The iPhone 12 rumors over the last few months have detailed a number of features and design aspects of the upcoming flagship. Considering many of the tipsters and analysts sharing the leaks are well-connected within Apple’s supply chain, the rumors have some truth in them. Let’s check out all the details the rumor mill has revealed over the last several weeks.
iPhone 12 release date: The coronavirus effect
The Cupertino company has historically unveiled new iPhones in the first half of September. Apple generally chooses the second Tuesday or Wednesday in September for the big reveal, which would be Sept. 08 or 09, 2020. The release date then generally follows on Friday of the following week, which would be Sept. 18, 2020.
But the coronavirus outbreak could affect Apple’s launch schedule this year. Apple has cancelled the travel plans of its engineers and executives to China, where the iPhones are manufactured. Foxconn’s manufacturing facilities have also been affected by the outbreak.
Sources familiar with the matter told Reuters that Apple could delay the iPhone 12 launch. Foxconn typically starts manufacturing new iPhones in summer. But everything appears to be running late. The reopening of iPhone factories in Shenzhen and Zhengzhou after the Lunar New Year holidays was delayed due to the coronavirus.
Apple engineers and executives make hundreds of trips to China in the first few months of the year. They work with Foxconn engineers on “Engineering Validation.” It’s where they assemble a small number of iPhones and troubleshoot the potential problems before mass production begins. The United Airlines told Reuters that Apple had cancelled a number of bookings for its employees who were supposed to travel to China.
The delay in factory reopening and the difficulty in traveling to China could force Apple to push back the iPhone 12 launch by at least a few weeks.
How many models – three or four?
Last year, Apple launched three models – iPhone 11, 11 Pro, and 11 Pro Max. In 2020, it could launch as many as four new models.
According to TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, there will be a 5.4-inch model, two models with a 6.1-inch screen, and a top-of-the-line model with a 6.7-inch display. The 5.4-inch and one 6.1-inch model will have a dual-camera setup on the back.
The second 6.1-inch model and the 6.7-inch phone would sport a triple camera system. All models would feature OLED panels and Face ID technology. There will be a notch at the top to house the Face ID sensors.
JPMorgan analyst Samik Chatterjee has also predicted four models. According to Chatterjee, the two high-end models (one 6.1-inch and another 6.7-inch) will have a triple camera setup, 5G connectivity, and a “world facing” 3D sensor for improved augmented reality. The two low-end models (5.4-inch and 6.1-inch) will have a dual-camera setup. They would launch without 5G and “world facing” 3D sensor.
However, Japanese blog MacOtakara has learned from Apple’s supply chain sources that there will be only three models. One of them would sport a 5.3-inch screen, another a 5.9-inch display, and the third model would feature a 6.4-inch screen.
Since there are contradictory reports from reputed sources, we shouldn’t blindly trust any of these reports at the moment. The iPhone 12 launch is still several months away. Apple could change its plans between now and September 2020.
iPhone 12 design and display
According to Ming-Chi Kuo of TF International Securities, Apple will replace the rounded corners with a metal frame similar to the iPhone 4. The iPhone 12 lineup would have a metal frame with squared edges to support the front and back glass panels.
What’s more, the analyst predicts the screen size of the iPhone 12 Pro will be smaller than iPhone 11 Pro. It will get a 5.4-inch display instead of the iPhone 11 Pro’s 5.8-inch. The iPhone 12 Pro Max would feature a giant 6.7-inch screen compared to the 6.5-inch of iPhone 11 Pro Max. The regular iPhone 12 would retain the 6.1-inch size.
On February 01, MacOtakara shared a 3D mockup of the iPhone 12 series. The video suggests the new iPhones would look similar to last year’s iPhone 11 line. The tech giant hasn’t changed the iPhone design since the iPhone X.
The hands-on video shows off the design of all three models. The new iPhones would get flat metal edges like iPhone 4 rather than the curved ones on existing models. There will be a 5.3-inch model and a 5.9-inch model, both of which sport a dual camera setup on the back.
