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iPhone 12: What we know so far about September 2020 iPhone release

iPhone 12: What we know so far about September 2020 iPhone release
(Image credit: GSMArena)

The iPhone 12 is the next big release from Apple, but what will this upcoming camera phone look like, what kind of power will it pack inside – and when will this handset arrive? 

With only a matter of months to go until when Apple would traditionally hold their September iPhone launch event, the internet is already abuzz with rumors and speculation on what the iPhone 12 release is going to look like. With the 2019 iPhone 11 release leaving some feeling underwhelmed, will the iPhone 12 be able to amaze and impress just as the iPhone launches of the past did?

In the lead up to last year's iPhone 11 launch, there were plenty of whispers concerning 5G technology. Considering that other manufacturers had been producing 5G-capable phones for months, it felt like Apple had somewhat missed the boat when the iPhone 11 eventually came out sans 5G. 

• Read more: Best iPhone for photography

However, the good news is that it looks like the iPhone 12 will be getting the major update that Apple fans were expecting last year (better late than never, eh?). This includes four 5G capable models, new cameras, a new design and a new screen. 

LATEST UPDATES:

• The iPhone 12 series will reportedly finally support China's BeiDou navigation system, which could potentially make Apple much more desirable in the Chinese market. (See: What will the iPhone 12 design be?)
• Production of the iPhone 12 is rumored to have run into camera supply issues, but the official launch might not be affected (See: When will the iPhone 12 be released?)

When will the iPhone 12 be released?

(Image credit: EverythingApplePro)

As the world has grappled with the grip of coronavirus over the past few months, we've seen plenty of rumors saying that the iPhone 12 was likely to be delayed – with one report even speculating that we might not see at least one of the iPhone 12 models until 2021. This was due to a mixture of issues, including perfecting the design of the mmWave antenna (a very vital aspect, considering that mmWave is notorious for delivering lightning-fast internet speeds, but also being prone to having its signal easily blocked). 

We also heard reports that the iPhone 12 release dates could be staggered by model, with the smaller devices coming sooner after the launch and the larger ones arriving around a month later. 

There were even reports that threw doubt on whether we were going to be seeing the iPhone 12 any time soon. The annual Apple September event has been a highlight of the year for Apple enthusiasts for years now, but for a while it looked like the tradition was going to be broken in 2020. 

One report from Cowen investment bank suggested that the iPhone 12 series launch was going to be delayed by at least two months. This means that it would have taken place in November, rather than its usual September slot. 

This delay was reportedly mainly due to the coronavirus pandemic. GizChina explains that Apple orders most of its components from different Chinese, Taiwanese and other south-Asian companies. However, because of the closed borders and travel restrictions, Apple's employees weren't able to meet deadlines and the iPhone 12 was subsequently delayed. However, the latest reports point to a much less dramatic delay.

According to a reliable Apple leakster, the iPhone 12 family and the Apple Watch Series 6 will both be unveiled on 8 September in Apple's traditional September launch event. Unlike previous years, the event will reportedly be online due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

With so much speculation over whether or not the iPhone 12 handsets would be delayed, it's interesting to hear that Apple is set for a September release. In 2019, the iPhone 11 was unveiled on 10 September and then officially released 10 days later on 20 September. 

With rumors of delays having dogged the iPhone 12 release for quite some time, the news that Apple has effectively confirmed that there will be a delay doesn't come as too much of a shock. According to GSMArena, Luca Maestri, CFO of Apple, used the earnings call for the third fiscal quarter of 2020 to confirm that there will be a short delay. He said that while Apple started selling the iPhone 11 in late September last year, the company projects supply will be "available a few weeks later" in 2020.

This lines up with previous rumors that say that the iPhone 12 models could be unveiled in their traditional September release, but wouldn't ship until sometime in October. 

In relation to this news from Apple, Qualcomm also hinted at something similar in its own earnings call. It talked of a 'slight delay' of a 'flagship phone launch' that it's involved with. Qualcomm is rumored to be supplying Apple with its industry-leading 5G modem for at least one of the iPhone 12 models. 

NEW: There are reports that problems with the lens for the ultra wide angle camera may lead to delayed shipments of this component, which could possibly affect the launch of the iPhone 12. According to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, the lenses for the two non-Pro iPhones are prone to cracking during the high temperature/ high humidity test. 

