Iphone 2019 wish­list

A faster pro­ces­sor and bet­ter cam­era are a given, but we have a few other ideas.

Macworld (USA) - - Contents - BY JA­SON CROSS

The days of Ap­ple’s for­tunes be­ing tied en­tirely to the iphone are over. Be­tween ipads, Macs, the Homepod, the Ap­ple TV, and Ap­ple Watches, not to men­tion a very rapidly grow­ing ser­vices busi­ness, Ap­ple’s most fa­mous prod­uct is not nec­es­sar­ily the only one that mat­ters.

But it is still the most im­por­tant prod­uct in Ap­ple’s en­tire port­fo­lio. It has the most cul­tural sig­nif­i­cance, the broad­est reach, the great­est ca­chet, and it is for most peo­ple the en­try point into the al­limpor­tant Ap­ple ecosys­tem.

The iphone XS was a pre­dictable “S” model phone, tak­ing the ma­jor de­sign and

fea­tures of the pre­vi­ous year and im­prov­ing per­for­mance and cam­era qual­ity. For 2019, hope­fully Ap­ple goes fur­ther. Here’s what’s in the hope chest for the 2019 model iphone.

Note that gen­eral soft­ware im­prove­ments are not in­cluded here. Any­thing soft­ware re­lated that isn’t tied specif­i­cally to the new hard­ware is cov­ered in an IOS 13 wish list ( go. mac­world.com/wish).

AN EVEN MORE POW­ER­FUL NEU­RAL EN­GINE

It’s prob­a­bly a given that the iphone in 2019 will come with a new A-se­ries pro­ces­sor, which Ap­ple will likely call the A13 (if it’s not su­per­sti­tious). Ap­ple’s man­u­fac­tur­ing part­ners will al­most cer­tainly not be ready with the new 5nm man­u­fac­tur­ing process in time for next year’s iphone—tsmc ex­pects to make 5nm chips for part­ners like Ap­ple in 2020.

That means an­other chip built on the same 7nm process. We prob­a­bly can’t ex­pect huge leaps in per­for­mance and bat­tery life, but Ap­ple will prob­a­bly still add to the tran­sis­tor count and give us a big­ger and more pow­er­ful chip.

Hope­fully, just as it did with the A12, Ap­ple will give the Neu­ral En­gine the lion’s share of new chip real es­tate. This is the part of the chip spe­cial­ized to pro­cess­ing ma­chine learn­ing and AI al­go­rithms, which in­creas­ingly fac­tor into ev­ery­thing Ap­ple does. It’s a big part of Siri, the cam­era app, the Pho­tos app, Aug­mented Re­al­ity, and more. De­vel­op­ers can use Coreml to tar­get the Neu­ral En­gine and run their own ma­chine learn­ing code faster.

Let’s see an A13 with dou­ble the Neu­ral En­gine per­for­mance of the A12. Take it from 5 tril­lion op­er­a­tions per sec­ond to 10 tril­lion. The CPU and GPU are al­ready so much faster than the com­pe­ti­tion, they don’t need a boost. But as AI and ma­chine learn­ing in­creas­ingly be­comes the core of IOS and its apps and ser­vices, speed­ing up the Neu­ral En­gine can have a big im­pact.

A CRAZY-GOOD CAM­ERA

Ev­ery iphone has a bet­ter cam­era than the one be­fore. That’s been true since the very first model and it’s not go­ing to stop any­time soon.

But it’s time for Ap­ple to do more than just im­prove the image pro­cess­ing. A third lens on the back, per­haps a wide-an­gle shooter, could al­low for some in­ter­est­ing new com­pu­ta­tional pho­tog­ra­phy op­tions in ad­di­tion to sim­ply giv­ing iphone users an­other way to take pic­tures.

An ad­di­tional wide-an­gle cam­era on the front might be even more use­ful—it’s in tak­ing self­ies that peo­ple seem to have the most trou­ble get­ting ev­ery­thing they want in frame.

But be­yond new hard­ware, Ap­ple has to re­ally break out all the stops with new soft­ware pho­tog­ra­phy fea­tures. Google’s new Night Sight mode is a per­fect ex­am­ple of the kind of semi-ex­per­i­men­tal fea­ture that iphone users would love to play with. Nvidia’s tech­nol­ogy to gen­er­ate slow-mo footage from reg­u­lar footage ( go. mac­world.com/mjvi) is the kind of fea­ture that would match per­fectly with the Neu­ral En­gine in Ap­ple’s lat­est chips.

Of course, reg­u­lar snap­shots should look bet­ter, but we should be able to do more. The iphone needs to be able to let us take the kinds of pic­tures we never could be­fore.

A SEC­OND-GEN­ER­A­TION TRUEDEPTH MO­D­ULE

In the iphone XS, Face ID is faster than it is on the iphone X. That’s mostly due to im­prove­ments in the speed of the se­cure en­clave and the Neu­ral En­gine. The ac­tual Truedepth mo­d­ule it­self hasn’t re­ally been im­proved.

I’d like to see a sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion Truedepth hard­ware mo­d­ule. It’s prob­a­bly too much to hope for it to mag­i­cally shrink to the size that could fit in the tiny iphone X bezel

with­out a notch, but it could work bet­ter at its cur­rent size. It should work with your phone turned to any ori­en­ta­tion, as it does on the new ipad Pro. It should be more re­li­able in more light­ing con­di­tions, in­clud­ing those where there’s a bright light be­hind you (us­ing Face ID with the mid­day sun over­head can some­times be a chal­lenge). The an­gle of view should be a bit wider, so it works with the phone rest­ing on the desk next to you.

