WSJ: 2019’s iPhone XS Max will rock 3 rear cameras, XR’s successor to gain 2 rear cameras

The Wall Street Journal on Friday reported that it has learned from people familiar with Apple’s roadmap that the company plans on releasing three new iPhone models in 2019, with a refreshed iPhone XS Max picking up a triple-lens setup out the back and a second-generation iPhone XR gaining two rear cameras instead of one.

The report added that Apple should make a jump to an all-OLED lineup for 2020 models:

The plan to stick with LCD this year comes as Apple grapples with sluggish sales of 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.

For 2020, Apple is considering dropping the LCD model, which would mark a complete shift to the organic light-emitting diode, or OLED, display for iPhones. The OLED displays on current XS models are considered to provide better contrast than the less expensive LCD displays on the XR and earlier iPhones such as the 7 and 8 models.

Additionally, all iPhones that Apple will release this year could ship without existing 3D Touch hardware in order to reduce components costs, the story alleges.

Apple is also considering trimming functions from its 2019 lineup to cut costs, people familiar with the matter said. That includes the force-touch module, which makes the display sensitive to fingertip pressure, the people said, though the function could live on in other components, one of the people said.

Keep in mind that the report does not imply that 3D Touch is going away completely. Theoretically, Apple could mimic that feature in software (like iPhone XR’s Haptic Touch) or use a differently designed 3D Touch module to achieve the same functionality.

The biggest improvement will be in the camera department, per the report:

  • 2019 iPhone XS: OLED-based display, two rear cameras
  • 2019 iPhone XS Max: OLED-based display, three rear cameras
  • 2019 iPhone XR: LCD-based display, two rear cameras

“In a sign of Apple’s awareness of the competitiveness of Chinese rivals, the company has been studying some Chinese smartphone brands, especially camera features,” reads the report.

The third lens could be used for improved low-light photography and, crucially, better optical zoom beyond the current 2x telephoto lens (which we expect to be present on 2019 models, too, because it’s used for shooting portraits). The third lens may even be a part of Apple’s rumored time-of-flight solution to improve depth sensing and augmented reality (notably, revered analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes the technology will actually make it into 2020 iPhones).

Alternatively, this could be a super wide-angle lens to allow for different perspectives.

Leaker Steve Hemmerstoffer, who runs OnLeaks on Twitter, has collaborated with Indian tech site Digit on a batch of renderings allegedly representing 2019’s iPhone XS Max.

“We have gotten our hands on a very early look at the 2019 iPhone model thanks to a partnership with OnLeaks,” Digit noted. “This is in fact the very first look at what Apple is up to and by the looks of it, the next flagship iPhone will have three cameras on the back.” As you can see for yourself on the images top of post and right below, the three rear lenses along with LED flash and a microphone should be housed in a square unit with a rather large bump.

Another tipster who goes by the handle @IceUniverse has confirmed that these renders are accurate. However, the Digit post cautions that this is just an early look at the upcoming iPhone XS Max model for 2019 which could easily undergo some more changes in the design.

Even Hemmerstoffer himself, who has a long track record of leaking reliable information from Apple’s vast supply chain, has acknowledged on Twitter that this is a “freakingly early leak”. Indeed, 2019 iPhones are still in Engineering Validation Test (EVT) stage, meaning Apple can probably make some last-minute changes before the design is completely locked.

We already saw Android phones with three-lens rear camera setups from the likes of LG and Huawei (Mate 20 Pro and P20 Pro). Furthermore, HMD Global’s upcoming Android One-powered 6-inch Nokia 9 PureView should have a five-camera setup with Zeiss lens, according to MySmartPrice and leaker Evan Blass.

Nokia’s five-lens camera system would capture five images simultaneously and combine them into a single photograph sporting 10x more light with great texture and detail.

Here’s a video showing an alleged unit in action.

As if that weren’t enough, one of Samsung’s upcoming Galaxy S10 models, probably a flagship unit, is thought to come outfitted with four cameras out the back along with a dual-lens selfie camera out the front. Last year, Samsung’s Galaxy A9 debuted with four rear cameras.

As you know, Apple typically tests multiple iPhone designs.

For all we know, the renderings of the upcoming iPhone XS Max revision could depict one of the earlier prototypes because I don’t think Apple would dare releasing a phone with such an obnoxious camera hump.

What do you think?