03/13 Update below. This post was originally published on March 10
iPhone 14 leaks have already revealed dramatic design changes are coming to Pro models this year, and now we know that they will impact all new iPhone releases for years to come as well.
In a new blog post, industry display specialist Ross Young, CEO of Display Supply Chain Consultants (DSCC), has revealed that within 18 months every iPhone will look very different. According to Young, who has a flawless track record, Apple’s plans to replace the notch in iPhone 14 Pro models with a divisive new i-shaped cutout this year will be expanded to every iPhone model in 2023.
03/12 Update: further information has now leaked revealed Apple’s intentions for the design of standard iPhone 14 models. While the Pro models will move to the controversial i-shaped cutout detailed below, I had missed a new blog post from popular industry insider yeux1122, who reveals that buyers of the iPhone 14 and new iPhone 14 Max (which is tipped to replace the iPhone 13 Mini) will have a very familiar experience.
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The anonymous tipster, who has a solid track record, says recent claims that Apple will slim down the bezels on the standard models is incorrect and the phones will be identical to the current iPhone 13. Given they will also retain the notch for a fifth successive generation, the appeal of these phones is going to be entirely dependent on a) what Apple upgrades internally, b) as a way to escape the so-called ‘i-sore’ of the new display cutouts on the iPhone 14 Pro models.
The news also makes sense given Apple’s moves to widen the gap between its standard and Pro devices. In recent years, non-Pro MacBooks and iPads have retained older designs even when getting the latest hardware (such as the M1 chip in MacBooks and, earlier this week, the new iPad Air). In these categories Apple has widened the price gap between Pro and non-Pro devices and, with rumors of iPhone price hikes, it will be interesting to see if this also happens with the iPone 14 range.
03/13 Update: Acclaimed Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has today revealed the names of the upcoming iPhone 14 range and the good news is they align with what we have heard from other leakers. “According to Apple’s rules for naming iPhones, the four new 2H22 iPhones could be called iPhone 14 (6.1″), iPhone 14 Max (6.7″), iPhone 14 Pro (6.1”), and iPhone 14 Pro Max (6.7″),” said Kuo. Apple’s decision to drop the 5.4-inch iPhone 13 Mini has been expected for some time, but its demise is likely to split opinion. While sales had been slower than expected, there is simply nothing else on the market like it for fans of smaller handsets. The iPhone 13 Mini is a genuinely one-handed device with top tier performance.
The flip side is both economic and practical. From an economic standpoint, user interest has clearly migrated to bigger phones with their unwieldiness accepted for the benefits their extra screen-size brings and their form factor allows for bigger, longer lasting batteries to be fitted. This latter is also likely a key element in the transition. Battery life has always been the Achilles Heel of iPhone Mini models and cramming so much top tier tech into its smaller frame likely causes Apple an engineering headache which the move to an ‘iPhone 14 Max’ will ease. The move is also set to justify a price hike for Apple with the company tipped to sell it for $100 more than an iPhone 14, while the Mini sells for $100 less than an iPhone 13.
As such, Apple gets to give customers what they want, streamline their design process (more components can now twin with the iPhone 14 Pro Max) and increase the average selling price of the range. It’s a win-win situation in all areas, other than our carpal tunnels.
“This will be another instantly recognizable display shape for Apple,” explains Young. “The pill + hole design is nearly as wide as the notch but will certainly save some pixels above the holes. In 2023, we believe all four models will have the pill + hole design.”
Yes, there is no escaping Apple’s polarizing design decision, which manages to both follow the trend set by Android handsets for several years yet also look worse. The good news is Young does state Apple will try and reduce the size of the new cutouts in the 2023 models while also working on more discrete options.
“Apple does have plans to replace Face ID with under panel Face ID, placing all the elements under the display without a visible pill shaped hole,” he explained. “However, we have heard from a few sources that under panel Face ID won’t likely meet the timing for 2023 mass production.”
Reaction to Apple’s new i-shaped cutout has been mixed. It was initially met with a combination of skepticism and incredulity but with multiple sources now confirming the new iPhone 14 Pro design, the reaction to it seems to be softening. That said, there is no denying that after four generations of the notch, few expected this to be its replacement. Especially given its large size.
Price increases are also coming. That said, Apple’s next generation iPhones will undoubtedly be faster and feature better cameras than ever before. A radical plan to scrap the SIM card, alongside a more efficient 5G modem is also expected to boost battery life.
Consequently, while iPhone fans may not like the look of Apple’s upcoming models, I suspect they will still buy them in droves.