Today's the day: The Apple Store is down, which means it's just a few short hours until the Oct. 13 Apple livestream event, where the iPhone 12 is expected to be launched. The latest news: A new dark blue color leaked just today, and some prices and release dates last Friday. Leaker Kang suggested Friday that Apple will release four phones in the iPhone 12 lineup, all with 5G support. We've summarized all the rumors and leaks below. Until today's virtual Apple event (which you can watch live from home starting at 10 a.m. PT, 1 p.m. ET or 6 p.m. UK), all we can do is speculate.
While we usually see new flagship iPhones in September, the COVID-19 outbreak has forced suppliers in China to shut down or operate on limited capacity. This affected not only Apple's inventory in September, but it may affect sales, too. Apple also closed its US retail stores, though now some have reopened in limited ways. All this culminated with Apple confirming there would be a delay for the iPhone 12, 12 Pro, 12 Pro Max and iPhone 12 Mini.
Read: Our first impressions of the iPhone 12, 12 Mini, 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max
Despite such disruptions and Apple's veil of secrecy, there are some things we do know about the iPhone 12. From what we've seen in iOS 14 (which is available for download now), we know the phone will have software features like widgets, app libraries and picture-in-picture. Unofficial hardware rumors include 3D depth sensing on its rear cameras and new screen sizes. Adding 5G connectivity would also make sense considering Apple's main rival, Samsung, launched several 5G phones this year, including the recent Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra, as well as the flagship Galaxy S20 phones. The later timeline might have some unexpected positive consequences too, including giving carriers like Verizon more time to build out its 5G coverage.
Read more: iPhone 12 wish list: 5 features I wish Apple would copy from Samsung
Top iPhone 12 rumors
- Apple said the iPhone 12 will be available "a few weeks later" than the usual mid-September launch. Apple has since sent an invitation to its Oct. 13 event, where the iPhone 12 launch is expected.
- There may be four iPhone 12 models in four different screen sizes: the iPhone 12 Mini (5.4-inch) the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro (6.1-inch), 12 Pro Max (6.7-inch).
- The four iPhone 12 models could have different release dates: The iPhone 12 Mini may be available for preorder on Nov. 6 or 7, with a release date of Nov. 12 or 13. The iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro could start preorders on Oct. 16 or 17 and release Oct. 23 or 24. And the iPhone 12 Pro Max preorder date is rumored to be Nov. 13 or 14, released Nov. 20 or 21.
- The iPhone 12 Mini model may start at $699, the same as the iPhone 11's starting price.
- iPhone 12 phones may have 5G.
- iPhone 12 may not come with earbuds or a power adapter.
- iPhone 12 may come in dark blue.
- iPhone 12's rear-facing camera(s) may have 3D depth-sensing technology.
Announcement date: Oct. 13
Back in August, in what appeared to be a misstep on Apple's part, a Twitter user posted a screenshot of a possible Apple livestream event scheduled for Sept. 10. The event date and time appeared on Apple's YouTube page and then was taken down.
The event actually ended up being held on Sept. 15, and it wasn't at all about the iPhone. Another mobile leaker and Front Page Tech host Jon Prosser reported that the iPhone 12 would be introduced during an Oct. 12 event and will ship out Oct. 19, for instance.
We now know Apple will host another virtual event on Oct. 13, where the iPhone 12 is expected to make its debut.
Release date: iPhone 12 lineup may have staggered release dates
Despite Apple's largest manufacturer, Foxconn, assuring investors it should still make its fall timeline, The Wall Street Journal reported that the iPhone 12 could face delays. This is due to the coronavirus pandemic and its unprecedented effect on manufacturing and consumer demands. The report estimated that Apple may wait until October to announce or launch the phone, which is about a month after the iPhone's usual launch. As we moved into October, this estimate proved true.
Apple CFO Luca Maestri all but confirmed this on a quarterly earnings call, saying, "This year, we project supply to be available a few weeks later" than last year's mid-September launch.
Others have suggested not a single launch date but several. A rumor floated by DigiTimes and picked up by MacRumors, suggested that Apple may launch its 2020 iPhones in multiple stages. The two 6.1-inch iPhone models may launch first, with the 6.7- and 5.4-inch variants coming later. (For more on the different speculated iPhone sizes, read more below.)
