Apple’s upcoming phones have long since been a matter of intense interest and the iPhone 15 and iPhone 16 will be no different.
The iPhone 15 is coming very soon. But there have been several features that, earlier in the year, we were expecting to appear on it – and now we pretty much know they aren’t.
Instead, those features seem set for next year’s iPhone 16 which – if iPhone launch event form continues – will debut on 10 September 2024.
Obviously, it is ridiculously early to be talking about a 2024 iPhone. But we can look at what we know about the technologies inside of it and what we predict might be in store for the next generation.
Sweet 16 means new names
It seems churlish to suggest that the 2024 iPhone will be called anything but iPhone 16 we’re still a few years off the 20th anniversary of the iPhone in 2027 – you may recall that Apple did the iPhone X after a decade and missed out iPhone 9 so could we get an iPhone XX then?
If the iPhone 15 Pro Max isn’t called the Ultra instead as it might be, then Apple may well introduce the name next year instead – partly because the handset could be larger (see the display section below).
Apple does like to introduce higher-spec models to take advantage of bigger sales prices – something it has done with the Pro iPhones as well as Macs, the Apple Watch and the iPad. In early 2023, the strategy was spelled out in Apple’s Q1 2023 earnings call. “I think people are willing to really stretch to get the best they can afford in that category,” said Tim Cook at the time.
An Apple 5G modem is coming
The first thing that we pretty much know will be different about next year’s iPhone is its modem chip which will be Apple-designed just like the processor. This has been a long time in the making.
Rewind to 2017 when Apple had fallen out with its long-term partner Qualcomm in a big patent dispute.
The companies had a comprehensive legal spat and Apple had turned to Intel which was desperate to make anything that wasn’t a x86 PC processor. The company was fine making 4G iPhone modems but the trouble was that Intel wasn’t very good at making efficient 5G modems. Basically, it couldn’t match Qualcomm’s tech.
So in 2019 Apple made a pragmatic move – it made peace with Qualcomm, who’s modems it still uses and will be inside iPhone 15 – but also bought up most of Intel’s modem division (including some 2,200 employees) so it could take the work and do it better. That work is set to appear in 2024; Qualcomm has admitted as much. It’ll be nearly a decade after Apple moved to Intel modems for some 4G iPhones.
Note that this cellular chip will be separate to the other hardware for now but that the target will no doubt be to have one integrated chip that covers all wireless tech in the first instance as well as Wi-Fi 7 (also set to debut with iPhone 16) and Bluetooth. That is probably slightly further off but will surely be where Apple wants to go.
Well-known display analyst Ross Young has said that the display sizes will change for iPhone 16 having been set in relative stone (aside from the Mini dalliance) for some years. Other leakers have since joined in with this prediction including long-time Apple watcher Ming-Chi Kuo.
Enough about the iPhone 15, is it time to start leaking about the iPhone 16 yet? Hearing about some new sizes on the Pro models…
— Ross Young (@DSCCRoss) May 9, 2023
That means next year’s iPhone 16 Pro Max (or 16 Ultra as it may be known) will have a 6.9in display instead of a 6.7in one. That would give it a 19.6.9 display instead of the current 19.5.9 – but quite similar.
There is some suggestion that the 6.1in screen size of the current iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro models could increase to 6.3in, though this seems a little less certain. More specifically Ross Young cites iPhone 16 Pro at 6.27in and iPhone 16 Ultra at 6.86in.
Dynamic Island floats along
There is some noise about under-display front cameras coming to iPhone 16. This is technically possible – we’ve seen them before and you couldn’t rule it out. But we think it is HIGHLY unlikely that Apple could currently make under-display Face ID work despite some claims that it will come in 2024.
I think the real full-screen iPhone will come in 2024. High-end iPhones in 2024 would adopt an under-display front camera alongside the under-display Face ID. A low-light condition is detrimental to front camera quality, and ISP & algorithm are critical for quality improvements. https://t.co/vWjeZYZUPK
— 郭明錤 (Ming-Chi Kuo) (@mingchikuo) April 20, 2022
Again, that’s surely a goal but is a little way off and the work Apple has put into Dynamic Island would point to it being more than a two-year boat ride. There is some suggestion that an under-display Face ID could appear in 2025 with iPhone 17 Pro instead.
One interesting other tidbit from Ross Young is that he expects that the standard iPhone models won’t have 120Hz ProMotion tech until 2025. We’re not sure about this one – the lack of 120Hz is already putting the standard iPhone models significantly behind competitors. Would Apple really allow two more years of slipping behind? We shall see.
Battery and charging
This year’s iPhone 15 series is set to move to USB-C and have bigger batteries, but what we’ve heard so far about wired charging speeds are not that impressive, somewhere around 30W with whispers of 40W for iPhone 16. When you consider some Android phones are now capable of 150W, that would seem a little sluggish. Surely Apple will have to remedy this for iPhone 16.
Some rumours also point towards a more reliable battery thanks to stacked battery tech which lasts longer and has a higher capacity,
Even zoomier zoom
It seems certain that this year’s iPhone 15 Pro Max/Ultra will get a persiscope lens, with a ‘Super Telephoto’ periscope lens maybe set for iPhone 16. This stems from a rumour on Weibo that also suggests that the focal length will get significantly longer for next year’s models. This is firmly in the unknown for now though.
Solid state buttons a sure bet
It looks nailed on that the iPhone 15 will replace the mute switch with a customizable and solid state Action button. The rumors have suggested that Apple wanted to do more than this with iPhone 15, though it didn’t happen.
Expect iPhone 16 to take the concept a step further and bring solid state to the other external buttons – power and volume. The two volume buttons might also become a single long button which was originally rumoured for iPhone 15, too.
Solid state is also used with the latter versions of the iPhone and iPad Home button and MacBook trackpad. With all these instances, there is no actual press when you touch the button. Instead, haptics make you think you have pressed it. Fewer moving parts means a lower chance the button will go wrong, it’s better for waterproofing, while we suspect there are also space considerations, too – though additional taptic hardware will surely be needed. Rumours are that two additional taptic engines would be required but again this would take up valuable space.