We're only about four months away from the traditional fall release of the new generation of iPhone, and though we're expecting a delay in shipping, we are confident that Apple is still making and will announce a new iPhone this fall. There have been a lot of leaks and rumors this year, plus a few creative fans with a knack for digital rendering, so much so that we practically know everything about the 2020 iPhone months before it's even in mass production. That is unless Apple throws us for a loop and completely changes everything.
All of the information we've gathered here is educated speculation, analysis, rumors, or leaks. None of it is official from Apple, which means all of it could potentially be wrong (but we don't think so).
Word on the street is that this year's iPhone update will be much more than just an off-year upgrade. There's a complete redesign, a couple of brand new sizes, a lower price point, new camera technology, and more. There may be new display technology, some upgraded internals, and possibly 5G support.
This is not a typical "S" year update.
There are some rumors that will fade into nothingness (at least for another year or two), and some leaks that are so detailed that they just have to be true.
So what can we expect from the next flagship iPhone? There's quite a lot to unpack.
Name: Not your typical "s" upgrade
For years, Apple followed a very strict pattern of launching a new iPhone with a new number, followed by a smaller upgrade the next year. When carriers sold iPhones with two-year contracts, a person could get the new model one year or a slightly better new model the following year. When Apple released the iPhone X, that strict schedule was thrown out the window.
Though we did see the iPhone Xs in its "off-year," and the iPhone 11 in 2019, we're actually expecting to see another break from tradition with the iPhone 12 in 2020.
First noted by Apple analyst (and reliable leaker) Ming-Chi Kuo, the 2020 iPhone is likely going to skip the "s" and go straight to 12. When you find out how much this year's iPhone is going to change, you'll understand why.
Not only are we expecting the 2020 iPhone to be called the iPhone 12, but rumor has it, there are four different models; iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Max, iPhone 12 Pro, and iPhone 12 Pro Max. More on the size of each of these models below.
Design: iPhone 4 style
When Apple switched its iconic chamfered edge style of the iPhone to a more rounded edge with the iPhone 6, we were excited about a new design, but some of us secretly missed that beautiful flat edge with just the slightest angle.
In 2018, Apple updated the iPad Pro with that same chamfered edge, which got us all wishing and hoping for a call back to the iPhone 4 design for the newest models. Two iPhone iterations later and no flat edge.
This year, however, there is intense speculation and a credible leak that the iPhone 12 will have the same flat edge design as the older iPhones but with the size and dimensions of the current iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro. There is also a supposed CAD design leak from the supply chain supporting this information.
Some additional changes note that the iPhone 12 is expected to be thinner, but have a more protruding camera bump, and it will have wider antennas and relocated SIM tray.
In addition to the flat edge design (that I really hope we get), a similarly reliable leak shows the new iPhone with a smaller camera notch and thinner bezels (by about .5mm to .6mm).
Display: Super Retina vs. XDR
There's been a long-standing rumor that the iPhone 12 lineup may be all-in on OLED. Not just the Pro models, but the standard iPhone, as well.
DigiTimes reported more than a year ago that standard and premium iPhones would all have OLED displays in 2020.
Apple reportedly plans to launch three OLED-based new iPhone devices in 2020 available in 5.42-, 6.06- and 6.67-inch sizes, respectively, according to sources from Taiwan's handset component supply chain.
Ming-Chi Kuo (via MacRumors) followed up that rumor with additional details in a research note.
We expect that the new 2H20 iPhone lines will include the high-end 6.7-inch and 5.4-inch OLED iPhone models and the low-end 6.1-inch OLED iPhone.
In May, Jon Prosser solidified this information with basically all the details about the upcoming iPhone displays.
iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Max will house a Super Retina (not Liquid Retina and not Super Retina XDR) OLED display (made by display maker BOE). iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max will have a Samsung OLED Super Retina XDR display similar to that of the iPhone 11 Pro lineup. The Pro models are expected to support 120Hz ProMotion with variable refresh rates and 10-bit color depth.
