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As Apple prepares to catch up with the latest Android smartphones, Tim Cook and his team could turn to the world of fashion to redefine what a flagship iPhone can offer.

The latest details on Apple's iOS smartphone plans focus not on traditional camera specs or the latest generative AI software, but on the handset's appearance. Apple is preparing a sleek iPhone to wow the tech world's fashionistas.

While it will be some time before Apple unveils the iPhone Slim, design work, preparations, and concept sketches are already underway ahead of its possible September 2025 launch.

Apple has continuously pushed thinner and smaller designs for decades – the launch of the first MacBook Air was probably the most spectacular, when Steve Jobs unveiled the MacBook Air from an envelope. This year, however, the focus is once again on that aesthetic, as the latest iPad Pro with M4 processor gets one of Apple's most powerful chipsets and Apple has reduced the tablet's thickness by 1.3mm to just a tiny 5.1mm.

In keeping with the slim approach, this iPad Pro also introduced a subtle new design language to the product, including an increase in surface area, a change in the position of the selfie camera, and dual-stack tandem layer technology for a brighter and more efficient OLED screen.

Of course, Apple will bring this to the iPhone; there are already signs in the supply chain that the stacked OLED display will launch this September, which could result in the same design changes that will offer more screen real estate compared to the previous model. Waiting until the thinner technology is available in volume for a 2025 release is a natural fit and an achievable timeframe.

Apple also likes to dictate the race against which the iPhone's performance is measured, and that's been a problem in recent years. Smartphone camera technology has led to rival Android smartphones pushing the iPhone further down the top lists. Only the iPhone Pro Max models have the latest hardware; the further you move toward the standard iPhone, the worse the camera ratings get too. If you want the best image quality, Apple wants you to pay more… yet the competition does it better, and in many cases for less money.

Apple is also lagging behind in generative AI. While AI through machine learning is already present in iOS and Apple's Axx mobile chipsets, the sudden emphasis and capabilities of generative AI, found on countless Android phones since Google launched the Pixel 8 family in October 2023, has caught Tim Cook and his team by surprise. Apple unveiled its uncomfortably modest Apple Intelligence AI suite at this year's WWDC in June, while also confirming that the big move into AI wouldn't come until early 2025.

With a slim iPhone, Apple could capitalize on one of the iPhone's unique selling points: the myth of the brand and the power of fashion. Those who always want to own the latest and greatest will long for a slim iPhone.

This idea that fashion and design are key factors can be seen in other manufacturers as well – such as Honor's collaboration with Porsche Design for the special edition Magic6 Pro RSR – but no manufacturer will have the mix of demand and desirability that Apple has.

No doubt Apple will keep the iPhone Slim's specs as high as possible, just like the new iPhone Pro. Adding up the new design, high specs and attractiveness of this phone, it's likely to be the new flagship iPhone. With current prices starting at $999 for the iPhone Pro and $1199 for the iPhone Pro Max, I would expect an iPhone Slim to be even more expensive.

Fashion is not cheap.

Read the latest iPhone, iPad and Mac headlines now in Forbes' weekly Apple Loop news roundup…

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