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What iPhone 11 should steal from Samsung's Galaxy S10

Great artists steal. That expression doesn't come from Steve Jobs. It doesn't come from Picasso. It comes from poets who wanted to extol the virtue not of lazily reproducing what came before but of drawing inspiration from what is to take the next step forward and create what will be.

That's why, whenever a new phone comes out, I do two things: Chew gum and figure out which of its features I'd love Apple to implement in the iPhone. No, not really. Figure out which features I'd love to see Apple implement, and then figure out how Apple could take them even further.

So, with the announcement of Samsung's Galaxy S10, there's a whole new list to get to. And I'm fresh out of gum. Fresh out.

Been there, already doing that

Now, some of the stuff Samsung showed off has already been rumored for iPhone 11. Like bilateral inductive charging, so you can not only charge your iPhone by just dropping it on a pad, but charge your AirPods in a newfangled case by dropping them on your iPhone.

Also already rumored, the third, ultra-wide angle lens that should make zooming out as easy and awesome as the telephoto currently makes zooming in. Plus, AR fun.

But, Samsung is bringing some other stuff to the table that, frankly, I hope Apple slides over and takes a hearty helping of.

Ultra-sonic Fingerprint Sensor

Previous in-display fingerprint identity scanners were gimmicky and janky. Samsung seems to be doing it right with an ultra-sonic 3D sensor that's quick, convenient, and secure.

The only thing is, I don't just want it in one spot. I want it in the entire display.

That's right. I want the screen always reading my fingerprint, the camera always scanning my facial geometry, Siri always checking my voice ID, and the sensor fusion hub always analyzing my gait. And, if all of it is within a certain threshold of trust, I want it to just leave my phone unlocked, And if it isn't, only when it isn't, I want it to challenge me for a full finger or face scan.

That technology is still a ways away, but baby-steps. I've done a whole column on this already, so for more on what I think will inevitably be the future of biometrics.

USB-C

I understand why Apple doesn't use USB-C on the iPhone. The same team that made Lightning helped make USB-C, but USB-C wasn't going to be ready on time for iPhone 5, not by years, so Apple went ahead with Lightning.

By the time USB-C caught up, not only was it still a confusing, often shoddy mess, but Lightning had become established and hundreds of millions of people had cables and accessories that depended on it.

And, like I've said before, if you try to make them change again, they'll cut you with their old Dock connectors.

But here's the thing: I think it's time for Apple to do it anyway. Sure, it's mostly a nerd thing for now, but every year it'll become more and more mainstream. Yes, iOS won't benefit from Thunderbolt's PCIe architecture, at least not for now. Sure, USB-C is still a mess of powered and non-powered, TB3 and non-TB3. But, whatever.

The money Apple makes on Lightning licenses is a rounding error, the control it gains comes at the expense of availability to 3rd part vendors, and the advantages of having Mac, iPad Pro — and future iPads — and iPhone all on the same interconnect platform will be considerable as power and capabilities continue to escalate.

Or, you know, plot twist: Announce Lightning an open standard. And call the standard version… wait for it.. miniUSB-C.

Colors

Apple has done a great job bringing colors to the iPhone lineup with the XR, but the XS… not so much. Yes, last year added a gold option to the white and space gray, and rumor has it we might get a red variant this year like the previous two years, but so far that's it. That's all.

Not even legacy colors like rose gold and jet black.

Meanwhile, Samsung is taking yellow and coral pages out of Apple's XR playbook — or Nokia's, I guess, since they really invented everything back in 1812 — and applying them to the flagships. There's even a ceramic version, like Apple Watch Edition.

Now, rumor also has it we'll be getting a new finish with iPhone 11: Frosted glass. What that means and how it looks we'll have to wait and see, but it would be terrific if that new finish comes with some new colors as well.

Something gold, sure, but something blue, something space black, but maybe something new?

I still want purple, but let me know what color you want in the comments. I'd also love to see some real advances in finish beyond just texture. Something self-healing that uses material science to hide the kind of scratches current phones seem to pick up by, I don't know, being stared at too hard.

That would be a real leap forward in finish.

