But while there's a range of expected upgrades, the iPhone 12 could also be the first smartphone to ship without a charger or EarPods. It likely wouldn't be a problem for existing iPhone owners but it could put off those wanting to jump ship from Android.
iPhone 12 rumours at a glance:
- On sale in October
- Four models in the range
- 5G support across the range
- USB-C to replace Lightning port
- 120Hz ProMotion display
- Screen notch could shrink
- All models start at 128GB
- No EarPods or charger in the box
When will the iPhone 12 be released?
Traditionally, Apple holds special events in September where it launches new hardware, including new iPhones, with the handsets usually being released weeks after.
That's no real surprise though, and we've been expecting a delay since Apple's Q3 2020 earnings call, during which Apple CFO Luca Maestri said: "As you know, last year we started selling iPhones in late September. This year, we expect supply to be available a few weeks later."
It's an extraordinary move for Apple, a company that rarely comments on upcoming product launches, but it had to address the situation with its investors.
Rumours suggest that we're looking at a 13 October 2020 announcement for the iPhone. That's backed up not only by an anonymous tip sent to AppleInsider, but Apple leaker Jon Prosser too.
He predicted back in August that the iPhones would appear week commencing 12 October, and has since doubled-down on the claim, suggesting that 13 October is the day we'll see the upcoming range, before going up for pre-order on 16 October and released on 23 October.
Will the iPhone 12 have 5G?
Although we can't say it with 100% certainty, yes, the iPhone 12 will have 5G, and leaker Jon Prosser seems to think so too. Apple is rarely first to adopt new technologies, preferring instead to wait until it can offer the best possible user experience. So it wasn't a huge surprise that the iPhone 11 range stuck with 4G modems.
5G is more complicated than 4G - for various boring reasons we won't go into here, but if you're interested you can read our guide to 5G which explains that it operates on various frequencies. Put simply, some current 5G phones don't support all the frequencies, but Apple will probably want to avoid that scenario.
However, one analyst - Mehdi Hosseini of Susquehanna - predicts that Apple will first launch the iPhone 12 with only "sub-6GHz" capabilities and then launch another model a few months afterwards with "mmWave" support. This is backed up by Jon Prosser, who claims that the two cheaper models of iPhone 12 won’t support the mmWave 5G connectivity featured in the Pro variants.
A slightly different spin on the 5G connectivity of the iPhone range comes from Fast Company, claiming that even among the Pro range, it's only the iPhone 12 Pro Max that'll get access to mmWave 5G technology. The report claims it's due to the physical space required for the upgraded antennae and battery, with the rest of the iPhone range simply being too small to accommodate the mmWave tech.
As to which supplier Apple might use, Qualcomm is a good bet with its new X60 5G chip.
How many models of the iPhone 12 will there be?
While rumours were initially conflicted, various online sources now claim that there will be a new addition to the iPhone 12 range, bringing the total number of devices to four.
If we look at the state of Android phones, even Samsung's Galaxy S20 range has expanded because there's a choice of models with and without 5G. However, Jon Prosser suggests that Apple will take a more unified approach to 5G connectivity with the iPhone range, claiming that all models of iPhone 12 will be 5G-compatible (although as noted, the cheaper models won’t support mmWave 5G tech).
- iPhone 12 - 5.4in screen
- iPhone 12 - 6.1in screen
- iPhone 12 Pro - 6.1in OLED screen
- iPhone 12 Pro Max - 6.5in OLED screen
The display sizes were backed up weeks later by @DCSSRoss on Twitter. Ross Young, the founder of Display Supply Chain Consultants, has a great track record when it comes to leaking display specs so it's highly likely that he's on the money.
Along with confirming the size of the four displays, Young shared details about resolution, PPI (pixels-per-inch), aspect ratios and more, although there's no mention of potential refresh rates. Refresh rates are the 'in' thing in 2020, with many Android rivals boasting 120Hz displays, and it's rumoured to be featured on the iPhone 12 Pro range too.
Added aspect ratios and tweaked the resolution a bit based on latest info. pic.twitter.com/MtsxN9T9iQ— Ross Young (@DSCCRoss) May 19, 2020
The appearance of a new fourth model has seemingly been confirmed by Apple itself, in the most recent iOS 14 beta. As noticed by 9to5Mac, there are user interface elements within the third developer-focused iOS 14 beta that reference a new iPhone format with a 5.4in display.
