Update, August 19, 2020 (11:34 AM ET): We’ve updated the Apple iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro rumor hub below with new info related to the rumored launch of a 4G-only iPhone 12.
Original article: Earlier this year, we were treated to a new smartphone from Apple called the iPhone SE (2020 edition). The entry-level phone offered a lot of iPhone staples for just $399. However, what about the real iPhones? Well, we still expect to see the Apple iPhone 12 series this year.
Related: iPhone SE (2020) vs iPhone 8: Battle of the budget phones
Although the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic will inevitably cause some delays or other problems for the next batch of iPhones, we have enough information on the new devices to say with confidence that we will still see the Apple iPhone 12 this year. Obviously, Apple’s usual launch event could look much different, but it would be incredibly surprising if the phone series didn’t land this year.
Below, you’ll find a summary of all the credible rumors we know so far about the Apple iPhone 12 series. Keep in mind that Android OEMs tend to follow what Apple does, so the news you read in this article could affect you even if you don’t buy iPhones.
Speaking of which, why not click one of the poll answers below before checking out the rest of this article?
iPhone 12: Name and release date
Apple’s naming scheme for its smartphones used to be very straightforward. However, with the launch of the iPhone X in 2017, things got pretty confusing. While we don’t know for certain, we are fairly sure that the Apple iPhone 12 series is what’s on the way this year, and we can assume that based on the history of iPhone names.
Check out what we mean below. The bolded names indicate devices in which Apple largely revamped the design as compared to the previous year:
- 2007 — iPhone
- 2008 — iPhone 3G
- 2009 — iPhone 3GS
- 2010 — iPhone 4
- 2011 — iPhone 4S
- 2012 — iPhone 5
- 2013 — iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C
- 2014 — iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus
- 2015 — iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus
- 2016 — iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus
- 2017 — iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X
- 2018 — iPhone XR, iPhone XS, and iPhone XS Max
- 2019 — iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max
So far, all rumors point to this year’s iPhones featuring a significant redesign as compared to last year (see a few sections down below for more on this). Since Apple’s history suggests that new designs tend to get new numbers, we’re inclined to believe that we can expect the Apple iPhone 12 series to launch this Fall. It is unlikely there will be an iPhone 11S series.
Related: Apple iPhone buying guide: Which iPhone is right for you?
Speaking of Fall, when will we actually see these devices launch? Nearly every major iPhone release has happened in September. However, the COVID-19 pandemic could throw a wrench into those plans this year.
According to tipster Jon Prosser, the iPhone 12 launch event could take place in the week of October 12. Pre-orders for the vanilla iPhone 12 models are also expected to start in the same week, followed by shipping in the week of October 19. Prosser also believes that the iPhone 12 Pro models could be delayed further and might only go up for pre-orders in November.
Prosser doesn’t have a perfect track record when it comes to Apple leaks, such as incorrectly predicting that iOS on smartphones will be called iPhone OS. But he did correctly predict the iPhone SE 2020 launch, among several other product launches.
Apple also recently confirmed that the iPhone 12 lineup would “be available a few weeks later” as compared to last year’s batch. Therefore, the rumored October/November on-sale date isn’t out of the question.
Is 2020 the year of new iPhone models?
The list of iPhone releases in the previous section paints a clear picture: as time goes on, Apple is releasing more and more iPhones each year. We already have one new iPhone for 2020, and we expect Apple to have its biggest launch ever this Fall with the Apple iPhone 12 series possibly containing a total of five phones.
If you’ll remember, last year we saw the iPhone 11 (which was the spiritual successor to the iPhone XR), the iPhone 11 Pro (the spiritual successor to the iPhone XS), and the iPhone 11 Pro Max (the spiritual successor to the iPhone XS Max). This year will be different, though.
Check out this leaked image from the frequently correct Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo:
The 4.7-inch iPhone shown in the image above lines up perfectly with the iPhone SE launched in April 2020, so that one is accounted for. That just leaves us to speculate on why there could be two higher-end devices in the Apple iPhone 12 series that are the same size.
One theory is that the 5.4-inch device and one of the 6.1-inch devices are actually two variants of the iPhone 12. The smaller one might be the vanilla iPhone 12 while the larger would be the iPhone 12 Max. Then the other 6.1-inch device would be the iPhone 12 Pro with a similar design and size as the iPhone 12 Max but with some upgraded specs, and the 6.7-inch device would be the iPhone 12 Pro Max.
This naming theory lines up with rumors we’ve seen, like this one from Display Supply Chain Consultants. As we get closer to the launch of the Apple iPhone 12 series, we’ll likely have a much better idea of what’s on the way. All we can say now is that it’s highly likely there will be four iPhone 12 models.
For an idea of how these models could compare to one another as far as sizing goes, check out the physical mockups below, courtesy of MacRumors.
According to rumors, the mockups above would represent the iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, and iPhone 12 Pro Max from left to right. The iPhone 12 Max would likely be the same size as the middle phone but have the dual-lens camera module of the phone on the left.
We have more info related to the possible designs of the iPhone 12 series in the next section.
Finally, there could also be a fifth iPhone 12 model that might not land until early 2021. According to a rumor, this iPhone 12 model would be 4G-only, which means it would likely be the cheapest of the bunch (but probably more expensive than the next iPhone SE installment). It’s early days yet, so we’re not sure if this rumor is going to pan out.
iPhone 12 series design: A (slightly) new notch and more
Last year, Apple kept the iPhone design very much the same as the 2018 models. The only drastic change was the rear camera module, which turned into a rounded square to make room for the three lenses on the back of the iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max. With the Apple iPhone 12 series, though, we expect the whole phone to get redesigned.
