> When will the new iPhone come out?
> Design changes
> Leaked photos, illustrations & videos
> New features
> How much will the iPhone 12 cost?
> What’s in the box?
> Further reading
The iPhone 12 was expected to be released in September 2020, but Apple has surprisingly confirmed it will be delayed. The question is, how late will it be? And will it be split into two separate launches? In this article we report the latest news about the new iPhone’s release date, design, new features, price and tech specs, and cut through the gossip.
With a matter of weeks to go we’ve got a good idea of what to expect. The design has been leaked, and the full specs list revealed – including a processor that could offer speed gains of up to 15% thanks to its use of a 5nm manufacturing process. We have the prices of every model, too, which seem likely to go up again this year.
Finally, and controversially, it looks like Apple won’t bundle any headphones or a charger with the iPhone 12, which is sure to make a few people quite annoyed.
When will the new iPhone come out?
The next batch of iPhones will be announced in autumn 2020, but it may not be in the traditional September slot. We now expect the iPhone 12 to come out in October 2020.
After Apple’s financial report in July, CFO Luca Maestri confirmed that the iPhone 12 would come out a few weeks later than usual. That’s still vague, but things must be serious for the secrecy-obsessed company to have reached the point of commenting publicly on its product launch plans.
A couple of Twitter sources recently claimed the launch event would take place on 8 September, which feels wildly optimistic right now. Other sources, meanwhile, have suggested the release could be pushed back into 2021, which seems unduly pessimistic; we understand, after all, that iPhone 12 manufacture is underway. (On that subject, it’s believed that the iPhone 12 will be partially manufactured in India.)
Instead, October seems to be the most likely month. Jon Prosser, a YouTube presenter and leaker with a decent track record, has tweeted (amid a flurry of predictions) that the iPhone 12 will be unveiled in the week commencing 12 October.
In terms of onsale dates, Prosser subscribes to the currently popular theory that Apple is going to deal with production bottlenecks by splitting the iPhone 12 launch in two. It will release the two 6.1in models initially, supply-chain sources claim (that’s the 12 Max and 12 Pro), followed by the 5.4in iPhone 12 and the 6.7in 12 Pro Max a few weeks later. Because the first two would be based on the same OLED screens, it would ease some of the pressure on Apple’s manufacturing partners.
More specifically, Prosser says we can expect preorders of the iPhone 12 and 12 Max to commence in the week commencing 12 October (the same as the announcement) and shipping to start the following week. He says the iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max will be available for preorder, and start to ship, in November.
We’re starting to get a good idea of what the iPhone 12 will look like, as numerous leaks and rumours coalesce towards a single point of consensus. (One thing that’s generally agreed upon, for example, is that the foldable iPhone prototype won’t become a commercial product this year – that’s one for 2021 or beyond.)
Most recently, the leaker Max Weinbach claims to have obtained CAD schematics for the iPhone 12 Max (see image above), from which the YouTube channel EverythingApplePro 3D-printed a sample and showed it off in the following video:
Weinbach stresses that the schematics are not complete – he says “basically display and body are correct but the camera setup is wrong as a security measure” – and cynics might view this as an attempt to cover himself in case it’s wrong. But it fits with much of what we’d been hearing previously.
Watch the video for the full details, but the highlights include:
Bezels that are 0.9mm thinner than on the 11 Pro Max
Larger screen: 6.7in, compared to 6.5in
Thinner chassis: 7.4mm, compared to 8.1mm
Much smaller notch
LiDAR sensor forms fourth element in square camera array
It’s been expected for a while that we could see the shrinking or total elimination of the notch.
The notch contains important sensors – those for Face ID, for example – and removing it would raise design problems, of course. Apple may go for a punch-hole design, which is a compromise of its own. But we feel that would be the worst of both worlds: an admission that the notch was a misstep, the loss of an iconic piece of design, and a failure, still, to actually provide a seamless all-screen design.
Based on the leaks above, it looks like the notch will remain, but take up less space. Which will please many but won’t satisfy all.
We suspect that the market as a whole will find it even more disappointing, however, if a more recent rumour is correct: that the notch won’t be any smaller. (This is based on leaked CAD images, which imply that Apple may have been seeding misinformation.)
In a video released near the end of August, Jon Prosser claimed to have evidence confirming that the notch will remain the same size, although he softened the blow by saying that it will seem smaller because the screen bezels will be thinner.