We can all re­mem­ber how much bet­ter Touch ID got when the iphone 6s in­tro­duced a sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion mo­d­ule.

Imag­ine that leap in qual­ity, the

“mag­i­cal” it-just-works feel­ing, ap­plied to Face ID.

SWITCH TO USB-C

Macs charge via USB-C, iphones and ipads charge via Light­ning.

But the new ipad Pro ( go.mac­world.com/iprf) has switched to USB-C, so that throws the whole “USB-C is for Macs and Light­ning is for IOS” divi­sion out of whack.

It’s time to unify the sys­tem. Ap­ple’s all-in with USB-C on the Mac; it doesn’t put any other ports on Mac lap­tops, and imacs have an abun­dance of USB-C ports. Just make ev­ery­one’s life eas­ier and swap Light­ning for USB-C on all iphones and ipads. Give us one cable to rule them all.

Sure, it might re­quire that the iphones be a tiny bit thicker to ac­com­mo­date the

port, but that’s okay. That just gives Ap­ple room for…

…A BIG­GER BAT­TERY

I never hear any­one com­plain that the iphone isn’t thin enough. Or that other premium phones, like the Galaxy S9 or the Pixel 3, are too thick. I hear ev­ery­one com­plain that they want longer bat­tery life.

Here’s the pitch: make the new iphone just one mil­lime­ter thicker. That would take it to 8.7mm, less than a half-mil­lime­ter thicker than the iphone XR! It would still look and feel ul­tra-premium, and you might even be able to get rid of the cam­era bump for an amaz­ingly flush de­sign.

That would leave room in­side for a thicker, higher-ca­pac­ity bat­tery, and room for the USB-C plug, too. It’s a win-win-win.

A FAST CHARGER IN THE BOX

Ap­ple still ships thou­sand-dol­lar phones with a 5-watt charger in the box. The phones are ca­pa­ble of charg­ing much faster, but you’d never know it if you don’t go out and buy an­other charg­ing adapter ( go.mac­world.com/wadp).

Ear­lier this year, we heard sev­eral ru­mors ( go.mac­world.com/ifrm) of an 18-watt USB-C adapter re­plac­ing the 5-watt in-box adapter. Sadly, they were not proven true.

It’s time to put a fast USB-C charger in the box. This penny-pinch­ing from the world’s most suc­cess­ful tech com­pany, at the ex­pense of the user ex­pe­ri­ence, on some of the most ex­pen­sive phones money can buy, is just shame­ful.

AN AL­WAYS-ON DIS­PLAY

Tech­ni­cally, Ap­ple could add this to any of its phones with an OLED dis­play with an IOS up­date, but it wouldn’t sur­prise me to see the com­pany make it ex­clu­sive only to a new model.

Show­ing the time, date, and some other sim­ple glance­able info (like the weather, and maybe an un­read mes­sages count) at all times on the screen could eas­ily be ac­com­plished with min­i­mal power draw.

It would be good for the fight to re­duce screen time, too. How of­ten do we pick up our phone just to check the time, date, or weather only to get sucked into a sea of no­ti­fi­ca­tions. If a quick glance down at my desk could give me that info with­out even touch­ing my phone, I would pick it up less of­ten, and get dis­tracted by never-end­ing so­cial net­work ar­gu­ments a lot less.

MAKE THE SMALL ONE SMALLER

If Ap­ple’s go­ing to make three iphone sizes again, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to make the small­est one a lit­tle bit smaller. Cur­rently, the 5.8-inch iphone XS doesn’t quite scratch the itch of those who pine for a new iphone SE. Some peo­ple are re­ally at­tached to small phones, and while I don’t think Ap­ple needs to specif­i­cally tar­get that mar­ket with a four-inch model, a shrink down to 5.2 inches or so would re­ally make a lot of those small phone lovers happy.

Yeah, a smaller phone would have room for a smaller bat­tery. But the dis­play be­ing smaller would help. And did I men­tion that the new iphone should be thicker, to ac­com­mo­date a larger bat­tery?

A PRICE RE­DUC­TION

HA! Who are we kid­ding. In the ipod days, Ap­ple used to give us more ev­ery year for less money. But the iphone price seems to only go in one di­rec­tion, and Ap­ple’s ex­pand­ing cost-of-en­try shows no sign of stop­ping.

A re­ally good set of prices for the new iphones would be: $699 for the more af­ford­able model (the suc­ces­sor to the iphone XR), $849 for the iphone XS suc­ces­sor, and $949 for the iphone XS Max suc­ces­sor.

Those would still be high-end, premium phones, but maybe a lit­tle bit eas­ier to af­ford.

Since Ap­ple is al­most cer­tain to main­tain its sky-high iphone prices (if not raise them even higher), how about giv­ing us a lit­tle more value? Put the head­phone adapter back in the box, give us a USB-C fast charg­ing power adapter, and maybe even raise the base stor­age to 128GB (at least in the most ex­pen­sive mod­els). ■

Ap­ple’s Neu­ral En­gine got a lot more pow­er­ful in the A12. I think the A13 should fo­cus on it again.

Is it time for a third cam­era in the back? Or maybe a sec­ond widean­gle selfie cam­era?

Face ID is great, but a sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion Truedepth mo­d­ule could take it to the next level.

It’s time for Light­ning to be re­placed by USB-C. Rip off the band-aid. It’s the right thing for the fu­ture of the plat­form.

iphone bat­tery life is cer­tainly not bad, but ev­ery­one al­ways wants more. A big­ger bat­tery is the sim­plest way to get there.

Ru­mors of a USB-C fast-charg­ing adapter in the iphone box didn’t come true this year.

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