Reports about what will be in the 2020 iPhones are hitting the wire. We’ve compiled the most notable ones here, but take these with a big grain of salt. Even if these reports are accurate representations of what suppliers are saying, or come from moles within Apple itself, the company’s plans can and do change. There’s still plenty of time before the design and features have to be totally set in stone.
Update 09/29/20: Prominent leaker Jon Prosser tweeted about iPhone 12 shipments, including some dates and storage capacities.
iPhone 12 ship dates and storage capacities
Jon Prosser, who has a fairly good record with iPhone leaks, has tweeted out a few new details of the upcoming iPhones. According to the tweets, the regular iPhones will carry the name “iPhone 12 mini” (for the 5.4-inch model) and “iPhone 12” (for the 6.1-inch model). They will come in capacities of 64/128/256GB and start heading out to distributors on October 5.
Prosser says the iPhone 12 event will be held on October 13, which means that orders will probably open up right afterward with deliveries starting that Friday, October 16, similar to the timeframe of the new Apple Watch series 6.
A follow-up tweet mentions that the higher-end models, called iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max, will start with capacities of 128GB. That’s a welcome improvement over the iPhone 11 Pro. Prosser notes that the shipping dates he has are only for the iPhone 12 (non-Pro), so the Pro models are probably going to ship at a later date.
No 120Hz display, smaller notch on 5.4-inch iPhone 12
Well-regarded analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is frequently accurate in leaks about upcoming iPhones, particularly once they reach the stage where Apple’s supply chain begins making parts for it. According to MacRumors, Kuo has issued a new report stating that none of this year’s iPhone 12 models will feature 120Hz displays. The issue is apparently concern over battery life—we may see 120Hz displays on iPhones in 2021 when Apple moves to a more power-efficient display technology.
Kuo also notes that the iPhone 12 models will have a notch the same size as those on the iPhone 11, with one exception: the smallest iPhone 12, with a 5.4-inch display, will have a slightly smaller notch. This is necessary to leave enough display room on either side of it for the usual information (time, signal strength, battery, etc.).
mmWave 5G only on the iPhone 12 Pro Max
A new report from Fast Company, citing “a wireless industry source,” says that only the largest and most expensive iPhone 12 model—the 6.7-inch iPhone 12 Pro Max—will support millimeter-wave 5G. All the iPhone 12 models will support 5G in the sub-6GHz spectrum. The source says only the largest phone has the size necessary for the antenna array used in mmWave and the larger battery necessary to offset the increased power draw it requires.
What’s more, only the U.S., Korea, and Japan versions of the iPhone 12 Pro Max will have mmWave 5G support. In other territories, it will support the sub-6GHz spectrum only.
5G technology broadly comes in two variants: millimeter-wave radio frequencies over 24GHz, and the same sub-6GHz frequency bands used in today’s 4G LTE networks. The mmWave stuff gives you extremely fast speeds, but has extremely short range, with cellular radios required every few blocks. What’s more, mmWave does not penetrate objects well and are easily blocked by windows, doors, walls, trees, etc.
So while mmWave 5G technology delivers impressive bandwidth numbers, it is currently only useful in limited circumstances. Most users, most of the time, will use 5G networks in the same frequencies in which their 4G LTE phones operate. These signals travel much further and penetrate buildings better, providing much better coverage. Speeds are expected to be anywhere from 50-300% better, rather than the 10x improvement you might see from mmWave.
For more on 5G technology, see our 5G FAQ.
120Hz display and new camera features
Jon Prosser, who has accurately leaked several Apple devices and features in the past, tweeted screenshots of some test settings pages for PVTs (product validation devices).
The first screenshot shows several advanced camera features, including LiDAR-assisted autofocus, advanced video modes like 4K at 120fps and 240fps slo-mo, enhanced long-exposure night mode (suitable for tripods and the like), enhanced noise reduction, bit depth video, and zoom capabilities.
The other screenshot toggles high refresh rate and adaptive refresh rate (which automatically switches between 60Hz and 120Hz as needed). The fine print seems to suggest that Apple is still testing devices with and without 120Hz displays, and test devices with different camera hardware.
A possible October launch
During the announcement of its third-quarter 2020 financial results, Apple said that the iPhone release this year will occur later than usual. In the past, Apple shipped new iPhone models in late September, but this year, Apple COO Luca Maestri said that the phone shipment will occur “a few weeks” later. That probably means an October ship date, but let’s not rule out a possible November date.
Earlier in April of this year, The Wall Street Journal reported that the iPhone 12 will arrive later than usual this year. Sources told the publication that the pandemic has weakened global consumer demand and disrupted manufacturing across Asia, which should delay the new phone by “about a month,” bringing it into October rather than its usual September timeslot. However, Apple has previously delayed iPhone on-sale dates due to production issues, most recently with the iPhone XR releasing in late October.
The pandemic has already shifted Apple’s spring release plans, with a purported March event being canceled and the iPad Pro and iPhone SE receiving quite unveilings. Apple’s WWDC is still due to be held in June but will have “an all-new online format.” The Journal confirmed reports that Apple will be launching four new iPhone models this year with 5G support.
A later report in Bloomberg features quotes from Broadcom, which supplies wireless technology for iPhones. Broadcom’s CEO Hock Tan is quotes as saying he expects a “major product cycle delay” at a “large North American mobile phone” customer (this is how the company typically refers to Apple). The delay is just from Q3 to Q4, which neatly fits into the previous rumors of a push back from September to October.
