Apple iPhone 11 preview: Everything we know so far

UPDATED: Benchmark testing shows a potential power (and RAM) bump

It's the end of summer, and that means new iPhones are just around the corner.

That's our assumption, at least; Apple hasn't officially announced an event as of this writing, but after years and years of September reveals, we've come to expect such a thing in our lives. And the rumour mill has been spilling details for months now, giving us a potentially strong idea of what to expect from the iPhone 11 line.

Here's what we think we know so far about Apple's new iPhones in 2019 ahead of the impending reveal.

(Concept renders via OnLeaks/CashKaro)

What will the Apple iPhone 11 look like?

There's a growing expectation that 2019's big Android flagship trend is going to be punch-hole screen cutouts for front-facing cameras, rather than larger notches. That's what we got with Samsung's Galaxy S10 and the Honor View 20. One leaker says that Apple won't be going that route – not this year, at least.

That's according to Ice Universe, a noted leaker with a proven track record, who suggests that Apple will keep the familiar iPhone XS notch in 2019… but opt for a hole in the display in 2020. If true, then it seems fair to assume that 2019 will be another revision year, and 2020 will see the next major shift in iPhone design.

As the above concept image - designed by Ben Geskin based on current leaks - shows, there may be a larger change on the back. That enormous camera bump on the iPhone XS Max successor comes from renders leaked by OnLeaks and Digit (see below in the Camera section), who claim that they are Engineering Validation Test (EVT) stage renders produced by Apple.

9to5Mac adds that the EVT stage is followed by design validation test (DVT) and production validation test (PVT) – in other words, these aren't final if they are legitimate at all. However, key features should be mostly locked down by now, pending further testing.

To be honest, it doesn't look quite as refined as what we'd expect to see from Apple. Surely there's a lot more finesse that can be put into presenting a triple-camera array… right? IceUniverse says that they are legit based on his own knowledge, however.

Interestingly, Google has since officially confirmed a similar-looking square module for the Pixel 4 following a slew of leaks on the topic. The Pixel 4 and new iPhone could look awfully similar once more...

On the other hand, there's this design. Developed by OnLeaks and shared via CompareRaja, this concept render is purportedly based on a completely different Apple leak.

Instead of the clunky, square-shaped triple-camera setup seen in the previous render, this one shows a sleeker horizontal module in the upper center. It includes a circular flash around the middle camera, and is definitely less awkward-looking in the process. As you'll note, both of these design leaks point to a smaller notch on the front, although Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes the notch won't shrink for 2019's iPhones.

Why are there two very different designs attributed to an Apple leak? Well, one possible scenario is that one of them is based on bad or false information, which is always possible with early leaks - although OnLeaks claims that it is legit. Another possibility is that Apple has been playing around with multiple designs, but will only go with one for the final version.

OnLeaks also suggests that it could be showing two different models, with the successors to the iPhone XS and iPhone XS featuring significantly different backing designs, but we'd be surprised if that's the case.

Another potential shift in design could be frosted glass on the back, instead of the usual glossy finish. That's what analyst Ming-Chi Kuo suggests, and it could help differentiate 2019's iPhones from the previous models without more dramatic tweaks in the mix.

Here's one more potential look at the new iPhone via concept renders OnLeaks and CashKaro. The site suggests slightly thinner bezels and notch, but not significantly enough to be noticeable at a glance, and claims that the backing glass will feature a single panel with the camera module included.

Meanwhile, if you look closely at the sides, you'll see a tweaked mute switch that's closer in design to that of older iPads. All of this is still pretty well in line with previous leaks, but the fact that we're getting edging closer and closer to an official launch (albeit still months away) and this is still the prevailing concept lends some credence to the designs.

Bloomberg also suggests that the iPhone XS and XS Max successors will be about half a millimeter thicker than before, also confirming the larger square-shaped camera module.

What kind of cameras will the Apple iPhone 11 have?

Given the rise in triple-camera setups in Android flagships, it's not that surprising to think that Apple might follow suit in 2019. And as you've seen above, there are a couple of potential leaked designs going around right now.

The Wall Street Journal affirms that Apple is considering a triple-camera setup, but suggests that it might only be on the largest model, the iPhone XS Max successor. That would continue the earlier trend of the Plus models having a camera advantage over the core iPhone, although the iPhone XS and XS Max opted for feature parity the last time around.

Macotakara suggests that both the iPhone XS and XS Max successors will pack the triple-camera module, and have a slightly slimmer body thickness to accommodate a thicker module. However, OnLeaks points to an unconfirmed source suggesting that all three 2019 phones could have the triple-camera module.

Macotakara's report also claims that the lenses will be the largest to date for an iPhone, and also pack larger sensors to deliver improved shots.

Bloomberg reported in December that Sony's latest generation of 3D camera sensors, which use time-of-flight technology to measure distance, have drawn interest from Apple. That might be what we're seeing in these renders, and what we'll see on the new iPhones.

OnLeaks and CompareRaja suggest that two of the back sensors will weigh in at 14 megapixels and 10MP, respectively. Additionally, they expect the front-facing camera to be at 10MP, with analyst Ming-Chi Kuo suggesting a new front-facing flood illuminator in tow to improve Face ID functionality. Kuo believes that the front-facing camera will actually bump up to 12MP, though. He also suggests that both the front-facing camera and new super-wide back camera will be coated in black to make them blend into the phone better. Meanwhile, 9to5Mac says that the front-facing camera will add 120fps slow-motion recording.

Bloomberg also points to "an auto-correction feature" that can squeeze people back into a photo if it seems like they've been cut out of a shot. 9to5Mac has reported on a feature called "Smart Frame" that automatically captures additional area around your intended shot using the wide-angle camera, letting you amend the framing afterwards. This may be the same feature that Bloomberg suggested.

The concept render above comes from OnLeaks and CashKaro in late April, showing slight tweaks to the triple-camera module design that makes it look a bit more appealing than earlier concept renders and leaks.

Bloomberg's late August reporting points to the third sensor on the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max being an ultra-wide sensor, giving them a similar-sounding setup to what the Galaxy S10 and OnePlus 7 Pro offer. The site also corroborates the previously-mentioned reports about an auto-correction feature, noting that all three cameras will snap an image at the same time with the ability to automatically restore subjects that were cut out along the edges.

That report also suggests improved image quality and better low-light shooting, along with "significantly improved video recording capabilities." It points to updated software that will let you crop, touch up, and add effects to live video as it is recorded. Bloomberg also suggests an improved "multi-angle Face ID sensor" that has a wider field of view.

As for the iPhone XR follow-up, The Wall Street Journal claims that it may bump up to dual back cameras, like the current iPhone XS and XS Max. And Kuo has since affirmed that belief, with Macotakara and Bloomberg also suggesting that it's true.

Leaker Max Weinbach of XDA Developers, meanwhile, suggests that the new iPhones will have a nighttime shooting mode like Google's Night Sight, and he believes that it will be an improvement over such features from Huawei, Samsung, and even Google itself.