2020 has been a big year for Apple and there is still more to come, from the reimagined wallet-friendly iPhone SE 2 to the announcement of Apple Silicon. The company’s biggest product launch is almost upon us, with Apple fans just a few months out from the new iPhone 12.
iPhone 12 could be set to be one of the most significant revamps of Apple’s marquee product for some years. The design is set to take cues from the old iPhone 5 as well as the latest iPad Pro.
As with every iPhone release, everything from price and features to specs and release date has been speculated upon down to minute details and so we’ve whittled down into an easy-to-consume guide. From the potential introduction of 5G to a brand new camera module, there’s a whole bunch of rumours and this guide dodges through any pesky unsubstantiated speculation to bring you everything you need to know about the iPhone 12 from sources with a trusted track record
All the iPhone 12 rumours at a glance
- What is it? The iPhone 12 is the follow-up to 2019’s iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max.
- What will the iPhone 12 look like? We could see a design more akin to the angular iPhone 5, rather than the softer curves of the iPhone 11, but the notch isn’t going anywhere.
- When’s it out? October 2020. Apple’s CFO Luca Maestri recently confirmed a short two-week delay was likely for the iPhone 12 (via Macworld).
- What will it cost? We’d expect the price to be in line with current models, so upwards of £700 – though this could rise due to recent increases in manufacturing costs.
- Will iPhone 12 have 5G connectivity? Almost certainly, but we’re not sure whether this will apply to all of the new models or just the pricier options.
- Will it come with USB-C? Rumours suggest we’re in for another year of Lightning, this time with a braided cable to stop it from breaking.
iPhone 12 release date – When will it come out?
Apple has offered no official release date for the iPhone 12. However, following much speculation, Apple CFO Luca Maestri confirmed during a recent earnings call that we can expect a two-week delay to the launch of the iPhone 12. The last four major iPhone releases have taken place in September, but it now seems like the new iPhone won’t match them:
- iPhone 11: September 2019
- iPhone XS and iPhone XR: September 2018
- iPhone X and iPhone 8: September 2017
- iPhone 7: September 2016
We could see more than one release date for the iPhone lineup this time out too, something we haven’t seen since the iPhone X in 2017. The suggestion comes from prominent analyst Ming Chi-Kuo (via 9To5Mac) and poses that the “non Pro” models will come first, with the iPhone 12 Pro and expected iPhone 12 Pro Max coming later down the line.
The latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system (presumably called iOS 14) has also traditionally made its debut around the same time of year and the OS will almost certainly be pre-loaded onto the new models as standard. Major iOS updates are usually unveiled at WWDC in June, followed by an array of public and developer-only betas in the run-up to the big launch event.
iPhone 12 price – How much will it cost?
If there’s one thing everyone thinks they know about iPhones, it’s that they don’t come cheap. But it seems that Apple is trying to change that brand image this year, firstly with the iPhone SE 2, and secondly with a new addition to the main iPhone 12 range that’s much more affordable, for a total of five devices across the price spectrum.
Jon Prosser was the source of a great deal of insider information on the iPhone SE 2, so these estimates are easily the most reliable prices we’ve seen for the iPhone 12 series. They’re also roughly in line with our expectations.
According to his list, there will be a total of four models in the range, with three acting as direct successors to the existing iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max, and the remaining model being a brand new design with a 5.4-inch screen and a more affordable starting price of $649 (~£525).
However, the starting prices do go all the way up to $1099 (~£890) for the premium model, so it’s not as if you’ll be able to bag a top-end iPhone for a snip.
There are also rumours of two 4G LTE outliers arriving at the lower end of the new range. The news comes from Omega Leaks, a tipster we haven’t heard of before this, so take the following with a grain of salt. According to the Twitter leakster, Prosser’s 5G price predictions are correct, but there will also be a 4G version of each model coming in at $549 (~£440) for the 4G iPhone 12 and $649 (~£525) for the 4G 12 Max. If this is true, that’s a $100 discount if you’re willing to sacrifice 5G.
iPhone 12 design
The first big iPhone 12 scoop came in the form of news that the new design would harken back to iPhone 5 while also taking a leaf out of the book of iPad Pro – opting for flatter edges over the rounded ones we’ve become familiar with.
While some previous leaks pointed towards a reduced notch at the top of the phone, a recent reveal from known leaker Mr. White (via MacRumors) suggests the maligned notch is back in full force.