The Oct. 9 leak by Kang, reported by The Verge, predicts the following preorder and release dates for the four models:
- iPhone 12 Mini: Preorders Nov. 6 or 7; release date Nov. 12 or 13
- iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro: Preorders Oct. 16 or 17; release date Oct. 23 or 24
- iPhone 12 Pro Max: Preorders Nov. 12 or 13; release date Nov. 20 or 21
While we expect to see the iPhone 12 at Apple's Oct. 13 event, no release date has been confirmed thus far.
Price: iPhone 12 may be cheaper than iPhone 11
When the iPhone 11 debuted last year, we were pleasantly surprised that its base model cost $699, which was $50 cheaper than 2018's iPhone XR. This trend may continue, with one tech analyst reporting that Apple will price the iPhone 12 at $649, the iPhone 12 Pro at $999 and the iPhone 12 Pro Max at $1,099. Here's everything we know about iPhone 12's price so far.
The latest leak, however, prices the four models a bit differently, putting the iPhone 12 Mini at $699, the same as iPhone 11's starting price. The leak also shows a $799 price for iPhone 12, $999 for iPhone 12 Pro and $1,099 for iPhone 12 Pro Max.
5G: iPhone 12 may have next-gen connectivity
Several rumors are predicting that Apple will include 5G connectivity this year. More specifically, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo expects the company to unveil three 5G phones, and Fast Company reported that Apple may use its own proprietary 5G antennas.
Kang says that not only will all four phones (12, 12 mini, 12 Pro, 12 Pro Max) support low-band and midband 5G but that will support mmWave (which is faster but has much less range).
There are a couple of reasons why the company didn't jump on the trend in 2019. First, Apple usually isn't the first in on mobile trends, preferring instead to perfect an emerging technology before committing to it. For example, it was behind its competitors in making phones with 3G and 4G LTE connectivity when those networks just launched.
Second, Apple stopped working with the leading 5G modem provider, Qualcomm, because of a dispute over Qualcomm's licensing fees. The two companies settled their litigation in April 2019, and then agreed to a multiyear 5G chip deal. This led to Apple's previous partner of 5G modems, Intel, to ultimately exit the 5G phone modem business altogether and Apple later acquired Intel's smartphone modem business for $1 billion. Apple is still working with Qualcomm, but it got started too late to launch a 5G phone last year when a few of its rivals released their 5G models, like the Galaxy S10 5G, LG V50 5G and OnePlus 7 Pro 5G.
Whatever its start date though, Apple releasing a 5G phone is notable not only because the phone will be able to connect to the next-gen network, but also because this standout feature won't be entirely under Apple's control. 5G networks are built by carriers, and Apple is taking a risk because users all across the country will have different experiences on this nascent network depending on their coverage.
From Apple to Samsung: 5G phones available right nowSee all photos
Design: iPhone 12 may be similar (or not) to iPhone 11
Every other year, Apple usually makes notable cosmetic changes to its iPhone to freshen up its look, much to the delight of anticipating buyers. But a report by Japanese publication Mac Otakara, citing an unnamed Chinese supplier, reported that the iPhone 12 will look similar to the iPhone 11. The only possible difference is that the iPhone 12's edges will be slightly bowed.
On the other hand, Apple is also speculated to completely revamp the iPhone's design with flat edges (similar to the new iPads). This could trigger what Wedbush analyst Dan Ives called "the perfect storm of demand," which would drive up sales and result in a "super cycle" for Apple.
While the new iPad Air features a Touch ID button, a welcome alternative to Face Unlock in the age of coronavirus masks, we don't think iPhone 12 will follow suit, unfortunately. We've rounded up our best guesses about iPhone 12's design here.
Accessories: iPhone 12 may not come with EarPods or a power adapter
In one of the more unpopular rumors, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo reported that Apple may not include its wired EarPod headphones in the iPhone 12 box. This would be a move to encourage people to buy the company's wireless AirPods instead. (Apple is rumored to be announcing a pair of over-ear headphones called AirPods Studio, too.) Apple has included EarPod headphones since the iPhone 5 release in 2012, so this would be a notable change. AirPod and AirPod Pro earbuds are currently priced at $159 (£159, AU$249) and $249 (£249, AU$399), respectively.
Ming-Chi Kuo expects that the iPhone 12 will ship without a power adapter as well, according to 9to5Mac. The reason is mainly for costs -- by foregoing it, Apple can keep costs down while loading the phone with 5G components. It would also help lower freight costs as the size of the packaging would shrink.