PhoneArena has posted concept illustrations showing an iPhone with four camera lenses on the rear. This is madness, surely… Although it does fit the square housing rather neatly. (The flash is placed in the centre.)
It now appears more likely that the fourth sensor will be LiDAR, like on the new iPad Pro, than a fourth camera lens.
There is also talk of a big-zoom periscope lens, but that’s not expected to appear until 2022.
The 2020 iPhones will come in three screen sizes: 5.4in and 6.1in for the basic models, and 6.1in and 6.7in for the Pros. That comes from May’s spec dump, but these numbers have been circulating for a while.
If you’re wondering what a 5.4in notched iPhone would look like, you’re in luck: a MacRumors forum user bought a dummy of the expected design and took photos comparing it to the first-gen iPhone SE and iPhone 7.
It looks ideal for one-handed use, doesn’t it? We got the same impression last year when Max Rudberg, a Swedish graphic designer, created a concept illustration of how the new 5.4in size might look.
The Macotakara report linked above also supports the existence of the new sizes. The site predicted some while ago that iPhones in 5.4in, 6.1in and 6.7in sizes would be launched in late 2020.
The death of Lightning
It’s a recurrent rumour, but will 2020 be the year Apple finally gives in and replaces its proprietary Lightning port with USB-C, as it did on its iPad Pro models in 2018?
In strategic terms we’re inclined to think probably not, since that was a special case – fast data transfers to and from cameras being a requirement of many digital creatives. And owners of Lightning-based headphones and other accessories would be pretty ticked off.
But Apple’s hand may be forced. The EU has been flexing its muscles for some time, and in January proposed (and subsequently voted to expedite) a measure to force all mobile manufacturers to standardise around USB-C. As the Register observes, however, Apple has ignored such measures in the past and may do so again in the future.
If we think in the longer term, Apple has given some thought to the idea of ditching the idea of physical charging ports altogether: a patent uncovered in February shows an iPhone with no Lightning port, no USB-C, and no buttons. But don’t expect anything as radical as this to arrive in 2020: rather, the portless iPhone will be here in 2021. (That theory is backed up by a second source.)
The iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max come in silver, gold, Space Grey and Midnight Green colour finishes; the iPhone 11 is available in white, black, green, yellow, purple and red. That’s a lot of choice, but what do we expect from the late-2020 generation?
The plain iPhone 12 will follow the 11 in the main, but Apple will tweak the offering depending on which colours were most popular. The XR from the year before came in white, black, blue, yellow, coral (reddish-pink) and red, but Apple dropped blue and coral in 2019 and replaced them with purple and green. If one of those hasn’t performed, it’ll get dropped in turn.
As for the iPhone 12 Pro handsets, we expect a new colour: navy blue. The leaker Max Weinbach has predicted (on the YouTube channel Everything Apple Pro) that this will replace Midnight Green – which we like, but provoked mixed reactions when it was announced. Here’s what a navy blue iPhone 12 Pro could look like, in a mockup created by the site:
Leaked photos, illustrations & videos
We’ve already seen PhoneArena’s mock-up of what the iPhone 12 would look like with four rear-facing camera lenses, and EverythingApplePro’s mockup of a navy-blue finish, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. In this section we will post the best iPhone 12 leaked photos, concept illustrations and videos as they appear.
The latest leak is a batch of photos showing iPhone 12 dummy models, sourced from a case manufacturer and posted on a fan community named HaAppelistim. For that reason the reliability of the images is open to dispute, but they fit with current theories about the iPhone 12 design – namely, that it will have flat sides much like the iPhone 4.
Next up, what do you make of these mysterious photos of the iPhone 12’s chassis? They appear to show a circular arrangement of 36 magnets whose purpose is currently unknown, although they may be intended to work with the upcoming AirPower wireless charging pad, or (more radically) to enable the phone to act as a charging pad in its own right.
The magnets could even be designed to hold the iPhone 12 against a metal stand or… a fridge. Surely that’s going too far.
This leaked photo of an alleged 5.4in iPhone 12 comes from the Chinese social network Weibo. It appears to show that the notch will remain the same size on this petite version of the handset.
We’ve also got aluminium ‘moulds’ of the iPhone 12, which suggest the next generation of handsets will have straight sides and the same notch design as the iPhone 11.
