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Here's what the next iPhone needs to keep up with premium Android smartphones

Samsungs new Galaxy Note 9 has raised the bar in terms of what a premium smartphone has to offer, and is putting a serious squeeze on Apple. Forget AR and 'thinner and lighter,' here's what the next iPhone needs to keep up with the best that Android smartphones have to offer.
Proper waterproofing
1 of 9 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Proper waterproofing

It's time Apple upgraded the iPhone's "water resistance" to proper waterproof status. The iPhone 8 and iPhone X is rated as splash, water, and dust resistant to IP67 standards while Samsung's Galaxy Note 9 and S9 - like the S8 that came before it - is IP68 certified. That might seem like a small difference, but it's actually quite big.

IP stands for Ingress Protection, a standard drawn up by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), and the first digit following the IP relates to how resistant the device is to particles - such as dirt and dust - the device is. The "6" is the highest rating, indicating that the device passed the following test:

"No ingress of dust; complete protection against contact (dust tight). A vacuum must be applied. Test duration of up to 8 hours based on air flow."

But it's that second number that's the important one. The difference between scoring a 7, which is what the iPhone is certified for, and an 8 is huge:

Scoring a seven means:

"Ingress of water in harmful quantity shall not be possible when the enclosure is immersed in water under defined conditions of pressure and time (up to 1 meters of submersion)."

While scoring an eight means:

"The equipment is suitable for continuous immersion in water under conditions which shall be specified by the manufacturer. However, with certain types of equipment, it can mean that water can enter but only in such a manner that it produces no harmful effects. The test depth and duration is expected to be greater than the requirements for IPx7, and other environmental effects may be added, such as temperature cycling before immersion."

microSD card slot
2 of 9 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

microSD card slot

I have no idea why Apple doesn't offer a microSD card slot in the iPhone X. I mean, even at the bottom-end you're paying $1,000 for the handset. Is it really that much to ask for the ability to augment the internal storage with a microSD card? Is Apple really so hungry for every dollar that it can't bear the idea that someone might buy the lower-capacity iPhone in there was a microSD card slot?

Shatterproof display
3 of 9 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Shatterproof display

There's no doubt that Gorilla Glass is tough, but it's still glass. Glass has a habit of shattering. And it's probably the most common way that iPhones are wiped out in normal use.

While kitting the iPhone out with a tougher display would surely make iPhones last longer, and possibly have a negative effect on sales, but it would be a really good thing for iPhone owners.

Dual-SIM
4 of 9 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Dual-SIM

A dual-SIM option is not something everyone will want, but for those who travel, or who want to have separation between work and home, this is a great option that's sorely lacking from the iPhone.

Apple Pencil support
5 of 9 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Apple Pencil support

The S Pen isn't new, but the updated version for the Note 9 gives it a whole raft of new abilities, such as the ability to use it to control the camera remotely, to using it to control slideshows and even apps.

It even recharges automatically when stored in the slot in the Note 9.

Sure, Apple has the Apple Pencil, but its features are limited, and the device itself is limited to the iPad Pro.

Given how much Apple likes to sell overpriced accessories, I'm surprised the Apple Pencil support hasn't been rolled out to the iPhone.

More system RAM
6 of 9 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

More system RAM

While 2/3 GB of RAM as found in the latest iPhones isn't bad, more RAM would allow for better and smoother multitasking, as well as allowing the operating system to process higher megapixel photos and juggle bigger files with less of a performance hit.

The new Note 9 offers owners the choice of either 6GB or 8GB of RAM, depending on which storage configuration is chosen.

More RAM also gives iPhones a great future-proofing, allowing it to better handle new iOS releases without feeling bogged down.

A proper docking system
7 of 9 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

A proper docking system

Samsung has one feature that is pretty exciting that Apple needs to consider -- DeX.

For those who don't know, DeX is a dock that allows users to connect their Galaxy smartphone to a monitor, keyboard, and mouse to turn it into a desktop experience -- of sorts -- powered by the handset.

This "dock that transforms a smartphone into a desktop PC" thing is not a new idea -- it's been tried many times before -- and DeX is not perfect by a long shot, but it is certainly the most credible attempt at bridging the smartphone/desktop gap.

And, right now, Apple has nothing to compete with DeX.

OK, some of you are probably already flexing your fingers in preparation to type into the comments something along the lines of "but what about the iPad?" or "who needs a desktop when you have an iPhone?" or "what about the MacBook?"

My response is simple: None of these solutions comes close to what DeX offers.

Bigger battery
8 of 9 iFixit

Bigger battery

The Apple battery throttling scandal has uncovered a serious problem - In its pursuit of "thinner and lighter," Apple built the iPhone to such a fine tolerance that the battery could wear out in a couple of years to the point where without active throttling normal use would cause the device to crash.

For a device that costs as much as the iPhone does, that's pretty poor engineering.

And Samsung has raised the bar, putting a massive 4,000mAh "all-day battery" into the Note 9. That, combined with the fact that the Note 9 is supplied with a fast charger means that charging shouldn't be a huge issue any more.

The bottom line is that the iPhone needs a bigger battery, not onlyto give it the room needed to wear without causing the owner grief within a normal lifespan (which I take to be a minimum of three years), but also to move the bar away form the 10-hour life that Apple claims for specific tasks, and allow it to offer true all-day performance.

Fast charging accessories in the box, please
9 of 9 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Fast charging accessories in the box, please

I have no idea why Apple doesn't ship a fast charger and USB-C cable with the iPhone 8 and iPhone X. Well, except for the fact that Apple can sell the cable as an accessory and ask crazy money for it.

But seriously, shipping the new iPhone with the old slow-charge cable and charger seems like extreme penny-pinching, and not what I expect from a premium product.

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