Apple wouldn't be alone in the change. Samsung's Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra also don't come with headphones -- though if you really need a pair, Samsung will send them for free. But unlike the power adapter rumor, the Note phones still come with a charger in the box.
Read more: What else could Apple announce on Oct. 13?
Processor: iPhone 12 will likely have A14 Bionic
Given that the latest iPhones have the A13 Bionic processor, it is highly probable that the next proprietary chipset will be called the A14 Bionic. And like every year, we expect this one to be faster and more efficient than its predecessor. More specifically however, one Apple leaker on Twitter, Komiya, reported that the A14 will have a CPU gain of 40% and a GPU gain of 50%.
Colors: iPhone 12 Pro may come in dark blue
Last year Apple introduced a midnight green color on the iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max. Whether you like the shade or not, the color variant actually sold well compared to expectations. This year there may be a possibility that Apple will launch another new color, navy blue, on the iPhone 12 Pro according to XDA Developer. This would be on trend since blue is both Pantone's color pick for the new year ("classic blue") and Shutterstock included "phantom blue" in its color forecast for 2020.
Specs and display: Four possible iPhone 12 models
One of the more enduring rumors about the upcoming iPhones is that Apple may introduce new screen sizes. One of the models, rumored to be called the iPhone 12 Mini according to a Sept. 24 leak, could have a 5.4-inch screen (of the current iPhones, the iPhone SE has the smallest display, which measures 4.7 inches). And the iPhone 12 Pro Max could go as large as 6.7 inches (for reference, the iPhone 11 Pro Max has a 6.5-inch display).
There's also speculation that the iPhone 12's display will have a 120Hz refresh rate and that perhaps the iPhone 12 Pro may have a ProMotion display, which is currently featured on the iPad Pro. Most phones refresh at 60 frames per second, or 60Hz, but other phones, like the Galaxy S20 and the OnePlus 8 Pro refresh at 120Hz. With a higher refresh rate, a phone feels faster and smoother when scrolling through things like web pages and apps.
It's already been predicted that all four new phones will have OLED displays. But leaker Kang suggests that all new phones will get Super Retina XDR screens, not just higher-end models like the 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max did this year.
With the possibility of new display sizes, rumors that Apple will expand its iPhone line have been swirling around. In December 2019, CNET's Lexy Savvides wrote:
According to JPMorgan analyst Samik Chatterjee, Apple will release four new iPhone 12 models in the fall of 2020: a 5.4-inch model, two 6.1-inch phones and a 6.7-inch phone. All of them will have OLED displays.
These size predictions were also backed this week by analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who believes the current 5.8-inch size of the iPhone 11 Pro may be going away. So the 5.4-inch and one of the 6.1-inch models will be the lower-end devices, presumably called the iPhone 12. Then the more expensive phones will be the other 6.1-inch and 6.7-inch iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max, respectively.
Read more: The best ways to sell or trade in your old iPhone in 2020
As far as storage goes, it was rumored that Apple was getting rid of 64GB of storage in baseline models. Kang says that the 12 mini and 12 will still come with 64GB and up to 256GB. But the 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max would be available with 128GB to 512GB.
Camera: iPhone 12 may have 3D depth sensing
Since the iPhone X, newer iPhones have front-facing cameras that have 3D depth sensing. Known as Face ID, this feature scans your face for unlocking your phone and authorizing digital payments. It's been rumored that Apple may take it up a notch and introduce that same system to the rear cameras. In August 2019, CNET's Vanessa Orellana wrote:
Longtime Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo (via MacRumors and 9to5Mac) said he expects two of the 2020 iPhones models to have a new time-of-flight camera lens on the back of the phone. The setup would be similar to that of the current True Depth camera system used for Face ID on the front of the phone, except it would use a slightly different type of technology that could allow it to 3D map objects from farther away. This would significantly improve its augmented reality applications and take certain camera features like Portrait Mode to the next level.
Renders of the iPhone's camera array integrating the depth-sensing lens have been circulating, with many online commenters remarking how the iPhone 12's possible camera layout looks similar to a stovetop.
It's unclear how many of the new iPhones would be equipped with this feature, if any.
Many rumors point to the new 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max getting lidar. But Kang says that the telephoto camera will go from 2x optical zoom to 3x optical zoom on the 12 Pro, and 4x optical zoom on the 12 Pro Max.