Back in April I penned a piece about why 2018 might be the first year I don’t buy a new flagship iPhone. I’ve been an iPhone user ever since the first model was released in 2007. I immediately saw how much better iOS, then called iPhone OS, was compared to the Nokia and BlackBerry smartphones I had been using. And every single year since 2007, I’ve purchased a new flagship iPhone, right up until last year when I got the tenth-anniversary model, Apple’s new iPhone X.
In 2018, however, I thought I might finally have another good option. For the first time in 10 years, I thought I might not buy a new flagship iPhone. No, I had no plans to hang onto my iPhone X for two years — job job requires that I also have access to the latest and greatest tech. And no, I had no plans to jump ship and switch to Android. That’s never going to happen, and I recently wrote about some reasons why I would never switch from the iPhone to Android. It was because for the first time ever, it looked like the best new iPhone model for me this year might be a new mid-range model instead of a flagship. Sadly, however, it looks like that’s not going to be the case at all.
This year, for the first time ever, Apple is expected to launch not one or two new iPhone models in September, but three. As it has done every year since 2014’s iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, Apple will launch small and large versions of its 2018 flagship iPhones. But in addition to those two models, the company is expected to release a third new iPhone with mid-range specs, a lower price point, and a screen size that falls in between the two flagship models.
My interest was piqued by this new 6.1-inch LCD iPhone for a few different reasons. First, the prospect of paying $600 or $700 for a new iPhone instead of more than $1,100 is obviously appealing. Second, I find the iPhone X to be a bit too small, but the iPhone 8 Plus is far too big to be used comfortably. Early rumors suggested the upcoming “iPhone X Plus” is going to be almost exactly the same size as the iPhone 8 Plus. Meanwhile, the new 6.1-inch LCD iPhone seemed like it might be the perfect size to have a nice, big screen and yet still be comfortable to use with one hand or two.
In my article from April, I noted that buying the LCD iPhone instead of one of Apple’s new 2018 OLED models would involve some compromises. The phone might have less RAM, the camera likely wouldn’t be as impressive, and it might not have 3D Touch support. I was fine with those compromises. The difference in performance from 1GB less RAM would be imperceptible during normal usage, and 3D Touch is the furthest thing from an essential iPhone feature I can think of. As for the camera, I would happily live with photos that are “really, really, really good” instead of “really, really, really, really good.”
Unfortunately, it now looks like there are going to be some even bigger compromises tied to the LCD iPhone, and I’m not sure I can deal with them all.
A leak on Tuesday likely gave the world its first look at Apple’s 2018 iPhone designs. Using CAD files that leaked from Apple’s manufacturing partner Foxconn, someone 3D-printed mockups of each of Apple’s three new iPhone models set to debut this year. They’re believed to be accurate representations of Apple’s new iPhones in terms of size, and the designs are believed to be accurate for the most part, too.
When it comes to Apple’s new mid-range iPhone with a 6.1-inch LCD display, a few more compromises have come to light. As can be seen in the video of the mockups, the LCD iPhone will have bigger bezels than Apple’s OLED iPhones, likely because Apple has to put the display controller beneath the screen instead of bending the OLED panel at the bottom and hiding the controller behind the display. In fact, I’ve heard from a source that the bezels on the actual phone might even be a bit wider than they appear in that video. There might even be a thicker “chin” bezel at the bottom of the phone.
The 6.1-inch LCD iPhone also appears to be thicker than Apple’s OLED models, which would definitely be a bummer. Add a case and you may reach a thickness that’s no longer as comfortable to use with one hand, which was most of the appeal for me.
So, based on what we think we know so far, here are the compromises one will likely have to make if he or she opts for the LCD iPhone:
Lower-quality display (LCD vs. OLED)
Thicker bezels around display
Possible “chin” bezel at the bottom of the display
No 3D Touch support
Aluminum instead of stainless steel
Two, three, even four of those compromises I could live with. But all eight of them? I don’t think I can handle that. I also don’t want to spend another year with a tiny phone the size of the iPhone X. 5.8 inches seems like a good size on paper, but the iPhone X’s awkward 19.5:9 aspect ratio makes the screen far too skinny. In fact, the iPhone 8 Plus’ 5.5-inch display actually has more surface area than the 5.8-inch screen on the iPhone X.
That means I’m stuck with dropping another $1,149 on the iPhone X Plus. Oh, and don’t forget, Apple fans… the iPhone X wasn’t released until November last year, but the new 2018 iPhone models will launch in September. That means if you’re like me and you’re on a monthly payment plan for your iPhone, you’re going to have to make two extra payments if you want a next-generation model on release day this year. Yes, this is the very definition of a first-world problem, but it’s something to keep in mind as September draws closer.