Next year's iPhone will have a new design that looks 'similar to iPhone 4,' analyst predicts

Key Points
  • iPhone models planned for 2020 will feature "significant changes," predicts Ming-Chi Kuo of TF Securities.
  • The new form factor could feature glass on the front and glass on the back, like current iPhone 11 models.
  • The metal frame holding the glass together will be more like the iPhone 4 model released in 2010, according to Kuo.
iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone 11 Pro Max
Todd Haselton | CNBC

Apple's iPhone models planned for the second half of 2020 will feature "significant changes," including a new design for its hardware, predicted TF Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

In a report on Wednesday, Kuo said the new form factor will feature glass on the front and glass on the back, like current iPhone 11 models. Kuo wrote. The metal frame holding the glass together will have a more complicated design, including a flat surface, rather than the curved surface found on the aluminum and stainless steel frames on iPhone 11 devices, according to Kuo.

"We forecast that new 2H20 iPhones will still adopt the design of the metal frame, 2/2.5D front glass, and 2/2.5D rear glass," Kuo wrote. He's previously used the phrase "2.5D glass" to describe the subtle glass curves on the edge of recent iPhone models. "However, the surface of the metal frame will change to be flat instead of the current curved surface, which is similar to the design of the iPhone 4's metal frame."

Kuo predicts the new design will be one of the selling points for 2020 iPhones and could boost second-half sales of the device next year by as much as 15% from 2019 to 85 million. Apple stopped disclosing iPhone unit sales this year, so those figures are based on Kuo's estimates.

Apple has released devices in the past with squared-off edges. In addition to the iPhone 4, released in 2010, iPad Pro models have used a flat metal frame around the edges since late 2018.

Next year's iPhone frames will also have to be altered to support 5G antennas, according to the note. That means new processes for production and assembly, leading to an increase in prices for certain parts.

Kuo has a reputation for accurately describing details of Apple products before they're officially announced. His research is targeted to investors who might want to buy stock in companies in Apple's supply chain. He said that Apple's frame suppliers will benefit from the predicted iPhone frame design.

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