The closer we get to the fall, the closer we get to the iPhone 12 launch. And based upon the leaks and chatter surrounding Apple’s upcoming phones, there’s plenty to look forward to with this year’s releases.
iPhone 12: What to expect
• Release date: Fall 2020
•Models: iPhone 12 (5.4 inches), iPhone 12 Max (6.1 inches), iPhone 12 Pro (6.1 inches), iPhone 12 Pro Max (6.7 inches)
• Prices: $649 (iPhone 12), $749 (iPhone 12 Max), $999 (iPhone 12 Pro), $1,099 (iPhone 12 Pro Max)
• Processor: A14 (all models)
• Screens: OLED (all models)
• Other features: 5G compatibility, LiDAR sensor on the iPhone 12 Pro, 120Hz refresh rate on iPhone 12 Pro display
The iPhone 12 is expected to come in four models: the 5.4-inch iPhone 12; 6.1-inch iPhone 12 Max; 6.1-inch iPhone 12 Pro; and 6.7-inch iPhone 12 Pro Max. All of the new iPhone 12 devices should feature OLED displays and 5G connectivity, but the iPhone 12 Pro series would steep up to a 120Hz refresh’s rate and three rear cameras plus a LiDAR sensor.
We could also see a new design for Apple’s phones, one that hearkens back to the iPhone 5’s flat edges and more squared off look. And there should be a smaller notch, too.
We’re still several months out from the next iPhone launch, and a lot can change — particularly the date when the phones might actually launch. But here’s everything we know so far about the iPhone 12.
Latest iPhone 12 news (updated May 26)
- A tweet from leaker choco_bit adds more weight to the rumor that the iPhone 12 will still use a Lightning port, but the iPhone 13 will be Apple's first portless phone.
- A report card on the carrier's 5G networks shows which provider may offer the best 5G experience for the iPhone 12.
- A new report reveals the details on the cameras for the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro series.
iPhone 12 specs (based on leaks)
|iPhone 12||iPhone 12 Max||iPhone 12 Pro||iPhone 12 Pro Max|
|Price||$649, $749||$749 / $849||$999 / $1,099 / $1,299||$1,099 / $1,199 / $1,399|
|Display||5.4-inch Super Retina OLED (BOE)||6.1-inch Super Retina OLED (BOE)||6.1-inch Super Retina XDR OLED (Samsung)||6.7-inch Super Retina XDR OLED (Samsung)|
|Processor||A14 Bionic||A14 Bionic||A14 Bionic||A14 Bionic|
|Storage||128GB, 256GB||128GB, 256GB||128GB, 256GB, 512GB||128GB, 256GB, 512GB|
|Cameras||Dual rear cameras||Dual rear cameras||Triple cameras + LiDAR||Triple cameras + LiDAR|
|5G||Sub-6GHz||Sub-6GHz||Sub-6GHz, mmWave||Sub-6GHz, mmWave|
iPhone 12 release date
September is for iPhone launches. The iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max debuted at an Apple press event on Sept. 10 last year, so you’d figure the iPhone 12 will follow suit. Apple tends to favor the second week of the month for its launches, which would put the iPhone 12 debut on or around Sept. 8.
Of course, that was before the coronavirus outbreak, with multiple reports now pointing to a delay for the iPhone 12. The most recent report from The Wall Street Journal says that mass production has been pushed back by a month, so it's reasonable to expect that the devices will hit stores in October or later. Now there’s talk of the iPhone 12 launch event being pushed back to October, which would be the first time since 2011 that the event wasn’t held in early September.
Even if the iPhone 12 does arrive in September, the most premium model could be held back. According to an April 2020 supply chain report, the standard iPhone 12 series will enter mass production in September, while the rumored iPhone 12 Pro Max will follow suit in October.
The coronavirus pandemic has already forced Apple to move its Worldwide Developer Conference online. The event starts June 22, which is when we expect to hear about iOS 14. That's the updated version of Apple's mobile operating system that will debut on the iPhone 12.
iPhone 12 price
The iPhone 11 starts at a fairly affordable $699, while the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max cost $999 and $1,099 respectively. The wild card is how much 5G support will add to the price of the new iPhone 12.
Analyst Jon Prosser believes that the 5.4-inch iPhone 12 with two rear cameras will start at $649, which would be quite affordable. The iPhone 12 Max with a 6.1-inch screen would cost $749.
The iPhone 12 Pro, which would have three rear cameras plus a LiDAR sensor, may start at $999. The iPhone 12 Pro could also feature a 120Hz ProMotion display, but that's not a lock quite yet.