Though, there are still disagreements amongst analysts (as noted by Prosser in his video) about whether this year's iPhone will actually get 120Hz support. According to display analyst Ross Young, the only phone getting a 120Hz display this year will be the Galaxy Note 20+.
For 120Hz, you need LTPO which enables variable refresh so you can operate at 1Hz-120Hz and optimize battery life. Only one flagship phone [in 2020] will have LTPO.
Processor: 5nm of power
It's practically a given that this year's iPhone 12 will sport a new chipset called A14. Apple always puts a new chip in a new iPhone in the fall, and it's always an "A" chip followed by the number designating its version. Nothing new here.
The chip is reportedly being made by TSMC, which is rumored to be based on the company's latest 5-nanometer process. The iPhone 11 lineup uses a 7-nanometer chipset.
The faster smaller chip could be a real speed chaser. Speculation is that it could get clock speed boosts up into the 1,800 range, making it fast enough to power a MacBook Pro.
Camera: LiDAR, tigers, and bears
Earlier this year, Apple launched a new iPad Pro with a light detection and ranging (LiDAR) sensor. LiDAR uses lasers to send and receive signals determining the location of objects in a room. It's not entirely unlike how bats use echolocation to "see" their environment.
The LiDAR sensor in the iPad Pro is used to 3D scan the surrounding environment and map out exactly what's in a room and where. Though there isn't a whole lot we know so far about why Apple is adding this technology, we know that it's highly likely to also appear on the iPhone 12, though it might only be available on the Pro lineup.
It's also rumored that there will be some significant improvements to Face ID (part of the smaller notch story) and 3X zoom in instead of the 2X on the iPhone 11 Pro models.
Battery: Bigger is better in this case
We've heard very little about what to expect from the battery in the iPhone 12 lineup other than this one rumor: It's supposedly getting a 10% larger 4,400 mAh battery to support the battery-hungry new features, like the 120Hz display and the currently-unreliable 5G connectivity.
Storage: Double the size for zero extra
It appears that Apple plans to drop the lower-tier storage option of 64GB for the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro and instead offer 128GB starting on the iPhone 12 and 256GB starting on the iPhone 12 Pro.
The good news is that you get more for the price. The 256GB iPhone 12 Pro, for example, will still start at $999.
So we're losing the 64GB iPhone, but we're not paying any extra for the additional storage.
Sizes: 4 options are better than 3
Rumors (and leaks) abound that the flagship lineup of iPhones in 2020 will cover not three but four different models.
Apple's current flagship lineup of the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro are as follows:
- iPhone 11 - 6.1-inch display
- iPhone 11 Pro - 5.8-inch display
- iPhone 11 Pro Max - 6.5-inch display
The iPhone SE display size is 4.7-inches and the iPhone XR display is 6.1-inches
The 2020 flagship iPhone lineup is expected to look like this:
- iPhone 12 - 5.4-inch display
- iPhone 12 Max - 6.1-inch display
- iPhone 12 Pro - 6.1-inch display
- iPhone 12 Pro Max - 6.7-inch display
The two new sizes include the smaller sized 5.4-inch iPhone 12 and the 6.7-inch iPhone 12 Pro Max. It looks like Apple is going to broaden the iPhone appeal to fans of smaller iPhone devices and larger ones.
Colors: Good-bye green
It's not uncommon for Apple to change up color schemes from one year to the next. The iPhone XR to iPhone 11 color lineup replaced blue and coral with green and purple. It's the Pro colors that may change this year. The unique Midnight Green iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max may be discontinued in 2020, replaced with Navy Blue. I was hoping we'd get back to that rose gold again someday, but I'm on board with a different color every year. If you're on the iPhone Upgrade Program, you'll always be able to show off this season's look.