The 5.3-inch model measures 13.2cm in length and 6.4cm in width. The 5.9-inch model would be 14.6cm tall and 7.1cm wide. The third model would succeed the iPhone 11 Pro and sport a 6.4-inch display.
According to MacOtakara, only the 6.4-inch model would sport a triple camera setup on the back. That’s quite surprising because last year Apple had offered a triple camera setup on both the iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max.
All the three models have a wide notch at the top, dual speaker grille at the bottom, volume rockers on the left, and a power button on the right.
Twitter tipster Ice Universe has suggested that the 2020 iPhones would also feature Apple’s ProMotion technology with a switchable 60Hz/120Hz refresh rate. The Cupertino company already offers ProMotion technology on the iPad Pros.
Apple is considering a switchable 60Hz/120Hz refresh rate screen on the iPhone in 2020, and is discussing with Samsung and LG. pic.twitter.com/4aoU303umu
— Ice universe (@UniverseIce) July 21, 2019
Apple has been trailing its Android counterparts in the screen refresh rate, so this improvement would pull it ahead of competitors, or at least in line with them if they should boost their 90Hz refresh rate up to 120Hz this year.
iPhone 12 concept
Based on the rumors, folks at ConceptsiPhone have come up with an exciting concept video imagining what the upcoming iPhone would look like.
Designers at ConceptsiPhone imagine a shinier and flatter iPhone 12, which resembles the iPhone 5. The notch-less phone has flat metal edges. It has slim bezels around the display. The concept phone features a Touch ID fingerprint sensor integrated under the display.
The selfie camera also appears to be placed under the screen. LetsGoDigital recently claimed that the iPhone 12 would have a full-screen display, placing the front camera under the screen. There is no sign of the 3.5mm audio jack. On the back panel, the device has four camera lenses and a flash housed in a square-shaped bump.
ConceptsiPhone also imagines the iPhone 12 in a wide variety of colors including Black, White, Red, Lilac, Yellow, and Green. The iPhone 12 concept has a glossy finish rather than the iPhone 11 Pro’s frosted glass finish.
Last year, Apple reached a deal with Qualcomm to bring the latter’s 5G modems to iPhones. Apple is developing its own 5G modems, but they are still a few years away. According to Ming-Chi Kuo, all the 2020 iPhone models would offer 5G technology.
Japanese blog Nikkei claims the iPhone 12 series would feature Qualcomm’s X55 5G modem, which delivers up to 3Gbps of upload speed and 7Gbps of download speed. Wireless carriers would have rolled out their 5G networks in most parts of the US by the time 5G iPhones arrive.
Reputed analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of TF International Securities said in a research note that Apple would sell 80-85 million iPhone 12 models this year due to the 5G technology. The analyst added that Apple is preparing to launch both sub-6GHz as well as the sub-6GHz + mmWave 5G iPhone models later this year. The analyst believes that in the future, the 5G networks will depend on a combination of the two frequency versions.
In some countries, telecom operators are using the sub-6GHz 5G networks while other countries are relying on the millimeter wave (mmWave) networks. As per Kuo, the iPhone 12 models supporting mmWave will go on sale in five markets – the US, UK, Canada, Japan, and South Korea. Of course, Apple will also be selling 4G variants of at least some iPhone 12 models.
The analyst added that Apple will use the Liquid Crystal Polymer (LCP) FCP antennas in the iPhone 12 series. The LCP antennas minimize the signal loss, and they perform well irrespective of temperature fluctuations.
The iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max feature a triple-camera setup on the back in a square camera module. The relatively affordable iPhone 11 gets only two rear cameras. According to the rumor mill, Apple could add an additional camera to the iPhone 12 lineup.
It’s no secret that Apple is investing heavily in augmented reality. Ming-Chi Kuo claims the iPhone 12 series would feature a time-of-flight camera on the back, which would not only enhance the AR experience but also help capture depth information in photos. The time-of-flight camera could also enable bokeh effects in videos.
