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iPhone 12: What we *really* want

A new patent gives us a glimpse of what a foldable iPhone would look like and how it could avoid some of the mistakes of its competitors.

Update, April 22: Read our iPhone SE 2020 review. Original story follows. 

In this week's Apple Core roundup, we're compiling our wishlist for the iPhone in 2020 based on what's actually feasible, and dissecting the latest clues about Apple's vision for a foldable device .  

Our iPhone 12 wishlist

Foldable or not, the 2020 iPhones are said to bring a bunch of features Apple users have been waiting for, like 5G connectivity and a new design. Even before the iPhone 11 saw the light of day, rumors surrounding the 2020 iPhone were already stealing the spotlight before September last year. 

The rumor mill has been going back and forth about whether Touch ID will make a comeback, how drastic the redesign will be and if Apple will finally get rid of the notch. But with the next big iPhone launch still months away, it's anybody's guess what features they'll have and there's still time to make our wishes known. 

These are some of the features our editors most want to see in the next iPhone:

  • All-screen display: For the notch to go away, Apple first has to figure out how to put the Face ID camera modules under the screen, which may not happen this year. 
  • 90Hz screen: These high-refresh rate screens have been all the rage in Android phones (think OnePlus 7 Pro and Pixel 4) and make the viewing experience look super smooth for playing games or scrolling through menus.
  • In-screen Touch ID: Face ID isn't going anywhere, and we wouldn't want it to either. But an alternate form of biometric authentication would be welcomed too. Apple is rumored to be working on a Touch ID 2.0 for the iPhone, but long-time Apple analyst Ming Chi Quo seems to think it may not happen until 2021. 
  • Portrait mode for video: Recent Samsung and LG phones have bokeh effects for video recording, but it's far from perfect. With rumors of a new time-of-flight camera, we may soon see Apple take a stab at this feature in the high-end models of the iPhone 12. 
  • More base storage: All those regular and Portrait mode videos recorded in 4K take up a lot of space. It makes sense for Apple to raise the base storage tier on the next iPhone to at least 128GB, or boost the free tier of iCloud storage to something more than 5GB.
  • Reverse wireless charging: Another feature the iPhone 12 could borrow from Samsung's Galaxy S10 and Note 10 is the ability to juice up other devices from the back of the phone, like the AirPods or Apple Watch
  • Better battery life: Before we even get into battery features, how about simply increasing the battery life? Every year they seem to last a bit longer, but there's still room for improvement when it comes to the battery. 

If we really wanted to shoot for the stars we could also ask for long-range wireless charging, holograms and foldable screens, but we'll limit our list to the realm of possibility for now.

Apple gets another foldable iPhone patent

This month Apple received a new patent for a flexible display mechanism that would protect a screen from creasing when it's opened and closed, a flaw that has been widely criticized on the Galaxy Fold. According to the patent, Apple's mechanism would prevent creases by leaving more space between the two display panels as they fold together. 

But a patent doesn't guarantee a product, and Apple is behind its rivals when it comes to the foldable phone trend. For example, Motorola's new Razr went on sale this week and Samsung is launching its second foldable Galaxy phone, the Galaxy Z Flip, at Samsung Unpacked on Feb. 11.

Over the past 10 years, Apple has filed numerous patents with the United States Patent and Trademark Office relating to foldable devices from iPhones to iMacs, and we have yet to see one product. Most of these patents are reminiscent of the foldable phone designs we've seen out on the market, while others seem totally wild. A patent discovered by My Smart Price at the end of 2018 shows a flexible device with a wraparound display that can "origami" into different shapes.

Still, these patents suggest that Apple is still in the early stages of development and that it's unlikely the company will have any of these ready for a 2020 reveal. 

Updated on: February 18, 2020