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6 features we want to see on the iPhone 11

With every year that passes, Apple comes under more pressure to impress with its latest iPhone, due to the massive and highly-desirable competition from smartphones that use Google’s Android software. 2019 is no different, and the iPhone 11 — or whatever it ends up being called — needs to set our pulses racing and cause our jaws to drop if our wallets are to open.

The iPhone is almost guaranteed to be great. After all, there really hasn’t been a bad one. However, it needs to go way beyond great this year. The iPhone 11 has to hit the stunning highs that Samsung, Huawei, and OnePlus have achieved over the last 12 months. What does Apple need to include, or change about the existing models, to make the iPhone 11 a surefire, runaway hit? Here are six features I’d like to see on the 2019 iPhone.

Wide-angle camera

Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus rear camera
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The iPhone’s camera doesn’t need more megapixels, and the software is perfectly fine. But there are two features it needs to keep up with the competition: the first is a wide-angle lens. A mainstay of Android smartphones for some time, a wide-angle lens adds considerable versatility and creative ability to a smartphone’s camera, and it’s really missed on the iPhone.

Over the past two years, the iPhone has struggled to keep pace with the amazing camera phones running Android. It’s a real shame, and while the iPhone XS Max still takes great photos, it lacks the excitement and versatility of phones like the Huawei P30 Pro and Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus. Combine the camera’s natural color palette and already strong performance, plus the decent zoom setting, with a new wide-angle lens and you get a well-rounded camera feature list.

Will it happen? While we’ve seen leaks and rumors showing this year’s iPhone will have more camera lenses than before, speculation has labeled the additional lens as one that enables a longer zoom, rather than a wide-angle.

Night mode

Pixel 3
Google introducing Night Sight on the Pixel 3. Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The second camera-related feature the iPhone needs is a dedicated Night mode. Now, I have a caveat with this: I don’t want it to be like the Huawei P30 Pro, or even the Pixel 3’s Night mode. The iPhone captures some great, atmospheric low-light shots now, a visual aspect I’d rather wasn’t ruined by an overly aggressive night mode obsessed with making night look like day.

In actual fact, night mode is a great example of a feature Apple needs to include just to remain competitive, without it really being an essential feature on the camera. Almost every Android phone includes it, and people are beginning to expect it. I’d like to see an Apple night mode that’s more subtle than the competition, with an emphasis on the atmosphere rather than technical ability. Rather than a, “Look what we can do,” show-off feature, I want it to be a, “Look what you can do” creativity boosting mode.

Faster user interface

iOS 13 Hands-on
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Android on the Huawei P30 Pro and the OnePlus 7 Pro runs at lightning speed. The user interface is extremely responsive and fast when you need it to be. Sliding from one home screen to the next, opening folders, selecting apps, and exiting again is precise, quick, and without lag. Using iOS 12.4 on the iPhone XS Max feels slower, especially during transitions, as does swiping through menus. It’s not painful, but it’s noticeable.

I’d like iOS 13 to add more speed to general navigation when combined with Apple’s next Bionic processor, and be even happier if the software displays these speed improvements on the existing iPhone models too. Apple is already promising this, saying iOS 13 is, “faster and more responsive with optimizations across the system,” which bodes well for this one coming true. We won’t know until trying out the new iPhone with the new software installed though.

Fast charger in the box

Is it really too much to ask? The iPhone comes with a 5W charger in the box, which is effective in that it will add more energy to your iPhone and nothing else, and won’t be in a rush to do so. Several iPhone models released since the iPhone 8 have fast charging capabilities, but you need to buy a 30W fast charger and new cable to make it work. It’s a bit of a con, especially when almost all other smartphones come with fast charging as standard.

Note 10 Plus charging test
From left to right: OnePlus 7 Pro, Galaxy S10 Plus, Note 10 Plus, Pixel 3 XL, iPhone XS Max.

For the iPhone 11, I want to see a real fast charger in the box, with the cable to make it work. Is it likely? Maybe, but more so if Apple introduces a really fast-charging system, matching some of the newer 40W and 45W chargers from Samsung and Huawei. Then it can charge extra for this, and give us the 30W charger in the box.

The iPhone XS Max’s battery lasts a day with moderate to heavy use without a problem, so I don’t need Apple to fit anything gigantic for the next model. Just give me the chance to charge it up faster without spending more. For reference, in our most recent battery charging speed test, the iPhone XS Max came dead last, taking more than three hours to recharge it fully.

A choice of colors

Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Corey Gaskin/Digital Trends

When I chose my iPhone XS Max, I picked the silver finish as space grey is dull, and I don’t like gold phones. It wasn’t because I really wanted the silver model, it was just the best of a dull bunch. Not so with the Galaxy Note 10 Plus, I jumped at the aura glow model, but if the blue or the red had been available, the decision may have been harder.

Having a standout color for the iPhone 11 would be really welcome, and not just on any replacement to the iPhone XS. The Product Red version always looks great, and there was a time when Apple was a master at creating desirable phone color schemes (the rose gold trend was almost solely due to Apple’s bold move), so a really eye-catching version of the new iPhone is high on my list of hopes.

Clear, understandable nomenclature

Apple, like many other smartphone companies, can’t get the names of its phones right. It was at least understandable until the iPhone X came along, but then everything went completely wrong. The iPhone XR, iPhone XS, and iPhone XS Max are rubbish names, and now we may have to put up with iPhone 11, 11 Max or 11 Pro, plus an 11R. Awful.

iPhone XR
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Using numbers to denote a model change is natural, but it’s messy above 10. Huawei is coping by increasing the figure by 10 instead of 1, but this won’t last. While the P100 Pro is still pretty cool-sounding, the Mate 100 Pro doesn’t flow as nicely. If I had the solution, I’d be leading Apple’s marketing team, but I don’t so I’m not. However, I do know that names matter and bad ones make me sad.

Wrapping up

One thing I’m pleased not to ask for here is a more distinctive design. The leaked pictures and renders show an unusual rear camera lens array, which at first was jarring and ugly, but we’ll have seen it enough by the time the phone is announced for it to be more visually acceptable. It may not be beautiful, but it will be recognizable — and that’s what matters. It’ll also be interesting to see how Apple makes the Apple Pencil special for mobile use, should it come to the iPhone as rumored.

It’s extremely unlikely a 5G iPhone will arrive this year, and that’s OK because there are only a few places where 5G is available, so it’s hardly an essential feature for a 2019 phone. 2020? Now that’s a different story. I’d rather not see too many more “innovations” around Animoji and Memoji either, and although special promotions for anyone pre-ordering a new iPhone with the Apple Card seem inevitable, it’s an unpleasant thought. Oh, and any calls for a more affordable price are completely pointless.

When will we find out what the new iPhone is really like? The event is set for September 10, so expect the official release date of the phone to be around September 20.

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