Table of Contents
During a virtual Sept. 15 event, Apple launched two new wearables, the Apple Watch Series 6 and Watch SE as well as a number of iPads. Unfortunately, those hoping for a new iPhone didn’t get anything, as the company kept mum about the new iPhone 12, 12 Pro and 12 Max (Apple has not confirmed the names of the phones, but we’ll go with those for now).
That’s because while we usually see new flagship iPhones in September, the COVID-19 outbreak has forced suppliers in China to shut down or operate on limited capacity. This affected not only Apple’s inventory in September, but it may affect sales, too. Apple also closed its US retail stores, though now some have reopened in limited ways. All this culminated with Apple confirming there will be a delay on the iPhone 11 sequels, perhaps as late as October. Our best educated guess for the iPhone 12 announcement is either Oct. 13 or 14.
Despite such disruptions and Apple’s veil of secrecy, there are some things we do know about the iPhone 12. From what we’ve seen of iOS 14 (which is available for download now), we can expect the phone to have software features like widgets, app libraries and picture-in-picture. Unofficial hardware rumors include 3D depth sensing on its rear cameras and new screen sizes. Adding 5G connectivity would also make sense considering Apple’s main opponent, Samsung, launched several 5G phones this year, including the recent Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra, as well as the flagship Galaxy S20 phones. The later timeline might have some unexpected positive consequences too, including giving carriers like Verizon more time to build out its 5G coverage.
Until any of that happens though, check back often as we will continue to update it with the most probable and compelling rumors . And if you’re already planning to get the device, here are three things you can do now to prep for the iPhone 12.
Top iPhone 12 rumors
Announcement date: Possibly October
Back in August, in what appeared to be a misstep on Apple’s part, a Twitter user posted a screenshot of a possible Apple livestream event scheduled for Sept. 10. The event date and time appeared on Apple’s YouTube page and then was taken down.
The event actually ended up being held on Sept. 15, and it wasn’t at all about the iPhone. This still leaves the date of the iPhone 12 announcement up in the air. Another mobile leaker and Front Page Tech host Jon Prosser reported that the iPhone 12 will be introduced during an Oct. 12 event and will ship out Oct. 19, for instance.
Release date: iPhone 12 may not ship out until October
Despite Apple’s largest manufacturer, Foxconn, assuring investors it should still make its fall timeline, The Wall Street Journal reported that the iPhone 12 could face delays. This is due to the coronavirus pandemic and its unprecedented effect on manufacturing and consumer demands. The report estimated that Apple may wait until October to announce or launch the phone, which is about a month after the iPhone’s usual launch.
Apple CFO Luca Maestri all but confirmed this on a quarterly earnings call, saying, “This year, we project supply to be available a few weeks later” than last year’s mid-September launch.
Others have suggested not a single launch date but several. A rumor floated by DigiTimes and picked up by MacRumors, suggested that Apple may launch its 2020 iPhones in multiple stages. The two 6.1-inch iPhone models may launch first, with the 6.7- and 5.4-inch variants coming later. (For more on the different speculated iPhone sizes, read more below.)
Price: iPhone 12 may be cheaper than iPhone 11
When the iPhone 11 debuted last year, we were pleasantly surprised that its base model cost $699, which was $50 cheaper than 2018’s iPhone XR. This trend may continue, with one tech analyst reporting that Apple will price the iPhone 12 at $649, the iPhone 12 Pro at $999 and the iPhone 12 Pro Max at $1,099.
5G: iPhone 12 may have next-gen connectivity
Several rumors are predicting that Apple will include 5G connectivity this year. More specifically, Apple analyst Ming-chi Kuo expects the company to unveil three 5G phones, and Fast Company reported that Apple may use its own proprietary 5G antennas.
There are a couple of reasons why the company didn’t jump on the trend in 2019. First, Apple usually isn’t the first in on mobile trends, preferring instead to perfect an emerging technology before committing to it. For example, it was behind its competitors in making phones with 3G and 4G LTE connectivity when those networks just launched.
Second, Apple stopped working with the leading 5G modem provider, Qualcomm, because of a dispute over Qualcomm’s licensing fees. The two companies settled their litigation in April 2019, and then agreed to a multiyear 5G chip deal. This led to Apple’s previous partner of 5G modems, Intel, to ultimately exit the 5G phone modem business altogether and Apple later acquired Intel’s smartphone modem business for $1 billion. Apple is still working with Qualcomm, but it got started too late to launch a 5G phone last year when a few of its rivals released their 5G models, like the Galaxy S10 5G, LG V50 5G and OnePlus 7 Pro 5G.
Whatever its start date though, Apple releasing a 5G phone is notable not only because the phone will be able to connect to the next-gen network, but also because this standout feature won’t be entirely under Apple’s control. 5G networks are built by carriers and Apple is taking a risk because users all across the country will have different experiences on this nascent network depending on their coverage.