The first rumor we’ve heard is that the notch on the front of the iPhones could see a bit of a size reduction. The current notch spans about half of the top of an iPhone, while the new design might shave that down a bit, allowing for more space at the top of the display. However, earlier rumors that the notch could be halved in size appear to be incorrect as of now.
Related: Camera shootout: Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra vs Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max
Regardless, Apple would still need the notch to be big enough to carry all the Face ID tech needed to allow for 3D mapping of one’s face. We don’t expect any of the devices in the Apple iPhone 12 series to have fingerprint sensors, which means you would need Face ID for biometric security. As such, don’t expect a display cutout, waterdrop notch, or other solution for iPhones this year.
Elsewhere, we’ve heard quite a few rumors that Apple could bring back the metal rim design of the iPhone 4 which it already did on the recent iPad Pro. This would mean that the Apple iPhone 12 series could have flat screens rather than the curved glass panels on all current models (except the iPhone SE). There are a lot of harsh critics of curved glass displays on smartphones, so this will likely be good news for them.
Related: iPhone SE review: What’s old is new again!
Early on, there were rumors Apple would either remove the Lightning port on the Apple iPhone 12 series and only rely on wireless solutions or finally make the jump to a standard USB-C port. However, all rumors at the moment point to the iPhone 12 series continuing to use the Lightning connector. It’s far more likely next year’s iPhones will abandon a wired port completely.
Strangely, the latest rumors suggest that Apple will ship some or all of the iPhone 12 series phones without chargers in the boxes. This cost-cutting move will likely be marketed as a “go green” effort on Apple’s part, but it could also be a test run to see how consumers might react to a portless iPhone in the future.
Finally, according to ET News, there could be six different colorways in the iPhone 12 line. Unfortunately, the outlet did not divulge what those colors might be.
iPhone 12: Specs and features
Some specifications of the Apple iPhone 12 series are reasonably assured. For example, it’s nearly certain that we’ll see the proprietary A14 chipset in the higher-end iPhones as the 2019 iPhones all had the A13 Bionic.
It’s also nearly certain that the Qualcomm X55 modem will be included in the Apple iPhone 12 series. This will enable iPhones to be 5G-capable, which is essential for Apple to stay competitive. At this point, you can take the inclusion of the X55 modem as a given, since Apple had to eat some serious humble pie to get it.
Some iPhone specs are a given, like the inclusion of the X55 modem. But we can also assume some other specs, too.
This year could be the first time we see iPhones with more than 4GB of RAM. Even the iPhone 11 Pro Max from 2019 still had just 4GB. The iPhone 12 Pro series, though, might come with 6GB of RAM, which is still a paltry amount compared to most Android flagships.
It’s also possible that Apple will finally increase the entry-level amount of internal storage on iPhones this year. The iPhone SE — which, again, only costs $399 — comes with 64GB of storage at the minimum. Therefore, it would seem silly for the high-end models to also start at 64GB. Sure enough, we recently heard a rumor suggesting that 128GB could be the new baseline for high-end iPhones.
These rumors all are backed up by a leak from Display Supply Chain Consultants. Check out the chart below to see what we mean:
We also heard a rumor that the iPhone 11 series could have 120Hz display refresh rates. This would be the first time an iPhone has had anything higher than the usual 60Hz. However, not everyone agrees on this feature’s inclusion with the iPhone 12 line, so the jury is still out.
Although we don’t have enough confirmed info on internal specs of the iPhone 12 series, we do have confirmation on a lot of the software features the phones will provide. That’s because Apple recently held its WWDC 2020 keynote in which it detailed many of the high-profile features coming to iOS 14. If you want to find out what the new operating system can do, check out our summary here.
As far as cameras go, we only are relatively confident about a feature that probably won’t be coming to the iPhone 12 series: periscope lenses. According to Ming-Chi Kuo, this novel technology that allows for high-quality analog zoom probably won’t show up on an iPhone until 2022.
Finally, the iPhone 12 series might come with some upgraded video capture abilities. According to one rumor, the two iPhone 12 Pro models this year might be able to record 4K video at both 120fps and 240fps. Current iPhones are limited to 4K at 60fps and 1080p at 240fps.
iPhone 12: Price and availability
Here are the starting prices for the iPhone 11 series:
- $699 — iPhone 11
- $999 — iPhone 11 Pro
- $1,099 — iPhone 11 Pro Max
With the expected inclusion of 5G support as well as the new revamped designs, one would assume the Apple iPhone 12 series will be more expensive. However, early rumors suggest that Apple could keep iPhone 12 pricing basically the same as the iPhone 11 series. According to those rumors, this is what the iPhone 12 series might cost:
Leaked iPhone 12 pricing (rumor only):
- 5.4-inch iPhone 12: $649
- 6.1-inch iPhone 12 Max: $749
- 6.1-inch iPhone 12 Pro: $999
- 6.7-inch iPhone 12 Pro Max: $1,099
If these prices end up being true, it would be great news for consumers. Earlier this year, Apple competitor Samsung launched the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra — which starts at a jaw-dropping $1,400 — and that would look ridiculously over-priced against a $1,099 iPhone 12 Pro Max.
Still, the pricing list above is only rumored at this point, so don’t take it to the bank just yet.
As usual, though, you can expect the iPhone 12 series to be available all around the world with similar models in all the usual countries. If there’s one thing you can depend on with Apple is no region-specific nonsense making things confusing for buyers (hint hint, Android OEMs).