At one time, Apple’s unveiling of new iPhones were major events that generated huge excitement. Today, the splashy presentations merely confirm weeks of news leaks about the devices.
On Thursday, Bloomberg revealed a number of details about Apple’s apparent plans for new iPhones, to be shown off in September. There will be three new iPhones, according to the report, including two “Pro” models that feature three cameras, but a design that’s nearly identical to last year’s devices.
Although the report provided valuable insight into Apple’s possible plans, it also raised important questions about the company and its smartphone strategy. Here are the question that we’d like answers to:
Are better cameras enough to jumpstart iPhone sales?
If reports are accurate, Apple will emphasize camera upgrades as the reason to buy iPhone 11. Its three cameras will come with a camera sensor that captures ultra-wide-angle photos and videos. The phone will also let users snap three photos at the same time, each with a different perspective, according to the report.
There’s no debating that smartphone users snap a lot of photos, but it’s doubtful that improved cameras would be enough to increase sales. After all, iPhone sales have been flat for the past year and there are no signs they’ll grow rapidly anytime soon.
For the last few years, Google has pitched photo taking as the main selling point for its Pixel phone. But Pixels have failed to gain as much traction as iPhones, even though Pixels have better photo quality.
Last month, research firm Consumer Intelligence Research Partners found that iPhone XR is Apple’s most popular smartphone model in the U.S., followed by the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max. The reason given by consumers? At a starting price of $749, iPhone XR is far cheaper than the iPhone XS lineup that starts at $999.
A camera, it seems, wasn’t the main selling point.
What about 5G?
This year, Samsung has released two 5G phones — the Galaxy S10 5G and Galaxy Note 10 5G — that connect to ultra-fast 5G wireless networks, the successor to today’s 4G LTE. But Apple will wait until 2020 to introduce its first 5G phone, according to reports.
And while 5G won’t be widely available until next year, Apple could still lose ground in its fight against Samsung.
“Samsung’s deep relationship with Qualcomm in getting the state of the art chipsets, especially in 5G, helps the company distance itself against Apple by at least a year,” 556 Ventures analyst William Ho said. ” This allows them, after the iPhone 11 launch to make substantive marketing claims against Apple on 5G leadership.”
A new camera and a design that’s nearly identical to the previous model may not address that problem.
Will Apple replace the Lightning cable with USB-C, for faster charging?
For years, some of Apple’s chief rivals, including Samsung, have provided USB-C connectors with their phones. Those connectors can charge phones far more quickly than Apple iPhone users can using Apple’s proprietary Lightning connector.
Now, Apple is said to be considering including an adapter in the iPhone 11 box that will let users connect a USB-C cable to the iPhone and reduce charging times.
Apple has stubbornly stuck with its proprietary connectors for years, but it has warmed to USB-C by using it in MacBooks and the new iPad Pro. Adding iPhone 11 to the list would be a welcome move.
Will tariffs impact iPhone prices?
Earlier this month, the Trump administration said it would delay a 10% tariff on some China-made goods, including smartphones, to Dec. 15 from Sept. 1. On Sunday, President Donald Trump signaled that he may exempt Apple from tariffs so it can better compete against Samsung. Because it manufacturers its smartphones mostly in South Korea and Vietnam, Samsung wouldn’t be subject to the tariffs.
In any case, Creative Strategies analyst Tim Bajarin said that Apple and other companies subject to the Dec. 15 tariff start date wouldn’t need to hike prices anytime soon—or ever.
“It is unclear at this point if Trump will go through with the 10% on Dec. 15 or if they should be able to get some kind of compromise from China on trade,” he said.
That could be good news for price-conscious shoppers.
When will Apple remove the notch?
IPhones have come with an unsightly notch since iPhone X’s debut in 2017. The notch, located at the top of the iPhone’s screen, houses the earpiece and front-facing camera.
Many iPhones fans want it to disappear.
Samsung has already taken steps to remove the notch from several of its phones, including the Galaxy S10 and Galaxy Note 10. Other companies, like Huawei, have also shown off devices without a notch.
If the recent leaks about iPhone 11 are accurate, Apple will keep the notch this year. But why?
The screen that Apple uses for the iPhone is made by Samsung and is identical to the one in the notch-less Galaxy Note 10. Apple could, therefore, ditch the notch if it wanted to. But Apple has apparently decided to keep the notch rather than use Samsung’s notch-less screen designs.
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