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Only days after the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro hit stores, early reports are beginning to circulate regarding the design of next year’s models, and there could be good news for fans of the 2018 iPad Pro: Two of the tablet’s signature design elements may shrink down to pocket-sized for the first 5G iPhones.
According to leaker and concept renderer Ben Geskin (via MacRumors), Apple has prototyped a 6.7-inch-screened iPhone that continues to include a Face ID depth-sensing camera array, but eliminates the “notch” that was introduced in the 2017 iPhone X and continued through the latest 2019 iPhone 11 models. Like the iPad Pro, the Face ID features would be folded into the iPhone’s black bezel, but would straddle the front speaker and microphone.
Accomplishing this engineering feat would require a significant reduction of the front bezel compared with the iPad Pro’s, which is roughly 0.3 inches thick on all sides of the screen. While Geskin’s rendering isn’t gospel, it depicts a bezel only a hint larger than the iPhone 11’s, which is under 0.1 inches thick, surrounding all sides of the display.
The imagery comes shortly after a report from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo that Apple is planning to return to iPhone design cues that first surfaced in the iPhone 4, including a stainless steel frame that’s flat rather than curved on all sides of the device. Apple uses a similar-looking flat-sided design for the iPad Pro, albeit with a fully metal (and aluminum) back rather than glass, which it has generally preferred in recent iPhone generations.
While the iPhone 4’s flat shape wasn’t as ergonomic in the hand as its successors, and famously suffered from antenna attenuation issues, the updated design is said to be geared towards improving 5G antenna performance. Current-generation millimeter wave 5G phones typically use two or three side-mounted antennas to guarantee connectivity regardless of the way they’re being held, automatically switching to the antenna with the strongest radio signal.
Apple is expected to release three new iPhones in 2020, with at least the higher-end two adding 5G connectivity as a major feature. A 5.4-inch basic model is expected to replace the iPhone 11, followed by a 6.1-inch sequel to the iPhone 11 Pro and 6.7-inch upgrade to the iPhone 11 Pro Max. Depending on how Apple manages the bezels and screen dimensions of the devices, they could wind up with similar footprints to existing models, or be noticeably different.
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