2020 has been a crazy year, and it has trickled into Apple’s plans for device launches. This was already evidenced by the iPad and Apple Watch-only event last month, and a separate event focused just on the new iPhone lineup. Nonetheless, Tim Cook took to the “stage” today with announcements of the iPhone 12 lineup, along with the HomePod Mini.
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The iPhone 11 and 11 Pro are getting a little long in the tooth (if you’re an Apple enthusiast) and while the iPhone SE 2 was a pleasant surprise, we have been waiting for the iPhone 12 lineup. For the first time ever, Apple has announced four new smartphones at the same time, bringing the total to 5 new handsets just this year.
What’s coming to all of the new iPhones
Outside of a faster display refresh rate and 5G connectivity, iPhone fans have been practically begging for a hardware redesign. This was further enforced after the iPad Pro 12.9 and iPad Pro 11 featured a familiar squared-off design. With the iPhone 12 lineup, every single device has seen a similar redesign, invoking the nostalgia bone from the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S days.
While Apple has decided to make the 12 and 12 Mini different from the 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max, there are some common features that can be found. The biggest of these is the re-introduction of the “MagSafe” branding. For years, MagSafe was the proprietary charging method for Apple’s laptops, before the company made the move into USB-C. But instead of a weirdly-shaped charger, MagSafe for the iPhone takes advantage of a built-in magnet found in the back casing of each iPhone.
This brings along with it a slew of new accessories, ranging from cases to wallets and much more. Plus, outside of Belkin being featured in today’s event, it’s only a matter of time before other accessory makers jump on the MagSafe train. Apple even introduced an all-new wireless charger that is compact and can fold in half, to reveal two wireless chargers – one for your iPhone 12 and the other for your Apple Watch. AirPower may be dead and gone, but it’s definitely not forgotten.
Cutting Down on E-Waste
In a move we were expecting to see after the Time Flies event, Apple announced that the new iPhone’s would be shipping in thinner boxes. This is partially due to the thinner design of the new iPhones. But also because the company has finally shifted its focus on e-waste and is removing all of the wall chargers from the boxes. That’s not all, as Earpods will no longer be included in the box. Hopefully, you still have those old Earpods hanging around, but you probably should just grab some AirPods.
Another change in the packaging is the shift from the USB-A / Lightning cable to a new USB-C / Lightning Cable. USB-C provides faster-charging speeds, and this is presumably Apple’s compromise for not including USB-C on the iPhone. One day it’ll happen….I hope.
5G and the A14 Bionic
The final big similarity between all of these devices is the introduction of 5G. New Android smartphones have been released since 2019 which sport 5G connectivity. However, the iPhone 11 and iPhone SE were “stuck” with LTE for connecting to your carrier’s cell towers. Apple changed things up with the iPhone 12, bringing the CEO and Chairman of Verizon on stage. That’s when it was announced that Verizon is “flipping the switch” on its Nationwide 5G Network.
As one would expect, a new iPhone means a new processor and Apple’s delivering with the A14 Bionic. This processor sports six primary cores, coupled with 4 more GPU cores and a Neural Engine. The A14 Bionic is the first smartphone processor to be manufactured on the 5nm process, which provides faster speed and efficiency. The 5nm process also means more transistors since the processor is smaller, and that means we are getting even closer to ubiquity between mobile chipsets and those used on desktop computers.
iPhone 12 & iPhone 12 Mini
After showcasing the new HomePod Mini, Apple spent a lot of time focusing on the iPhone 12 itself. The reason for this is because the iPhone 12 is likely going to be the primary device for many upgrading from older handsets. Both the 12 and 12 Mini feature Apple’s new Super Retina XDR display, with the 12 measuring in at 6.1-inches and the 12 Mini coming in at 5.4-inches. This makes the iPhone 12 Mini feature a smaller footprint than the iPhone 8, while including a larger display.
Storage options are what you would expect, with Apple offering 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB options, which is just fine, but you’ll want to go for a higher storage option if you want to avoid the cloud. IP68 water resistance returns with the iPhone 12 and 12 Mini, meaning that your fancy new phone won’t be in dire straits after you spill that cup of water on it. And if you want to take a dive in the pool, the 12 and 12 Mini will be just fine, with a 6-meter (~19-foot) rating for up to 30 minutes.
Battery life is also nothing really to write home about, with up to 15 hours on the smaller 12 Mini and up to 17 hours of video playback on the standard 12. We aren’t expecting horrible real-life usage considering Apple’s experience with providing some of the best battery life on the market thanks to the processor paired with software optimization.
iPhone 12 & 12 Mini Specs
The big story here is that the cameras for these two devices have been vastly upgraded. You’ll find a dual 12MP camera system, complete with a primary 12MP Wide camera with an f/1.6 aperture and a 12MP Ultra Wide sensor with an f/2.4 aperture. The f/1.6 aperture on the Wide Camera is the fastest ever for an iPhone, and provides up to 27% more light than the older handsets.
