With the iPhone X, Apple completely overhauled of its best-selling smartphones – stacking its dual-lens camera vertically for the first time, ditching the circular Home Button after 10 years of service in favour of new swipe-based gestures, and introducing an all-screen design complete with the infamous notch to house the front-facing camera, sensor, speaker grill and facial recognition smarts.
Apple unveiled an incremental update to the tenth anniversary handset, iPhone XS, during its annual September launch event. Keeping the hardware almost identical, Apple tweaked the cameras, and improved overall performance. This isn't unusual: the Cupertino-based company has introduced an incremental "S" model update for every single iPhone since the iPhone 3G in 2008.
If Apple followed the typical tick-tock update pattern it has established over the last decade, we'd expect to see a major redesign of the iPhone X housing next year. But that might not be the case, according to a prominent analyst.
According to Anne Lee, an analyst for Japanese investment bank Nomura, Apple isn't looking to tweak the hardware design of its flagship smartphone next year – keeping the look and feel of the handset for the second year on the trot.
According to her recent investors note: "We think the three new iPhones in 2H19F will likely have the same form factors (body size and displays) as the 2H18 iPhone XR, XS, and XS Max, with some added AR [augmented reality]-related features."
If the analyst is to be believed, those looking for a total overhaul of the look of the iPhone will have to wait until September 2020 when Apple will unleash a new industrial design in order to bring 5G network support to its smartphone range.
"We think 2019 could be the last year the iPhone uses the iPhone X design architecture, in preparation for initial hardware specs for 5G (sub-6GHz) and AR (augmented reality), before greater architecture upgrades in 2020F for 5G and a more comprehensive AR system," Lee wrote.
Without the lusty draw of a shiny new design, Nomura forecasts a drop in iPhone sales next year following the unveiling of the iPhone XS, XS Max and iPhone XR follow-ups in September.
According to Nomura, it believes some 204 million iPhones will be sold in fiscal 2019, before declining further to 200 million in fiscal 2020. For comparison, Apple is tipped to sell around 217 million handsets by the end of this year.