Apple is making major changes to its iPhone 12 range, but now we know the company is working on something much bigger.
The news comes from Front Page Tech’s Jon Prosser, the standout Apple leaker of 2020 with a near-perfect track record. Prosser explains that Apple will remove the Lightning port but not for USB-C, instead the company will shock the industry with the first “portless iPhone coming next year”.
Prosser states that it will be just one model, presumably a new flagship halo device – much like the original iPhone X, which stood out from the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus that were announced alongside it. Given the 2021 iPhone would be four generations on from the iPhone X, it also makes sense that Apple would look to deliver an all-new headline-grabbing design.
05/15 Update: speaking to me, Prosser has now added further information about this port-less phone. He explains that there will technically be a port, in the form of an Apple Smart Connector, but no port slot like you’d find with Lightning or USB-C. “Kinda like the old MagSafe chargers,” he explains, “SmartConnector will act as a transition into totally wireless [at a future date]”. Prosser also said the Smart Connector will be on the bottom of the phone, which makes sense for regular dock charging. Wireless charging on the back of the phone will also remain.
05/16 Update: Prosser has given me further details about Apple’s new portless iPhone. Interestingly, he states that it should not be taken for granted that this model will be a flagship iPhone and Apple may instead opt to debut it on a cheaper iPhone, such as the delayed iPhone SE Plus. Presumably, this is because Apple will be able to save money by not installing a physical port or the company believes it can offset the charges of fitting a Smart Connector through the upgrades it expects buyers of this iPhone will need to purchase. Could this be Apple running head-first into another collision with customers, similar to when it removed the headphone jack?
05/18 Update: Thanks to further information given to me by Jon Prosser, this story has taken another twist. Prosser explains that Apple’s first port-less phone may well ship without a charger. That ties in with his feeling that this iPhone is unlikely to be a flagship device, and it would open up Apple to another lucrative market of accessories to replace its proprietary Lightning port: “From what I’m hearing (which may anger some people) they [Apple] don’t plan on shipping a wireless charger of any kind in the box,” explained Prosser. “Similar to how they never shipped AirPods in the box. A ‘courage’ thing. Since only one of the phones is portless, if you make the choice to get the portless one, you’re also responsible for buying your own wireless charger.” If Prosser is right, expect this story to blow up as news spreads.
Furthermore, with in-display fingerprint readers maturing and under-display cameras coming to market, Apple could really make a bold statement (the evidence is certainly mounting). A portless iPhone would also likely be more durable as it should have even higher water and dust resistance ratings.
Of course, not everyone will want a portless iPhone. First, Apple’s wireless charging speeds currently lag a long way behind the competition, so the company needs to significantly up its game here. Second, it will kill the hopes of those wishing Apple would adopt USB-C, the universal charging standard used by every other smartphone maker along with Apple’s own MacBooks. But Prosser is blunt here: “Never USB-C”, he states.
So should you wait for this big 2021 iPhone redesign? If you have an iPhone 11 or iPhone XS model, I think so. That said, Apple is bringing a lot to the table this year with new phone sizes, 5G across the range, a potentially groundbreaking new chipset, upgraded cameras alongside the company’s new LiDAR sensor and – most importantly – a price point that is set to undercut the competition.
So yes, 2021 sounds radical but Apple’s 2020 iPhone plans are exciting as well. For iPhone fans looking to upgrade, it’s going to be a tough call.