Barclays analyst Blayne Curtis and his associates have told investors that the iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max would feature rear-facing 3D sensing cameras. The 3D sensing ToF camera would be necessary for offering a “revolutionary AR experience,” said Curtis. The ToF sensor would be used to create a 3D reconstruction of the real world.
According to Kuo, the 5G iPhone 12 models would feature an advanced sensor-shift stabilization technology. It will allow you to take clear pictures even when there is excessive motion. It would be similar to optical image stabilization. But while OIS relies on specific lenses, the sensor-shift stabilization will apply to the camera sensor itself.
According to EverythingApplePro, at least one iPhone 12 prototype features a 64MP rear camera. It could be aimed at improving the zoom capabilities. Apple will also use digital cropping and software to enhance the image quality. The report added that Apple could also add Night Mode to the telephoto lens on the iPhone 12 Pro. The upcoming iPhones are also expected to feature an improved version of Smart HDR.
TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said in a research note (via MacRumors) that the 6.7-inch iPhone would feature sensor-shift image stabilization. Apple will expand the technology to at least two models in 2021.
The sensor-shifting feature would add image stabilization to the ultra-wide angle lens of the 6.7-inch iPhone. The current iPhone 11 Pro supports optical image stabilization only while using the telephoto or wide-angle lenses. The sensor-shifting feature will achieve it by applying stabilization directly to the camera sensor rather than on a specific lens. It will also work with third-party lens accessories.
In-display fingerprint sensor
The iPhone 12 could be the first model to have an in-display fingerprint scanner using ultrasonic technology. As cited by MacRumors, the Economic Daily News reports that Apple is planning to meet with GIS, a touchscreen maker from Taiwan, to discuss an in-display fingerprint sensor. The discussions will supposedly focus on making the technology available for the 2020 iPhone line-up.
The report does line up with other claims about the iPhone models having an in-display fingerprint sensor starting either this year or the next. Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Bloomberg, analysts from Barclays and other sources have suggested that the technology could be arriving on the iPhone within the next two years. Interestingly, Kuo also said GIS could be involved in the supply chain for the iPhone 12’s under-display fingerprint sensor.
According to Barclays analysts (via MacRumors), Apple will bring Touch ID back in 2020 by enabling fingerprint recognition anywhere on the display. However, Ming-Chi Kuo believes the 2021 iPhones could be equipped with both Face ID and Touch ID. The 2020 iPhones could stick with Face ID.
MacRumors explains that two different types of fingerprint sensors for under-display use exist. They are ultrasonic, which utilizes high-frequency sound to create a 3D fingerprint image, and optical, which creates a 2D fingerprint image using light from the smartphone’s display.
According to PC Mag, Qualcomm discussed a newer, bigger under-display fingerprint sensor at its Snapdragon Tech Summit on Tuesday. The 3D Sonic Max is 17 times larger than the sensor used in the Galaxy S10, although it’s unclear whether it will be more secure than the one currently used in Samsung’s devices.
Apple has long been rumored to be planning to include both Touch ID and Face ID in the iPhone 12. The company could shift to an all-OLED line-up this year, which would make sense because ultrasonic fingerprint sensors do not work with LCDs.
Rumored iPhone 12 features
The iPhone 12 line is widely expected to run Apple’s custom A14 Bionic chipset. The A14 chips will reportedly be based on TSMC’s 5nm process technology, which would make them smaller, faster, and more energy-efficient. Apple’s A-series processors have proved to be far more powerful than other smartphone chips in the market.
Analysts at Barclays expect the iPhone 12 line-up to feature a new Face ID camera system, according to a note seen by MacRumors. Analyst Blayne Curtis and team said they expect this year’s new iPhones to have a “refreshed” TrueDepth system on the front-facing camera. Lumentum, which supplies components for the iPhone, is expected to benefit from this updated camera system.
