Apple analyst predicts what’s to come
A leading tech industry analyst with a reputation for predicting Apple's next move said the company will introduce a cheaper new iPhone, abandon one of its most hated designs of all time, and even introduce an augmented reality headset in 2020.
TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said in recent research notes that Apple will bring out a new version of its cut-price iPhone SE that will be based on the iPhone 8.
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Like the original iPhone SE, the next model is expected to use modern internals contained in an older design.
The SE was shaped like an iPhone 5S but had similar specs to the newer 6S.
The phone was a hit with more budget conscious buyers as well as users with smaller hands who wanted a compact phone, but was discontinued last year alongside the iPhone 6S and iPhone X.
The next iteration of the SE is expected to be aesthetically similar to an iPhone 8 but use more modern internals, potentially even using the same guts as an iPhone 11.
It's expected any new SE would be cheaper than the fully-fledged iPhones, but there's also a possibility it may only be sold in "emerging markets" like India.
If Mr Kuo's predictions are accurate, the iPhone 8 won't be the only old design to be repurposed on a new product.
Apple is expected to ditch its awfully unreliable "butterfly" keyboard first introduced on the since discontinued 12-inch MacBook in 2015.
The butterfly keyboard has a larger surface area for individual keys but a more shallow "travel" (how far a key goes down when you press it).
This meant that after prolonged use, keys had a tendency to get stuck, particularly the longer space and shift keys.
The butterfly mechanism also had a habit of letting in more dust and debris than previous designs.
It's understood the butterfly keyboard was the brainchild of former chief Apple designer Jony Ive, who announced earlier this year that he would leave the company.
While responsible for some of the most iconic designs in the company's history, its rumoured, theorised, and at this stage entirely unconfirmed that the legendary designer had an obsession with making devices thinner and lighter, perhaps to their detriment.
The recently released iPhone 11 Pro is a barely perceivable 0.4mm thicker than the iPhone XS it replaced but has a considerably stronger battery life.
The butterfly keyboard did allow the company's laptops to become thinner and lighter, but this benefit was outweighed by its lack of resilience.
Things got so bad for the butterfly that Apple now has a free keyboard replacement program if the keyboard fails on 16 different MacBook, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models built between 2015 and 2019.
Mr Kuo predicts Apple will ditch the butterfly design on future models and return to a scissor-style keyboard design similar to ones it has used in the past.
But there may be some new designs on the horizon too.
Mr Kuo believes the long-rumoured augmented reality headset will show up next year, alongside an updated iPad Pro with new rear sensors to support more advanced augmented reality capabilities.
Mr Kuo refers to the headsets in his report as "head mounted AR devices" and said Apple may partner with other companies for them.
Jony Ive left Apple to start his own design firm and said the new company will continue to work with his former employer on some designs.
Whether this leads to an exceptionally thin, light and fragile headset in 2020 remains to be seen.
Apple doesn't comment on future product releases until they're officially announced, so Mr Kuo is the closest we can get to an idea of what the company will do next.
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