When supposed features of the iPhone 14 leaked out in early September, some complained that the iPhone 13 wasn’t even out at the time. But an Apple VP revealed that the company starts deciding on new iPhone features a full three years before launch.
Which means Apple is probably already at work on iPhone 18. And most features of the 2022 model are almost certainly fixed.
Many iPhone 13 features decided on in 2018
“The planning has to start about three years ahead, because that’s when we actually fix the specification of the silicon,” said Graham Townsend, Apple’s VP of camera hardware engineering, in an interview with GQ.
He was talking about the multiyear process required for the camera upgrade in the iPhone 13 Pro. But he also pointed out that development of features that went into Apple’s just-released processor had to stop three years before its release.
“The sensor gets defined at that point and the A15 Bionic processor is also frozen,” Townsend said.
Looking ahead to 2024
Some people seem to think Apple waits for the launch of each iPhone before deciding what will go into the next model. But well over a 100 million iPhone 13 units likely will sell in the next year. And you don’t whip up a product that popular in a couple of months.
The lengthy planning process that goes into such a popular device provides a long, long window for details to leak out. That’s why it’s possible for multiple sources to say that the iPhone 14 will replace the screen notch with a hole-punch camera.
And it doesn’t stop there. An analyst recently looked far ahead and predicted the launch of a folding iPhone in 2024 (but not before).
You should definitely look at every prediction about future Apple hardware with skepticism. However, Townsend’s comment confirming a multiyear planning process means Cupertino makes key decisions about products years before they reach consumers. And it’s always possible for these details to be leaked to the press.