New iPhone 12 leak reveals good news for the price

iPhone 12 render
(Image credit: LetsGoDigital/Concept Creator)

The iPhone 12 will be getting 5G, Apple is finding ways to cut costs. And this should result in a price won't induce sticker shock in the middle of a pandemic.

Ming-Chi Kuo, respected Apple analyst and an expert in the firm's Asian supply chains, described a new hardware decision in a note to investors, seen by AppleInsider and MacRumors.

In order to make room for the 5G technology within the iPhone 12, Apple has reduced the number of layers in its cells, and shrunk their total size, according to Kuo. Apple has also put more pressure on all its component suppliers to make sure it can get the parts it needs at the lowest price.

The alterations to the battery designs apparently mean a reduction of 40-50% in the price compared to the iPhone 11's battery, with another 30-40% reduction coming next year with the batteries in the iPhone 13 (what Kuo calls the iPhone 12S). 

This seems to be good news for those concerned about the price of the iPhone 12. We've heard rumors that the 5.4-inch iPhone 12 could start as low as $649 or $699, which would be considerably less than the $999 Samsung Galaxy S20 and a heck of a lot less than the $1,299 Galaxy Note 20 Ultra

There could be a trade-off for this cost cutting, however. Kuo's claim supports previous rumors we've heard about smaller iPhone 12 battery capacities. While the iPhone 11 range has batteries between 3,046 mAh and 3,969 mAh, the iPhone 12 range starts at a much smaller 2,227 mAh, with the largest one being 3,687 mAh.

These changes are also necessary for cost-saving reasons. Kuo says that upgrading to sub-6Ghz 5G costs an extra $75 to $85 compared to standard LTE, while adding mmWave 5G costs $125 to $135 more. While Apple's flagship iPhones are without doubt premium products, increasing their prices by that much without adding major value to most users' experiences with the phone would be a hard sell.

Fortunately, the new A14 Bionic chip is rumored to be up to 30% more efficient than the A13 chip. The A14 is based on a new 5nm manufacturing process. 

Even with the battery changes, it still won't be enough on its own to offset the price of the 5G antennas, which is why Apple is rumored to be undertaking more reductions. 

We've previously heard that Apple is removing the chargers and AirPods from the iPhone 12 box. This would help reduce the price of each unit, but not including power bricks and wired earbuds may be unpopular with customers who are used to these being provided with most new smartphones.

Kuo has a very good track record when it comes to predicting what Apple's up to, but we'll only find out for sure if he's right at Apple's launch event. It's thought that the reveal of the iPhone 12 series, as well as the Apple Watch 6 and other new products, will be taking place in September or October.

Aside from its new batteries and 5G capabilities, the iPhone 12 will introduce a new A14 chipset and new handset sizes, the smallest option sporting a 5.4-inch display and the largest measuring 6.7 inches. The two iPhone 12 Pro models at the top of the range will also add a telephoto camera and a LiDAR sensor.

Richard Priday
Assistant Phones Editor

Richard is based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, tablets, gaming, and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.