The Future of iPhone: 3 Features Apple Needs To Implement After 20 Years

5 Jul 2024

Now that we are only 3 years away from the iPhone’s 20th anniversary, it’s easier to imagine what it will look like for its big birthday. The past few years have helped discard a few features that seemed more plausible just a few years ago.

A futuristic iPhone. Image credit: ZONEofTECH

At this point, it’s safe to assume that foldables won’t replace slab phones. That form factor will remain a niche alternative for those who don’t mind sporting a more brittle inner screen in favor of a foldable tablet experience. That won’t be the majority of users, though; we will remain using rectangular pieces of glass for the foreseeable future, including Apple’s flagship smartphone.

We could still see Touch ID make a comeback, but this change is not so urgent anymore, thanks to the consistent reduction in size of the screen cutout that hosts the Face ID sensors and cameras. The introduction of smart software mitigations like the “dynamic island” also helped: originating notifications from the front-facing camera is a creative way of making the screen cutout less of a compromise and more of a positive feature. Fingerprint sensors have evolved towards under-screen ultrasonic readers, but their speed and failure rate still require significant work to rival the reliability baseline created by Touch ID in older iPhone models.

So what’s left on the bingo card of features that will help make the future iPhone a momentous launch?

Since we already have 5G, 120Hz displays, USB-C, and slimmer bezels on the latest iPhones, we are truly reaching peak smartphone. It’s now time for Apple to polish the experience through some critical updates. This year’s WWDC started this transition with Apple Intelligence and personalization capabilities that should have come years ago.

But there is still a lot of work to get done. So here are the top 3 improvements that I would bring to the iPhone to make it a nearly perfect personal device.

1. Properly fix lens distortion on the front-facing camera

One of the areas where Pixel smartphones consistently surpass even the most expensive iPhone is, embarrassingly, taking selfies.

If you have an iPhone –any iPhone–, you can try this yourself. Take a selfie with the front-facing camera in vertical orientation, and then again in horizontal orientation. To see the distortion at play, you simply have to take the picture with your face near either side of the frame, a common position when you are taking a selfie with multiple people in the frame.

Now compare the pictures, look at the shape and width of your face. No, you have not suddenly gained weight; what you are seeing is a normal effect on wide angle lenses. Even Apple’s recent software updates aimed at fixing lens distortion on iOS fall short. They don’t truly solve the problem and achieve natural-looking selfies.

Doing the same experiment on a Pixel phone highlights the power of computational photography when leveraged effectively, producing pictures where faces on the edges of the frame are not distorted. Given that iOS can automatically detect subjects and faces at the time of taking a picture, I’m still baffled as to why Apple hasn’t yet fixed this in 2024.

2. Introduce user profiles to properly separate work and personal content

Apple introduced Focus Modes with the release of iOS 15 in 2021 as an expansion of the Do Not Disturb feature. This feature offers more granular control over notifications based on user preferences.

Focus Modes make it easier to define which notifications should be able to get your attention after you leave work, for example. But what if you use the same email or calendar app both for a personal account and work? What about the content itself?

This is where having different user profiles shines.

Creating a work profile on Android allows users to install the same app again, set it up with a work account, and control it independently from the version that provides access to the personal account. That means different widgets, different notifications, different app icon placement, etc.

When Apple announced that they were making iOS more personal by allowing users to place app icons anywhere on the home screen, I thought that user profiles would also be announced. After all, user profiles open the door to another level of customization possibilities when it comes to app and notification management.

But all we got was the ability to apply a color tint to all the app icons, making accessibility experts and designers (and overall, people with good taste) gasp in disbelief.

3. Provide an ultra-thin form factor with multi-day battery life

If there is one improvement that is universally requested by iPhone users, generation after generation, is a better battery life.

Given the hardware advancements released in the past few editions, Apple should finally focus on improving battery performance. Of course, this should not come at the expense of the phone’s thickness or size.

The use of ultra-specialized Apple silicon on the iPhone lineup should help achieve the necessary low-power optimizations that finally bring us consistent multi-day battery life. Continuing with the recent iPad Pro design improvements, bringing back a thinner design on the iPhone, combined with a battery life that can last multiple days, should be the next hardware-related priority.

During its first years of life, the iPhone was generally considered one of the smartphones with the best battery life. However, this claim has lost credibility over time as Apple started to cram more power-hungry tech into such a small housing.

The new M4 and A17 Pro chips are trailblazers on this path. They are the first chips built on a 3-nanometer technology, they provide better performance and are more power efficient than their predecessors, while still enabling “all-day battery life”.

Manufacturing techniques for sub-nanometer chips are still under research, and there are challenges due to the laws of physics. Researchers working on this technology call it a “sub-nanometer chip” or “angstrom-scale chip” (an angstrom is a unit smaller than a nanometer). Undoubtedly, Apple is on a mission to create the first sub-nanometer chip specifically designed to satisfy the always-on power needs of the iPhone.


Technology has been converging more and more over the past few years. The iOS and Android user interfaces are increasingly difficult to distinguish from each other. Navigation gestures are the same, AI capabilities are getting standardized, and even the most popular smartphones are practically mirroring each other with their latest designs.

One of the advantages of breaking free from a specific ecosystem, like I did 3 years ago, is that you have more freedom when choosing your next smartphone. When a mobile OS cannot lock you in anymore, deciding your next device becomes a matter of convenience, not obligation.

To maximize that convenience factor, I hope that Apple develops these improvements in the near future. Not only would it make it even easier to flip between iOS and Android as often as desired, but it would also help mitigate some of that boredom that the peak smartphone era has created.

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