Barclays analysts also predict that the high-end models will have 6GB of RAM, compared to the 4GB that’s believed to be in the iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max. Apple doesn’t officially report the amount of RAM included in its iPhones.
However, the non-Pro iPhone 12 would get 4GB RAM, which should be more than sufficient to handle most tasks, including heavy gaming. Blayne Curtis has provided accurate information about unannounced Apple products in the past.
Barclays analysts expect the Lightning connector to be removed from at least one of the iPhone models released next year, which is what Kuo also said. If that change happens, then the box might not contain wired EarPods included with the handset.
Twitter tipster Max Weinbach has learned from sources that Apple will include bigger batteries in the 5G-capable models. One of the downsides of 5G technology is that it can drain the battery pretty fast. According to Weinbach, the iPhone 12 Pro Max would pack a 4,400mAh battery. That’s significantly larger than the 3,969mAh battery inside the iPhone 11 Pro Max.
We’re also hearing that the iPhone 12 could feature improved battery technology. According to South Korean news outlet The Elec, this year’s iPhones could have custom Protection Module Packages from ITM Semiconductor. The news outlet claims this year’s iPhones will have a custom battery model that’s nearly half the size of the one used in earlier iPhones. All that leftover space will supposedly be taken up by a bigger battery, according to Redmond Pie.
According to a new report from ITHome, Apple and other smartphone vendors plan to use Gallium Nitride (GaN) technology to speed up the charging of their phones. Chinese vendor Xiaomi has already launched 65W GaN power adapters. It can charge the Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro from zero to 100% in 45 minutes. The new technology requires fewer components and can run current faster. Only time will tell whether Apple will include this technology in iPhone 12.
Will Apple raise the prices?
With all the new features the iPhone 12 is expected to get, it sounds like the bill of materials could increase significantly. The deciding factor on price will be 5G support. The 2020 iPhones will reportedly be the first iPhones to support 5G.
The iPhone 11 came with a starting price of $699. But the addition of 5G could prompt Apple to increase prices this year. Presently, most 5G smartphones in the market come with a premium price tag compared to the non-5G models of the same phones.
For example, the Galaxy 10 5G starts at $1,299, compared to a starting price of $999 for the Galaxy S10+. Similarly, the Galaxy Note 10 Plus 5G costs $1,299, which is $200 more than the standard Note 10 Plus.
Apple supposedly won’t be passing the entire increase on to customers. In a note, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said Apple probably won’t increase the price of the iPhone 12 line-up by any more than $50. He added that adding support for 5G will raise the bill of materials by $30 to $100. However, instead of passing the entire extra cost on to customers, Apple reportedly plans to offset most of the extra cost by cutting expenses in the rest of its supply chain.
Although Apple will be late to roll out 5G iPhones, it will enjoy one major benefit of waiting until 2020 to release a 5G iPhone. The price of 5G components should decline this year. This could help Apple release the new iPhones around the same price as the 2019 models.
The cost of other components is also expected to jump in 2020. Ming-Chi Kuo speculates that the cost of glass case could increase by 40% to 50%, and the metal frame could increase by 50% to 60% for the upcoming iPhones. He also suggested that if the grooved metal cover includes tempered glass, the chassis could increase by 20% to 30% in price, and the metal frame cost could increase 25% to 35%.
If the bill of materials for 2020 iPhone models really does increase as much as he believes it could, we must believe that a price increase isn’t out of the question for the iPhone 12. It’s unlikely that Apple could pass all of the increase on to consumers because the iPhone is already one of the most expensive smartphones on the market. However, it’s difficult to imagine that Apple won’t try to pass off some of the higher bill of materials to consumers in the form of a price increase.
There is still a lot of time for the iPhone 12 launch. As we move closer to the launch, we will see more leaks and rumors surrounding them. We will keep updating the article as new information arrives.
March 23, 2020 – Update: Added details about Ming-Chi Kuo’s new report on sensor-shifting technology.