ Insight writer