iPhone 14 wish list: 5 things I want in Apple’s next phone

We’re less than a week away from Apple’s annual iPhone event, where we expect to see the iPhone 14 and 14 Pro lineups. Although the rumor has already given us a good read on what we will get from the iPhone 14, Apple still has plenty of room to surprise us. In Apple’s playbook, nothing is ever certain until the company takes the stage and shows it in person.

This means that almost anything can happen. While I’m not fanciful enough to believe that Apple will release its iconic foldable iPhone anytime soon, there are still more practical updates that I hope will come to fruition in this year’s iPhone 14 lineup.

A permanent display

Chances are that at least this year’s iPhone 14 Pro models finally get an always-on display – and it’s about time.

Always-on displays have been around on smartphones for nearly a decade and arguably became commonplace on Android handsets five years ago. So, it’s fair to say that Apple is very late to the party here. The lack of an always-on display on the iPhone is even more unusual considering that Apple added it to the Apple Watch Series 5 in 2019.

An iPhone 13 Pro running iOS 16 is held in front of a Macbook.

Of course, it’s arguably a more necessary feature on a smartwatch, and Apple makes far fewer Apple Watches than it does iPhones. It was probably Apple’s way of dipping its toes in the water, and there’s at least some evidence that it wanted to bring this sort of display tech to the iPhone 12 Pro line in 2020.

At the very least, we know that Apple originally had a faster 120Hz ProMotion display in mind for high-end iPhone models. It was reportedly forced to put those plans on hold when pandemic-related supply chain issues led to a shortage of the controller chips needed to power those displays.

It’s hard to say whether the iPhone 12 Pro would have gained an always-on display as well if we had been living in an alternate timeline where COVID-19 never happened. Still, it looks like Apple laid the groundwork for it: Apple’s official leather pouch with MagSafe included a window that was next to useless without an always-on display behind it.

New look of iOS 16 lock screen.

Perhaps this year’s biggest clue is in the iOS 16 betas, which feature an all-new lock screen design with widget support in a streamlined style – all of which suggests that it was designed with permanent display in mind.

Still, if the reports we’ve heard are accurate, always-on display could finally be coming to this year’s iPhone. Unfortunately, it will likely be limited to the higher-end iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max. However, as a consolation, the standard iPhone 14 models could get the faster 120Hz ProMotion display from last year’s iPhone 13 Pro line.

Better optical zoom

Apple first switched to a dual-lens camera system in 2016 with the iPhone 7 Plus, adding a second 2X telephoto lens to the standard wide camera. Although Apple has improved image sensors and widened apertures over the years, this telephoto lens’ optical zoom remained fixed at 2x until the iPhone 12 Pro Max bumped it up slightly to 2.5x. two years ago.

This initial increase was specific to the larger 6.7-inch iPhone model. It wasn’t until last year’s iPhone 13 Pro that Apple replaced both models with a 3x telephoto lens. Nonetheless, this is another area where Apple lags behind its flagship competitors. Google’s Pixel 6 Pro offers 4x optical zoom, while Samsung’s Galaxy S22 Ultra can get up to 10x thanks to a second telephoto lens with a periscope lens.

Galaxy S22 Ultra and iPhone 13 Pro cameras seen from behind.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

There have been several reports of Apple adopting similar periscope lens technology, though that’s unlikely to happen until next year’s iPhone 15 arrives. However, Apple could increase its optical zoom more modestly this year while waiting for the 10x levels and beyond that a pericope camera will offer.

The good news is that the iPhone 14 Pro models are expected to upgrade to a larger 48-megapixel (MP) sensor. This will likely be used to power higher levels of digital zoom without the corresponding reduction in quality. With today’s computational photography, higher megapixel numbers are not meant to produce higher resolution photos, but rather provide algorithms with more data that can be used to create higher quality photos.

Ditch Lightning for USB-C

As a longtime user of Apple devices, I haven’t been so adamant about Apple’s need to switch to USB-C as many people are. However, it’s also fair to say that Apple’s Lightning port is becoming an anachronism.

When Apple introduced the Lightning port ten years ago, it was a huge improvement over the 30-pin Dock Connector port it replaced. It was also superior to MicroUSB, and at that time USB-C was just a glimmer in the eyes of the USB Implementers Forum.

