A fresh new batch of iPhones are upon us, and Apple has confirmed that the 12th of September is going to be the date they'll be shown off to the world – but exactly what tricks and treats are these new phones going to offer to tempt in potential buyers?
If the rumour mill is to be trusted, three new handsets are on the way – with screen sizes of 5.8 inches, 6.1 inches, and 6.5 inches – but what about the stuff we're not expecting? Here are five surprises Apple could throw into the mix to really shake up the smartphone scene.
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1. Triple-lens rear camera
In some ways (the display notch), Apple sets the pace for the rest of the smartphone industry; in other ways (wireless charging) it tends to lag behind its competitors. One innovation we don't think Apple will sign up for just yet is the triple-lens rear camera.
The trend-setter here is of course the Huawei P20 Pro, though quite how useful an extra lens is on top of the standard two is debatable. In fact there are manufacturers – like Google and Sony – who are sticking with single-lens rear cameras, even on their flagships, so it seems it'll be a while before triple-lens setups become common.
If Apple introduces a triple-lens rear camera on the 2018 iPhone, well, we'd be surprised. So far all the leaks and rumours point to a dual-lens configuration similar to the one we saw on the iPhone X last year.
2. Foldable screen
The next big innovation in mobile might just be foldable phones. Samsung is said to be working on one, Motorola is said to be working on one, and LG is said to be working on one, and that's just for starters.
But do you know who isn't said to be working on one? Apple. A bendy screen that folds back on itself with some kind of hinge sounds like the sort of could-be-useful-but-could-be-gimmicky tech that Apple typically steers well clear of – we'd be really surprised if one of the 2018 iPhones was foldable, thought it might be something that Apple looks at further down the line.
Being able to fold your phone over means it's more compact in your pocket and might be able to pull off a few dual-display tricks, but we reckon Apple is going to stay committed to the single, unfoldable screen for the next few years at least – and that includes 2018.
3. Expandable storage
Apple has never put expandable storage inside its iPhones, and almost definitely never will. Presumably the thinking is to keep the phone as simple as possible, and a memory card slot would mean more non-Apple tech to contend with.
The storage options you can pick from on the current range of iPhones are 64GB or 256GB – that's not a vast selection, and we'd be very happy to see Apple add some more options in its 2018 iPhone range (including a 128GB model, which might well be the sweet spot). Of course adding a memory card slot would give iPhone users even more choice, but we'd be surprised if Apple adopted it at this stage.
Another reason for adding expandable storage is to keep the upfront price of the phone lower, but we don't reckon Apple is too concerned about that. It looks like if you want to make use of memory cards, you'll have to stick with Android.
4. AR glasses with every purchase
We've seen plenty of hints that Apple is working on some augmented reality glasses, but it doesn't sound as though the technology is anywhere near ready yet – and it would be a surprise on top of a surprise if Apple started giving them away with iPhones.
What is much more likely is a slight upgrade for the AR capabilities in the 2018 iPhones, courtesy of extra features in Apple's ARKit developer tools. You can already see computer-generated graphics floating in front of you with the current iPhones of course, but brace yourself for the tech to get more advanced and more realistic very soon.
This is partly going to be down to iOS 12 as well as the new 2018 iPhones, but it's possible that the newest models will get some features that the oldest ones can't access. So, Apple's AR glasses aren't ready yet, but we can still dream.
5. In-screen fingerprint sensor
Apple has been largely responsible for setting the trend of banishing the bezels around a phone screen, which means the fingerprint sensor has to go around the back of the handset – or in Apple's case, ditched completely in favour of Face ID.
The word on the Apple street is that all three phones will follow the iPhone X design this year, which means the old iPhone 8 form factor is getting retired. It also sounds as though Apple is going all-in on Face ID now, so the days of unlocking your Apple smartphone with a touch of your fingerprint and thumb seem to be behind us.
Other phone manufacturers continue to include fingerprint sensors, and we may even see one embedded into the front display on next year's Samsung Galaxy S10. As far as the new iPhones for 2018 go though, we'd be very surprised to see Touch ID return.