How many new iPhones does the world need? The answer is definitely “fewer than Apple is making,” especially next year.
It’s expected that in 2020, the company will drop at least four new models. One of them represents a welcome addition: A rumored sequel to the iPhone SE, which would be the company’s first new small iPhone since 2016. Four years isn’t so long ago, but the SE is practically paleolithic in Apple’s timeline, where devices are rendered “obsolete” by iOS updates every year. The new small iPhone, reportedly planned for this spring, will bring a meaningful change to the unending rollout of larger and larger screens that started with the iPhone 6 Plus in 2014.
Of course, Apple hasn’t stopped growing its phones. The company is reportedly working on another new iPhone that features, against all reason, the smartphone line’s “biggest screen yet.” (The 6.7-inch display would be nearly as large as the truly gargantuan Samsung Galaxy Note 10+, and it would stretch my jeans beyond sensibility.) This model will be released in the fall of 2020 alongside at least two more iPhones of varying sizes, according to South Korean news outlet ETNews, which correctly reported on the iPhone 11 Pro’s triple camera module before it was publicly announced last year.
Here’s the hot take: Apple’s product lineup could (and should) be lasered down to two iPhone models — a big one and a small one — and they should be updated only every few years. The Plus or Max or Pro model, whatever you’d like to call it, would be the chonker with the extra camera modules and the high-pixel-density OLED screen, and the small one could have the less expensive LCD display and limited camera options seen in Apple’s less expensive releases. And that’s it!
The reasons for a more modest iPhone lineup are pretty simple. First, the current release schedule, masterfully designed to encourage consumption, doesn’t serve consumers. Second, there’s a sustainability crisis on the horizon that means we should start making make fewer of these things — and probably of all electronic things while we’re at it.