The iPhone 12 you really want might be delayed

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

Apple has confirmed that the new iPhone 12 will be delayed by a few weeks, which means we should not see the phones available for sale in September. So what is the iPhone 12 release date? It could depend on the model.

If a new report from Digitimes proves true (via MacRumors), the iPhone 12 release dates could be staggered, with two models launching in the first wave and the other two going on sale after that.

If you haven’t been following all of the iPhone 12 leaks, there are four models expected this time around. The entry-level iPhone 12 will be 5.4 inches and the iPhone 12 Max will have a 6.1-inch display. The iPhone 12 Pro is tipped to have a 6.1-inch screen as well, while the iPhone 12 Pro Max will be a huge 6.7 inches.

According to Digitimes, Apple “may launch its 5G iPhones in two stages, with two 6.1-inch models in the first and another two 6.7- and 5.4-inch devices in the second.”

This would mean that the iPhone 12 Max and iPhone Pro would go on sale first, while the regular iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro Max would come in the second wave. Digitimes’ sources say that suppliers of SLP (substrate-like PCB) mainboards for the 6.1-inch iPhone 12 models have already started shipping, while the others will kick off in late August.

iPhone 12 vs iPhone 12 Pro: What's different?

Although the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro will all be powered by Apple’s new A14 Bionic processor and offer 5G connectivity, there are key differences based on leaks. The iPhone 12 is said to have two rear cameras, while the iPhone 12 Pro phones should get a third telephoto lens plus a LiDAR sensor for enhanced augmented reality experiences.

In addition, the iPhone 12 Pro phones may offer a 120Hz refresh rate on their displays, which would result in smoother scrolling and overall performance. But a recent rumor cast doubt on this feature.

If the price leaks we’ve heard are legit, the 5.4-inch iPhone 12 would start at $649 or $699 and the prices would go up from there, with the iPhone 12 Max costing $749 or $799. The iPhone 12 Pro would cost $999-$1,049 and the iPhone 12 Pro Max would carry a premium of $1,099-$1,149.

A precedent of staggered iPhone releases

Apple has staggered the release date of its iPhones before. For example, in 2017 the iPhone 8 launched in September and the iPhone X (which introduced Face ID) came out in November. And in 2018, the more affordable iPhone XR released in October after the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max launched in September.

We’ll have to see if the Digitimes report proves true, but if it does shoppers would have to wait for the 5.4-inch iPhone 12, which may prove to be the most popular model because of its relatively affordable price.

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.