iPhone 12 price leak is great for shoppers — and bad for Samsung Galaxy S20

(Image credit: Jonas Daehnert)

A lot of people poke fun of Apple for the 'Apple Tax' it places on its products, but if the latest iPhone 12 rumors prove true it's Samsung's flagship phones that will look overpriced.

Earlier this week a leak revealed the possible pricing for the iPhone 12 lineup, which would start at hundreds less than the Samsung Galaxy S20. Even the iPhone 12 Pro Max would have a much lower starting price than the $1,400 Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra. And this would put even more pressure on Samsung, whose sales were already struggling due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Based on his sources, Apple analyst Jon Prosser says that the entry-level iPhone 12 will cost $649. And that's with 5G connectivity, an OLED display and two rear cameras. This would be a super aggressive price given that today's iPhone 11 starts at $699. 

The main difference between this iPhone 12 and the iPhone 11 is the screen size. The entry-level iPhone 12 would have a 5.4-inch display, compared to 6.1 inches for the iPhone 11. However, Apple is also predicted to release another iPhone 12 model with a 6.1-inch display for $749. That would be a $50 premium over today's iPhone 11.

Meanwhile, the Samsung Galaxy S20 with a 6.2-inch OLED display, three rear cameras and 5G starts at $999. So the iPhone 12 could conceivably cost $350 less than Samsung's entry-level flagship and the iPhone 12 with the larger screen would cost $250 less.

The Samsung Galaxy S20 has not been faring well even without competition from an iPhone 12. According to a report in PCMag citing data from M Science, "Galaxy S20 series sales are tracking much lower than S10 or S9 sales were at the same number of weeks after launch"  While the Galaxy S10 peaked at 400,000 units sold per week in the US , the S20 hasn't broken 200,000 in any week.

So what about the more premium iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max? Jon Prosser's tweet says the iPhone 12 Pro with its 6.1-inch display, 3 cameras and LiDAR sensor will cost $999 and the iPhone 12 Pro Max with its bigger 6.7-inch screen will have a price of $1,099. So despite the addition of 5G, the Pro versions of Apple's iPhones may cost the same this time around.

By comparison, the Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus, which has a 6.7-inch display and quad-camera setup that includes a time-of-flight sensor, starts at $1,199. And the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, which has a 6.9-inch display and a powerful Space Zoom camera with up to 100x digital zoom, has a huge $1,399 starting price. The S20 Ultra also offers up to 16GB of RAM, while the S20 Plus maxes out at 12GB.

So if this pricing rumor proves true the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max will cost $200 and $300 less, respectively, than the Galaxy S20 Plus and Galaxy S20 Ultra. And that means Samsung may be forced to lower the prices on its flagship phones in order to be competitive with the iPhone 12 lineup.

Is there a "Samsung tax" on the company's premium phones? I wouldn't go that far, but the iPhone 12's arrival could prove to be a very rude awakening for the company.

Mark Spoonauer

Mark Spoonauer is the global editor in chief of Tom's Guide and has covered technology for over 20 years. In addition to overseeing the direction of Tom's Guide, Mark specializes in covering all things mobile, having reviewed dozens of smartphones and other gadgets. He has spoken at key industry events and appears regularly on TV to discuss the latest trends, including Cheddar, Fox Business and other outlets. Mark was previously editor in chief of Laptop Mag, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc. Follow him on Twitter at @mspoonauer.