It would probably look something like this: It’s a rectangle with rounded corners, with another rectangle — the display — on the front, a circular home button below the screen, a few more buttons on the left and right sides and maybe the top, and a charging port on the bottom.
There have so far been 15 different iPhone models, and they all fit that description. Some people might look at the iPhone’s relatively static design over the years and think Apple has stopped innovating. But if you take even the most cursory look at the power, features, and components of the original 2G iPhone and compare them to today’s iPhone 7, it’s hard to take that point of view seriously. Like all of Apple’s products, each new iPhone evolves on the progress of its predecessors.
Products only become iconic if they have memorable designs that stand the test of time, and the iPhone certainly qualifies.
Steve Jobs announced the iPhone as a “widescreen iPod with touch controls, a revolutionary mobile phone, and a breakthrough Internet communications device” in January 2007, and Apple officially launched the first model on June 29, 2007. Ten years later, it’s undeniable just how revolutionary the iPhone was.
While this year’s “iPhone 8” (or is it the iPhone X?) is expected to come with some of the most dramatic changes to the iPhone’s overall design in years (and will no doubt sell like crazy), we’re even more excited for what’s to come by the end of the decade.
It’s with this unbridled enthusiasm that we set out to imagine what the iPhone in 2020 might look like. While it might have been more fun to project even further forward, we felt going past a few years out starts to become an exercise in wish fulfillment and an excuse to include features that are grounded more in science fiction than concrete mobile technology.
In creating our smartphone from the future, we took into account 10 years of iPhone innovation, current mobile trends, and all the credible rumors about the iPhone 8. Here is our prediction for iPhone 2020.
If there’s a single design philosophy behind the iPhone, it’s Apple’s relentless march towards simplifying and eliminating mechanical components, leaving you with an austere window into the life you’re living through the device. Our iPhone 2020 pushes this idea forward a few iterations to become the purest realization of the iPhone: A gorgeous display surrounded by nothing but glass.
Also: There’s no charging port. It’s a radical change, but a port-free world is also clearly the place Apple (and others) want to take us.
You’ll see hints of our iPhone 2020 in some phones today. Samsung’s Galaxy S8 famously discarded the home button in favor of a virtual one, and Vivo just demonstrated one of the first phones to integrate a fingerprint reader into the screen. Using durable glass for not just the display, but for the rear panel as well, is also a trend that’s on the rise.
At the same time, there are things that are distinctly Apple. iOS in the future will surely incorporate some natural evolutions of popular features today (like Siri suggestions) but also still fundamentally work the same way as iPhones of today.
That is, with one big caveat: There’s no home button. There have been rumors of Apple dropping the home button for almost as long as there have been iPhones, but we feel the iPhone and mobile tech in general are at a point where this will become a given for high-end phones in the next few years.
For all the changes, though, it’s still an iPhone. Much like how a Porsche today still looks like a Porsche from yesteryear, our iPhone 2020 shares the same DNA.
One final note before the juicy details: There’s a reason why we’re calling this project “our” iPhone 2020. We don’t presume to present this project as definitive: We have no special knowledge of Apple’s product roadmap or any specific insider information. We do, however, have a special obsession with the iPhone, and we’ve been covering it — as a device, a lifestyle product, and the linchpin of Apple’s entire strategy — since it was just another rumor.
This is one possibility of what the iPhone will look like in 2020. We think we’ve done a decent job of predicting what the world’s most popular smartphone might look like, three years hence. We think we got it mostly right, but we know that many will disagree, perhaps strongly.