It was first noticed during an analysis of the Display Zoom accessibility feature, which is now compatible with a 5.4in display - and considering the current iPhone offering ranges from 6.1in on the standard 11 to 5.8in and 6.5in on the Pro models, this could be referencing a yet-unreleased model.
The new assets are compatible with an iPhone X-esque display aspect ratio, but with an increased 960 x 2079 resolution, suggesting that it isn't for use with an older iPhone. It's not confirmation of its existence, but it's about as close as we're going to get before launch.
Jon Prosser also suggests that we’ll be getting a boost in base storage, from 64GB to 128GB across the range. You’ll also be able to pick up a 256GB variant and it’s not hard to imagine that there will be an expensive 512GB model too.
How much will the iPhone 12 cost?
While we know that Apple tends to keep the pricing at a similar level year-to-year, Prosser - who correctly predicted the launch of the 2020 iPhone SE - suggests the 6.1in iPhone 12 could be slightly more expensive than its predecessor, although a conflicting claim from Ming-Chi Kuo claims Apple is trying to cut manufacturing costs to avoid inflating the price.
Taking to Twitter, Prosser leaked US pricing for the entire iPhone 12 range, claiming that the details came from the same source that provided him with key iPhone SE information. While it's not confirmed by any means, Prosser's track record suggests that we should take note at the pricing leak.
Per Prosser's tweet and subsequent YouTube video, here's how much the iPhone 12 range could cost:
- iPhone 12 (5.4in) - $649
- iPhone 12 Max (6.1in) - $749
- iPhone 12 Pro (6.1in) - $999
- iPhone 12 Pro Max (6.7in) - $1,099
What other new features will the iPhone 12 have?
It goes without saying that there will be a new processor - the A14 Bionic - that cameras will be improved across the range, and that there'll be support for all the new features in iOS 14, but there could be much more on offer from the upcoming iPhone range.
The iPhone 11 looks great but let's be honest, it's time to switch it up a bit - and if recent leaks are to be believed, that'll happen with the launch of the iPhone 12. Aside from the addition of a new model, the iPhone 12 range is said to feature a more angular design, like that of the iPad Pro range, with flattened edges akin to that of the iPhone 5.
iPhone 12 design will likely not be what we thought. Recent iPhone 12 CADs paint a completely different picture. Did Apple pull a fast one on the leak community? pic.twitter.com/bPYoij4V41— EverythingApplePro (@EveryApplePro) June 18, 2020
The most recent CAD render to make the rounds online showcases the design while confirming a few other key features, including the LiDAR scanner, which we detail below. Interestingly, the leak suggests the LiDAR sensor will only be available on the top-end Pro model, and unlike previous leaks, the size of the notch seems to be the same as its predecessor - a disappointment if true.
There are also dummy units in the wild showcasing the new design. While these aren't concrete proof - they're used as a point of reference for case makers - they do give us a good idea at what to expect.
It's worth noting that a Nikkei Asian Review source claims that the design isn't final right now, and there's a chance that Apple could change its mind in the run-up to launch later this year, so don't get your hopes up just yet.
Talking of cameras, the rumour mill has run wild with this, and people have made concepts and mockups based on recent iPad Pro-esque design leaks, including this one for the iPhone 12 Pro Max:
The video also shows the new, squarer design and USB-C port replacing Lightning.
Rumours suggest that Apple might add just one bit of kit to the Pro (and Pro Max), but it's not a lens. ConceptsiPhone shared an image, reportedly from an early iOS 14 beta, that showcases a new camera system.
Instead of an additional lens, the leaked image suggests both Pro models will feature the same LiDAR tech as the newly-released iPad Pro range, offering huge advancements in AR tracking capabilities. This is also backed up by various other sources, including Jon Prosser.
When it comes to the iPhone 12 Pro Max, the high-end smartphone could offer higher quality slow-mo capabilities than anything on the market - that's what a recent Jon Prosser leak seems to showcase anyway.
Along with new details on display tech - which we cover below - the video and screenshots that Prosser shared seems to confirm not only the LiDAR sensors on the 12 Pro Max, seemingly used to improve "autofocus and subject detection for video and night mode", but support for [email protected] and [email protected] slow-mo too.
When it comes to the standard iPhone 12 and 12 Max, Jon Prosser suggests that there will likely be a similar dual-camera setup to the iPhone 11 range, with no LiDAR support.