The affected components are coming from supplier Genius Electronic Optical. However, there is a second supplier whose lenses are performing fine – Largan. Kuo believes that Apple will buy more units from Largan to make up for the shortfall from Genius. 

While there is still a possibility that this could push back the iPhone 12 launch, it doesn't appear to be likely. Apparently, because Apple has already had to delay the launch due to a variety of different problems, this delay will be able to be absorbed back into the time the company has left to manufacture the products.

While the traditional September announcement will still go ahead, industry experts still believe that that the new iPhone 12 family will officially launch a few weeks later. At present we're expecting the two 6.1" iPhone 12 models to arrive first, followed by the 5.4" model and the 6.7" Pro model. 

What will the iPhone 12 look like?

(Image credit: GSMArena)

While previous consensus has been that Apple will be launching four iPhone 12 models in 2020, most leaked comparison images of the upcoming handsets will only show three. This is apparently because the iPhone 12 Max and the iPhone 12 Pro will come with the same 6.1" screen. 

According to some rumors, the smallest handset in the lineup will have a 5.4" screen, which will make it smaller than any of the iPhone 11 family, with a reputed resolution of 960 x 2079 pixels. The largest iPhone 12 will have a 6.7" screen and the triple-camera unit will remain the same as it did on the iPhone 11 Pro Max on all units, while the back of the phones is flat, as previous rumors suggested. 

How much will the iPhone 12 cost?

Back in May, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo reported that Apple was considering removing earphones from the iPhone 12 retail package. Many were dismayed to hear this, but a few weeks later and it seems that unfortunately this rumor might have some legs to it. A few days ago, analysts at Barclays not only agreed that the earphones might not appear, they also hinted that the charger might not even be included. 

Ming-Chi Kuo has agreed with the Barclays analysts' assessment, saying that Apple will introduce a 20W charger with USB Power Delivery that will be sold separately. This move will likely be justified as an environmentally-friendly way to reduce electronic wastage. However, it's also likely to be motivated by the high costs of adding 5G to the iPhone 12 models. 

According to GSMArena, we will apparently not be seeing a price hike for the iPhone 12, despite the additional manufacturing costs. This means that the prices for the iPhone 12 family will pretty much line up with their iPhone 11 counterparts.

While we'll have to wait for September for official numbers, we can fairly confidently say that it'll be in line with current models. The iPhone 11 starts at $699 / £729 / AU$1,199, the iPhone 11 Pro starts at $999 / £1,049 / AU$1,749 and the iPhone 11 Pro Max starts at $1,099 / £1,149 / AU$1,899.

What will the iPhone 12 camera be like?

This render from PhoneArena suggests the top-of-the-range iPhone 12 Pro models will have increase the number of cameras from three to four. (Image credit: PhoneArena)

We've heard some tantalizing rumors about the iPhone 12 camera, and we can't wait until the September release to get some official specs. However, in the meantime, here are the most interesting rumors we've seen so far. 

The first is that we might see a 3D camera in some form in at least one of the iPhone 12 models. While there aren't any particularly clear details on this, it's something that's been mentioned in a few different rumors, so we wouldn't be surprised to see some kind of 3D camera feature come September. 

One of the most exciting rumors is that the iPhone 12 will have four rear lenses. The fourth addition is rumored to be the LiDAR scanner found on the iPad Pro 2020, which can accurately judge distances and depth. This would allow for improved augmented reality and Portrait mode.

We've also seen rumors that the iPhone 12 might have a 64MP main camera, which would be a massive upgrade from the 12MP currently seen on the iPhone 11. Whether or not this camera will involve some sort of pixel binning will remain to be seen. It's also been suggested that the iPhone 12 will have multiple lenses that support night mode shooting, and the ultra-wide lens could even have a dedicated macro mode.

There has also been rumors that the top end iPhone 12 will get a new image stabilization technology entitled 'sensor-shift', which would allow the sensor to move in order to counteract camera shake. 

Recently, Max Weinbach, an Apple leaker who shares rumors on the YouTube channel EverythingApplePro, has claimed that the iPhone 12 models will feature a 3x telephoto zoom lens (as opposed to the iPhone 11 Pro's 2x optical zoom), improved Smart HDR software, even better low-light performance, sensor-shift image stabilization and auto white balance improvements. 

