No matter how you measure these things, the iPhone unveiling revealed each fall is the biggest event on Apple’s calendar. It affects the most customers (and potential customers), generates the most revenue, and gets by far the most media attention.
Yet it is almost always a disappointment.
Maybe that’s inevitable. How could anything ever live up to the hype generated during an entire year of speculation and rumour? It couldn’t, unless Tim Cook has a phoneless iPhone under $200 with an under-screen fingerprint sensor tucked into his back pocket. No real iPhone can compete with the imaginary in people’s minds.
But it’s also a reflection of Apple’s innate conservatism when it comes to its most lucrative product line. For most years, the company just iterates with the latest iPhone, plugs in a faster processor, tinkers with the cameras, and adds support for a communications technology standard that other manufacturers have been using for years. Occasionally, Apple adds curves to sharp edges or makes the notch slightly smaller. Tech writers can extract whole articles from these minor tweaks, but I suspect to the general public that the new iPhone doesn’t seem to have changed much in five years.
There’s an element here of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The iPhone is pretty much the dictionary definition of unbroken. Despite rarely changing much, being a victim of relentless jokes about lack of innovation, and generally having weaker specs than the Android equivalent (whether or not you believe such things are important), that product line is only making more money. on than the entire company of Microsoft . Making a radical change would be a huge risk.
This is not to say that Apple never makes a big change. Switching from the Home button to the notch with the iPhone X in 2017 was a pretty big deal, and reviewers said so at the time. But Apple also kept the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus around as a hedge. Besides, Apple didn’t have much choice. The iPhone was made to look outdated due to advancements in Android phone design. The sheer sluggishness of that $50 billion quarterly revenue makes the iPhone a sort of corporate cruise ship that can change direction only with enough notice, or when spurred on by the efforts of smaller tugs.
Safe inside and out
Let’s get specific. What can we expect from the iPhone 14?
Sizes: Essentially the same, give or take one-hundredth of an inch on the Pro models. Oh, and there won’t be a mini model, so the only sizes to choose from are 6.1 inches and 6.7 inches.
Screen: Same, notch and all. On the Pro models, we’re pretty sure the notch is disappearing, but it will be replaced by two smaller openings, which we can hardly see as a huge improvement.
Lightning Gate: Going nowhere. It will likely be replaced by USB-C, but not until 2023 at the earliest.
Camera: Also the same: two cameras with three cameras on the Pro models. There’s talk of a 48MP sensor, which would still produce a 12MP final image, but with much better low-light performance, and 8K video on the Pro models.
processor: In any case, buyers of the vanilla iPhone 14 can rely on a next-gen processor… or can they? There’s been serious talk that Apple could limit the new A16 to iPhone Pro models this fall and give the base iPhone 14 and 14 Max a slightly souped-up A15.
As you can see, it’s going to be a quiet fall. More than ever, Apple is urging customers to pay for the premium versions of its flagship product, making the standard editions boring as well. And even the Pro models, which get the lion’s share of the changes, aren’t likely to see any really radical differences, as the sheer stakes encourage conservatism and a fear of risk.
The iPhone 14, along with its Pro and Max siblings, is expected to be unveiled at a special event in September. In the meantime, you can follow the latest rumors with our super guide to iPhone 14. But don’t expect to find anything exciting.