However, as USB-C has become a much more popular and useful standard, Apple’s insistence on sticking with Lightning is starting to seem odd – and not in a good way. To make matters worse, Apple has switched most of its iPad lineup to USB-C, and rumor has it it could top it all off with this year’s update to the 10.2-inch iPad. entry-level.

A blue iPhone 12 sits next to a Lightning charger.

As a result, people with both iPhones and iPads are already struggling with two different charging connectors, which means two different sets of cables to carry around. Apple also uses the Lightning port on AirPods, the MagSafe Duo charger and MagSafe battery, and – more inscrutable – Mac accessories such as wireless keyboards, mice and trackpads.

Admittedly, the popularity of the iPhone makes it fairly easy to find a Lightning cable. Yet USB-C has become nearly universal. For example, I spent the last week working in an empty office with a USB-C laptop charger at each desk. It gave me 55 places where I could charge my Google Pixel – and zero where I could charge my iPhone.

A move to USB-C is inevitable, with the European Union blowing down Apple’s neck. By all reports, Apple won’t have much choice in this by 2024. However, hopefully Apple decides to get ahead and make the switch sooner than that.

Faster wireless charging

Wireless charging standards are a confusing mess when it comes to getting the fastest charging speeds, and Apple has done nothing to alleviate this problem.

The official Qi wireless charging standard supports up to 30 watts (30W) of power, and most on the market today easily support 15 watts (15W) of charging. Unfortunately, the only way iPhone users will see anything close to these faster charging speeds is to use an Apple-certified MagSafe charger. Drop your iPhone on a standard Qi charger and you’re limited to 7.5W, even if the charger can deliver more.

Mophie MagSafe 3-in-1 Travel Charger with AirPod Pro, iPhone 12 Pro Max and Apple Watch Series 5 charging.
Jesse Hollington / Digital Trends

To make matters even more confusing, many accessory markers sell magnetic chargers that attach to the MagSafe ring on the back of an iPhone 12 or iPhone 13. However, unless it’s of officially certified MagSafe chargers, you’ll still only get 7.5W charging speeds.

The problem isn’t just with more affordable charging options; sometimes a non-MagSafe charger is all that’s available, and that’s especially frustrating when you’re looking for a quick recharge. For example, my car has an in-console wireless charger capable of 15W Qi charging, and it even supports Wireless CarPlay. Despite this, I keep a USB-C to Lightning cable in my car in case I need to charge faster, as the slower 7.5W charging is only practical for long car trips.

Satellite communications

If you’ve ever found yourself in an emergency situation without cellular coverage, you’ll be happy to know that Apple is reportedly worked on harnessing satellite communications to ensure you can call for help just about anywhere on the planet.

Stars, space station and Earth.
ESA/Thomas Pesquet

Rumors about it first surfaced about a year ago, just before the launch of Apple’s iPhone 13, although reliable sources have suggested it won’t be ready until the iPhone is released. this year’s iPhone.

There’s also evidence that Apple is paving the way for this in iOS 16, as recent betas now show an “SOS” indicator under certain conditions where 5G or LTE would otherwise appear in the status bar. On the surface, this simply indicates that you have enough signal to make an emergency call, which usually means you have cellular coverage but not on your main carrier’s network. This happens to me on a regular basis in the Toronto subway, as only one operator currently offers underground coverage (and it’s not mine).

This is not a new thing in itself; it has been possible for years to make emergency calls even without a SIM card. This is a legal requirement in many countries for obvious security reasons. However, the “SOS” indicator is new in iOS 16, and it’s easy to imagine how it could also be used to indicate that SOS calls and texts are possible via satellite in areas without cellular coverage.

This will require new communications hardware, so don’t expect it to come to older iPhone models just because iOS 16 includes a new indicator. While some reports from last year suggested that the iPhone 13 might already have the hardware, these appear to have misinterpreted a 5G frequency band operated by a satellite communications company for terrestrial use only.

Still, it would be great to see that come to the iPhone 14, but it’s likely also dependent on Apple reaching the necessary agreements with satellite providers to handle those emergency calls and texts. Plus, since competing services like Garmin’s inReach cost $15 per month, there could also be a cost involved.

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