HDR10+

HDR10+ support might seem trivial given that the iPhone already supports HDR10 and Dolby Vision, but the content creator gets to choose the format so if what you want to watch isn't in Dolby Vision, HDR10 is an alternative… just not a great one. HDR10+ is better.

Unlike Dolby Vision, it doesn't require a license and manufacturers can tune for it, so it should look pretty great. At least for competent manufacturers like Apple.

Now all we need is Rec 2020, the next, even nerdier color space after DCI-P3, which Apple already supports in software and we're all just waiting for everything else to catch up.

Sorry, so sorry

Yeah, no 3.5-mm headphone jack. No SD-card. Those horses have been beaten beyond death, into undeath, resurrected, and burned right back down. No 5G or foldable. Not this year, at least.

I'd also like to see the specs Samsung is pushing at these price points. Yes, Apple provides overall value through free software like Pages, Numbers, Keynote, GarageBand, iMovie, Playgrounds, et al. and free support and education at Apple Retail through ever everything from Genius to Today at Apple, and yes, Samsung is part of the same conglomerate that make most of the parts, so they likely enjoy a much lower cost on them than Apple does and are happy to pass that on — no doubt why Apple is looking to make more and more components themselves.

But when you see all the gigabytes, everything else fades away.

At least that's what I think. Now, do me a solid and hit like, hit subscribe — it really helps out the channel — and then hit up the comments below and let me know: What would you like Apple to steal from Samsung for the next iPhone?

Rene Ritchie
Contributor

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

14 Comments
  • Rene, don't you think RAM management on the iPhone is already so great that it makes abundant RAM useless? I mean if iPhone's 4GB Ram is performing better than 8GB on a Galaxy, what would you prefer?
  • But the thing is it's not. Apps lose their place often in my experience with the X. For example, I've had instances where I've been playing a game then I get a call, after taking the call I'll go back to the game and it has to completely reload. I'd love it if the RAM was able to retain app position.
  • Excluding games, the iPhone X's RAM easily keeps all apps open with their state retained. Games are in a completely different category as they require much more RAM for all the graphics and sound files being stored.
  • Off the top of my head, release AirPods 2 for the same price of $159 and keep AirPods 1 in the lineup for $99. Not really stealing from Samsung but would be my wish.
  • They could definitely steal USB-C, a MicroSD card slot and a headphone jack! Do it Apple!
  • USB-C might be a good idea, but the MicroSD and headphone jack should stay away. There is no need for headphone jacks anymore. I haven't used wired headphones for a few years now. And the 256GB plus 2TB iCloud is plenty of space. There is no need for a card for extra space.
  • Bluetooth is convenient when on the go. While at home strictly wired headphones as Bluetooth is inferior in sound quality and it's not even close.
  • The Lightning connector is superior to both in quality, why not use that?
  • USB-C makes the headphone jack removal make sense, as it replaces one standard with a newer standard, rather than Apple's proprietary Lightning connection. This way, we can have USB-C headphones which work with all computers and all phones. So I'd like to see USB-C, and I agree with you, no jack and no microSD
  • I’ve learned it really doesn’t matter what color phone I get (got gold XS max this time)—I just cover it up with a case anyhow. But for those that like color and may use a transparent case—or none-that would be a plus.
  • The only thing I really care about is USB-C. Their devices should all charge the same way and now that my Ipad pro uses it, so should my iphone. I could care a less about the ultrasonic finger print reader. Face ID is great. I dont see how this is any better.
  • I am not sure the point is that it's better but that it's different. If I understood Rene well he is saying the top of the line iPhone should have both sensors so we can have the continuous authentication maintained at all time.
    Also, you are happy with Face ID, me too, but some people may still find the Fingerprint sensor better for their use.
  • I'm curious to see how well the ultrasonic fingerprint reader works, I think it would be good to go back to a fingerprint reader as long as it doesn't have the problems that Touch ID had (dirty/wet fingers don't work, sometimes after a while you had to rescan your fingerprint for optimal results). But Face ID is pretty much a flawless authentication method for me, I'm amazed at how well it works, so the ultrasonic fingerprint reader would have to work either just as good or better for me to be convinced.
  • The NOKIA SHADE!!! I CANT I JUST CANT!!