Apple is not planning any significant changes to its iPhone lineup this year, given the smartphone improvements in 2020, including 5G and a new design.
Apple engineers call the next iPhones the S-version of the device, a terminology that has been typical of new iPhones with minor updates. While the overall changes will be minor, the relevance of fingerprint scanners is high due to the coronavirus quarantine. That's why Apple is testing an essential update for 2021: the in-display fingerprint scanner.
It would add a new method that would allow users to unlock their iPhone, apart from passcode and Face ID technology. Apple began ditching fingerprint sensors in 2017 with the iPhone X launch, but since then, Touch ID has remained a feature on Macs and cheaper iPhones. This feature would be useful in an environment where users wear masks that are often incompatible with face recognition.
The in-screen fingerprint reader, which has been used on Android phones for a few years, may also be faster than Face ID for some users. Apple will not remove its Face ID as it is still useful for augmented reality and camera functions. Apple has also discussed removing the charging port for some iPhones in favor of wireless charging. The COVID-19 pandemic has also made product development more difficult, as Apple hardware engineers only work a few days a week in the company's Silicon Valley offices.
Last year, the pandemic delayed the release of the iPhone 12 by several weeks. However, Apple was still able to include almost all of the intended features, except for an accessory called AirTags for detecting physical items such as backpacks and keys. The company now plans to release AirTags this year and is planning several accessories for it.