FIRST LEAKS: iPhone 12 could be the most dramatic iPhone redesign in years


Original article from Phone Arena.

5th November 2019 – Apple isn’t exactly in a rush when it comes to redesigning products. The company has had a rather methodical and calculated approach in shaping the look and feel of its products over the years. So much so, in fact, that it’s often drawn criticisms over this, with many feeling like Apple is playing too much on the safe side.

One thing is for sure, though—when Apple changes the design of one of its products, it always feels like a big thing. And maybe that’s in part because we’ve been conditioned to expect incremental updates, but it’s also because most major changes come after years of deliberation and research.

Let’s take the iPhone, for example. Arguably the most dramatic change of the way Apple phones look came with the iPhone X and its tall notched display. But her than that, all iPhones feel as though they were cast in the same mould as the iPhone 6, which was introduced in 2014. The rounded edges, the bulbous frame, the contoured (2.5D) screen glass – all staples of the iPhone design that have barely changed over the past 5 years.

This may change, however, with the introduction of the 2020 iPhone models, through which Apple is rumored to be reviving a classic design from the decade prior—that of the iPhone 4.

The soft, round shape that Apple phones have had since the very beginning—save for the iPhone 4 and iPhone 5—makes sense in the grand scheme of things, as it is designed to fit well in any palm and facilitates the prolonged use of the device. That shape has worked so well, in fact, that we’d be hard-pressed to find many phones nowadays that don’t have rounded edges.

With the iPhone 12, however, Apple is rumored to be moving away from the softer contours of present models in favor of a sharper, boxier aesthetic that channels the design sensibilities of the iPhone 4 and 5. Actually, Apple has already tried something similar with the new iPad Pro, which has decidedly sharper edges than previous models. The MacBook, too, has shifted to a similar design, so it would make sense for the iPhone to join them. After all, Apple is all about consistency.

iPhone 12 concept renders pictured next to the iPad Pro

Based on the rumors that the next iPhone models may channel this boxier aesthetic, we’ve created some concept renders to illustrate this shift in product design. And we’ve got to say—even leaving the topic of consistency across different product lines aside—this design looks really cool.
It’s still very early on, so we can’t promise that the 2020 iPhones will look exactly like that, but going from rumors—and seeing as how the new design would fit right in alongside the iPad and MacBook lines—we’d say there’s a fair chance.

iPhone 12 may not spell the end of the notch, but it will be smaller

According to a recent rumor, Apple may be experimenting with an iPhone prototype that has no notch, but thicker bezels. The idea is that the company will be able to miniaturize the TrueDepth Face ID camera, earpiece, and front-facing camera so that they could fit in the top bezel of the phone. Of course, this would result in thicker bezels all around, but may be a good trade-off, should it ever come to pass.
Another more widely-spread rumor claims that the iPhone 12 won’t be the true all-screen phone that we’ve been waiting for, but will instead shrink the notch down considerably, all the while retaining the full capabilities of Face ID.
There’s this so-called “3-year product refresh cycle” that Apple seems to be operating on (for the most part, at least). That is, when a big change is introduced, it is then iterated on and polished for three generations until another refresh comes in. This pattern has lead many to believe, us included, that the iPhone 12 will bring something new in terms of design. Whether the change will be as big as removing the notch, remains to be seen.

iPhone 12 may be Apple’s first quad-camera phone

A possible setup for the rumored quad-camera on the iPhone 12

Apple has been investing heavily in AR in recent years. With ARKit established as a capable platform for mobile augmented reality, and with work on the Apple Glasses reportedly moving along at a healthy pace, we weren’t the least bit surprised when reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo recently claimed that the iPhone 12 will feature a ToF (Time-of-Flight) camera on its back.
In short, a Time-of-Flight (or ToF) camera can measure depth much more accurately than a regular one, so it can be a perfect choice for augmented reality uses. A ToF camera uses infrared light to map the immediate surroundings. It works in conjunction with an IR sensor that emits a light signal, which then bounces off of the subject and returns to the sensor. The phone then calculates the time it took the signal to bounce back into the sensor, thus creating a more accurate depth map of the scene than a regular camera could.
If Apple puts a ToF camera on the iPhone 12, we can’t be sure that it would have its dedicated bump like the other three lenses—as it will likely be smaller—but for the sake of symmetry we went with the quad-camera design you see above.

Disclaimer: The images featured in this article are concept design renders of the iPhone 12. They are based on preliminary available information about the device, and may not be representative of its final design. Feel free to use them, as long as you credit PhoneArena by including a link to this article.