Note, however, that moulds of this kind are frequently created by accessory makers based on popular rumours rather than inside information from Apple, so they could just reflect our own theories back at us. Don’t bank on these being accurate. Read more in our separate article iPhone 12 moulds ‘leak’ indicating straight sides.
Next we’ve got photos of dummy units, posted to Twitter by well-known leaker Sonny Dickson.
The models clearly show a new square-sided design, reminiscent of the iPad Pro and the old iPhone 5. As for the camera arrangement, don’t take that for granted; Dickson warns that “cameras should not be taken 100%”. Maybe we’ll get three lenses on the back, like here, but maybe Apple will squeeze in a fourth sensor. Read more here: iPhone 12 dummies reveal flat-sided design.
And that’s not it for dummy units. The following dummies of all four iPhone 12 models, showing clearly the three different screen sizes and relocated SIM trays to accommodate the 5G antenna, come from the Japanese blog Macotakara, which cites “Alibaba sources”.
Controversially, they have just twin- and triple-lens cameras on the rear, rather than the triple-lens-plus-LiDAR expected on the iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max. Remember they’re just dummies, not the real thing.
Up next – allegedly – is a photo of the motherboard that will be used in the iPhone 12.
The image was posted to Twitter by everythingdesignleaks but originated on Chinese social media – indeed, it may have been taken back in 2019 but hasn’t attracted attention until now. It’s L-shaped, which may seem odd considering that the iPhone 11’s board is rectangular, but Apple has used L-shaped boards in the past, such as in the iPhone 8.
The Swedish site Svetapple has posted a large number of attractive concept illustrations of the iPhone 12 Pro. Remember these are not official leaks, but simply an artist’s impression.
The most noteworthy aspects of Svetapple’s renders are the new blue colour finish – although that has been rumoured before – and the inclusion of a LiDAR scanner, as on the 2020 iPad Pro.
Here’s a more detailed look at the specs and features expected to appear:
Next we’ve got photos and video of a leaked prototype from within Apple’s supply chain, posted by the Japanese blog Macotakara. The site claims it’s a 3D mockup obtained from “Alibaba sources”, although it cautions that the leak’s credibility is unknown.
You’ll note that the iPhone 12 depicted here has a far more squared-off edge than the iPhone 11 Pro Max (which it’s compared to in the righthand image). This design brings the 12 closer to the 2018 and 2020 iPad Pro models.
Most intriguingly, the site spotted a mysterious connector on one edge of the device:
It looks like the magnetic connector that recent iPad Pros use to attach and charge the second-gen Apple Pencil, but as Macotakara points out, that stylus is too large to fit on a smartphone. It speculates about the possibility of a new, petite version of the Apple Pencil being released to suit the iPhone 12.
For a closer look, here’s a video of the same mockup unit being examined.
Next is this concept video of the iPhone 12 Pro, from Concept Creator. It depicts the new handset with a slightly different arrangement of camera lenses on the rear.
The German design studio Hasan Kaymak has created a concept video of the iPhone 12 Pro Max with an astonishing cluster of rear-facing camera lenses and sensors. It also ditches the notch and Torx screws – since apparently the display is stuck on to the frame – and adds a 45W charger and fast wireless charging.
Up next is this stunning effort from Miloš Toman, which also goes for a quad-lens design but arranges them in a more elegant vertical formation:
Toman came up with this back in March 2019, but there are now lots of Android phones on the market with vertically aligned rear cameras, including the OnePlus 7T Pro and (with five lenses!) the Xiaomi Mi Note 10. Indeed the twin lenses on the iPhone XS and 11 are arranged vertically, and we feel that it’s a slightly more attractive approach than the big square deployed on the 11 Pro and many concept images of the 12. The consensus is, however, that Apple will go for a square again this year.
Toman has also created a video showcasing this design:
A new iPhone needs a flagship feature – something an announcement event can be built around. In 2019 it was all about the cameras (triple lenses and night mode). In 2020 we think it will be 5G, if Apple can pull it off in time.
Android phone manufacturers have been widely offering 5G for some time – since before the iPhone 11 launched, in fact – but Apple is behind the curve in this department. Why the delay?
The problem is getting someone to supply the modems. Apple used to partner with Qualcomm but the two firms had a major falling-out over patents; later a relationship was set up with Intel, but that company has since quit the 5G arena… and sold most of its smartphone modem…