iPhone 12 could be the most dramatic iPhone redesign in years

Apple isn't exactly in a rush when it comes to redesigning products. The company has had a rather methodical and calculated approach in shaping the look and feel of its products over the years. So much so, in fact, that it's often drawn criticisms over this, with many feeling like Apple is playing too much on the safe side.

One thing is for sure, though—when Apple changes the design of one of its products, it always feels like a big thing. And maybe that's in part because we've been conditioned to expect incremental updates, but it's also because most major changes come after years of deliberation and research.

Let's take the iPhone, for example. Arguably the most dramatic change of the way Apple phones look came with the iPhone X and its tall notched display. But other than that, all iPhones feel as though they were cast in the same mould as the iPhone 6, which was introduced in 2014. The rounded edges, the bulbous frame, the contoured (2.5D) screen glass – all staples of the iPhone design that have barely changed over the past 5 years.

This may change, however, with the introduction of the 2020 iPhone models, through which Apple is rumored to be reviving a classic design from the decade prior—that of the iPhone 4.

The iPhone X may have changed the face of Apple phones forever, but the iPhone 12 might change the way they feel, too

The soft, round shape that Apple phones have had since the very beginning—save for the iPhone 4 and iPhone 5—makes sense in the grand scheme of things, as it is designed to fit well in any palm and facilitates the prolonged use of the device. That shape has worked so well, in fact, that we'd be hard-pressed to find many phones nowadays that don't have rounded edges.

With the iPhone 12, however, Apple is rumored to be moving away from the softer contours of present models in favor of a sharper, boxier aesthetic that channels the design sensibilities of the iPhone 4 and 5. Actually, Apple has already tried something similar with the new iPad Pro, which has decidedly sharper edges than previous models. The MacBook, too, has shifted to a similar design, so it would make sense for the iPhone to join them. After all, Apple is all about consistency.

Based on the rumors that the next iPhone models may channel this boxier aesthetic, we've created some concept renders to illustrate this shift in product design. And we've got to say—even leaving the topic of consistency across different product lines aside—this design looks really cool.

It's still very early on, so we can't promise that the 2020 iPhones will look exactly like that, but going from rumors—and seeing as how the new design would fit right in alongside the iPad and MacBook lines—we'd say there's a fair chance.

iPhone 12 may not spell the end of the notch, but it will be smaller

According to a recent rumor, Apple may be experimenting with an iPhone prototype that has no notch, but thicker bezels. The idea is that the company will be able to miniaturize the TrueDepth Face ID camera, earpiece, and front-facing camera so that they could fit in the top bezel of the phone. Of course, this would result in thicker bezels all around, but may be a good trade-off, should it ever come to pass.

Another more widely-spread rumor claims that the iPhone 12 won't be the true all-screen phone that we've been waiting for, but will instead shrink the notch down considerably, all the while retaining the full capabilities of Face ID.

There's this so-called "3-year product refresh cycle" that Apple seems to be operating on (for the most part, at least). That is, when a big change is introduced, it is then iterated on and polished for three generations until another refresh comes in. This pattern has lead many to believe, us included, that the iPhone 12 will bring something new in terms of design. Whether the change will be as big as removing the notch, remains to be seen.

iPhone 12 may be Apple's first quad-camera phone

Apple has been investing heavily in AR in recent years. With ARKit established as a capable platform for mobile augmented reality, and with work on the Apple Glasses reportedly moving along at a healthy pace, we weren't the least bit surprised when reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo recently claimed that the iPhone 12 will feature a ToF (Time-of-Flight) camera on its back.

In short, a Time-of-Flight (or ToF) camera can measure depth much more accurately than a regular one, so it can be a perfect choice for augmented reality uses. A ToF camera uses infrared light to map the immediate surroundings. It works in conjunction with an IR sensor that emits a light signal, which then bounces off of the subject and returns to the sensor. The phone then calculates the time it took the signal to bounce back into the sensor, thus creating a more accurate depth map of the scene than a regular camera could.

If Apple puts a ToF camera on the iPhone 12, we can't be sure that it would have its dedicated bump like the other three lenses—as it will likely be smaller—but for the sake of symmetry we went with the quad-camera design you see above.

The return of Rose Gold alongside a new Midnight color?

Space Gray and Silver are absolute staples of Apple's product design, but what about other colors? Well, with the iPhone 11 Pro we got an interesting new addition in the form of Midnight Green, which we quite liked, though that didn't stop us from yearning for more options. Not even new ones, necessarily.

Rose Gold was arguably one of the most popular iPhone colors back in the day, but we haven't seen one since the iPhone 7. The iPhone XS and 11 Pro introduced New Gold, which is supposed to bridge the gap between regular Gold and Rose Gold, but it is neither. We'd like to see a new iPhone that flaunts the rosy shade of some of its predecessors, even if it is in a more understated manner than before.

As far as Midnight colors go, we'd be stoked about a Midnight Blue version! We think a dark blue-gray shade would really suit the style of the iPhone, so we played around with the idea until we reached what we think is a very good-looking result. 

Disclaimer: The images featured in this article are concept design renders of the iPhone 12. They are based on preliminary available information about the device, and may not be representative of its final design. Feel free to use them, as long as you credit PhoneArena by including a link to this article.



