Bucking a tradition of shrinking its devices, Apple’s flagship 2019 iPhones could grow a little to accommodate significant new internal components. A new supply chain report today from Japan’s Macotakara suggests that Apple will modestly rebalance the sizes of its followups to the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max, enabling each model to offer larger rear camera arrays and other features rivaling Samsung’s latest Galaxy S10 phones.
The report suggests Apple is preparing two new OLED models for 2019, featuring 6.1-inch and 6.5-inch screens. Each model is expected to have a triple-lens rear camera housing, as well as a bidirectional rear wireless charger that will be able to refuel the recently released AirPods wireless charging case and perhaps certain Apple Watches. That “reverse wireless charging” feature was included in the Galaxy S10 series earlier this year as Wireless PowerShare.
Moving to a 6.1-inch screen would give the iPhone XS sequel a display comparable to Samsung’s Galaxy S10. Currently, the iPhone XS is a modestly tweaked version of 2017’s iPhone X, and features a 5.8-inch OLED display. If today’s report proves accurate, the 2019 model would grow to a footprint between the iPhone XS and iPhone XR, thinning by an imperceptible 0.15mm compared with the XS, and with a 0.5mm reduction in rear camera housing thickness.
The Japanese site’s report is somewhat confusing on Apple’s plans for the 6.5-inch OLED model. In the original Japanese text, it suggests the larger phone will use a 0.4mm thicker body than the iPhone XS Max, but reduce the rear camera’s protrusion by around 0.25mm. In English, however, it says the main body will be 0.4mm thinner.
Regardless of the sub-millimeter level tweaks, the report suggests that Apple may increase the sensor sizes of the rear cameras, and use lenses that are bigger than the iPhone XR’s large rear camera. It also leaves open the possibility, however unlikely, that Apple could merely tweak last year’s iPhone XR, XS, and XS Max with A13 processors while keeping the current casings.
Given that the iPhone X chassis would otherwise be on its third cycle this year, a more considerably upgraded iPhone XS followup would make sense for Apple. The lack of major changes between the X and XS led the company to largely remove the X from its lineup last year, though the 2017 model subsequently made a surprise reappearance in certain developing countries as a slightly more affordable alternative to the XS. It would also give Apple a lineup of devices that match or exceed Samsung’s S10e, S10, and S10+ screen sizes.
Apple is not expected to make significant cellular improvements to the 2019 iPhone lineup. The company is expected to wait on both 5G modems and more substantial device changes until 2020, instead relying on camera and chip improvements to fuel sales this year.