Apple’s iPhone 11 challenge: Making modest upgrades sound like must-haves

Apple's 5.8-inch iPhone XS and 6.5-inch iPhone XS Max (right)
Apple’s current 5.8-inch iPhone XS and flagship 6.5-inch iPhone XS Max (right)

At a special media event to be held at the Steve Jobs Theater on the company’s Apple Park campus in Cupertino, California on September 10th, Apple is expected to unveil new iPhones.

Shara Tibken for CNET:

The next batch of iPhones may carry a new number in their names, but make no mistake — this is another “S” year. If the rumors hold true, Apple will unveil phones with essentially the same design for a third year in a row.

The devices likely will get faster processors and the latest iOS software — essentially the baseline updates required every year. The biggest changes are expected to be a third camera lens on the back of the Pro models and a second on the R version… What the new iPhones likely won’t have, though, are major changes in design or function… And Apple won’t pack in features considered by many to be the future of mobile devices: 5G and foldable displays. If you want those in an iPhone, you’ll have to wait until 2020 — at best.

“Apple is falling further behind many of its competitors when it comes to overall innovation and that’s even in an era when the smartphone industry as a whole has stalled,” Technalysis analyst Bob O’Donnell said. “It’s going to be hard to get people excited about the new iPhones.”

MacDailyNews Take: If Bob O’Donnell has as many as two functioning brain cells, we’d be shocked.

“Apple iPhone is struggling at the moment, and this year’s upcoming new models are unlikely to change that,” Strategy Analytics analyst Neil Mawston said. He added that Apple “is in a holding pattern,” waiting for its “next big upgrade wave” with a 5G iPhone in the second half of 2020.

MacDailyNews Take: It’s a rectangular slab of glass. It’s basically been that way since Steve Jobs showed the world what a smartphone is back in 2007. Get used to it. Smart buyers understand that it’s not about the outside, it’s about what’s inside.

Of course, iPhone could have [no new features] and still sell 40+ million units every 90 days. And, also of course, Apple will have a new A13 that’s more efficient along with iOS 13 which will also improve efficiency, so better battery life is likely in the offing. New cameras, especially on the back, along with new features for Apple’s Camera app are a given and will be the major focus for selling these pre-5G placeholder iPhones to customers through fall 2020 when The Mother of All iPhone Upgrade Cycles™ finally hits! — MacDailyNews, August 18, 2019


  1. There are plenty of folks who have been waiting to upgrade and didn’t spring for the X or XR/S. I may not LOVE this year’s iPhone, but I will very likely get one because my 7 Plus is behind the times in several ways (camera, processor, wireless charging). I was hoping to ride it out until the notch was killed, and I prefer the fingerprint scanner to face ID, but there are enough other features that I’ll likely make the move this year.

    1. I used TouchID for years, and have now used FaceID since it’s inception. I’m here to tell you that in theory they might not seem that different, but in practice FaceID is much better. Touch ID requires me to respond to a request, I.e. I go to open my bank app, “place your finger to authenticate who you are” I place my finger and the app opens. With FaceID thr bank app just opens for me because I was already looking at my screen.

      1. The inverse is also true. For all those times when you aren’t looking directly at the screen – such as at an Apple Pay terminal or while walking outside with the phone in your pocket, TouchID allows you to authenticate without staring into the screen. There are dozens of times one needs to just hit the button without pulling up the phone to your nose.

        Different horses for different courses. One authentication method is not clearly always better.

        Also, there’s no getting around the massive expense for FaceID. Most people are not happy to pay the premium for that. The multitude of MDN readers yearning for a simpler, smaller 4″ notchless SE like brick is ever-present and the massive slowdown in upgrades when Apple released its FaceID phones cannot be denied.

        It looks like Apple in its infinite wisdom may be abusing the Pro name again by making its expensive OLED screen phones the “Pro” lineup while the future iPhone plebians with affordable base model iPhones won’t have the satisfaction of the expensive little 3-letter moniker.

    2. You have options. If you can, you may want to wait until the spring 2020 iPhone release. Otherwise the iPhone 8 offers most all the features you want for a fraction of the cost of the notch-infected OLED phones.

  2. Was going to hold-out on this iteration but my “water resistant” (not) iPhone XS Max couldn’t even withstand a light misting rain and apparently incurred some water damage (persistent erratic touchscreen weirdness)—so gonna go ahead and buy an iPhone i didn’t intend to or even want to buy on sept 20th to replace it. But i’m never again trusting Apple’s claims of the iphone being highly “water resistant”–this phone was not even submerged–literally a minor sprinkle of rain on it..bigtime disappointment

  3. I just can’t see Apple releasing a 5G upgrade on the tock…

    I could maybe see them release a USB-C on the tock, but I really hope it’s on the tick and that all the people saying the iPhone won’t get USB-C until 2020 end up being wrong…

  4. 5G and foldable displays…

    5G, yes. But not foldable displays anytime soon. Apple is NOT making a foldable display phone that’s (at least) twice as thick and just as wide when folded. These early foldable phone are not functionally better, they’re actually kinda stupid.

    Looking back… iPhone 5 is larger than earlier iPhones, but it doesn’t feel larger (to hold and carry in pocket) because it’s about same width and a bit thinner. However, iPhone 6 feels noticeably larger. Mainly because it’s wider, which is noticeable in hand and pocket.

    I think Apple comes up with another way to move the “handheld communication-entertainment-computing device” forward when it’s silly to keep calling it a “phone.” Until then, the thin glass slab design has more years left. Folding doesn’t make it any better.

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