Don't expect cheaper iPhone prices this fall, just better features

iPhone 12 Pro Navy Blue mockup
iPhone 12 Pro Navy Blue mockup (Image credit: EverythingApplePro/Max Weinbach)

Facing an unprecedented worldwide slowdown, Apple is likely to adjust the prices on its upcoming iPhone 12 lineup. Unfortunately, don't let the headlines fool you. These are modest price changes, at best, and probably not enough to save the company from experiencing deep losses this year due to COVID-19.

Matching with previous rumors, Apple leaker Jon Prosser says the company will reveal four new handsets this fall. Taking to Twitter on Thursday morning, he says these models will range in price from $649 for the least expensive "iPhone 12" to $1,099 for the cheapest "iPhone 11 Pro Max."

Phone 12 (2020): Rumors, release date, price, features, and more

The tentative models are all expected to feature OLED and 5G capabilities and improved internals. These likely will include:

  • iPhone 12, 5.4-inches w/two rear cameras, $649
  • iPhone 12 Plus, 6.1-inches, w/two rear cameras, $749
  • iPhone 12 Pro, 6.1-inches, w/three rear cameras and LiDAR, $999
  • iPhone 12 Pro Max, 6.7-inches, w/three rear cameras and LiDAR, $1,099.

As a comparison, here are the starting prices for the current iPhone 11 series phones plus the 2018 iPhone XR, which is still on sale:

  • iPhone XR, 6.1-inches, w/one rear camera, LCD, $599
  • iPhone 11, 6.1-inches, w/two rear cameras, LCD, $699
  • iPhone 11 Pro, 5.8-inches, w/three rear cameras, OLED, $999
  • iPhone 11 Pro Max, 6.5-inches, w/three rear cameras, OLED, $1,099

More features, mostly the same price

Assuming Prosser's numbers are correct, and his track record suggests they are, Apple's fall plans aren't centered around price breaks. Instead, it's going to offer many more features at similar price points. You can see this when you compare current versus proposed models. Notice, these aren't discounts, folks.

  • For $50 more than the iPhone XR, iPhone 12 buyers will receive a better display, an additional camera, and 5G.
  • Add $50 more than the current iPhone 11, and iPhone 12 Plus buyers will receive an improved screen and 5G.

According to Prosser, there are no price changes incoming for this year's Pro models. However, there are significant feature changes coming.

  • Starting at $999, iPhone 12 Pro customers get a larger display compared to the iPhone 11 Pro, plus 5G and LiDAR.
  • At $1,099 and higher, iPhone 12 Pro Max customers also get a larger screen, 5G, and LiDAR.

Missing information

We still don't know the storage options Apple plans to offer for this year's lineup. The company has always been stingy when it comes to iPhone storage, both in what it offers and how much it charges from one option to the next. With no price hike on this year's Pro models, coupled with impressive upgrades, I don't expect any change to storage offerings in 2020. This news means no 1TB iPhone for another year.

Another point so far without an answer is what Apple plans to do about its current iPhone lineup. The recently released iPhone SE (2020) isn't going anywhere, of course, and the iPhone XR is almost certainly going bye-bye in the fall. The future for the other three models is unknown.

Were Apple to keep any of the iPhone 11 models around after this fall, they'd need to have a price above the iPhone SE (2020) and below the cheapest iPhone 12, which is at $329 and $599, respectively.

The most likely candidate for this slot is the iPhone 11, which means the end of the iPhone 11 Pro/iPhone 11 Pro Max. This decision makes sense and would match what Apple did last fall when it announced the iPhone 11 series. Then, the iPhone XR stuck around while Apple ended the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Plus.

An unusual move

I still believe the company's best option would be to delay any iPhone 12 launch until 2021. From a practical perspective, however, I can see why Apple probably isn't going down this path. And yet, releasing four new phones this fall sound inappropriate, given that millions of would-be iPhone buyers are now out of work because of COVID-19.

My best bet: Without a substantial economic revival in the coming months, watch for Apple to discount the new iPhones once the holiday season is over. Stay tuned.

Bryan M Wolfe
Staff Writer

Bryan M. Wolfe has written about technology for over a decade on various websites, including TechRadar, AppAdvice, and many more. Before this, he worked in the technology field across different industries, including healthcare and education. He’s currently iMore’s lead on all things Mac and macOS, although he also loves covering iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. Bryan enjoys watching his favorite sports teams, traveling, and driving around his teenage daughter to her latest stage show, audition, or school event in his spare time. He also keeps busy walking his black and white cocker spaniel, Izzy, and trying new coffees and liquid grapes.