Meanwhile, according to a report from PineLeaks and EverythingApplePro (see tweet below), the new source code inside iOS 14 Beta 1 shows that the iPhone 12 series will be able to record 4K videos at 240 frames per second. This is likely to be a slow motion mode, but apparently users will also be able to capture 4K video at 120fps in real-time as well.

This is a significant step-up from the iPhone 11 series, which can capture 4K video at 60fps and slow-mo 240 fps video at 1080p. 

What will the iPhone 12 design be?

(Image credit: Jonas Daehnert)

Apple is known for its beautifully designed technology, so we're expecting big things from the iPhone 12. One rumor has indicated that the iPhone 12 could return to a more angular design, as seen on the iPhone 5. 

According to Max Weinbach from the YouTube channel EverythingApplePro, there will also be a 2x to 3x boost in autofocus performance due to the LiDAR sensor that's rumored to be on both of the Pro models. However, while the iPhone 12 Pro models will apparently be receiving a bumper gift of new features, the base models might be slightly less impressive. The base iPhone 12 models will only have two rear cameras and will likely miss out on the LiDAR sensor and telephoto camera. However, we might also see all iPhone 12 models with an OLED screen, rather than only the more premium models as seen in the current iPhone 11 generation. 

We could also be seeing a small update to the Face ID technology, with the Face ID sensor array getting smaller and being able to work at wider angles. This means that you might be able to unlock your phone while it's laying on your desk. There might also be an increase in the size of the iPhone 12 batteries as well, with the 6.7" iPhone rumored to have a battery over 4,400 mAh to handle the additions of 5G and a potential 120Hz screen. 

Meanwhile, at first it seemed that only the high-end models would have 5G, and the basic models would only run 4G. However, a previous rumor stated that all four iPhone 12 handsets would indeed run 5G.

Interestingly, the latest rumor from GSMArena sheds a little more light on the 5G debate. While all four iPhone 12 models will run 5G, only the high-end models will run mmWave 5G. Meanwhile, the lower-end iPhone 12 handsets will only support sub-6GHz 5G, which will be slower than the beefed up mmWave 5G.

There's also the question of whether all of the iPhone 12 handsets will arrive at the same time. Due to an apparent problem with the antenna on the higher-end mmWave 5G models, the design has been adjusted (mmWave is super-fast, but the signal is easily blocked). Previous rumors have stated that we might not even see these high-end iPhone 12 models until 2021, but we'll have to wait and see whether this will indeed be the case.

We've previously seen quite a few rumors regarding whether some, or all, of the iPhone 12 models will have a 120Hz refresh rate. The current iPhone 11 models are all 60Hz, but bumping up the refresh rate to 120Hz will mean that the interactions on the phone will feel smoother. This is because Hz stands for how many times a screen reloads per second. A 60Hz screen will reload 60 times per second, so a 120Hz screen will be twice as smooth. A screen like this is particularly good for gamers, as it will improve the quality of the gaming experience.

Previous rumors have pointed to all of the iPhone 12 models receiving a 120Hz refresh rate, but now it seems that only the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max will carry them. 

However, this isn't the only interesting iPhone 12 rumor to emerge recently. According to supply chain insiders, the upcoming phones will have thinner bodies than the previous generation. Apparently, the upcoming iPhone 12 Pro Max will be just 7.4mm thick, compared to the iPhone 11 Pro Max, which was 8.1mm. 

GSMArena reports that this reduced girth won't affect the battery, as Apple will be implementing a multi-layer stacked motherboard. In fact, Apple might even be increasing the battery capacity of the iPhone 12 family slightly from the iPhone 11 Pro Max capacity of 3,969mAh to 4,400mAh. 

NEW: The iPhone line has never had official support for China's BeiDou satellite navigation system, which has long been one of the biggest complaints among Chinese iPhone users. However, this is apparently due to change according to a new report. On Wednesday, BeiDou spokesperson and director of the China Satellite Navigation Office, Ran Chengqi, said: "Apple will use the BeiDou navigation system sooner or later." 

This casual remark was later backed up, with sources claiming that Apple is currently in the process of debugging the iPhone 12 models' performance and compatibility – and apparently one of these tests centers around verifying proper support for the satellite navigation system. 

With coverage over 200 countries, over 100 million users and 200 million daily sessions, BeiDou is considered the norm in the local market and across most of the Asia-Pacific region. If Apple are able to include this technology in the iPhone 12 series, then this could help make them a little more tempting to consumers in this competitive field.

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