Thanks to the A14 Bionic chipset, this brings Computational Photography to the forefront, as Night Mode and Deep Fusion photos are now better than ever. Plus, the improvements mean that you won’t have to wait as long for your photos to be captured. Then, Smart HDR 3 uses the onboard Machine Learning to automatically adjust various aspects of the photos, without you needing to head into a photo editor and tweak them yourself.
Apple will open pre-orders for the iPhone 12 on October 16th, and will officially launch on October 23rd. You can pre-order the iPhone 12 Mini starting on November 6th, with the device becoming available starting on November 16th. Pricing for the iPhone 12 starts at $799 for the 64GB model, and the 12 Mini starts at $699 with 64GB of storage.
iPhone 12 Pro & iPhone 12 Pro Max
So we’ve already covered that there are a lot of similarities across the iPhone 12 lineup. However, it seems that Apple is finally taking the “Pro” moniker seriously with the iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max. While the general design may be the same, the 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max feature stainless steel edges, that will shine when the light hits them just right, just like the iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max. but we are greeted with the flat design that we’ve been hoping for.
The iPhone 12 Pro sports the same 6.1-inch display as the iPhone 12, but the iPhone 12 Pro Max takes things to the next level with an enormous 6.7-inch display. This is the largest display ever found on an iPhone, and brings it dangerously close to the iPad Mini that many were hoping to see a refresh of this year. We also have a different color set, with these coming in Pacific Blue, Gold, Graphite, and Silver. It seems that “Space Gray” has finally been retired from the iPhone, maybe this means that Apple will pivot to different colors for future devices like the iPad Pro and MacBook.
Where these Pro models really shine is in the camera system that has been integrated into the camera bump on the back. You’ll find three camera sensors, complete with the all-new LiDAR sensor for depth sensing and improved low-light photography. All three primary cameras feature a 12MP sensor, with varying degrees of focal lengths thanks to an Ultra Wide, Wide Angle, and Telephoto lens, respectively. The aperture has been improved on all of these, allowing more light to come into your photos with larger sensors.
Perhaps the most exciting aspect is that you can now record 4K video @ 60 fps complete with HDR, potentially removing the need to upgrade your current DSLR and just use your iPhone instead. This is what it means to be a Pro, as you can finally do everything from video recording, to snapping the best pictures without needing another device. Then, the iPhone is powerful enough to edit these photos in videos in real-time, making those on-the-fly adjustments that you just can’t find elsewhere. It seems that Apple is ready to overtake the Pixel 4/5 as the best smartphone camera and I’m ready for it.
iPhone 12 Pro & 12 Pro Max Specs
Not only can you record video in 4K HDR, but Apple also announced that the 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max are the first smartphone cameras to feature Dolby Vision. This, combined with the Super Retina XDR display ensures that you are getting the most accurate images and videos without the need for much in the editing or processing department. Apple also confirmed that there will be integration for Dolby Vision grading coming to Final Cut Pro X in an update later this year. Once you’ve captured that awesome footage, just use a supported AirPlay device and watch it in glorious 4K Dolby Vision on the big screen in your home.
The iPhone 12 Pro will be available for pre-order starting on October 16th, with the device shipping on October 23rd and prices starting at $999. Future iPhone 12 Pro Max owners will have to wait a bit longer, as pre-orders open on November 6th with the launch happening on November 13th. Pricing for the 12 Pro Max starts at $1,099 and both the 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max including a minimum of 128GB of storage.
When are the new iPhones coming?
As you can see from the chart above, there are a few changes to the lineup of iPhone’s that will be available. iPhone 8 and iPhone 11 Pro have been removed completely. The iPhone 11 has been reduced in price by $100, with the standard iPhone 12 replacing the 11 in terms of price tiers. The iPhone 12 Pro will be priced at the $999, supplanting the 11 Pro, with the iPhone 12 Pro Max keeping the same $1099 price tag as its predecessor from 2019.
- iPhone 12
- Pre-orders: October 16th
- Launch Date: October 23rd
- iPhone 12 Mini, 12 Pro, and 12 Pro Max
- Pre-orders: November 6th
- Launch Date: November 16th
Andrew is a freelance writer based on the East Coast of the US.
He has written for a variety of sites over the years, including iMore, Android Central, Phandroid, and a few others. Now, he spends his days working for an HVAC company, while moonlighting as a freelance writer at night.