Design: iPhone 12 may be similar (or not) to iPhone 11
Every other year, Apple usually makes notable cosmetic changes to its iPhone to freshen up its look, much to the delight of anticipating buyers. But a report by Japanese publication Mac Otakara, citing an unnamed Chinese supplier, reported that the iPhone 12 will look similar to the iPhone 11. The only possible difference is that the iPhone 12’s edges will be slightly bowed.
On the other hand, Apple is also speculated to completely revamp the iPhone’s design with flat edges (similar to the new iPads). This could trigger what Wedbush analyst Dan Ives called “the perfect storm of demand,” which would drive up sales and result in a “super cycle” for Apple.
Accessories: iPhone 12 may not come with EarPods or a power adapter
In one of the more unpopular rumors, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo reported that Apple may not include its wired EarPod headphones in the iPhone 12 box. This would be a move to encourage people to buy the company’s wireless AirPods instead. Apple has included EarPod headphones since the iPhone 5 release in 2012, so this would be a notable change. AirPod and AirPod Pro earbuds are currently priced at $159 (£159, AU$249) and $249 (£249, AU$399), respectively.
Ming-Chi Kuo expects that the iPhone 12 will ship without a power adapter as well, according to 9to5Mac. The reason is mainly for costs — by foregoing it, Apple can keep costs down while loading the phone with 5G components. It would also help lower freight costs as the size of the packaging would shrink.
Apple wouldn’t be alone in the change. Samsung’s Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra also don’t come with headphones — though if you really need a pair, Samsung will send them for free. But unlike the power adapter rumor, the Note phones still come with a charger in the box.
Processor: iPhone 12 will likely have A14 Bionic
Given that the latest iPhones have the A13 Bionic processor, it is highly probable that the next proprietary chipset will be called the A14 Bionic. And like every year, we expect this one to be faster and more efficient than its predecessor. More specifically however, one Apple leaker on Twitter, Komiya, reported that the A14 will have a CPU gain of 40% and a GPU gain of 50%.
One of the more enduring rumors about the upcoming iPhones is that Apple may introduce new screen sizes. One of the iPhone 12s could have a 5.4-inch screen (of the current iPhones, the new iPhone SE has the smallest display, which measures 4.7 inches). And the iPhone 2020 Pro Max could go as large as 6.7 inches (for reference, the iPhone 11 Pro Max has a 6.5-inch display).
There’s also speculation that the iPhone 12’s display will have a 120Hz refresh rate and that perhaps the iPhone 12 Pro may have a ProMotion display, which is currently featured on the iPad Pro. Most phones refresh at 60 frames per second, or 60Hz, but other phones, like the Galaxy S20 and the OnePlus 8 Pro refresh at 120Hz. With a higher refresh rate, a phone feels faster and smoother when scrolling through things like web pages and apps.
With the possibility of new display sizes, rumors that Apple will expand its iPhone line have been swirling around. In December 2019, CNET’s Lexy Savvides wrote:
According to JPMorgan analyst Samik Chatterjee, Apple will release four new iPhone 12 models in the fall of 2020: a 5.4-inch model, two 6.1-inch phones and a 6.7-inch phone. All of them will have OLED displays.
These size predictions were also backed this week by analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who believes the current 5.8-inch size of the iPhone 11 Pro may be going away. So the 5.4-inch and one of the 6.1-inch models will be the lower-end devices, presumably called the iPhone 12. Then the more expensive phones will be the other 6.1-inch and 6.7-inch iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max, respectively.
Read more: The best ways to sell or trade in your old iPhone in 2020
Camera: iPhone 12 may have 3D depth sensing
Since the iPhone X , newer iPhones have front-facing cameras that have 3D depth sensing. Known as Face ID, this feature scans your face for unlocking your phone and authorizing digital payments. It’s been rumored that Apple may take it up a notch and introduce that same system to the rear cameras. In August 2019, CNET’s Vanessa Orellana wrote:
Longtime Apple analyst Ming Chi Kuo (via MacRumors and 9to5Mac) said he expects two of the 2020 iPhones models to have a new time-of-flight camera lens on the back of the phone. The setup would be similar to that of the current True Depth camera system used for Face ID on the front of the phone, except it would use a slightly different type of technology that could allow it to 3D map objects from farther away. This would significantly improve its augmented reality applications and take certain camera features like Portrait Mode to the next level.
Renders of the iPhone’s camera array integrating the depth-sensing lens have been circulating, with many online commenters remarking how the iPhone 12’s possible camera layout looks similar to a stovetop.
It’s unclear how many of the new iPhones would be equipped with this feature, if any.