Companies simply can’t charge as much for the latest features as they used to. It only took Google a few months to release a follow-up to its swanky Pixel 3 series, dubbed the 3a, which offered nearly identical specs at almost half the price. Starting at $749, Apple’s mid-range(ish) option, the iPhone XR, was deemed a “no brainer” upgrade, despite a plastic chassis that gave it a less luxurious feel.
These forces are all expected to continue for however long it takes for the big hardware-manufacturers to figure out what tech, exactly, might some day replace the smartphone (a task which is proving a lot easier said than done).
With that in mind, there’s little reason to think Apple’s more budget-friendly products won’t be among the most interesting launches of the year. As smartphone lines are increasingly defined by their floor, instead of their ceiling, it’s the 11R that will likely be what drives industry standards, not its swankier cousins.
With summer kicking into high gear, we’ve already gotten a pretty good idea of what Apple’s September iPhone event will look like. Here’s what will likely be revealed about the successor to the iPhone XR, which will very likely be called the iPhone 11R.
iPhone 11R: Specs
The biggest change from last year is that the 2019 iPhone XR is likely not going to be the smallest model. Analyst Ming Chi Kuo has predicted Apple will again release two iPhones with the high-end OLED screens, one of them 5.8 inches and the other 6.5 inches. In the middle at 6.1 inches, will be one iPhone with an LCD screen. This arrangement, though a bit counterintuitive, makes sense: Small-handed Apple customers have long bemoaned the phablet-ification of smartphones. Apple will now give those customers an attractive reason to upgrade.
Apple will also likely use the same chipset in all three smartphones, its A13 chipset which has reportedly already entered production. These chips will power most of the new features, which are expected to focus heavily on AR and camera editing improvements.
The other big difference between the 11R and its peers has to do with the camera set-up. Unlike the models that replace the XS and the XS Max, the iPhone 11R will only have two rear cameras, a 12MP telephoto lens and a 12MP wide-angle lens, and a single 12MP front-facing, TrueDepth sensor.
iPhone 11R: Release Date
Last year, Apple held its annual iPhone keynote on Sept. 12, a Wednesday, with the smartphones shipping about a week later on Sept. 21. Wednesday falls on Sept. 11 this year, so it seems possible that Apple will go with Tuesday or Thursday to avoid coinciding with the 9/11 anniversary.
iPhone 11R: Price
The general consensus is that Apple won’t play with its pricing too much. While it’s certainly true that there’s more competition from mid-range models, there are also some upward pressures on the price as well, namely the ongoing trade war with China which may very well wind up affecting Apple suppliers. That said, what affects Apple in this regard will likely affect Apple’s competitors too, so it seems likeliest that the iPhone 11R will start at $749 like the XR.
iPhone 11R: New Colors
The iPhone XR’s defining feature was its unique color variants and the 11R is expected to follow in its foot steps but with a whole new palette of eye-popping hues. The upcoming handset is expected to come in black, white, lavender, red, green, and yellow, according to a report by Japanese tech outlet Mac Otakara.
Lavender and green would replace blue and coral from last year’s line up. Veteran Apple reporter Mark Gurman tweeted two pictures of what appear to be fragments of the iPhone 11R’s colorful shells.
iPhone 11R: Features
Just because the 11R will the cheapest of the 2019 iPhones doesn’t mean Apple will skimp on the next-generation features. Here are the capabilities that have been reported to come with the budget-iPhone:
- Portable Wireless Charger Mode: The new iPhones might try to make up for the AirPower’s cancellation by acting as portable wireless chargers themselves. Kuo predicted that users might be able to place their Apple Watch on the back of the new iPhones to charge, just like the Galaxy S10’s feature. That’s all according to a May 10 Bloomberg report.
- Improved TrueDepth Camera: While the 11r will only have two rear-facing cameras, it will be getting a massively improved, 12-megapixel front-facing camera, according to Kuo. This should drastically improve the graininess typically seen in today’s selfies today. The new camera is also expected to be masked by “black lens-coating technologies,” which should make the notch blend better with the display.
- A.I.-Powered Image Editing: The next Xr may miss out on that extra third camera, but it will still pack the A12 chips which are expected to power some pretty sweet A.I.-powered image editing features. Apple is readying a feature that will make it much easier to take 3D-images, a nod to AR, and it will also develop a feature that will make it possible to edit photographs to restore a subject who was accidentally cropped out, reports Bloomberg. That said, some of these features will likely be limited to higher end models.
iPhone 11R: Main Drawbacks
One factor in the iPhone 11 release that may set fans up for disappointment? Given that Xr was by far the best-seller out of the 2018 iPhone roster, Apple may walk back how similar the device is to its more expensive cousins. This is obviously to try and incentivize more people to make the upgrade. In addition to the missing camera, Forbes contributor Gordon Kelly also thinks that the iPhone 11R will have slightly larger bezels than its two peers.
Shortly after Labor Day, we’ll know a whole lot more.