Apple's next iPhone may revive some of the smartphone's most iconic historic design elements. A series of images shared Sunday claim to show dummy versions of the upcoming iPhone 12, expected to launch later this year.
The photos, shared by a Twitter user called "Jin_Store," show a series of models for the next iPhone that demonstrate how it may look. The images reiterate what previous rumors have suggested: Apple's next smartphone will use flat sides that first debuted on the iPhone 4 in 2010, rather than the curved sides that debuted on the larger iPhone 6 in 2014.
Return of a classic — The images appear to confirm that Apple is reviving some of its older design elements, ones that earned high praise when they first debuted. When CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone 4, he said it looked “like a beautiful old Leica camera.” The flat edges, curved off at the sides, drew attention to the stainless steel sides and glass faces. It was a marked change from the plastic-backed iPhone 3GS from the previous year.
When the iPhone 6 launched in 2014, it dropped these elements in favor of curved sides. This made it easier to hold at the time, as the lineup was jumping from a four-inch diagonal screen to a 4.7-inch screen on the smaller model and a 5.5-inch screen on the larger one. Apple has kept a similar design since, the biggest change coming in 2017 when it dropped the home button on the iPhone X.
Looking like an iPad — The redesign also suggests Apple will make its next iPhone look more like the third- and fourth-generation iPad Pro models. The third-generation debuted in 2018 with an iPhone 4-looking design, dropping the curved edges from older models.
These designs have received high praise from reviewers. TechRadar described it as a "more industrial, almost brutalist design."
One area where it seems the new iPhone won't take cues from the iPad is with the charging connector. The dummy models suggest it will still use the Lightning port that debuted in 2012 instead of the USB-C standard from the iPad Pro. A USB-C port would enable easy connection to a variety of peripherals, while also enabling iPhone users to charge with Android phone chargers. A switch would also mean dropping support for eight years' worth of iPhone chargers, a pain point Apple is perhaps reluctant to repeat.
Apple typically releases its new flagship iPhones in September, but it is unclear if this pattern may have changed for this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.