Last but not least, the iPhone 12 Pro Max would feature a 6.7-inch display and cost $1,099 to start.
iPhone 12 models
Since a forecast from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo last year, we’ve known that four different iPhone 12 models are on tap for 2020: one at 5.4 inches, two at 6.1 inches and the largest variant measuring 6.7 inches. All four 2020 iPhones will have 5G, Kuo says.
These four phones are also expected to incorporate OLED displays, which would mark a change for Apple. Like the iPhone XR before it, the iPhone 11 features an LCD display instead of an OLED panel.
Here’s a closer look at what to expect from each iPhone 12 model, as detailed by a report from Display Supply Chain CEO Ross Young.
iPhone 12: Look for the entry-level iPhone 12 to feature a 5.4-inch OLED panel with rumored resolution of 2340x1080. Young expects the display to feature Y-OCTA technology, which means that the touch sensor is integrated directly into the display.
In terms of other hardware, the iPhone 12 is expected to feature an A14 processor, 4GB of RAM and a choice between 128GB and 256GB of storage. Like the iPhone 11, this model will rely on dual rear cameras.
iPhone 12 Max: This 6.1-inch iPhone will feature the same hardware as the standard iPhone 12 — A14 processor, 4GB of RAM, 128/256GB of storage and dual rear cameras. Instead, the biggest difference will be the screen. The iPhone 12 Max will have a larger flexible 6.1-inch OLED panel with 2532x1170 resolution. Like the iPhone 12, the Max version will include a touch sensor.
iPhone 12 Pro: The 6.1-inch flexible OLED on this model could be the first phone to feature 10-bit color support, according to Young. It will feature 2532x1170 resolution along with Y-OCTA support. There’s a chance this phone’s screen could support a 120Hz refresh rate.
Expect 6GB of RAM in this A14-powered model with storage options ranging from 128GB to 512GB. The Pro series is rumored to feature four rear lenses, highlighted by a 64MP main sensor and a LiDAR time-of-flight sensor that will work with iPhone AR apps.
iPhone 12 Pro Max: Expect the same RAM, storage and camera features as the iPhone 12 Pro, only with a bigger 6.7-inch OLED panel. Resolution could be 2778x1824, and a 120Hz refresh rate is a possibility here, too.
iPhone 12 design
So what will the new iPhones look like? The iPhone 12 is expected to bring back the flat metal-edge design of the iPhone 5, according to Bloomberg.
The new 5.4-inch iPhone 12 could be shockingly compact. In fact, according to EverythingApplePro, the phone's dimensions will be even smaller than the 4.7-inch iPhone SE. So you'll get a full-size screen in something that's easy to use with one hand.
A separate tweet from Jon Prosser says that Apple will manage to shrink the notch on the iPhone 12 by moving the speaker up into the phone's top bezel.
The folks at Concept Creator have created a render video of what the 5.4-inch iPhone 12 could look like, published by LetsGoDigital. You'll note that it has flatter sides and a smaller notch, as well as a SIM tray that has moved beneath the volume buttons.
The above image from designer Jonas Daehnert shows what the iPhone 12 Pro could look like with the flat edges, a smaller notch and a fourth "camera," which would presumably be a LiDAR sensor for more immersive augmented reality applications. That feature was introduced in the iPad Pro that came out in March.
Another iPhone 12 Pro Max video brings the CAD renderings and leaks to life. This video is from YouTuber EverythingApplePro, who cites reliable leaker Max Weinbach as their source, and it shows Apple's 6.7-inch iPhone 12 Pro Max with flatter sides, a built-in LiDAR scanner, flatter edges and a smaller notch — all wrapped up in a slightly taller-but-thinner design than the iPhone 11 Pro Max.
iPhone 12 colors
We’ve only heard a handful of rumors on the color front, but it’s a safe bet that Apple will likely follow the same pattern of the last couple iPhone launches. That means more colors for the less expensive iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Max, while the iPhone 12 Pro models will adopt darker, more traditional color schemes such as Space Gray and silver.
At least one rumor says that Apple will spice things up by offering a blue color for the iPhone 12. The blue would replace the Midnight Green color offered on the iPhone 11 Pro and may be exclusive to the new Pro models.
iPhone 12: Will it have USB-C?
Apple has given its iPhones its proprietary Lighting port since the iPhone 5. However, times are changing. The newest generation of iPad Pro uses USB-C — as does basically every other portable device manufacturer in the world right now — but more important than that is the influence of the European Union.