As for the non-pro iPhone 12, Apple will, almost definitely, keep the white, black, and (PRODUCT)RED colors, but everything else has the potential to be replaced.
Radios: 5G or go home
There's been some speculation that Apple won't launch its new iPhone lineup with 5G, but at this point, we're in the yes camp. There have been enough leaks and rumors to point to 5G support for all four of Apple's upcoming iPhone models.
There has also been some contention as to whether the entire iPhone 12 lineup will support both mmWave and Sub-6 5G, whether sub-6 will be supported in the iPhone 12, while mmWave will be in the Pro models, and whether location will determine which 5G standard the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro lineup will receive. According to an analyst report:
"Most markets" will get all four rumored variants of the iPhone 12 at the same time, however some markets, including the U.S., might see staggered releases where only one iPhone is initially available at launch.
Location may play a significant part in what type of 5G standard is available in different countries. It's new enough right now that mmWave technology has a reputation for being terrible unless you're sitting directly under a 5G tower. At the same time, sub-6 is often called 5G "Lite" because it pales in comparison to mmWave speeds.
Due to major impact in the supply chain, there is a chance that, no matter which 5G standard we get, shipping may be delayed from the typical September launch to as later as early December.
In a note to investors, Wedbush said:
From a timing perspective, we continue to believe there are 4 models being discussed for iPhone 12 with a mix of 4G/5G that will likely be launched between the October and early December timeframe ahead of holiday season. Importantly, we note these models can still change as Cupertino appears to still be on the white board with a mix of 4G/5G and how many models will ultimately get green lighted. From a 5G perspective, there will be a US and non-US version introduced. The US version will likely have mmWave technology, which does complicate the production timeline and also could see many units potentially shift to the March quarter vs. the December quarter.
Charging: No USB-C ... ever
According to Jon Prosser, who recently became an overnight celebrity (almost literally) because of is dead-accurate predictions of the iPhone SE 2020, the iPhone will never get a USB-C port because Apple is working toward a completely wireless iPhone. No ports. This will not be on the iPhone 12, though design leaks point to a Smart Connector that may be used in a future iPhone (iPhone 12s?) so you can charge your iPhone while holding it.
Pro models: Roundup of what's exclusive
There is so much information floating around that its difficult to keep track of what each model iPhone will feature. So here is a short list of the new features we expect to see only coming to the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max:
- 3D True Depth Camera on the back
- 3X zoom-in
- 6GB of RAM
- 512GB storage capacity
- Stainless steel body
With all of these big changes, you're probably assuming that Apple will charge more for the 2020 iPhone line up, or at the very best, charge the same price it always does. You'd be mostly right. The new Pro lineup will cost the same price as the existing Pro lineup (but with a big storage boost), while the entry-model iPhone 12 will be $50 less than the iPhone 11. Yes, I said less. That wasn't a typo. Here's the rundown:
|iPhone 12 Max||128GB||$749|
|iPhone 12 Max||256GB||$849|
|iPhone 12 Pro||128GB||$999|
|iPhone 12 Pro||256GB||$1,099|
|iPhone 12 Pro||512GB||$1,299|
|iPhone 12 Pro Max||128GB||$1,099|
|iPhone 12 Pro Max||256GB||$1,199|
|iPhone 12 Pro Max||512GB||$1,399|
Right now, the least-known fact about the iPhone 12 lineup is when it's coming out. The supply chain was hugely impacted by the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, and though Apple's manufacturing partners are back on track, the long-term (AKA: fall) effects are still unknown.
At the time of this writing, we're expecting that the iPhone 12 will still probably be announced in September, maybe early October, at the latest, with a release date of late October.
According to Wedbush Chief Technology Strategist Brad Gastwirth,
Even as China comes back on line, we are beginning to wonder if Covid-19 will impact other supply oriented geographies ... While China is improving, the supply chain for the electronics industry may yet see substantial disruptions.
Let's hope the current situation doesn't push back production even further.
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