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iPhone 11 Design: Biggest Changes to Expect

(Image credit: Digit India/@OnLeaks)

The iPhone 11 isn’t going to be a radical departure in the looks department compared to the iPhone X and iPhone XS, if rumors prove true. But that doesn’t mean people won’t be able to tell your brand new iPhone apart from last year’s models. 

Here are all the changes expected for the ever-so-slightly redesigned iPhone 11. We’ll find out in a few short hours at the September iPhone event whether Apple will surprise us all.

What’s changing

Camera redesign: The biggest, most noticeable difference is expected to be the square camera patch on the back of the two iPhone 11 Pro models. The larger cut-out reportedly makes room for three lenses on the higher-end iPhones, including a brand new ultra-wide-angle lens. (The base iPhone 11, which will replace the iPhone XR, will keep the dual-lens array now seen in the iPhone XS.)

And while we’re excited to see what that new lens is capable of, the patch design has polarized Apple fans — at least in renders and mock-ups of the device. Apple could pull off a more refined look than the giant square we’ve seen from case makers and conceptual artists, but the effect will overall be much more noticeable than triple-lens cameras we’ve seen from other smartphone makers.

The iPhone 11's square camera patch is distinctive.

The iPhone 11's square camera patch is distinctive.

(Image credit: Ben Geskin)

Fresh colors: Apple usually plays it safe when it comes to iPhone colors and finishes on its high-end models, saving the fun hues for lower-priced phones (see: iPhone XR). But the iPhone 11 could join the party with a new iridescent Aura-esque finish that could take a page from Samsung’s Galaxy Note 10 design playbook.

That rumor comes courtesy of MobileFun, which predicts Apple’s newest iPhones will come in five shades.

The entry-level iPhone 11, which will likely replace the iPhone XR, is also expected to come in green.

According to Bloomberg, some versions will also come in matte finishes, which Apple typically stays away from in favor of glossy glass. The company is reportedly working on making the newest iPhones shatter-resistant, so a matte finish would dovetail with that rumor.

New logo placement: Apple’s long-rumored (and much anticipated) plan to add reverse wireless charging to the iPhone 11 lineup was expected to be marked by a centering of the classic Apple logo on the back of the new devices. The new placement would alert users where to place their Apple Watches and AirPods 2 wireless charging cases.

But that feature may have been scrapped at the 11th hour, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicted in a note on Sept. 9, so it’s unclear if the design change was also canceled.

What’s staying the same

The iPhone 11 will likely keep the polarizing notch that other companies have copied.

The iPhone 11 will likely keep the polarizing notch that other companies have copied.

(Image credit: Future)

The notch: Apple’s rivals copied the divisive notched display for their 2018 smartphone lineups but quickly abandoned it this year in favor of completely bezel-free design. But Apple is said to be sticking with the classic look for at least one more year, which means few people will be able to tell by looking at the front of the device whether you have this year’s phone or a 2017 model. (Insert horrified gasping face emoji here.) We’ve seen the future in the form of a notchless iPhone concept, and we’re hopeful Apple will take notes for 2020.

Sizes: The iPhone 11 is expected to come in three sizes: a 6.1-inch base model with LCD screen, a 5.8-inch OLED Pro and a 6.5-inch OLED Pro (Pro Max?). If you were hoping for a pint-sized iPhone 11 this year, you’ll have to hold out a little while longer. Apple is rumored to be eyeing an iPhone SE refresh for 2020. The iPhone 11 is expected to come in three sizes: a 6.1-inch base model with LCD screen, a 5.8-inch OLED Pro and a 6.5-inch OLED Pro (Pro Max?). If you were hoping for a pint-sized iPhone 11 this year, you’ll have to hold out a little while longer. Apple is rumored to be eyeing an iPhone SE refresh for 2020.