The EU recently voted to make manufacturers use USB-C in order to increase consumer convenience and decrease waste. Apple has objected to this ruling, but it isn't going to have much of a choice but to react eventually — the question is when. Based on the timing, it's likely Apple won't be in a position to make the switch to USB-C until the iPhone 13 in 2021, and even then, the company could likely find ways to stall a forced change.
Looking ahead, Apple could even ditch ports altogether and skip over USB-C for at least one iPhone 13 model. That rumor also comes from Jon Prosser.
Prosser's claims about the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13's ports have also been repeated by choco_bit, a leaker with apparent inside knowledge.
iPhone 12 and 5G
While Apple analyst Jon Prosser agrees that all four iPhone 12 models will ship with 5G networking support, the 5.4-inch iPhone 12 and 6.1-inch iPhone 12 may not support mmWave technology, which offers the fastest download speeds. Instead, these more affordable devices would support only sub-6GHz 5G.
5G in this lower band offers longer range but slower data rates than mmWave technology, which can reach up to 2Gbps. The iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max will reportedly offer mmWave and sub-6GHz 5G, giving shoppers the best of both worlds. Verizon 5G is focusing, at least initially, on mmWave, which delivers the fastest speeds but typically requires line of sight.
Because Apple bought Intel’s modem business last year, it's expected that Apple will eventually stop getting its 5G modems from Qualcomm and will design its own modems in house, the same way it does for its A-series processors. That won't happen in time for the new iPhone 12, though. The earliest we expect to see an iPhone with an Apple-built modem is 2021, though realistically it's probably more than two years away.
iPhone 12 cameras
A report in Digitimes confirms that the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Max will have two rear cameras, and the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max will have three rear cameras plus a new LiDAR sensor.
Given that the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max featured triple-lens rear cameras for the first time in Apple's hardware, we expect that to continue for the 2020 versions of the Pro iPhones.
It’s also widely expected that the new iPhone 12 will add a new lens — a LiDAR time-of-flight sensor. Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo expects such an addition to at least two iPhone 12 models, most likely the Pro versions. Subsequent reports on iPhone 12 specs have backed that claim.
Fast Company spoke to a source that confirmed the presence of a "world-facing" 3D camera on the back of the iPhone 12, so it looks like this feature is a go, especially after 9to5Mac spotted code in iOS 14 that confirmed the existence of a time-of-flight sensor on the iPhone 12 Pro models. And, of course, the iPad Pro 2020 released earlier this year includes a LiDAR scanner, signaling Apple's plans for the iPhone 12.
A leaked iPhone 12 Pro schematic shows what a time-of-flight lens might look like on the iPhone 12 Pro's camera array, and where it fits alongside the main, telephoto and ultrawide lenses found on Apple's current iPhone Pro models.
Expect the sensor to more accurately judge the distance between your phone and the object you're shooting. That will lead to better portrait shots, while also enabling more accurate object tracking and effects in those AR apps Apple is so keen on. One rumored use would let users point their iPhone 12 at items in Apple Stores and Starbucks and see digital information appear on the phone's display.
Based on a patent filing, Apple is also working on a periscope-like telephoto lens that should provide a longer zoom range than previous iPhones. Apple is apparently trying to fit five-lens and three-lens arrays into a smaller space by using a prism to reflect light.
DigiTimes have published claims that the next iPhone will use "sensor shift", a new kind of image stabilization technology, on its cameras. The technology works by detecting how the phone is moving, and then moving the camera sensors in the opposite direction using small actuators, keeping your picture stable. This is different from the fairly common optical image stabilization (OIS) on other modern smartphone cameras, which moves the lens rather than the sensor, and hopefully for Apple will be more effective at producing quality shots even in shaky hands.
Last November, Sony began teasing its upcoming flagship IMX686 image sensor, which could make it into the iPhone 12. The sensor captures 64 megapixels, though it also has the ability to deliver optimized 16-megapixel shots with improved light sensitivity, thanks to Quad Bayer pixel-binning. The image sensors employed in all three iPhone 11 models are manufactured by Sony and rated at 12 megapixels.
iPhone 12 performance
It's a foregone conclusion the iPhone 12 line will be powered by Apple's next-generation A-series chip. What we don't know quite yet is how powerful that silicon will be, though a leaked Geekbench 5 score card suggests the upcoming range of iPhones will wipe the floor with competing Android flagships.
