Apple's iPhone 2019 plan: Play catch-up with Android

If you're holding out on buying a new iPhone because you're expecting to see some serious innovation coming out of Cupertino in 2019, don't hold your breath.

Early reports suggest that Apple is, yet again, planning to release three new iPhones this year. And even though Apple is already struggling to sell the lower-priced LCD-display equipped iPhone XR, this year will once again see a budget model kitted out with an LCD display being released. Oh, but it seems like there may be three cameras on high-end iPhones.

Must read: 2019: The Apple products you shouldn't buy

The report, which comes via the WSJ and is based on "people familiar with the matter," pretty much falls in line with supply chain chatter and the whispers that analysts are hearing:

Apple plans to introduce some new camera features, including a triple rear camera for the highest-end model and a double rear camera for the two other models, the people said.

The plan to stick with LCD comes as Apple grapples with sluggish sales of the iPhone XR, which has cut into its most recent revenue projection. That is partly because the planned LCD handset has been in the product pipeline for months and the plan can't be altered easily, they said.

The problem is that even if Apple now wanted to pivot away from releasing an iPhone with an LCD display, it's likely too late in the planning cycle for Apple to make any significant changes. There's not that much that Apple can do at this stage in the game.

Must read

However, what is more worrying is that not only is Apple scrabbling to play catch-up with competitors in the Android space, but that it's also likely that it will continue to lag behind the high-end competition until the 2020 refresh at the earliest:

But Apple lags behind its rivals in the number of rear cameras. Last year, Samsung released the Galaxy A9 with four rear cameras. Huawei's Mate 20 Pro and P20 Pro, launched last year, carry three rear cameras.

So, Apple has found itself in a position where iPhone sales in China have suddenly gone weak, this happening in a point in the development cycle where it can't do much to change things for the next launch, is playing catch-up with companies such as Samsung and Huawei, and is going to be playing catch-up for until at the very least the end of 2020.

But that's not all. Here's a quote that sums up the magnitude of problem that Apple is facing in China:

"What we want from Apple is something that makes us emotional, even unconsciously—say, truly beautiful and sophisticated design that we can't resist," said Atsushi Osanai, a professor at Waseda University in Tokyo who is an expert in electronics. "Beefing up functional value, like expanding camera features, isn't attractive because everyone else is doing the exact same thing."

It's also not attractive because people can already buy phones that have the functionality that Apple won't have in the iPhone until at least the end of 2020.

iPhone XS and iPhone XR cheat sheets

See also:

Editorial standards