In a world of hole-punch camera cut-outs, Apple looks to be sticking to its guns. Whether that’s because of a commitment to Face ID or an ambience towards under display fingerprints scanners remains to be seen. However, many folks were put off by the notch and, even with a redesign for the rest of the phone, this move could leave Apple looking rather behind the curve.
How many models of the iPhone 12 will there be?
UBS analysts believe that Apple will release not one, but four new iPhones in 2020, with the following specifications:
- A 6.7-inch iPhone with 6GB of RAM and a triple-lens rear camera with 3D sensing
- A 6.1-inch iPhone with 6GB of RAM and a triple-lens rear camera with 3D sensing
- A 6.1-inch iPhone with 4GB of RAM and a dual-lens rear camera
- A 5.4-inch iPhone with 4GB of RAM and a dual-lens rear camera
It would be unusual to see Apple release a slate of four new phones, but it’s understandable as each performs a different function for the brand, from an affordable option all the way to a no-holds-barred, supersize, premium device. But what will they look like?
The third public iOS 14 beta lends some credibility to the claims of a smaller 5.4-inch flagship with a new Display Zoom mode (via 9to5Mac). The latest version of the accessibility feature on the beta OS allows users to set the display mode on their 5.8-inch iPhone to a resolution of 960 x 2079 – the equivalent of a 5.4-inch display.
Images that supposedly show off the 5.4-inch flagship have also surfaced this week. Digital Chat Station shared images of the tiny smartphone on Weibo (via MyFixGuide). The notch still takes up a good amount of space, but the bezels appear slimmed down compared to the SE 2, potentially allowing the flagship to make the most of the smaller screen.
Twitter leaker Ben Geskin has reported that Apple is working on creating a new Face ID system with smaller optics (above), which could result in a more subtle notch that hugs the top of the phone more closely, perhaps even fitting within the phone’s bezel. It would be a radical design change if the iPhone 12 had a smaller notch or possibly no notch at all (with an in-display camera instead). Several leaks and tips suggest that Apple might also reintroduce TouchID under the display.
Since then, a full video of iPhone 12 Pro Max renders has surfaced courtesy of Max Weinbach (once again) and Everything Apple Pro:
While the design looks familiar, there are a few key changes. Firstly the screen size has been augmented slightly, to reach 6.7-inches and at the top of that screen, the notch has also been shrunk so that now it appears to measure approximately 2cm across. On top of that, the device itself seems to be slimmer with a less obvious camera bump, now measuring 7.4mm thick overall.
If you’ve also been hoping for a refreshed colour palette, then there’s yet more good news on the way. Tipster Max Weinbach, who recently polished his reputation with a flurry of highly accurate Samsung Galaxy S20 leaks, has stated that the upcoming iPhone 12 Pro is set to be available in navy blue (shown above in a rendered image). The current model, the iPhone 11 Pro, is available in the following four tones: Space Grey, Silver, Midnight Green, and Gold, so we’re not sure if this new colour will be an extra or a replacement.
Will the iPhone 12 come with EarPods in the box?
Another, slightly minor, piece of information we have heard surrounding the next iPhone is that it might be the first flagship from Apple to ditch the included EarPods headphones. Now, don’t expect this to mean you’ll find a pair of AirPods nestled in the iPhone 12’s packaging, instead, it seems like you’ll have to provide your own buds. A couple of iterations ago Apple ditched the included headphone dongle so it doesn’t come as much of a surprise the ‘Pods themselves might be next.
We’ve also seen another rumour suggesting that the iPhone 12 will, once again, use Lightning as its main connection port – rather than the now far more common USB-C port you’ll find on the iPad Pro, all of Apple’s laptops and just about every Android phone.
Recent leaks from Chinese social network Weibo indicate that the cable will be Lightning to USB-C, and it’ll be braided to make it more durable and stop it from breaking apart. Considering the leak emanated from ChargeLAB – who’ve proven to be very accurate with their scoops – it seems this cable is likely to be released alongside the iPhone 12.
iPhone 12 software – iOS 14 arriving in June
Apple announced iOS 14 during the keynote presentation for WWDC and it is shaping up to be a big update.
Check the list below for some of the big new features:
- An improved home screen layout with widgets and app storage
- The ability to set alternative default apps
- Improved Siri with new design
- Plenty of new UI tweaks
- Improved Home app with new automation options
- A translate app
- Big updates to Maps and Messages
Check our dedicated iOS 14 features page for loads more on the new software update.
iPhone 12 screen – not 120Hz after all?
