Kuo predicts smaller screen notch, improved cameras


iPhone 12 Mini and iPhone 12 Pro Max

Todd Haselton | CNBC

Apple is preparing four new iPhones for release in the second half of this year that resemble the current lineup of iPhone 12 models, TFI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicted in a note to investors on Monday.

The 2021 iPhones could include a smaller notch, increasing the phone’s usable screen space. (The notch at the top of the screen is the area that houses the Face ID camera system.) They will also have larger batteries thanks to a new internal space-saving design, improved 5G modems and better cameras, according to the note.

Still, Kuo predicts that the 2021 iPhones will be the same size as the current phones: a “Mini” device with a 5.4-inch screen, two models with 6.1-inch screens and a “Max” model with a 6.7-inch screen. They will continue to have a proprietary Lightning connection for data and power, Kuo predicts.

Kuo’s latest research suggests that after a year where Apple changed up its iPhone lineup with new designs, new screen sizes, and 5G connectivity, leading to a major boom in sales, that this year’s models will end up being closer to what used to be called “S” models, in which Apple makes largely internal changes to its existing lineup.

The 2021 iPhones will be a little bit heavier than the iPhone 12 devices, Kuo said. Higher-end 2021 iPhones — the equivalent of Apple’s current “Pro” models — will continue to include advanced lidar sensors inside the camera and will feature a display that can refresh twice as fast, at 120Hz, which creates a smoother experience.

Kuo is a reliable analyst who often accurately describes unreleased products, focusing on the Asia-based supply chain that makes electronic parts for Apple.

After 2021, Kuo predicts that Apple could move away from a notch on the front screen in favor of a “hole-punch” that includes its camera, like current devices from Samsung and other companies use. Kuo said that Apple could release a redesigned iPhone with a full-front display and no notch, under-display fingerprint sensor and advanced telephoto camera in 2023 at the earliest.

Kuo also suggests that Apple is working on a foldable iPhone, similar to products from companies like Samsung and Huawei, and that that product could launch as soon as 2023, but it still has technology and mass production issues to work out. Apple could also release low-end iPhones based on existing technology in the spring of 2022 and 2023, the analyst suggests.

Ultimately, Kuo is skeptical that Apple will ditch its current Lightning sensor in favor of a USB-C connector and says he is not sure if or when Apple might start including a fingerprint sensor inside the power button on its phones.

Apple moved away from fingerprint sensing in favor of its facial recognition system, FaceID, in 2017, although a fingerprint sensor works better when the user is wearing a mask.



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