While the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro feature substantial upgrades in terms of specifications and battery life, the design of the phones is virtually unchanged from that of the iPhone X and iPhone XS. Just as it did with the iPhone 6, Apple has focused on internal upgrades rather than external ones over the past three years, but all signs are pointing to next year’s iPhone being the complete overhaul many Apple fans have been waiting for.
Adding fuel to the fire, TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claimed in a research note (via MacRumors) that the 2020 iPhone will feature a “significantly” different design than what we see on the iPhone 11:
We predict that the new 2H20 iPhone design will change significantly […] The metal frame and the front and rear 2/2.5D glass are still used, but the metal frame surface will be changed to a similar design to the iPhone 4, replacing the current surface design.
This isn’t the first time that Kuo has suggested Apple would refresh the iPhone design in 2020. In another note earlier this year, he predicted that the three new 2020 iPhone models would feature 6.1-inch, 5.4-inch, and 6.7-inch displays, respectively. But this is the first time that he has gone into detail about the actual design of the phone itself, and if he’s right, the iPhone 12 could be the most consequential iPhone in a decade.
As MacRumors notes, the iPhone 4 was the first smartphone to feature an exposed aluminum frame connected to two panes of glass. It proved to be incredibly popular, and was subsequently copied by countless other smartphone vendors. A few years later, with the launch of the iPhone 6, Apple moved on to rounded edges.
But the 2010 design is apparently making a comeback, as Kuo believes that the iPhone 12 will have a new metal frame with “a more complex segmentation design, new trenching and injection molding procedures, and sapphire or glass cover assembly to protect the trench injection molding structure.”
Between the updated design and support for 5G on the iPhone 12, Kuo estimates that Apple’s smartphone shipments will jump to 85 million units in 2020, compared to 75 million shipments in 2019.