Yes, this is utterly, completely, totally, add any three words that all mean the same thing, ridiculous. iPhone 11 is still 3 months away and not only are we already getting iPhone 12 rumors. Or iPhone 11s, iPhone XII, whatever it ends up being called.
Now, some people would rather just ignore them. Spoilers. Like reading the script to the next Star Wars movie before going to see it. And I totally get that. For me, it's never what Apple's doing but how they're doing it that matters, and that's so far been impossible to spoil.
For other people, they want to know as much as they can as soon as they can because whether they hold on to their current phone or go all in for the next update is a decision they're trying to make all the time. And I get that too. Phones are expensive these days.
But then there are also BS rumors or rumors reported in a BS way, and those aren't spoilers and they certainly aren't informative. They're just dumb. Or worse. Malware for the mind.
So, when new rumors come out, I think it's valuable to go through them, methodically, separate what's likely from what's not, and give you my best take on what's actually happening, even if Apple will still surprise us all with how it actually happens.
iPhone 12: Displays
When Apple debuted the iPhone X with its new design and OLED display in 2017, it also debuted the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus with their more traditional designs and LCD displays. When Apple introduced the iPhone XS and XS Max, both OLED, in 2018, it also introduced the iPhone XR, which brought the LCD display to the new design.
Back on April 2nd, though, Digitimes said 2019 would be an all OLED year. Including the third generation R model.
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.
I'll get to the sizes in a minute.
Just this week, supply chain exfiltrator extraordinaire Kuo Ming-Chi said much the same. Via MacRumors:
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.
Going to OLED, which allows for full high-dynamic range, or HDR, displays provided you mitigate the hell out issues like burn-in, off-axis color shift, and its other charming idiosyncrasies, probably means yields have gone up and costs down. Otherwise, it'd be hard to source enough panels, especially for the currently hot-selling R line, while keeping the prices in line.
I still dream of the day MicroLED or some other technology gives us all the great characteristics of OLED without the drawbacks, and I am concerned how Apple will address the Pulse Width Modulation used to save power at lower brightness levels, which some people can see and even get eyestrain and headaches.
If there are no longer any up-to-date LCD options, the OLED options will have to workable for everyone.
iPhone 12: Sizes
So, yeah, those sizes. According to both the Digitimes and Kuo Ming-Chi reports, instead of 5.8-inches for the regular model and 6.5 for the Max model, we'll be getting a smaller 5.4-inches for the regular model and a bigger 6.7 for the Max model. The R line, they say, will stick to it's sweet 6.1 spot in the middle.
So, why go smaller… and bigger? That I'm not sure about, and I'll be eager to hear how Phil Schiller or Joz pitches it at the 2020 iPhone event. And yeah, I'm totally aware how whacky that sounds out loud.
We've had smaller screen sizes in the past, of course, including the fan favorite iPhone SE at 4-inches and the iPhone 6 and successors at 4.7-inches, but those were back in the day of bigger bezels.
So, you could probably fit a 4.7-inch screen into something the size of the SE, the way Apple fit a 5.8-inch screen into something the size of the iPhone 6.
Would 5.4-inches be small enough to satisfy those SE fans, at least the ones who were fans of the size rather than price? Would it be too small for those who currently really like the 5.8-inch model?
Would 6.7-inches instead of 6.5 for the Max be enough to enable even more iPad-like features, even without the 7.6-inch iPad mini aspect ratio? Or would it be just too much for some people to want to hold?
Or are there other things going on here with aspect ratio or other components that aren't being taken into account yet, but will absolutely affect the overall experience.
I have so many questions!
iPhone 12: 5G Radios
Again, from the same Kuo Ming-Chi report this week:
The 6.7-inch and 5.4-inch OLED iPhone models will likely support 5G.
So, in other words, the regular iPhone model and the Max model will get 5G but the R model will not. Which, you know, in all honesty is fine.
5G is currently only available in small pockets in certain cities, if you stand on one leg and twist yourself around just so. By next fall, it will be better. But it's unclear how much better and for how many people. And it's super-unclear how many services will exist that really take advantage of it, other than "Wow, I downloaded the new Black Widow movie in 7 seconds!"
So, for people who really want 5G, thanks to the settlement, Apple will have the next-generation Qualcomm modems to do it well and as efficiently as possible on the flagship phones, and for people who don't have it or want it, they can save some money with the R model.
