what we know so far

The dust has barely settled after the much-hyped launch of the iPhone 14, but there’s been quite a bit of chatter about Apple’s next flagship devices — which are expected to launch next year.

That’s not much of a surprise, as Apple is developing future products and has an extensive roadmap for its portfolio.

Early reports suggest that the iPhone 14 lineup, especially the Pro model, is a hit with consumers.

The queues at the Apple stores in the UAE were long and some customers bought multiple devices while others left empty-handed. Delivery times have also been pushed back and resellers are now offering units at high prices.

Apple’s next flagship, likely dubbed the iPhone 15, is expected to launch in September 2023, moving away from the present and looking to the future.

Here’s what we know so far – although these remain very early rumors.

Design: All iPhone 15 models to use the pill and hole combination

The iPhone X in 2017 (when the highly polarizing notch was introduced) and the iPhone 12 a few years ago (a return to the iconic geometric design last seen in the iPhone 5) had some of the most significant changes in the iPhone design.

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This year, the notch was finally replaced with pill and hole cutouts, albeit only in the iPhone 14 Pro models. This powers the Dynamic Island feature, which allows users to access several functions on one screen.

Next year, Apple is leaning towards adopting this feature across the entire iPhone 15 lineup, said Ross Young, chief executive of Display Supply Chain Consultants, a market research firm.

It looks like Apple is using the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max to test how Dynamic Island is received and what it can do to improve it further.

Although there are also rumors about an in-screen fingerprint scanner, there are no details about this for the time being.

Camera upgrade: a periscope zoom lens

This was brought up as early as December of last year by Ming-Chi Kuo, known for leaking highly reliable Apple-related news.

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A periscope lens is, without being overly technical, an arrangement that allows for greater amounts of optical zoom. This uses the actual hardware to enlarge an image in better quality (unlike digital zoom, which relies on software).

A handful of smartphone manufacturers have already introduced this technology to their devices, including Samsung Electronics, Huawei Technologies and Oppo.

Kuo had previously predicted that the periscope lens would come in the iPhone 14 – but it clearly hasn’t happened, so it’s a feature that could be present on the next iteration of the device.

He also said more than a year ago that the 2023 iPhones would come with a holeless, edge-to-edge design, although there are no updates on this at the moment.

Lightning port is replaced by USB-C

Apple has been using its own Lightning port and connector since the iPhone 5 a decade ago. There has been talk of Apple replacing it with USB-C for a few years now, and when the company integrated it into the 2018 iPad Pro, speculation accelerated.

However, it has been five years since the switch from the iPad and the iPhone still uses lightning to this day. Apple is known to be very protective of its proprietary technologies, which are important in ensuring it has control over the security of its ecosystem.

The fact that iPads are now using USB-C is a clear sign that Apple is willing to make a total switch. But it could presumably hold back the change as it works out how to handle lightning-related inventory and production.

Several sources have reportedly confirmed to Mr. Kuo and Bloomberg technology reporter Mark Gurman, who has a long history of accurate reporting on Apple’s product plans, that the move to USB-C for iPhones is not a matter of if, but when.

Kuo said other Apple products, including the AirPods, MagSafe accessories and Magic Mouse, could also switch to USB-C.

Add to that the fact that new EU regulations on standardizing electronic device imports are putting pressure on device manufacturers, and Apple’s leap to USB-C would be inevitable.

Also remember: Apple has its own take on USB-C with its Thunderbolt technology used in Macs. Therefore, we can assume that the company is working to differentiate its USB-C from others, just as it does with other existing technologies.

Upgrade to 3nm chips

The iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max use Apple’s new A16 Bionic chip, which is built on a 4-nanometer process. Not so long ago, smartphone manufacturers used 10nm processors in their devices, but they found that they can get smaller and bigger in performance and efficiency.

In the semiconductor industry, nanometers don’t refer to the actual size of a chip, but to the distance between the transistors in it; the smaller the number, the more transistors will fit in it. This makes chips more powerful and efficient, but they can be more expensive to produce.

Apple is willing to step “down” next year as it is ready to use a 3nm chip from one of its main suppliers, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (TSMC), on the iPhone 15, sources said. Nikkei Asia.

Like this year, though, the upgrade will be limited to the high-end iPhone 15 units — it’s expected to be the Pro and Pro Max, with some rumors floating around about an “Ultra” device as well, the report said.

The shift to smaller chips has already started in the industry. Samsung, the world’s largest mobile phone manufacturer and Apple’s main rival in the smartphone market, announced in June that it had begun manufacturing its own 3nm processors.

In the process, Samsung beat TSMC in making 3nm chips. The latter had previously announced that it would start producing 3nm processors in the second half of 2022, with Apple as its first customer.

The South Korean company said that compared to 5nm chips, 3nm chips can achieve up to 23 percent better performance and 45 percent less power consumption. The latter is related to one of the potentially biggest performance updates for the next iPhones.

Reduce power consumption

With Apple slated to use TSMC’s 3nm chips, the iPhone 15 Pro models are poised to be more energy efficient, according to the semiconductor manufacturer’s figures.

TSMC’s 3nm technology provides “up to 70 percent logic density gain, up to 15 percent speed improvement at the same power, and up to 30 percent power reduction at the same speed compared to N5 [5nm] technology,” the website says.

Whether the challenges in the supply chain industry — which has hit the manufacturing capabilities of Apple and its colleagues — will persist into the coming year remains unknown. However, TSMC said volume production of the new chip is planned for the second half of 2022.

Updated: September 23, 2022, 6:12 AM

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