2019 iPhones could get important battery upgrades

One of the biggest upgrades rumored to be coming to the iPhone 11, and why the 2020 iPhones could be the ones worth waiting for.

Vanessa Hand Orellana CNET Senior Editor
As head of wearables at CNET, Vanessa reviews and writes about the latest smartwatches and fitness trackers. She joined the team seven years ago as an on-camera reporter for CNET's Spanish-language site and then moved on to the English side to host and produce some of CNET's videos and YouTube series. When she's not testing out smartwatches or dropping phones, you can catch her on a hike or trail run with her family.
Vanessa Hand Orellana
5 min read

In this week's Apple Core rundown we're taking a look at the latest iPhone 11 rumors and why Apple may have to wait even longer to bring 5G connectivity to the iPhone. Also: Why Apple's new Powerbeats Pro could give the AirPods 2 a run for their money, and how the demise of the AirPower mat has spawned a new generation of wireless charging options that can power up your many devices.

Watch this: AirPods 2 have a new rival... from Apple

2019 iPhone gets two-way wireless charging

According to longtime Apple analyst Ming Chi Kuo, as cited in MacRumors, Apple will add two-way wireless charging to its 2019 iPhone lineup, which we're calling iPhone 11. This would let you charge your AirPods (assuming you have the wireless charging case) and a second Qi enabled device on the back your 2019 iPhone. Though this would be new to iPhone owners, it's a feature other Android phones already offer. Samsung just debuted a similar feature in its new lineup of Galaxy S10s.


Samsung's new S10's can power-up other devices wirelessly. 

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

The report also mentioned that Apple would increase the size of the battery in the 2019 iPhones, which we hope would translate into longer battery life.

And that might be one of the most exciting upgrades to look forward to in the 2019 iPhone, because they're rumored to be very similar to the 2018 lineup. Previous rumors have suggested Apple will stick with the same three models and the same general design, dimensions and displays as the XS, XS Max and XR.

Apple may add a second lens to the front-facing camera, and a third ultra-wide-angle lens to the rear-facing camera of the new iPhones, but it's unclear whether this feature would come to all three models or would be exclusive to the more expensive Max.

Early rumors suggested we'd see a smaller notch, flat edges and a USB-C port  instead of Lightning on the new iPhones, similar to what Apple did with the 2018 iPad Pros, but Kuo's report seems to debunk these claims.

2020 iPhones will be all OLED, but no 5G?

With months to go before the 2019 iPhone launch, rumors about the 2020 iPhones have already started to gain steam, maybe because they seem slightly more exciting.

A new Digitimes report out this week says Apple could launch an all OLED lineup in 2020 in different sizes. This upgrade would suggest a redesign. The smallest iPhone model would have a 5.42-inch display, compared with the 5.8-inch screen on the iPhone XS (the current smallest), with the largest one topping off at 6.67-inches, an increase over the already massive iPhone XS Max. The overall footprint, however, may remain the same if Apple is able to reduce the size of the bezels and get rid of the notch. But in this case the price of these phones would correlate to the size of the phone.The XR sequel, which would upgrade to an OLED screen, would shrink from the 6.1-inch LCD screen of this year's model to 5.42-inches.

Just don't expect the price to change. The report also suggests Apple will continue to rely on other manufacturers like Samsung to provide the OLED screens on these iPhones, the priciest component on the device. LG and BOE are also said to be vying to supply screens for Apple.

We'd also heard that the 2020 iPhone lineup could include a foldable model and 5G connectivity, but this week's rumors seem to suggest otherwise. A new report by UBS Analyst Timothy Arcuri suggests Apple's legal woes with Qualcomm may delay a 5G iPhone beyond 2020. Android phones like Samsung's Galaxy S10 5G and Galaxy Fold , Huawei's Mate X, Xiaomi's Mi Mix 3 5G and the Moto Z3 with the Moto Mod have already started offering these features in 2019, with more to come over the next year.

Huawei Mate X

The foldable Huawei Mate X will come with 5G connectivity. 

Juan Garzon/CNET

What the Apple-Qualcomm battle means for your next iPhone.

But as with all the rumors, these should be taken with a grain of salt until Apple gives the official word. After all, it wasn't even a week ago that the rumor mill was buzzing about an imminent AirPower launch.

The new Powerbeats Pro take on the AirPods 2

The AirPods may face some steep competition from a new member of their own family. This week Apple gave us an early preview of its new Powerbeats Pro, a truly wireless version of the existing Powerbeats 3.

The Powerbeats Pro have the same H1 chip as the newly released AirPods, which gives you seamless compatibility with iOS devices and always-on Siri to control your music without having to dig for your phone, but they're a much sportier alternative to the AirPods.


The Powerbeats Pro are a sportier alternative to the AirPods. 

David Carnoy/CNET

Design-wise they look like a slightly more compact, cable-free version of their predecessors, with an in-ear bud and a clip that wraps around your ear for a secure fit intended to stay in place during a workout. There are three different color options to choose from and they're meant to hold up to those intense sweat sessions with their water resistant exterior. More importantly, they sound better than the AirPods, according to CNET Executive Editor David Carnoy, who tested them out at a preview event in New York.

They have a larger battery than the AirPods, with an estimated nine hours of listening time, but the charging case is almost three times the size, and they don't have a wireless charging alternative. The case charges via Lightning cable.

Watch this: Beats Powerbeats Pro have AirPods’ new features but sound better

The biggest catch: the $250 dollar price tag (£220, $AU350), a $50 dollar increase from the Powerbeats 3 and nearly $100 more than the AirPods (without the wireless charging case).

The Powerbeats Pro are already listed on the Apple Store online, but you won't be able to purchase them until May.

The AirPower mat leaves a trail of other options  

After a nearly two year wait, Apple officially pulled the plug on the AirPower, the wireless charging mat announced alongside the iPhone X in 2017 that could charge three Apple devices at once, no matter where you positioned them on the mat.

The news came after multiple mentions of the device were spotted just weeks earlier in the iOS 12.2 code, the new AirPods box and iPhone XS packaging. Apple said "it failed to achieve our high standards, and we have canceled the project." Other sources pin the demise on an overheating issue caused by the many charging coils needed to power the device.

This isn't the first, nor will it be the last, failed Apple product, but it'll probably make Apple think twice before promising another product that's not quite ready for prime time, at least not in front of a captive audience of fans and tech journalists. That said, better for Apple to scrap the AirPower altogether than to deliver a faulty product to consumers.

If you were looking forward to a cable-free future, this doesn't mean you have to continue being all tied up. In the nearly two years it took for Apple to call it quits on the AirPower mat, other companies, like Nomad, caught up to this wireless vision and there are plenty of others on the market. Don't expect that seamless iOS compatibility, and you probably won't be able to position your devices anywhere on these mats, but they're available now in a wide range of designs and prices. Here's a list of best AirPower alternatives, to get you through the mourning period. 


Nomad's Base Station Apple Watch Edition, due in April, is the latest 3-in-1 answer to AirPower.

Nomad; screenshot by CNET