It hasn't even been six months since the Apple iPhone X released, but already the rumour mill is churning out theories about the next big thing.
That's par for the course with Apple, naturally, but the rumours and reports have often panned out with recent handsets. And while some of these bits might seem far-fetched, we have to give to credence to the fact that we might already be hearing actual facts about the new iPhone.
Will it be the iPhone XI? The iPhone 11? The iPhone X2, if we want to throw all reasonable naming and numerical conventions out the window? We aren't sure yet – but we have heard some other things about what might be on the horizon. Here's what we know so far.
When will the Apple iPhone XI be out?
Most of the time, Apple announces and releases new iPhones in September. Given that, we expect to see the iPhone XI in September 2018.
Yes, the iPhone X (shown) was announced last September and then not released until November, but that was at least in part due to the new manufacturing processes and needing to gradually ramp up production. It might have also been to separate the iPhone X hype machine from the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus. In any case, there's surely less reason for Apple to wait this time around.
While it's certainly possible that Apple will go a little later in the year, the company's tried-and-true September release window still seems right.
How much will the Apple iPhone XI cost?
If the iPhone X was any indication, then the iPhone XI will surely cost a whole lot of money. Many, many people were willing to spend ₹89,000 on last year's version, and Apple knows that.
Rumours suggest that we'll see three different versions of the button-less, bezel-lite iPhone X design this time around, though (keep reading), which means there might be a lower entry-level price point for the base model – albeit with caveats.
Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities suggests that a base model will sell for between US$700-800. Meanwhile, a report from Economic Daily News suggests a US$799 price point for the lower-end model, a new lower US$899 price point for the upgraded edition of the current 5.8in iPhone X size, and a larger iPhone XI Plus at the current US$999 price.
That said, a new April 2018 report from KGI floats the idea that the lowest-end model will actually sell for somewhere between US$550-650, which would actually be cheaper than the iPhone 8 (US$699), with a dual-SIM model sold for US$100 more. Given all the reported concessions for that model (keep reading), a larger price difference makes sense... but does Apple really want to sell a flagship-level phone for less than before?
Our guess: nope. We can't imagine that Apple will sell the lower-end iPhone XI for less than the base iPhone 8. At the same price? Maybe. But not less.
That said, we're hoping the price adjustments happen on the higher end of the scale. Apple capitalised on the hype for the iPhone X and priced it at a jaw-dropping ₹89,000, but attempting to sell a larger version for ₹1.02 lacs might be too much to ask. Dropping the 5.8in model ₹10k to accommodate a wider slate makes a lot of sense.
What will the Apple iPhone XI look like?
Have you seen the iPhone X? Yeah, it'll look a lot like that.
Do you really think Apple is going to scrap that eye-catching design after one go? Hell, they've used the iPhone 6 aesthetic for four straight flagships now – this one's not going away anytime soon.
What could change, according to that KGI Securities report, are the sizes and materials based on which model you end up with. Along with an upgraded edition of the standard 5.8in edition, the report suggests a larger 6.5in version that's much the same… but bigger, of course. An iPhone XI Plus, if you will.
And there could be another size in the middle of those two: 6.1in. But it won't be quite the same: that's reported to be the new entry-level edition, using aluminium for the frame instead of stainless steel, an LCD screen instead of OLED, and a single back camera. Same punchy design, less top-end materials.
Keeping the core design makes a lot of sense, although the idea of the lower-end phone being larger in size than the iPhone X still sounds a bit off to us. Size isn't everything, though, we suppose.
What about the Apple iPhone XI's screen?
The iPhone X has one of the best smartphone screens on the market today, and we suspect that Apple won't mess with it too much the next time around.
It'll probably still be an extra-tall, notch-wielding 5.8in OLED panel at 1125p resolution, and surely still a stunner. The reported Plus version is said to use a larger 6.5in OLED display at an even higher resolution, landing in the 480-500 pixels per inch (ppi) range instead of the 458ppi of the iPhone X.
What you're seeing above is reportedly a leaked look at a 6.5in test panel from an LG manufacturing facility in Vietnam. Take it with a grain of salt, naturally.
And the 6.1in model? Well, that's where things dip down a bit. KGI Securities suggests that it will use an LCD panel instead, which means less vibrancy and lighter black levels than OLED, plus it's pegged at a 320-330ppi – essentially the same as the iPhone 8 today.
We'd be surprised on that last detail, to be honest, if only because that ppi count already looks a bit fuzzy on a 4.7in phone. Bump that up to 6.1in (even accommodating for the extra-tall dimensions) and it could look a bit rough. On the other hand, Apple has resisted calls to bump the resolution on the 4.7in iPhone for years now…
Putting OLED screens on the pricier models and an LCD on the lower-end one sounds like a smart way to set these apart, although a resolution as low as the one reported for the base iPhone XI could be a real downside.
How much power will the Apple iPhone XI pack?
Several months after its first release, Apple's A11 Bionic chip remains the fastest smartphone processor on the market today – Android still hasn't matched it.
We'll see some kind of A12 chip with the new iPhones, certainly, and Apple could create even more of a processing power gap with its Android rivals. Granted, top Android phones are typically just as speedy as the iPhone X and iPhone 8 right now, but that extra muscle could come in handy at some point.
KGI Securities suggests that the iPhone XI and XI Plus will nudge up to 4GB RAM from 3GB in the current iPhone X, while the 6.1in LCD model may stick with 3GB.
Crafting its own chips has worked out splendidly for Apple, and it seems entirely likely that they'll keep pushing mobile performance to new heights with the iPhone XI.
What kind of cameras will the Apple iPhone XI have?
We expect Apple to make the same kind of strong-but-subtle camera improvements they do with each new iPhone, although a P20 Pro-like third back sensor seems unlikely.
Will there be any changes or tweaks to the iPhone X's front TrueDepth camera system? We're very curious to see what else can be done with that, especially when it comes to augmented reality applications.
KGI Securities suggests that the iPhone XI and XI Plus will stick with a dual-camera setup on the back, while the base 6.1in LCD model will just have a single back camera. The iPhone 8 is a great shooter, certainly, but that'll be a noteworthy downgrade from the pricier editions if true.
We're not expecting dramatic camera changes for the iPhone XI this time around, but perhaps Apple can bring in more of the Pixel-like algorithm magic to deliver even better snaps.
Is there anything else I should know about the Apple iPhone XI?
All three models are reported to use Face ID via the TrueDepth camera system, which means the Touch ID sensor will be properly out the window. R.I.P.
Curiously, the KGI Securities report suggests that the base 6.1in LCD model will skip out on 3D Touch technology. Truth be told, 3D Touch has hardly been a huge advantage for iPhones, but that still seems like an odd omission – and one that potentially shows diminishing importance for the pressure-sensitivity feature.
Will Apple really sell a US$800 phone with that many features stripped out from the slightly-pricier editions? If so, that seems like a significant disadvantage for the cheaper model. That might make more sense at US$700 or less, though…