1. dubaiboy78

Posts: 457; Member since: Sep 19, 2014

As per PhoneArena i guess??

19. Brewski

Posts: 723; Member since: Jun 05, 2012

Exactly my thoughts. "iPhone 12 could be the most dramatic iPhone redesign in years" 2017 notched screen 2010 frame design *DRAMATIC!!!*

51. foreverNOOB

Posts: 179; Member since: Jul 07, 2017

+1 Apple just trying to mix their old design and new design together. Which I wouldn't call it dramatic. Also, Macbook Pro from 2010 onwards were already had said boxy design.

41. AnTuTu

Posts: 1621; Member since: Oct 14, 2012

I've been hearing this from past 10+ years.

2. Cat97

Posts: 1975; Member since: Mar 02, 2017

You can cook some nice meals on that 4-burner stove in the back :)

54. doge203

Posts: 5; Member since: Nov 11, 2019

nice now I can get rid of my stove and get an iphone

3. User123456789

Posts: 1128; Member since: Feb 22, 2019

They need to kill notch. They could do the front like meizu 16t

4. Rafishant

Posts: 403; Member since: Oct 13, 2015

Don't worry. It is going to be iPhone 11S and will be almost identical to the current one. It is Apple.

34. CreeDiddy

Posts: 2274; Member since: Nov 04, 2011

And will still sell millions even if it’s a 11S or 11SS

40. vgking9699

Posts: 213; Member since: Mar 01, 2019

And still sell better than any individual android phone lol

5. shield

Posts: 866; Member since: Sep 12, 2015

This year ugly smartphone Is iPhone 11 series, next year too iPhone 12 ugly design!!

18. whatev

Posts: 2406; Member since: Oct 28, 2015

You misspelled pixel 4 and 5

25. Alcyone

Posts: 552; Member since: May 10, 2018

That render looks like a rehash of the iphone 4. Guessing the design team is getting lazy, or they just don't have any new ideas.

30. tedkord

Posts: 17463; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

They're both ugly as hell.

6. CreeDiddy

Posts: 2274; Member since: Nov 04, 2011

According to many Apple insiders Apple will remove the notch...I can’t see Apple keeping the notch. I would trade off larger bezels for no notch. By now the camera sensors should be absorbed by an entire sheet of glass or an image that is able to be laid over the sensors.

13. No_Sammy_No_Gimmicks

Posts: 158; Member since: Jun 10, 2015

Removing the notch is not technologically feasible currently, I would go as far as saying it’s not going anywhere anytime soon, would definitely get reduced by about 50% in depth only. I bet on more sensors being added in the future.

26. CreeDiddy

Posts: 2274; Member since: Nov 04, 2011

I see Apple going all in on iPhone 12 by removing the notch to follow the design of iPad Pro. Makes sense as Apple will still be in the driver’s seat in term of smartphone sales.

7. droidboy

Posts: 72; Member since: Nov 25, 2012

This is not a dramatic redesign. Its the same design, just a metal back and another camera. It's time to get out of apples a**. You are getting close to their colon.

9. ahmadkun

Posts: 658; Member since: May 02, 2016

every one is trying to step-up their design language .. But Apple and Google are doing the opposite

10. Wazupmrg

Posts: 197; Member since: Apr 10, 2017

Well it'll have only taken them 7 years to do something different. Lol

12. No_Sammy_No_Gimmicks

Posts: 158; Member since: Jun 10, 2015

I don’t think the quad cam set up would be like this, the TOF will be located symmetrically with the flash i.e will take the position of the mic, whilst the mic will move to the center. This set up is much more pleasing to the eye..

15. No_Sammy_No_Gimmicks

Posts: 158; Member since: Jun 10, 2015

I would also say all rumors indicates reduction in bezel by about 2mm, to yield 6,7” display. Apply same principle, you get 6,1” display from the current 5.8, meaning, the entry level would be about the same size as the 5,8” now and the 5,4” will be same size as the iPhone 8. Very logical if u ask me.

14. bucknassty

Posts: 1371; Member since: Mar 24, 2017

could be??? it needs to be... plus... why is that ToF camera so big???

17. monoke

Posts: 1196; Member since: Mar 14, 2015

They're best design was the 4/4s imo. I'm not a particular fan of all phones rounded like soap bars these days so the flat sides are welcomed.

20. darkkjedii

Posts: 31569; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Looking forward to seeing what it looks like. Big design change coming.

22. norbie.k

Posts: 22; Member since: Jan 16, 2017

the problem with that design is that the iPhones are getting thicker and thicker every year and it will look so ugly super thick with that design

23. VariableCheapskate

Posts: 196; Member since: May 29, 2019

Slightly changing isn't dramatic at all.

24. Zappo

Posts: 19; Member since: Oct 04, 2016

While no Apple fan, I've always thought their phones were among the best looking. To me it seems they lost it lately. I hate the notch and the recent camera hump looks ridiculous.

31. tedkord

Posts: 17463; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

Up until the 5s, they were very nicely designed aesthetically. Since then, a dumpster fire.

48. Vokilam

Posts: 1359; Member since: Mar 15, 2018

100% agree!

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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