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Our wish-list for this year’s new Apple smartphone

The one thing we know for sure about the iPhone is a new line-up will arrive later this year. But until September arrives, the rumor mill will continue to churn at speed, attempting to guess what Apple will reveal.

We’re not going to concern ourselves with what the iPhone 14 might include based on heresy and leaks. Instead, we thought at the halfway point between iPhone revisions – and having used an iPhone 13 for six months – now’s a good time to take stock, outline what we want from the next major iPhone revision, and explain why.

Bin the notch

The notch isn’t terrible and it did give the iPhone a distinct visual identity for years. But with Android devices increasingly moving to all-screen displays, Apple risks getting left behind. On that basis, shifting to a ‘hole punch’ for the selfie camera would make sense. But also, while the notch is mostly easy to ignore, it does sometimes intrude on immersive full-screen app and game experiences, with content sometimes appearing close to or even behind it. Best be rid of it entirely, then.

Keep the iPhone mini

Reports suggest the iPhone mini did not sell well. It looks set to be bumped from this year’s range, in favor of a ‘Max’ version of the standard iPhone 14. We admit the iPhone mini isn’t perfect – it can be a touch fiddly, and the battery life isn’t stellar. But it’s powerful and light – and there’s nothing else like it on the market. Perhaps if there is no iPhone 14 mini, the form could live on as a 4th-gen iPhone SE.

Add Pencil support

An Apple Pencil isn’t essential for iPad owners, but it sure is useful if you do a lot of drawing or document mark-up – or need precision input or a way to do handwriting directly on a screen. On iPhone, a Pencil would be a boon as well – although it’s tricky to see how Apple could make the existing pairing/charging set-up work with the existing second-gen stylus. Snapping it to a flat edge would require iPhone 14 to lose some buttons.

Integrate Touch ID

As of iOS 15.4, you can unlock iPhone Face ID while wearing a mask – finally. Apple hasn’t stated whether this method is less secure than a full-face scan, but has said it’s less accurate. It also only works with iPhone 12 and 13 models. An alternative would be to integrate Touch ID into the power button, like on the iPad Air and iPad mini – unlikely for the iPhone 14, given the new unlock feature, but we live in hope.

Improve the display

With even mid-range Android handset displays now having refresh rates north of 60Hz, we’d like to see ProMotion come to the entire iPhone 14 line. This would make for smoother, faster interactions, and enable dynamic output optimized for specific refresh rates, such as 24Hz film. We’d also like the minimum rate (currently 10Hz) to match the Apple Watch’s 1Hz, thereby opening up potential for an always-on iPhone display with complications.

Give us USB-C

Lightning has its fans and the huge range of iPhone accessories in existence will make change painful. Nonetheless, we want iPhone to make the leap to USB-C. This would increase data transfer speeds, open iPhone up to a range of creative and storage accessories, and simplify charging cables. Although for a while, you’d admittedly need extra dongles. (Related: we don’t want a no-port iPhone – that would be problematic for everything from pro creativity to diagnostics.)

Ramp up the optical zoom

The iPhone 13 Pro camera system gives you 3x optimal zoom in. It’s fast. It works. It’s also way behind Samsung’s S22, which has 10x optical zoom. Apple might counter by saying its digital zoom goes up to 15x, but that degrades image quality – and anyway the Samsung phone goes up to (a ridiculous) 100x there. Apple’s cameras are great, but should let you capture even more of the world – including distant objects. Maybe Apple just wants everyone to walk to such things instead, to complete their Exercise and Move rings…

Make iPhone a PC

Today, the iPad can be a great laptop but a sub-optimal desktop, because external display support is limited to mirroring. This means you get black bars at the left and right of widescreen displays. iPhone is much the same, with mirrored apps looking terrible on a large display. The thing is, iPhones are powerful and there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to plug one into a display and pair it with a keyboard and trackpad. Many Android phones allow this. Apple doesn’t because it wants you to buy more devices. We’d like that to change.

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