According to prolific leaker Ice Universe, Apple is speaking with major AMOLED display manufacturers (including both Samsung and LG) the screen requirements, and the brand is also mulling over an increased refresh rate, from standard 60Hz to a super-fast 120Hz. A variable refresh rate would mean that the new iPhone could switch between high and low refresh rates depending on the use – like the ProMotion tech used in the iPad Pro – meaning that the iPhone will catch up with the latest generation of Android phones (including the Pixel 4, Samsung Galaxy S20, and the OnePlus 8 Pro).
But a variable refresh rate similar to the iPad Pro’s ProMotion tech would be a much-welcome addition to the range and should help save battery life as it won’t be pushing 120Hz or 90Hz all the time.
However, there has also been chatter more recently that the iPhone 12, or at least some versions, will miss out on this 120Hz tech and stick to 60Hz. This would be a shame, and as the tweet below suggests would mean we’d end up waiting until at least 2021 for a 120Hz iPhone.
iPhone 12 camera – A four-sensor set-up?
The latest camera news surrounding the iPhone 12 suggests we might see a new autofocus system used, ideally letting you lock on to a target quicker. We’ve also heard that Apple could be looking at introducing periscope zoom lenses into its phones, however these are not expected until 2022.
Apple recently bought out a start-up, Spectral Edge, which uses infrared imaging tech and machine learning to create “crisper and more lifelike photos”. The company has worked on better white balancing, as well as combining infrared photographs with standard photos, to capture better photos in sub-optimal misty and foggy conditions.
Could this provide any clues for what we can expect from the iPhone 12? Truth be told, it’s probably too early for the tech in question to join this year’s iPhone, but it certainly gives us a good idea of we’ll see in the future, and we can’t wait to see how it will look in action.
For now, we at least expect the iPhone 12 Pro models to have a similar set-up to the iPhone 11 Pro, with three rear camera lenses (wide-angle, ultrawide, and telephoto) – but it would certainly be nice to see a telephoto sensor added to the iPhone 12 base model for a diverse triple camera experience.
According to the video posted by EverythingApplePro and Max Weinbach (embedded further up the page), the Pro versions of the handsets will also feature LiDAR sensors in order to enhance Augmented Reality capabilities (similar to the one found on the latest iPad Pro). This would give the device a fourth sensor, making it even more versatile.
iPhone 12 battery and charging
We’ve seen rumours suggest the iPhone 12 will support 20w charging, that’s a 2w boost over the iPhone 11 series. However, it’s important to note that while the iPhone 11 does support 18w charging, only the Pro and Pro Max models come with that faster charger in the box. If you’ve got an iPhone 11 you’ll need to buy it separately, or stick with the slow 5w charger that is included.
An extra 2w might not seem like much, but with the iPhone still so far behind Android rivals when it comes to charging speeds any improvement is welcome.
This support for 20w charging has also been backed up by respected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo (via MacRumors), however his note comes with an extra bit of information: it looks like you won’t get a power adaptor in the box with any iPhone 12 model. That means you’ll either have to use a charger you already have or pay up and purchase the new 20w brick.
Kuo states that one reason behind this move could be to offset the higher production cost of the 5G phones. It also seems like Apple will stop production entirely of 5w and 18w chargers and remove it from iPhone SE 2 boxes later this year.
Previous rumours suggested the iPhone 12 would with ship without the earbuds that have always been present in the box of the iPhone too. So it looks like we could be looking at a very empty box when we unbox a shiny new iPhone 12 later this year.
Will the iPhone 12 have 5G?
Nikkei has reported that Apple is preparing to ship a total of 80 million units of 5G-enabled modems for this year’s iPhone. This news almost certainly means that each phone in the new flagship range will support 5G, in a complete U-turn from the surprising omission in last year’s range.
There is also a possibility that Apple will release 4G LTE alternatives for the lower half of its flagship range. As mentioned in the price section of this guide, Twitter tipster Omega Leaks has revealed that Apple may be releasing 4G versions of the iPhone 12 and the iPhone 12 Max, priced at $100 less than their 5G counterparts. So, if you aren’t particularly interested in a faster connection, that could be a great way to save some cash on your next upgrade.
As far as the 5G models are concerned, we’re looking forward to seeing what Apple can get out of the next-gen technology. The manufacturer seems to have timed this release just right, as, by September, 5G networks should be in far better shape than they are currently, making it an even more enticing proposition to more consumers than before.
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