No charger or earbuds in ‘exquisite’ box
If there’s one thing we can count on with a new iPhone, it’s that it will include a pair of Lightning EarPods and a charger in the box. That likely won’t be the case with the iPhone 12. According to Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple will be dumping both accessories from its next iPhone to cut costs. And a follow-up report from mysterious but often-accurate l0vetodream on Twitter reports that “the new packaging box (will) become thinner and exquisite.” Apple might offer discounts on AirPods for anyone who needs earbuds or cut the price of its existing chargers, but whatever tha case it looks like you’ll be paying extra if you want one.
No USB-C for this year’s lineup
Ever since Apple introduced a USB-C port with the 2018 iPad Pro refresh, we’re been waiting for the iPhone to follow suit, eliminating the proprietary and somewhat limiting Lightning port once and for all. According to Twitter user @choco_bit, who previously leaked details about a smaller notch and LiDAR sensor in the iPhone 12, that won’t be the case. As they write: “Shame the USB-c prototype iPhone 12’s arent making it to production. 1 more year of lightning [sic].” So it seems that while Apple has explored USB-C, it will be sticking with the same connector it’s used since the iPhone 5.
Possible specifications for the iPhone 12 lineup
The iPhone 12 rumor mill is heating up. Front Page Tech’s Jon Prosser released a video on Monday morning with specifications on the upcoming iPhones. There are four models that will use Apple’s A14 processor and support 5G. Here are the specs Prosser is reporting.
|iPhone 12||iPhone 12 Max|
|Prices||$649, $749||$749, $849|
|Display tech||OLED Super Retina||OLED Super Retina|
|Storage||128GB, 256GB||128GB, 256GB|
|Rear camera||dual camera||dual camera|
|iPhone 12 Pro||iPhone 12 Pro Max|
|Prices||$999, $1,099, $1,299||$1,099, $1,199, $1,399|
|Display tech||OLED Super Retina XDR
|OLED Super Retina XDR
|Storage||128GB, 256GB, 512GB||128GB, 256GB, 512GB|
|Rear camera||triple camera and LiDAR||triple camera and LiDAR|
|Body||stainless steel||stainless steel|
As for that ProMotion display on the high-end iPhones listed above, EverythingApplePro posted a video on Sunday with a report from Max Weinbach that said that the 120Hz refresh rate is coming this year. The displays could have the ability to switch down to 60Hz when the display isn’t very active in order to save battery life. The report also says the battery will be bigger on the Pro models. The front notch will be smaller, with Face ID supporting a wider angle.
EverythingApplePro also says that the Pro cameras will still be at 12 megapixels, but have a bunch of improvements, including faster autofocus, improved low-light performance, more accurate portait mode, 3x optical zoom on the telephoto lens, and more. The phone’s microphone will have improved audio zoom and more precise beam forming.
Jon Prosser, who has leaked information about the recent iPad Pro and MacBook Air releases, is back with rumors about the iPhone 12. This past weekend, Prosser posted images of the notch that could be on the next iPhone. The notch is much smaller than what it is now.
Another look at the camera array
Instagram account Concepts iPhone has what is purported to be an image of the camera array for the iPhone 12, reportedly taken from iOS 14 (judging by the diagram style, either a repair guide or user guide).
It shows the same square cutout as on the iPhone 11, but with the three cameras arranged differently, with a fourth area for the LiDAR sensor—the same sensor Apple just released on the 2020 iPad Pro. The iPad Pro has just two cameras plus the LiDAR sensor, so this diagram clearly depicts new hardware.
Coronavirus fallout could delay the iPhone 12 launch by months
Even if the coronavirus pandemic has ended by September, the launch of Apple’s iPhone 12 might still be affected. While reports out of China are that manufacturing plants are beginning to return to normal, a source told the Nikkei Asian Review review that “Apple is concerned that the current situation would significantly lower consumer appetite to upgrade their phones, which could lead to a tame reception of the first 5G iPhone.” That could have disastrous results for Apple’s roadmap, as both 5G and, obviously, the iPhone key heavily into whatever future products may be on the way. Nikkei says Apple will make a final decision about the phone’s launch in May and “the fall launch is not completely off the table,” but it’s possible that we don’t get a new iPhone until 2021.
iPhone 12 Pro Max to receive “sensor-shift image stabilization”
It’s all but certain that the iPhone 12 Pro Max’s screen will grow from 6.5 inches to 6.7 inches this year, but now we’re starting to learn a bit more about it. As reported by Macrumors, Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is predicting that Apple’s flagship will include sensor-shift image stabilization, which could be a solution for the ultra-wide camera.
According to What Digital Camera, sensor-shift image stabilization in a DSLR camera “works by moving the camera’s sensor around the image plane using electrical actuators. If any shake motion is detected by the camera’s accelerometers, it calculates in real-time the direction and speed to move the sensor, so that it remains stationary in relation to the image being projected onto it by the lens.” On the iPhone 11 Pro’s triple-camera system, only the wide and telephoto cameras have optical image stabilization, so sensor-shift image stabilization could be a way to stabilize all three cameras.
Kuo notes that Apple would look to bring the feature to other iPhone models in 2021. It’s not clear why Apple would limit the feature to the Max phone and not include it on both Pro models, though Apple could be trying to give buyers an additional reason to move to the higher tier.
Production on track for September
Despite earlier reports that the iPhone 12 could see delays that push the release into October or even 2021, a new Bloomberg report says that the struggles Apple and the rest of the world is facing due to the coronavirus “have yet to severely derail the 5G iPhone launch in the fall.” As Mark Gurman and Debby Wu explain, Apple generally shores up its next iPhone design shortly after the release of the current model and eyes April as a start date for mass production of the new cases. The report notes that Apple has already built “a limited number of test versions of the new models.” However, with so much uncertainly, it’s still possible that the timeline “could slip,” Bloomberg cautions.