What to expect from next month's iPhone 11 refresh

What to expect from next month’s iPhone 11 refresh


Here are all the things we think Apple has up its sleeve.
Photo: Ian Fuchs/Cult of Mac

The 2019 iPhone lineup is just weeks away from getting its grand unveiling. And according to recent rumors, it could be a lot more exciting than we first anticipated.

Faster chips and an extra camera sensor may not be the only reasons to upgrade this year. Two-way wireless charging, improved Face ID, and Apple Pencil support could also be on Apple’s list.

Here’s everything we expect from next month’s iPhone refresh.

Enter the matrix

The most obvious upgrade for this year’s iPhone lineup? A next-generation A-series processor.

We don’t know much about the A13 chip yet. It is said to be codenamed “AMX” or “matrix” internally, and it will undoubtedly be even faster than the A12 Bionic, with more impressive graphics.

Much of that will be attributed to its 7-nanometer design (versus 10-nanometers for the A12). That means its tiny transistors will be placed even closer together to improve performance and efficiency.

Everybody gets another camera

One of the biggest selling points for the new iPhone lineup will be an additional camera lens. That means three for the so-called iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max, and two for the successor to iPhone XR.

Close up or iPhone 11 dummy model camera setup
Apple will catch up with rivals in camera capabilities.
Photo: Ian Fuchs/Cult of Mac

The flagship models will be capable of shooting ultra-wide-angle photos and videos, while the entry-level unit will get the same optical zoom capabilities as the current iPhone XS and XS Max.

That third camera lens on the Pro and Pro Max should also allow for better performance in low light conditions. A recent report promised the ability to add filters and effects to videos while recording, too.

Sharper selfies incoming

Reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicts improvements for the iPhone’s front-facing camera, too. We can expect to see 12-megapixel sensors for even sharper selfies on the high-end models.

Those cameras will reportedly be hidden behind “black lens-coating technologies,” which means they will be almost invisible.

Sweet design improvements

We’re not expecting any drastic changes to the iPhone’s design this year, but rumors have hinted at a number of minor improvements, including “dramatically enhanced” water-resistance.

iPhone 11 R and 11 Max on colorful background
iPhone 11 could look very familiar, but with some nice improvements.
Photo: Ian Fuchs/Cult of Mac

Kuo has also predicted a matte finish for the rear glass on some models. This could allow for better grip — and that could be important for the next feature on this list.

Two-way wireless charging

In addition to faster wireless charging, some 2019 iPhone models could allow for two-way wireless charging. That means you’ll be able to charge other gadgets by placing them down on your iPhone.

This would be a particularly handy feature for owners of AirPods and Apple Watch. But you should be able to charge any other device that uses Qi charging technology — including another iPhone.

Samsung is already offering this feature in its latest Galaxy devices. It might not be a huge technological breakthrough, but it’s certainly nice to have.

Apple Pencil support

Another gadget you might want to charge with your new iPhone? Apple Pencil.

This year’s flagship iPhone models could be the first to offer Apple Pencil compatibility. Case-maker Olixar recently revealed that a new Pencil optimized for smaller devices is on the way.

Finger crossed for Apple Pencil support.
Photo: Olixar

The device is expected to offer the same functionality as the current Apple Pencil, but inside a smaller, lighter form factor that makes it easier to lug around alongside your iPhone.

This rumor is a little out there, but Olixar has been right on the money several times in the past.

Faster wired charging

If you prefer wired charging, you’ll be pleased to know that’s going to get an upgrade, too. Apple is reportedly going to start bundling 18W fast chargers in every iPhone box as standard.

That’s the same charging adapter you get with the iPad Pro, and it costs $29 if you buy it separately from Apple. It’s a huge upgrade over the 5W charger Apple currently ships with the iPhone.

That charging adapter is expected to use USB-C connectivity, rather than traditional USB-A. But you’ll still see a Lightning connector on the bottom of your iPhone.

Bigger batteries

You may not need to use that faster charger quite as often, though. All three 2019 iPhone models are supposed to pack bigger batteries that should allow for more usage in between top-ups.

iPhone 11 R and 11 Max on fence post
These iPhone 11 dummies should be a lot like the real thing.
Photo: Ian Fuchs/Cult of Mac

Kuo says the batteries will be 10% to 25% bigger in the iPhone XS and XS Max successors. There will be a less significant increase for the iPhone XR, which already boasts excellent battery life.

Even better Face ID

Bloomberg has also promised improved Face ID for 2019. It is claimed you’ll be able to unlock your iPhone from multiple angles thanks to new wide-angle lenses for the Face ID sensors.

This should allow you to unlock your iPhone while it’s lay on a flat surface — without having to pick it up every time.

New color options

One sketchy claim from an apparent former Foxconn employee is that we’ll see a new color option for this year’s iPhone lineup.

Alongside the existing gold, silver, and space gray models, there will also be a brand new green finish. But this could be exclusive to the iPhone XR’s successor, rather than for the Pro and Pro Max.

The same sketchy rumor also suggests Apple will remove the “iPhone” branding from the back of its handsets this year. That seems highly unlikely to us.

So long, 3D Touch

Enjoy 3D Touch while you can, because rumor has it Apple is going to kill it this fall. None of the handsets in this year’s lineup are expected to feature 3D Touch technology.

That doesn’t mean the functionality will disappear, though. The iPhone XR has already proven that 3D Touch is possible without a pressure-sensitive display.

It’s likely we’ll see the iPhone XR’s Haptic Touch extended to other devices this year, then. Apple will reportedly use a new Taptic Engine to make it even better.

5G is up in the air

There’s still a big question over whether or not the iPhone will get 5G connectivity this year, but it seems the most reliable sources agree that it’s not going to happen.

iPhone 11R colorful background
We could get faster Wi-Fi and dual Bluetooth instead.
Photo: Ian Fuchs/Cult of Mac

Apple recently spent $1 billion to acquire Intel’s modem chip business, so we know 5G will come at some point. But it seems the iPhone won’t be getting it until 2020 at the earliest.

But we could get Wi-Fi 6 with up to 30% faster speeds and dual Bluetooth instead.

Launching September 10?

The new iPhone lineup could get its big unveiling on September 10.

That’s the date suggested by the most recent iOS 13 beta, which includes a screenshot taken from an iPad, labeled “hold for release,” that shows “Tue Sep 10” displayed on the status bar.

September 20 is the date the new iPhone lineup will actually go on sale, according to one Japanese carrier.


Daily round-ups or a weekly refresher, straight from Cult of Mac to your inbox.

  • The Weekender

    The week's best Apple news, reviews and how-tos from Cult of Mac, every Saturday morning. Our readers say: "Thank you guys for always posting cool stuff" -- Vaughn Nevins. "Very informative" -- Kenly Xavier.