Taking a look back at another week of news and headlines from Cupertino, this week’s Apple Loop includes a review of the iPhone 11 battery, the latest iPhone 12 design and price leaks, a revolutionary display, the MacBook Pro delay, a prediction on Apple’s Christmas Success, Apple’s growth in China, and the mythical AR system hiding in iOS 13.
Apple Loop is here to remind you of a few of the very many discussions that have happened around Apple over the last seven days (and you can read my weekly digest of Android news here on Forbes).
Measuring The iPhone 11’s Battery Performance
Following its release in late September, the snap reviews noted the iPhone 11 as a worthy but iterative successor to previous iOS handsets. Now that six weeks or so have passed, the long-term reviews are coming out to give a more nuanced review. Patrick Holland and Scott Stein have updated their review with a look at the Deep Fusion photography and battery tests :
After conducting our formal battery tests and living with the iPhone 11 for over a month, we found the battery life is about the same as last year’s iPhone XR. In our streaming video tests the iPhone 11 lasted 13 hours and 52 minutes compared with the iPhone XR’s time of 12 hours and 7 minutes in the same test. In daily use, the iPhone 11 has been lasting about a day and a half.
Next year’s presumptively named iPhone 12 handsets are expected to make a significant step up in design and features, rather than the slow march forward when you compare the iPhone 11 and iPhone XS/XR handsets. Thanks to the CGI team at Phone Arena we can put together many of the leaks to put together an estimate of what the iPhone 12 will look like. Forbes’ Gordon Kelly reports:
The big takeaways are Apple’s repeatedly leaked plans to return the so-called iPhone 12 to a boxier design akin to the iPhone 4, as well as shrinking the notch. Apple is also adding an additional Time Of Flight (ToF) camera (like most rivals) with Bloomberg detailing the inclusion of long-range 3D capabilities to the primary camera to enable the mapping of surroundings up to 15 feet away. A feature designed to boost augmented reality apps.
More here on Forbes.
Apple Set To Raise The Price Of The iPhone 12
Meanwhile, next year’s iPhone handsets are going to be the most expensive yet. The naturally follow-on from the idea of Apple quipping every iPhone 12 with 5G is the associated increase of cutting edge parts inside the smartphone, potentially adding up to $400 to the retail price. Gordon Kelly explores the changes:
Kuo reveals that the motherboard is one of the most expensive components in an iPhone, with only the OLED display and A-series processor costing more. As AppleInsider points out: “At present, 5G options in shipping phones are adding about an additional $400 to the price of an already expensive flagship phone, like the Galaxy S10.”
While Apple has a scale of economy like no-other, the company also has profit margins like no-other meaning the decision to equip every new iPhone with 5G is going to hard. I suspect Apple will be able to bring down the current $400 premium (despite using Qualcomm 5G modems like its rivals), but it seems inevitable that iPhone fans will have to shoulder several hundred dollars being added to their next phones.
Apple Still Working On The Radical Wraparound Display
Looking towards the future, Apple’s R&D team have been hard at work, with a continuing patent published that expands previous work on creating a ‘wraparound’ display that covers every surface of a smartphone. The latest addition adds in facial recognition so the handset knows which surface the user is looking at. I reported on the futuristic changes earlier this week:
It’s probably best not to get too worked up about this technology, and I would find it very surprising if this was to show up in the iPhone 12. Not only would Apple have to overcome a historical reluctance to pack ‘gimmicks’ into its handsets it relies on third party suppliers for screen manufacturing, and there is no sign that the likes of LG Display or Samsung’s Display division are gearing up for an ‘around the phone’ experience
New MacBook Pro Delayed Until 2020?
October is over, and Apple’s 16-inch MacBook Pro has not shown up. Although it was never announced by Cupertino, the geekerati saw countless signs that the larger laptop was going to arrive at one of Tim Cook’s frequent October events. Alas it was not to be, as I discussed earlier in the week:
Let’s tie this all up. We have evidence that Apple’s 2019 portfolio was expecting a 16-inch MacBook Pro. We have evidence that Apple was making changes to hardware to address previous failures in the keyboard in what would likely be its flagship laptop. We have evidence that manufacturing process is under way. And we have evidence of the new machine inside the latest version of MacOS Catalina.
What we don’t have is any confirmation from Apple that this most mysterious of Mac machines is ready to go on sale.
One suggestion for the non-appearance is the keyboard. The Butterfly keyboard has been the bane of Apple’s laptop range since its introduction in 2015, and the new laptop was expected to move to a scissor-style keyboard. That choice may have delayed the new Mac, George Storr reports:
An earlier report, from DigiTimes, had suggested that the laptop had already begun shipping. However, reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes the laptop may be delayed.
The MacBook Pro 2019 (as it was being referred to before this report emerged) will come with a new ‘Scissor switch’ keyboard, Kuo has claimed. This will replace the unpopular ‘Butterfly switch’ keyboard that has, ahem, graced Apple’s recent laptop releases.
Predicting Apple’s Christmas Quarter Success
Following Apple’s quarterly results last week, Jean-Louis Gassée has taken a closer look at ‘the iPhone company’ to see how this year’s Q4 is shaping up – last year saw Apple forced to announce a ‘profit warning’ before the results came out in late January:
Apple shares have recovered nicely — they’re now at a historical high — but will history repeat itself? My own impression is that the newer iPhone 11 and 11 Pro are likely to provide a modest amount of growth compared to the “bad” quarter last year. Management appears to think so, as well, and provides a cautiously optimistic guidance for the quarter showing revenue growing by a few percentage points to the $85.5B — $89.5B range.
More thoughts on the results, including a look at wearables, the Mac platform, and the iPad family, at MondayNote.com.
Services, China, And Growth
Apple’s services offering continues to be pitched as one of the key future revenue centers, but it is facing a number of issues in China. As Bloomberg’s Marc Gurman reports, Apple is now facing up to many aspects of digital delivery that the likes of Google and Facebook continue to grapple with. And that could slow down growth:
While standard iPhone services like iMessage work in China, many paid offerings that help Apple generate recurring revenue from its devices aren’t available in the country. That includes four new services that Apple announced this year: TV+ video streaming, the Apple Card, Apple Arcade and the News+ subscription. Other well-known Apple services can’t be accessed in the country either, including the iTunes Store, iTunes Movie rentals, Apple Books and the Apple TV and Apple News apps.
This is a concern for investors because Apple is relying on services to power future revenue and profit. If the company can’t sell these offerings in the world’s large internet market, it will be harder to keep growing.
Apple has long been rumored to be working on an AR system for iOS. Some elements are there in the iPhone, others are expecting some Apple Glasses or a full headset. While suppliers and analysts are looking at a partnership between Apple and Valve, Benjamin Mayo looks at the hooks in iOS 13 for such a system:
Code findings in iOS 13 have shown evidence of a ‘plugin system’ in which the connected iPhone would communicate with a connected stereo AR headset using an appropriate app extension for the given hardware. This suggests Apple may announce more than one compatible third-party headset, even if it doesn’t unveil its own brand glasses just yet.
The purpose for Apple’s AR headset project remains unclear.