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iPhone 12 leak reveals release date surprise

iPhone 12 render by PhoneArena
(Image credit: Phone Arena)

If you're getting whiplash from all of the iPhone 12 release date rumors, we don't blame you. Because there's yet a new report that contradicts something we heard earlier in the week.

According to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo (via 9to5Mac), "the non-Pro iPhone 12 models may go on sale ahead of the Pro versions." This was in the same report that says that Apple has encountered issues with a iPhone 12 camera supplier, whose coatings cracked under high temperatures.

Apple already confirmed on its recent earnings call that the iPhone 12 will be "a few weeks later" than usual. But it's possible that Apple could stagger the release dates of the phones, perhaps starting in October.

There are four reported iPhone 12 models coming: a 5.4-inch iPhone 12, a 6.1-inch iPhone 12 Max, a 6.1-inch iPhone 12 Pro and a 6.7-inch iPhone 12 Pro Max. All four handsets are expected to feature Apple's new A14 Bionic chip, 5G connectivity and a sleeker design with flatter sides.

But the iPhone 12 Pro models should include a telephoto camera plus a LiDAR sensor for better photography and AR performance. There have been several leaks pointing to a 120Hz screen for the iPhone 12 Pro devices, but that now seems in doubt based on a leak from display analyst Ross Young.

iPhone 12 release date confusion

Just a few days ago we heard that the two 6.1-inch iPhone 12 models could launch first, which means they would be ahead of the 5.4-inch iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro Max. This was based on a Digitimes report. 

But this new analyst note contradicts that report, saying that the two iPhone 12 models could come after the two regular iPhone 12 handsets. From a marketing perspective, separating out the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 makes more sense, as opposed to launching a non-Pro and one Pro model first.

In terms of pricing, the 5.4-inch iPhone 12 should prove to be the most popular model, as it could start as low as $649. So it would be wise for Apple to launch that model first given the economic climate. 

A previous rumor pointed to Apple hosting a virtual event for the iPhone 12 as early as Sept. 8, which could still happen. It would just mean a relatively long wait between launch and the actual release dates. 

Mark Spoonauer

Mark Spoonauer is the global editor in chief of Tom's Guide and has covered technology for nearly 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. 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.