2022 was a pretty good year for the iPhone, and a pretty good year for iOS, too.
Apple gave us the stunning new iPhone 14 Pro with a swathe of excellent new features, making it one of the most exciting upgrades in recent years. On the software side, we got iOS 16 and levels of customizability we could only have dreamed of a few years ago — customisation options our Android friends have been taunting us with for over nearly a decade.
Yet it wasn’t a perfect year. The iPhone 14 was a really mediocre upgrade on last year’s iPhone 13, and reports indicate the iPhone 14 Plus is still ailing like the iPhone ‘mini’ it supplanted did in years gone by.
With that in mind, what can we expect from Apple in 2023 when it comes to all things iPhone, both hardware and software? It might surprise you to learn that the most exciting iPhone in 2023 might not be the iPhone 15, or even the iPhone 15 Pro. Read on for our 2023 iPhone predictions, dreams and desires.
iPhone and iOS in 2023: iPhone SE, iPhone 15, iOS 17
When it comes to hardware and 2023, all eyes will be on Apple’s next smartphone line-up, the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro. Yet before all of that excitement, there’s a chance that Apple could roll out a brand new iPhone SE. Rumors are it could be one of the most exciting upgrades ever to Apple’s budget line thanks to the resurrection of the excellent iPhone XR design. According to insider Jon Prosser, the next iPhone SE will be based on the iPhone XR with upgraded internals. That would mean an end to the old, faithful Home Button, and the dated forehead and chin design that has been a hallmark of the iPhone SE since its birth.
We have a good idea of what the iPhone SE could look like, but we can’t know for certain if Apple will unveil one next year. Indeed, Apple released an iPhone SE in 2022, and before that in 2020, suggesting it is possibly targeting a two-year release cycle. There are also murmurings Apple could debut a larger ‘Plus’-sized iPhone SE, and the upcoming redesign seems like the perfect opportunity for that. 2023 isn’t a lock for iPhone SE, but a rumored iPhone XR-inspired design could make it one of the best budget phones on the market.
Beyond iPhone SE, the main event should be iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro. There are plenty of rumors suggesting that some of the big iPhone 14 Pro upgrades could come to the regular iPhone lineup next year, namely the new Dynamic Island to replace the notch. Beyond that, the iPhone 15 could get a new design with a more curved and rounded back.
Without doubt, the biggest rumored design change to iPhone 15 could be the advent of USB-C. It feels like we’ve waited ten years for USB-C, and at one point it looked like Apple might skip the standard altogether in favor of a wireless, portless iPhone. Yet with new EU legislation (other countries are following suit) there are now reports and rumors that Apple is already testing USB-C, and the company has publicly confirmed it will have to follow the new rules. A USB-C iPhone is confirmed, we just don’t know when it’s coming.
What would iMore like to see from the 2023 iPhone?
For me, the key to the iPhone’s success in 2023 has to be a better upgrade for iPhone 15, ideally in line with the current iPhone 14 Pro. The regular iPhone 14 was a real let-down this year in terms of new features, so I want to see Apple really push the boat out across the entire line-up. I’d also like to see Apple come up with a more innovative solution to its “problem child” iPhone: last year it was the mini, this year it’s the Plus. Neither seem innovative enough or popular enough to justify their existence. Maybe Apple should just focus on making three great phones instead?
What about the rest of us? Our Deals Writer Tammy says “it might seem like a step backward, but I'd love to see a return to the design language of the iPhone 11 Pro. It was svelte, slim, and absolutely stunning. With the new display tech and dynamic Island, it could be the best-looking iPhone ever released - and I'd buy one in a heartbeat." With rumors of a curved back in the iPhone's future, Tammy might just get her wish...
EIC Gerald Lynch is excited about the prospect of integration with VR and more AR. Is that something we could see in 2023? Tim Cook says he thinks AR and VR is the future, but Apple has openly shunned the concept of the "metaverse", so what will Apple's vision for virtual reality look like, and how could iPhone complement that?
iOS 16 heralded a pretty major overhaul thanks to the fantastic customization experience of the new lock screen, which works tremendously well in tandem with the iPhone 14 Pro’s Always-On display. So what could Apple do in 2023 to take its iPhone software to the next level? While we did get a pretty hefty redesign, many of the elements of iOS 16 are starting to look pretty dated, and I am just desperate to see a major overhaul. You know, the kind that would garner a standing ovation at the WWDC keynote as iOS 7 did.
Siri, Apple’s virtual assistant, remains a poor voice activated companion, sometimes a broken one, and next to useless in my opinion. Apple must solve Siri’s sometimes terrible voice recognition problems and miscommunication, and it must also normalize on-device processing. It is criminal that in 2022, simple commands like pausing and playing music, turning off light switches, and more can be hung up by poor internet connectivity. Siri is miles behind competitor services and Apple risks it falling into obscurity if it doesn’t get its act together soon.
iOS 16 and the uptake of new lock screen designs show there’s a real hunger for customization on the iPhone, and Apple needs to take this further with more customization. There are some really cool new elements, fonts, and colors that can be added to the iPhone’s lock screen now, but there’s no continuity on the rest of the device, so perhaps Apple could explore a way to bring some of those designs and colors to the rest of your device. I’d also like to see more options with the Home Screen. Despite widgets, we’re still stuck with the same grid of icons that runs left-to-right and top-to-bottom. We’ve gotta shake this up next year, Apple.
What would iMore like to see in iOS 17?
iMore Writer Bryan says “Dynamic Island is one of the best things to happen to the iPhone in a long time. Live Events makes an already impressive feature even better (think real-time sports scores and weather reports). It will be interesting to see where the feature goes from here as it arrives on more devices in 2023."
Sometimes, when it comes to iOS, the little things make a big difference. Tshaka Armstrong writes lovingly:
"Dear Apple software engineers: Now that we can schedule email send, for the love of Bast, PLEASE give us iMessage scheduling.
A guy who wakes and goes to work HOURS before his wife and would like to send her messages without waking her or having to draft them, then remember to come back to them later, or use a wonky Shortcuts workaround."
Other small items on Tshaka’s Christmas list include a “Reset” option in the power/SOS menu, which I agree is badly needed, and a scan document feature built directly into the iPhone’s camera for quick-sharing.
Like Siri, other aspects of iOS need to function better, for iMore contributor Karen Freeman, that’s syncing between devices, especially for contacts and calendars.
While new features are always a bonus, for me iOS 17 needs to deliver really solid execution on so many of the syncing and cross-device features that still feel like a bit of a weak spot in the ecosystem.
Take for example Podcasts. Apple's podcast syncing is really terrible through the native app. It can never seem to remember where you left off, or which episode is next in your lineup. Some devices play podcasts chronologically, while others play them backwards, newest to oldest. It's one of just many similar inconsistencies when jumping from iPhone to other Apple products.
What happened to "It Just works"? Because most of the time if feels like it doesn't.
Another exciting area of expansion will be the smart home. With the advent of Matter at the end of 2022, your smart home is about to get smarter than ever, with even more devices than before available for pairing with Apple's ecosystem. How will Apple tap into that new plethora of possibilities?
With any luck, we should see iOS 17 at WWDC in June of 2023 — plenty of time for our wishlist to come true, eh Apple?
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Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.
Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9