Apple has announced the date for its next big launch - September 10 - and we’re expecting to see three new handsets. But what are the best features rumored to be coming in the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11R?
These are assumed names of the phones, of course - Apple has kept a lid on everything, including what they’ll be called. But if they follow last year’s models, there’s a lot that could be improved on the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max and iPhone XR.
We have to rely on rumors at this point, and we’ll know for certain which whispers were right on the money and which were just pipe dreams when Apple reveals the phones in less than a week. Still, it’s fun to speculate - and wonder how the tech giant is planning to keep its top-tier devices at the top of our best phones list.
So, here’s our totally scientific list of possible features coming to the next-gen Apple phones, ranked from most to least awesome.
Alleged next iPhone case moldings show what we discussed in our story last week in terms of new cameras. 3 on the high end, 2 on the new XR. Plus all models apparently getting a square, at least based on this one mold floating around. https://t.co/BhAFTZZL6u pic.twitter.com/QlNJTsApzXMay 13, 2019
1. Triple camera lenses
This one’s a bit of a gimme. The most potent (and repeated) leaks suggest the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro will finally branch out to include a third lens. This is somewhat overdue from Apple - even the iPhone XS felt a little underequipped with only a main and telephoto lens.
While we’re excited to see the likely higher-specced iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro add a third lens - which, assuming Apple follows phone trends, will be an ultrawide lens - we’re perhaps even more pumped for the iPhone 11R to get an extra lens.
Yes, from the renders, the budget phone seems to only be getting two of the three lenses. Even if it’s simply adding a telephoto, an extra shooter will improve the phone’s photography (especially Portrait mode). But hopefully it will be the ultrawide, which was such a useful bonus lens on the budget flagship Samsung Galaxy S10e that we really didn’t mind losing out on optical zoom.
2. The iPhone 11 Pro’s mini Apple Pencil stylus
We love this idea so much we wrote an entire op ed singing its potential praises. The short version: we really dig the Apple Pencil functionality on the latest iPad Pro, and it would be even more useful on a powerful (and hopefully big-screen) iPhone.
But sketching notes to share within the iOS ecosystem sounds useful, especially combined with scaled-down versions of iPad Pro functionality. A techie can dream.
3. No-signal texting over radio waves
Full disclosure, we probably won’t see this feature come in the iPhone 11 series, if it comes to Apple’s handsets at all, as the rumor listing the project asserted it’s been put on ice. But iPhone engineers had reportedly been working on a way to let phone owners chat with each other, walkie-talkie style, without cell signal by sending voice messages over long-distance radio waves.
Supposedly titled Project OGRS (Off-Grid Radio Service), which is a heck of a name, the program was suspended for unknown reasons, but two possibilities emerged as the likely culprits. One, that the executive responsible, Rubén Caballero, had left Apple; and the other, that the feature had been designed with Intel modems in mind, which Apple switched away from in favor of Qualcomm’s, and eventually will likely make its own.
Awesome? Yes. Coming? Not likely.
4. Upgraded charging block bundled in
Alas, it seems we’re stuck with the Lightning port for at least one more iPhone cycle, watching enviously as Android devices charge faster and faster (Samsung 45W charger, we’re looking at you). But there’s a possible consolation prize for Apple’s handsets: the iPhone 11 might bundle an 18W charger in the box.
The 18W charger debuted in the latest iPad Pro as a faster-charging option - and while it will absolutely juice up the iPhone XS generation faster than the puny 7.5W block that comes with the phones, optional chargers are often, well, very optional.
It’s certainly not the highest-wattage charger out there - perhaps we won’t even see one until Apple formally switches its phones away from Lightning - but packing the 18W charger is at least a step in the right direction. Now if only it came with a wireless charger, too...
5. Reverse wireless charging
One feature that debuted in the Huawei Mate 20 Pro has been cropping up in more and more new phones released in 2019: the ability to use your phone to wirelessly charge other devices, essentially donating charge. Back in February, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo released a report with some predictions for the iPhone 11 that included getting this capability.
It is admittedly pretty cool, especially for devices you use all the time like the AirPods 2. But we’ve ranked this low on our list because...we just don’t use it that much. The feature appeared on the Samsung Galaxy S10 range, and much like with the Mate 20 Pro, we didn’t want to put our main phone in "charger time-out" while it slowly juiced up another device.
Perhaps if the iPhone 11 juices up battery at a faster rate, we’ll be excited for this perk - but given how slow all wireless charging is, we’re not holding our breath.
- See how the iPhone 11's speculated features stack up against the best phones in 2019
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David is now a mobile reporter at Cnet. Formerly Mobile Editor, US for TechRadar, he covered phones, tablets, and wearables. He still thinks the iPhone 4 is the best-looking smartphone ever made. He's most interested in technology, gaming and culture – and where they overlap and change our lives. His current beat explores how our on-the-go existence is affected by new gadgets, carrier coverage expansions, and corporate strategy shifts.