During Jon Prosser’s initial iPhone 12 YouTube report, the prolific leaker claimed that, unlike the iPhone 11 range where only the Pro variants sport an OLED display, the entire iPhone 12 range will sport the high-end display tech. That should be a noticeable upgrade for most iPhone users, and if used with Dark Mode, could actually extend the battery life of the range.
It’s not just the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Max that could be getting an upgrade in the display department: Prosser and EverythingApplePro both claim that the iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max will sport OLED panels with a variable 120Hz refresh rate.
However, Prosser claimed in July that this wasn't set in stone, with Apple execs concerned about the impact that a high refresh rate has on overall battery.
Then, in late August, Prosser uploaded a second iPhone 12-themed video, this time focused on the 12 Pro Max, and it has real hands-on footage included too.
The main highlight of the video is the support for 120Hz, seemingly confirming the rumoured refresh rate, but Prosser does state that it's a PVT (product validation test) model, and that other units don't feature the same refresh rate option. It is possible that Apple has seeded both versions to testers to see if the 120Hz refresh rate can meet the company's famously high standards.
Interestingly, it seems the iPhone 12 Pro Max is larger than first suggested too, with the model in Prosser's video measuring in at 6.7in.
While it seems like the high refresh rate is confirmed, it's worth noting that DSCC analyst Ross Young claims that there won't be any 120Hz models in the iPhone 12 range, due to the lack of necessary components to handle the upgraded refresh rate.
Apple hasn't really tried to compete with Android manufacturers when it comes to fast charging, with Apple's iPhone 11 Pro range capped at 18W, but recent leaks suggest the iPhone 12 could get a bump in charge speed.
According to Twitter user Mr White, the iPhone 12 will come equipped with a 20W power brick, and even shared images of what looks like a transparent Type-A power adapter.
Mr White doesn't have a perfect track record, admittedly, but if it is true, it doesn't necessarily confirm that it'll come bundled with all models of iPhone 12 - it's only the iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max that feature Apple's 18W charger in the box, after all.
On the flip side, if Ming-Chi Kuo's latest prediction is correct, it might not ship with a charger at all. The noted analyst previously predicted the lack of EarPods in the iPhone 12 box, but now goes a step further, claiming that the iPhone 12 won't feature a charging brick either.
According to 9to5Mac, Kuo claims this is down to the inclusion of expensive 5G tech and the desire to keep the base level iPhone 12 at the same £729/$699 price tag as the iPhone 11.
This was more recently backed up by ConceptsiPhone, who shared a render showcasing the box insert for the iPhone 12, which was apparently received from a "really reliable source". The insert lacks the traditional space for the charger and wired EarPods, which lends some credit to Kuo's claim.
On the rumoured 20W charger, Kuo confirms it is the real deal, but claims it'll be bundled with future iPads and not the iPhone 12. It's a move Apple would try and spin as environmentally-friendly, and it makes sense for existing iPhone owners, but it'll likely put people off who want to make the move from Android.
The question now is, will we even get a Lightning cable in the box?
One rumour suggests this year's Lightning cable will be braided, offering much-improved durability compared to the current offering, but there's a catch: it's USB-C enabled, not USB-A. That flies in the face of the logic of removing the power brick because people already have them, as only the iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max are the only iPhones to ship with a USB-C charger, so we're not too convinced about this one.
Under-screen fingerprint sensor
Another feature we're used to on Android phones is a fingerprint sensor embedded into the screen. Qualcomm's ultrasonic sensor is perhaps the best example of this, as it can still work even if you have wet fingers.
And since the legal disputes between Apple and Qualcomm are resolved - for the moment at least - Qualcomm could supply its second-generation ultrasonic sensor for the new phones.
That's what the Chinese Economic Daily News reckons, and the article also says that Japan Display Corporation will likely supply the OLED screens - a new supplier to Apple.
The reason to re-introduce fingerprint scanning is so that Apple can create a full-screen display. Currently, the notch houses the selfie camera and the Face ID components, plus other sensors, and in order to have an all-display front, Face ID might have to go.
Otherwise, it could built a Touch ID scanner into the phone's power button, as it has done with the new iPad Air. Though analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has predicted that instead this tech will appear in a new, low-cost iPhone SE Plus in 2021.
Will it fold?
No. As we said, Apple isn't one to embrace new features quickly and given the issues that have plagued all folding phones to date (including the latest failure of a Motorola Razr screen), it's highly improbable that there will be a folding iPhone in 2020.