The X generation: What do consumers want from the next 10 years of the iPhone?

12 Sep 2017

Stephen Delahunty, head of fixed, mobile and accessories, Carphone Warehouse. Image: Carphone Warehouse

Consumers expect greater security in the next iPhone and have gotten over the disappearance of the headphone jack, Carphone Warehouse’s Stephen Delahunty tells

This evening (12 September), Apple will finally reveal what kind of harvest it has gathered from its orchard of innovation.

Most rumours are taking their cues from hints and clues in the firmware around iOS 11 GM as well as the forthcoming HomePod.

These point to a new iPhone 8, an iPhone 8 Plus and – most exciting of all, and appropriate since this is the 10th anniversary of the iPhone – a new pro device called the iPhone X.

The rumours signal 3GB of RAM, a 12MP rear camera capable of shooting in 4K, a 7MP front camera and, predictably enough, a new A11 processor.

Firmware clues suggest that the iPhone X will have no bezels except for a tiny notch at the top for the camera – no doubt lending itself to rivalry with Samsung’s S8.

Key new features will be the absence of a home button, with the smartphone instead relying on Face ID for facial recognition to open the device, and a kind of magic bar along the button that will change according to apps being used.

As usual, at this point, only Apple really knows, but consumers are an insightful bunch and they know what they want.

“Big screens! Customers want a big screen,” said Delahunty. “In fact, sales of smaller screen devices, below 4.5in, are shrinking due to this factor alone.

“Customers always want an improved camera experience. It’s important to articulate the practical improvements that appeal to a wider audience – something that Sony has always done well, for example.”

Delahunty also said that customers are intrigued about inductive or wireless charging. “Customers want this as it makes charging the devices so much easier. Samsung’s wireless charging devices are very popular. So, Apple should get a warm welcome with this.”

Apple has been upping its game with fast charging and particularly battery life in recent generations of the iPhone, and there are rumours that the new devices will come with USB-C.

“Customers always want assurances that their battery will last longer as they use so much more functionality these days. This is a must for most customers, so Apple will need to show this as a feature.”

But when it comes to design, the bezeless look for a high-end iPhone could make it a bestseller.

“The bezeless screen from Samsung and the design of the Galaxy S8 has really changed up the phone market, and customers want the same from Apple.”

Demand for wireless headphones

Delahunty also revealed that Carphone’s customers have been quite vocal about what they want in the next iPhone. Surprisingly, no one is interested in the return of the headphone jack that Apple jettisoned last year with the iPhone 7 generation.

“When Apple stopped putting headphone jacks on its phones, there was a lot of disappointed customers who do not like to see change on what they are used to using. But, since then, wireless headphone quality has improved and demand continues to grow.”

With a huge growth in the wearable space, Delahunty said it will be interesting to see if Apple brings new and exciting products to the market in VR, fitness wearables and smartwatch technology.

“Customers want to get more from their devices now and are keen to build an ecosystem of products. The leaks around the Apple Watch make for very interesting reading.”

There is a lot of speculation around Apple’s intentions in mixed and augmented reality (AR), and it will be interesting to see if there are any developments in terms of products that will be available in the AR space.

“Apple are very passionate about this and see it positively impacting everything, from gaming to education, and everyone from businesses to consumers.

“There is also a growing demand for increased security features on all smartphones. It will be interesting to see how Apple approach this and introduce any additional security features to their new devices. We are very excited about Face ID.”

The next 10 years of iPhone

It has been 10 years since Steve Jobs uttered those immortal words “one more thing”.

The iPhone has informed and guided smartphone trends ever since.

Delahunty said that Apple’s iPhone X will be designed to influence smart devices for the next decade.

“I think it will, if the handset features blend what consumers want alongside the direction that technology is moving.

“Handset launches now need innovative and inspiring reasons to get consumer buy-in. There needs to be a mix of improved practical functionality to appeal to a wide audience alongside new and exciting features that appeal to tech-savvy customers.

“With flagship devices launches happening yearly, manufacturers need to think on their feet and have new, innovative and exciting ways for customers to use their phones so they get a response from the market.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years