Apple iPhone 12: Everything We Know So Far
Apple’s iPhone 12 is already subject to leak after leak after leak. As such, this article will roundup everything we know so far. There’s a lot to love and some disappointments as well. But, overall, Apple is heading for its most exciting iPhone upgrade in years. Here are the reasons why.
Tip: this article will be regularly updated, so bookmark it (02/03 new battery life updates – not all good – below)
Camera – the headline news for the iPhone 12 is Apple’s move to integrate a long-range 3D camera. This has now been leaked by multiple sources and it will enable the iPhone 12 to actively map its environment up to about 15 feet. It will be laser-based unlike the 25-50 centimetre range of the dot projector-based 3D mapping system used in Face ID on the front of current iPhones.
While a 3D camera may help photographs with things like Portrait mode (where depth measurement is a major factor), the big win is augmented reality (AR). Expect Apple to make a big deal of this come launch time.
Design – Perhaps the one area where the iPhone 12 may disappoint is how it looks. With more radical concepts (as above) seemingly off the radar, a far more basic design (almost identical to the iPhone X / XS / 11 Pro) has now been spotted. There is still time for this to change, but Apple looks set to make its biggest advances internally this year.
In fact, on a superficial level, the biggest external change may be Apple’s decision to drop its popular Midnight Green finish this year and introduce a new Navy Blue option for the iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max. While I’m a big fan of the green, the new blue looks superb in renders which you can check out here.
- iPhone 12: 6.1-inch (same as iPhone 11)
- iPhone 12 Pro: 5.4-inch (Vs 5.8-inch iPhone 11 Pro)
- iPhone 12 Pro Max 5G: 6.7-inch (Vs 6.5-inch iPhone 11 Pro Max)
Apple will also introduce 120Hz ProMotion displays. Jumping to a 90/120Hz panel is essential to keep up with rivals, many of which made the move in 2019 and Samsung will fit the Galaxy S11 with a 120Hz panel in 2020. Despite this, Japanese site MyDrivers is reports that Apple will source up to 45M OLED panels from China’s BOE as it reduces dependence on Samsung over all. Whether this results in good/bad iPhone editions as with Intel/Qualcomm modems in the past remains to be seen, but Apple’s strict quality controls usually avoids this.
Biometrics – Face ID is not expected to change much in the iPhone 12 other than slight performance tweaks and, perhaps, a fractionally smaller notch. But the return of Touch ID integrated into the display, is a major event which has been leaked time after time. While facial recognition and fingerprint sensors have their own pros and cons, the real value of its return is when used in conjunction with Face ID for extremely high level security. Hopefully, where and when will be user selectable.
Performance – DigiTimes reports Apple has renewed its exclusive manufacturing deal with TSMC to be the sole supplier of its next-gen A14 iPhone chipset with production beginning as soon as Q2. DigiTimes says it will be the first A Series chip to be manufactured with a 5nm process (A12 / A13 were 7nm) which should both boost performance and increase efficiency. It could also increase Apple’s (already large) advantage over rivals with Qualcomm’s upcoming Snapdragon 865 flagship chipset for Android phones still using 7nm.
Adding to this, MacRumors has attained a research note from UBS analysts revealing the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max will have 6GB RAM. This is 50% more than the iPhone 11 range, which was limited to 4GB. The entry-level iPhone 12 (effectively the iPhone XR3) will stick with 4GB RAM.
Analysis from MacWorld is perhaps the biggest talking point though, following a deep drive, it concludes that Apple’s A14 chipset could be a game-changer for the smartphone and tablet market. Based on a new 5nm manufacturing process, it has the potential to bring CPU performance in-line with the 15-inch MacBook Pro alongside a leap of almost 50% in GPU speeds. This is astonishing stuff. Moreover, it could pave the way for Apple to finally replace Intel chipsets in its MacBook ranges with Apple silicon. If right, MacWorld may well have unearthed the headline story from the iPhone 12 launch.
02/03 Update – Battery Life – If there is one area of concern, however, it could be battery life. Respected Chinese site Mac Otakara says the phones will be up to 10% slimmer which poses questions about their battery capacity. Hopefully, Apple has found a way to squeeze more mAh into their slight larger footprints despite the reduction in thickness as great battery life has been a standout feature of the current iPhone 11 range.
Connectivity / Networking – there is a lot of speculation that the Lightning port will be replaced by USB-C. This remains to be seen as talk is also building that Apple will move the iPhone to a port-less, wireless charging-only model in the next few years. As such, introducing USB-C for a short time would seem pointless.
More certain, is the arrival of 5G. Apple will introduce 5G across the entire iPhone 12 range. It will deliver support for both mmWave and sub-6GHz bands and (given the still-limited nature of 5G networks around the world) the really good news is…
Pricing – official prices for the iPhone 12 range have yet to leak but word from Ming-Chi Kuo, one of the most accurate Apple insiders, is there will be no significant price penalty for the step-up to 5G. This would be a coup as 5G has added hundreds of dollars to 5G versions of rival phones up until this point.
On the flip side, be aware that Apple has just cut prices for iPhone trade-ins, in some cases substantially, which means you may have to pay out more than you expect if you want to upgrade to the iPhone 12 through Apple directly.
Release Date – there’s nothing on this at present, but Apple has a long tradition of launching new iPhones in September and (the early release of one new budget model, aside) I don’t expect that to change in 2020.
The Budget 2020 iPhone – Want a new iPhone in 2020, but can’t afford an iPhone 12? You’re in luck. Apple will launch a new budget iPhone based-on the iPhone 8 design in Q1 this year. It may look old on the outside but it will feature the A13 chipset and primary camera from the iPhone 11-range making this a seriously powerful pocket-friendly phone. Furthermore, it might be just the first of two affordable new models, the latter of which will arrive later in 2020 – or even early 2021 – with an iPhone X-based design.
Will the iPhone 12 be worth the wait? On paper, yes. This is one of Apple’s biggest upgrades in years. That said, the lack of external changes for a third generation may put some users off and the iPhone 11 range is already the most well-rounded smartphone line-up of 2019. It is also available with some major price savings right now.
After incremental upgrades in 2019, Apple is going for it in 2020 and a big motivation is Samsung’s exciting Galaxy S11 plans. Here’s a similar roundup of Everything We Know So Far about the Galaxy S11.