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iPhone 12 starting price just leaked — and there's some bad news

iPhone 12
(Image credit: EverythingApplePro)

For a while now, we’ve been under the impression that while the iPhone 12 Pro series may be getting a modest price hike, the regular iPhone 12 will be comparable to the iPhone 11 in cost. Sources stated that it would likely start at the same $699 as the 64GB iPhone 11, with some even optimistically predicting a cut to $649.

Now another leaker has poured some cold water on this optimism on Weibo. Highlighting that “Apple is not a charity,” the user suggests that the cost of components has gone up by $50 thanks to the inclusion of a 5G modem and OLED screen. Taking that at face value, the cheapest new iPhone might come in at $749.

Before analyzing the claims, a little about the source, who isn’t somebody we’ve come across before. He goes by a name that translates as “Mobile phone chip man,” and has amassed some 300,000 followers on the Chinese social networking site, so he clearly carries some sway in the field. The cost also isn’t out of step with what’s been suggested before, with the analysts at TrendForce predicting price hikes of between $50 and $100 across all iPhone 12 models.

So will the iPhone 12 really cost $749? On one hand, numerous reports have highlighted the cost saving methods Apple has in place this year. It’s heavily rumored, for example, that the iPhone 12 family will ship without a charger or EarPods. Additionally, reports suggest that Apple has found a way to save 40-50% on the cost of its batteries, as compared to the iPhone 11.

And while our leaker is right to highlight that Apple isn’t a charity, it is nonetheless ludicrously rich. If the company wanted to subsidize the cost of the iPhone 12 a little to boost sales figures, it could do so without breaking a sweat — especially if it’s confident that enough of those buyers will subscribe to its new Apple One subscription service. We are in a Covid-19-led recession, after all, and Apple might think that the PR of keeping prices static is worth the modest hit to its bottom line.    

Then again, history really isn’t on our side on this one. As the chart below indicates, the iPhone pricing trend has been pretty easy to follow, and it’s not good news for those on a budget.

While there are fluctuations, and the graph is softened by older models getting price cuts, Apple’s flagship iPhone has gone from costing $600 in 2007 to as high as $1,449 in 2020. Even adjusting for inflation, that’s steep.

Ultimately, nobody ever went broke by betting on Apple products being expensive. While we can hope for a $649-$699 launch price, you might want to mentally prepare yourself for that $749 bill just in case.