Even though Qualcomm's Snapdragon 865 chipset has somewhat closed the gap to Apple's current A13 Bionic CPU, the rumored 5-nanometer A14 Bionic could once again blow Cupertino's lead wide open. According to the leaked screenshot, the iPhone 12 could reach a peak multi-core score of 4,612 points. If true, that would be roughly 1,500 points higher than Samsung's Galaxy S20 Ultra.
The catch, of course, is that leaked benchmarks are quite easy to fake. So while these purported numbers are very exciting, we recommend you wait for further leaks to corroborate these results before buying the hype.
We haven’t heard much about battery life for the iPhone 12, but there is a report claiming Apple, Samsung, Oppo and other manufacturers will very soon start making chargers that use new gallium nitride technology that cuts the size of power adapters while keeping the same wattage. That means that the iPhone 12 could deliver 65 watts of power in a compact charger instead of the huge brick that comes with the 16-inch MacBook Pro.
iPhone 12 display: 120Hz refresh rate
The new iPhone 12's display could support a welcome improvement over the screens on many current smartphones. A tweet from leaker Ice Universe claims that Apple is considering whether to let next year's iPhone switch between a 60Hz and 120Hz refresh rate, much like every new Galaxy S20 model can. This rumor received more weight in October 2019, when DigiTimes reported that the iPhone 12 will have the same 120Hz refresh rate as the iPad Pro.
Offering an iPhone Pro with a 120Hz refresh rate would mean a smoother scrolling display than anything we've currently seen from many rival devices, especially if Apple can offer the feature by default. (On the Galaxy S20, you have to enable the 120Hz refresh rate, and the feature only works at Full HD resolution.) Right now, the OnePlus 8 Pro joins the S20 lineup with a 120Hz refresh rate, as does the ROG 2 Phone from Asus. Other devices from Google, OnePlus and Motorola sport 90Hz refresh rates, while the iPhone 11 lineup remains at 60Hz.
At least one analyst thinks the 120Hz feature may not make it to the iPhone 12 Pro. Ross Young says that only one phone in 2020 is likely to have the LTPO technology needed to balance the faster refresh rate with decent battery life. That device is likely to be the Samsung Galaxy Note 20, which is expected to launch in late summer.
iPhone 12 Touch ID in display?
At least one model of the iPhone 12 could offer an under-display ultrasonic fingerprint sensor, which would bring Touch ID back in a new way. This is according to a report in Economic Daily News, and Ross Young has subsequently said all iPhone 12 models will feature Y-OCTA integrated touch.
Where would the sensor be? A previous report said that Apple would enable fingerprint recognition anywhere on the display, according to information provided to MacRumors by Barclays analysts.
However, Ming-Chi Kuo said that it's possible the 2021 iPhones could feature both Face ID and Touch ID. That would mean we'd have to wait until next year for an in-display fingerprint sensor.
iPhone 12 Face ID
Today Face ID is used for unlocking your phone, approving app purchases, entering passwords and confirming Apple Pay payments, but one more use could be on the way. As reported by AppleInsider, Apple has been awarded a patent for Face ID that would introduce a very useful application.
The patent explores using Face ID to determine the position of a user's face relative to the phone. That would mean that even if they're interacting with your handset while it's lying flat on a table, or you're holding the iPhone 12 on its side or up over your head, the device would know exactly which direction the screen should be oriented.
It's possible that this feature could be issued as part of iOS 14 and make its way to all iPhones that support Face ID, as opposed to just being an iPhone 12 exclusive.
iPhone 12 accessories
The iPhone typically ships with a set of earbuds and a charger. (In the case of the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max, that's a fast 18-watt charger.) But Apple may have different plans for the iPhone 12.
Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo expects Apple to leave EarPods out of the iPhone 12 box. That would seem like a curious omission, but Kuo believes that Apple is going to try to get customers to upgrade to its wireless AirPods by shipping its next iPhones without included earbuds for the first time ever.
iPhone 12 outlook
Based on the rumors surrounding the iPhone 12, Apple's 2020 phone update sounds like an exciting one. Now we just need more clarity on when Apple will be able to release all the new iPhone 12 models.
It sounds like the biggest improvements will come in the areas of 5G connectivity and support for augmented reality apps with the time-of-flight sensor slated for some iPhone 12 models. The importance of 5G hinges heavily on how far along wireless carriers are with building out 5G coverage by the time the iPhone 12 ships. And we would expect more info on AR apps during whatever form the online WWDC takes in June.
Even with daily iPhone 12 leaks, there's still so much we don't know about Apple's first 5G iPhones. So be sure to keep an eye on this hub over the coming months as new information surfaces.