By now you’ve probably heard that Apple is planning to release a new lower-cost iPhone this spring, and while there’s no definitive word yet on what it’s actually going to be called, many rumours are pushing toward the idea that Apple could dub it the “iPhone 9”.
Even if Apple goes in a different direction with the naming, from everything we’ve heard about the new model, which will essentially follow in the footsteps of the 2016 iPhone SE, is that it’s expected to be a modestly upgraded version of the iPhone 8, making it an “iPhone 8s” or “iPhone 9” in principle even if not in name.
Other reports have called it the “iPhone SE 2” but the feels like even more of a placeholder, since the new iPhone won’t have much in common with the earlier SE other than applying the same principle of taking a 2.5-year-old iPhone and upgrading it to a current CPU. For the original iPhone SE, Apple took the 2013 iPhone 5s and simply added the then-current A9-series CPU, re-releasing it in early 2016 as the new model. For the most part it looks like the “iPhone 9” will get the same treatment, with the same A13 CPU found in the iPhone 11, with virtually all the other specs — and the physical design — of the 2017 iPhone 8.
So there shouldn’t be any big surprises in terms of what the “iPhone 9” is going to look like. Although there’s already been some speculation that Apple may glam up the design a little bit, for the most part it’s expected to feature the same home button design and 4.7-inch LCD screen, although it’s supposed to lack 3D Touch, which could allow Apple to make it thinner, but the company may also decide to use that space to increase the battery life.
Back Into Black?
Now ConceptsiPhone has shared another take on what the new budget iPhone may look like, courtesy of artist Mauro Battino.
The style of the video is loosely patterned after an Apple ad, although there are a few elements that are decidedly un-Apple-like in feel, and everything shown here appears to be almost entirely speculative — the video and accompanying description cites no sources for its information.
The video opens with the line “best display in the industry,” which could imply that Apple might move to the “Liquid Retina” display first found on the iPhone XR, although there might not be a big advantage to doing this considering that there’s really no need for an edge-to-edge display here, which was the primary reason for Apple’s pioneering Liquid Retina LCD design.
The video also shows a centred Apple logo on the rear of the iPhone, which is an idea we’ve seen highlighted elsewhere that makes some sense since Apple would likely want to keep its branding consistent. The company has been gradually cleaning up the rear of its iPhones since the E-Label Act allowed it to remove all of the unsightly FCC and other industry certification markings. In fact, the iPhone 8 (and iPhone X) were the first models to benefit from that change, although Apple left the name “iPhone” on the back until last year’s release of the iPhone 11 lineup, when it dropped the product name and simply centred the Apple logo.
What’s perhaps most interesting is the suggestion that Apple may actually bring back the “Jet Black” colour for the new iPhone. While it would certainly be very cool to see that, we’d peg this as extremely unlikely; the Jet Black finish was only available on the iPhone 7, and it was not only a scratch magnet, but also so difficult to manufacture that Jet Black models were in extremely short supply. On top of this, it was clearly considered a more luxurious design, only available on the higher-capacity iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. So it’s really not something we could see Apple offering on what is supposed to be a “budget” iPhone.
One other notable prediction made in Battino’s video is that the “iPhone 9” camera will include a Portrait Mode, which would make for an interesting upgrade over the iPhone 8. This isn’t as far-fetched as it sounds, since the iPhone 8 Plus offered Portrait Mode thanks to its dual-lens camera system, and Apple was later able to introduce a slightly more limited single-lens Portrait Mode to the iPhone XR thanks to the power of the A11 CPU in that model. With the new iPhone moving well beyond that to an A13 chip, it definitely seems likely that Apple will take advantage of some of the same new computational photography features that it added to the iPhone 11 last year to enhance whatever it can of the iPhone 8’s camera capabilities.