Apple’s next phone could look like an iPhone 4 with 5G

Catch up on all the technology gossip without all the hype.

iPhone 4
The iPhone 4's square edges could come back on the iPhone 12.Apple

It’s fun to speculate about tech rumors, especially when they apply to the products we use every day. But, every rumor is different. Some are likely true, while others are little more than desperate clickbait. On this page, we plan to keep a running tab of the most popular rumors in the tech world and contextualize them so you don’t get your hopes up—and then feel sad when they don’t pan out.

The next iPhone will have 5G

The new iPhone is still more than half a year away, but that hasn’t stopped the rumor mill from cranking out information about Apple’s next device. Here in 2020, we’re expecting the next iPhone to come with 5G connectivity to start taking advantage of all the fledgeling 5G service options that have popped up in the past year. The device will also reportedly get a new look in the form of a flat, metal edge that resembles the iPhone 4 design instead of the rounded edge to match the current phones. Finally, Apple will reportedly switch over all of its models to OLED screens instead of keeping the lower-end models in the realm of typical LEDs displayes.

Gut check: Just recently, Samsung announced that all of its flagship Galaxy S20 phones will support 5G connectivity and it seems like Apple can’t be far behind. It’s still unclear, however, where Apple will actually get the antenna hardware it needs to make that connectivity happen in light of its reported troubles with Qualcomm. The new square-edged design could help with the 5G transition since interference can be an issue with this kind of connectivity due to the nature of the waves themselves. Moving to the new 5G connectivity will be a big internal shift, so the company may use that as an opportunity to give the device a more substantial overhaul than it did between the XS and the 11.

TCL is making a phone with a sliding second screen

Mobile World Congress isn’t happening this year due to the coronavirus outbreak. That show is typically a good venue for manufacturers to show off their more outlandish creations like TCL’s reported sliding screen phone. Rather than folding to tuck a bigger screen into a smaller form factor, a secondary display would slide out from behind the main screen to form one big image.

Gut check: This is exactly the kind of device we’d expect to at MWC and the leaks look extremely legit. The folding phone genre has been a rollercoaster since it got started with promising models resulting in delicate production hardware. It makes sense that manufacturers would look for alternatives that could provide compact efficiency in a more durable package.

Apple is working on wireless tracking tags to prevent people from losing their stuff

You’re probably already familiar with products like Tile that attach to your belongings and allow you to track them with your phone. Now, Apple is reportedly developing its own version, which could be called AirTags. They could hit the market by Q3 of this year.

Gut check: We first heard about these last year and the evidence of their existence has been piling up since then. The circular tags will reportedly use the location chip that’s already in the iPhone 11 and take the form of small discs that you can secure to your belongings. Code mentioning the products has also allegedly shown up in internal builds of iOS 13.

The new 13-inch MacBook Pro with the improved keyboard is coming soon

We already have the new 16-inch MacBook Pro, but now Apple is reportedly bringing its upgraded keyboard to the 13-inch model according to a report from 9to5mac. There’s no hard date for release, but it will likely come in the next few months.

Gut check: The EEC filing calls the new machine a “portable personal computer,” and it makes sense that the 13-inch MBP would get the same kind of love its bigger sibling got last year. There’s still a chance it could be something slightly more interesting, but we won’t know for several months.

Apple will finally release its VR headset and smart glasses in the coming years

Tales of Apple’s augmented reality and virtual reality headset represent one of the oldest tech rumors around. We have been hearing about the company’s AR and VR ambitions for years, but it seems like they may finally come true—starting in 2021 or 2022. A Bloomberg report claims that the company is working on a new kind of “3-D sensor system,” that will allow devices to map an environment and insert digital objects into it for interactive experiences.

The report also claims that Apple will release a pair of AR glasses that users can wear out in public by some time in 2023. It’s not exactly clear if it would be something like Google Glass with a small display off to the side of the lenses, or if it would be something more involved like Magic Leap, which immerses most of a user’s field of view in augmented reality.

Gut check: We know that Apple currently puts a ton of value in AR and VR. Tim Cook has been enthusiastic about the technology and reports estimate there are more than 1,000 developers working on it for the company. News about a new 3-D sensor tech makes sense since Apple is already using a simpler version of it as part of the FaceID system built into the iPhones. We’ve also seen Magic Leap using a similar room-mapping strategy in its augmented reality headset.

While the information in the rumor isn’t hard to believe, the timeline is strange. A different rumor claims that the device will start shipping in 2020 and that it will serve primarily as an accessory for the iPhone. Allegedly, the company intends to keep the headset small and light by letting the smartphone do most of the computing work.

Smart glasses pose a more interesting question about Apple’s future of hardware. Some have gone as far as to suggest that big companies like Apple hope to eventually replace phones with face-mounted displays. Apple does have several patents relating back to smart glasses, but we know that many patents never actually become real products.

Ultimately, it’s a safe bet that Apple will ask you to wear one of its products on your face some time between the 2020 Olympics and the 2024 summer games.

Samsung is working on a rolling screen smartphone

Back at CES 2019, LG said it's working on making its rolling screen technology that it already uses in TVs and applying it to smartphones. Now, a Samsung patent shows a phone with a screen that extends thanks to the rolling display that can stash away when it's not in use.

Gut check: LG is definitely working on something like this and it’s safe to assume that Samsung is, as well, but don’t expect to see it all that soon. One wacky screen tech at a time is enough.