And Apple can keep working away on their own custom modem designs for 2022 or whenever, 6G and beyond.
iPhone 12: Touch ID
We all know Apple replaced Touch ID with Face ID starting with the 2017 iPhone X. They didn't want to do both because it would make an already expensive phone more expensive and, management felt if they didn't burn the boats behind them, if they didn't remove Touch ID as an option, they wouldn't have the incentive needed to really make Face ID a full on, stand alone, authentication technology all its own.
But, for 2020, Barclays analyst Blayne Curtis is saying Touch ID might make a return. Sort of.
Now, anyone who's read my work or subbed to this channel knows I've been hinting at this stuff for years already. It's what I've been calling persistent ambient authentication.
In other words, Touch ID and Face ID make authentication more convenient but not truly transparent. We need to get to the point where the phone just knows its you and, if its confidence falls below a certain threshold, only then does it require specific authentication again.
We're a long way from that still, but this is one of the next steps we need to get there. Via MacRumors:
acoustic fingerprint technology that could allow for full-screen Touch ID
Apple's had patents on that for a while but as we've seen from other vendors, in-screen fingerprint technology, both optic and acoustic, hasn't exactly provided for a frustration-free experience. And that's something Apple is likely to insist on.
If Apple can get it to work though, and all you have to do to authenticate is touch your iPhone anywhere on the screen with a registered finger, we'll be that much closer.
If not, look for Face ID to improve and other technologies to keep being worked on.
iPhone 12: Cameras
2020 could finally be the year we get Apple's full-on rear facing augmented reality camera on the iPhone. I say finally not because Apple has ever even mentioned it before, but because of all the whispers that go around every year, the AR camera has been one of the most exciting for the last few years.
Anyone who's heard anything about it really wants to see it go live. And that means I really want to see it go live.
Here's what Bloomberg's Mark Gurman and Debby Wu had to say about it back in January:
The rear-facing, longer-range 3-D camera is designed to scan the environment to create three-dimensional reconstructions of the real world. It will work up to about 15 feet from the device, the people said. That's in contrast with the current iPhone 3-D camera system, which points toward users and operates at distances of 25 to 50 centimeters to power Apple's Face ID facial-recognition feature.
Apple's new system uses a laser scanner, rather than the existing dot-projection technology which doesn't work as well over longer distances
If you look at what the TrueDepth camera system can do up front, that'll give you an idea about what a TrueDepth camera will be able to do on the back — just not only with your face but with the whole world around you.
Or, better still, with the new tech in iOS 13, both cameras at once — your face and the world.
It may not sound that exciting if you're not into AR, and a bunch of compelling use cases will have to be developed and shown off to get buy in, but as we move towards a world with Apple Glasses, we'll need all this stuff figure out first, and we'll always need devices with more capability than glasses to really take advantage of it.
iPhone 12: USB-C
The iPhone 11 will likely have USB-C… but on the other end of the Lightning cable. Yeah, lightning to USB-C instead of USB-A.
Could iPhone 12 have full on USB-C in the port, though? Like iPad Pro got last year?
Rumor has it most vendors are moving towards getting rid of all buttons and all ports. It reduces mechanical failure and improves water resistance. But… remote restore is hard. And, wireless charging isn't as fast as fast wired charging either.
It's so hard and so fast no one has gone anywhere near that big main port yet. But will it be enough for Apple to switch from Lightning to USB-C in the meantime? It'd be great for accessories, especially now that iPad Pro and iOS 13 have significantly matured the ecosystem and the capabilities.
But we'll have to wait and see. Same goes for additional sensors.
iPhone 12: Pricing & Availability
If Apple sticks to their current pattern, which they have for almost half a decade but could alter at any time, the iPhone 12 will be announced on or around September 8, 2020, and ship on or around September 18. If current prices don't change, it'll start at $999.
iPhone 12: And more!
No rumors yet on what we might get in terms of colors or finishes on the iPhone 12. The iPhone 11 is supposed to stick to the now classic silver, space gray, and gold, but with a frosted finish that should make them look all shades of new.
I'd still love to see yearly special colors, like Product Red, which was XR only this year, and maybe metallic purple or blue or even gradient, but again, even in rumors the colors sound exclusive to the R line.
We'll also have to wait and see what Apple's silicon team comes up with for the A14 chipset.
In the meantime, hit me up in the comments and tell me what you want to see from the iPhone 12 in 2020.
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