iPhone 12 Leaks and Rumors: What You Need to Know About Apple’s 2020 iPhones

While we’re still some time away from Apple’s anticipated iPhone 12 launch, rumors and predictions are starting to accumulate at a fever pitch. And if those rumors are true, we’ll be seeing no less than four new iPhone 12 models later this year.

It’s worth noting Apple has yet to confirm any details about its 2020 iPhone lineup. This story is based on leaks and predictions from industry insiders with solid track records. That said, things are likely to develop quickly over the next few months, so we’ll be updating this story frequently.

What Does the iPhone 12 Look Like?

According to tech analyst and leaker Jon Prosser, Apple will release four iPhone models this year, including a 5.4-inch iPhone 12, a 6.1-inch iPhone 12 Max, a 6.1-inch iPhone 12 Pro, and a 6.7-inch iPhone 12 Pro Max.

Render of front and back of iPhone 12 with Navy backRender of an iPhone 12 with a navy back (Image: PCMag)

As you can see above, the 2020 iPhone lineup might do away with the curved design language that has come to define the series since 2017. Instead, the new phones will sport a boxy design, with flat glass panels on the front. Regular iPhone 12 models are said to have an aluminum frame, while the Pro models will sport stainless steel.

In addition to a completely new design, Apple may allow owners to customize their own phones. In a newly published patent application entitled Laser Marking Of An Electronic Device Through A Cover, Apple describes a process of using a laser to create marks beneath the surface of an enclosure or display. The patent states the process can be used to add regulatory markings and other necessary markings to a handset as well as to “create custom markings on assembled electronic devices.”

The process can create color-changing markings as well as reflective or semi-transparent layers. Apple specifically mentions using the technology on the display to “define a window or other transparent region for viewing the display.” One of the most likely uses for this technology would be to minimize bezels and the display notch. It could also use this to create a built-in privacy filter since the laser is capable of semi-transparent and reflective surfaces.

Render of iPhone back with laser engraved markingsUnited States Patent Application Publication 2020/0180076 A1

The SIM slot is reportedly moving to the left side of the phone, while a proprietary connector may make its home on the right; while there are few details about the connector’s purpose, we believe it could be for Apple’s long-awaited AR headset that will likely precede its AR glasses by a year. Antenna lines might also be slightly larger to accommodate custom 5G antennas. Finally, the power button will reportedly move a little lower down on the right side of the phone if images from the Japanese tech site Macotakara are to be believed. 

The iPhone 12 may also be Apple’s most durable phone to date if it incorporates a new coating on the phones. A patent application titled Spiral Grain Coatings For Class Structures In Electronic Devices shows Apple might be developing a coating that would reduce the risk of damage if dropped. The coating is made of “polycrystalline materials in which grains have been grown in an interlaced spiral configuration.” It appears Apple may use different versions of the coating for different products. In products like the iPhone 12, it would likely have multiple sublayers with the top being constructed from “a hard material such as a nitride.” In addition to minimizing damage from accidental drops, the coating could also minimize excess wear on the glass, and create anti-scratch, anti-smudge, and/or anti-reflection layers.

While the iPhone 12 will reportedly keep its Lightning connection, Mr White, a well-known Apple leaker, posted photos of 20W charging adapter that’s apparently in production. In fact, it looks like every adapter may be an additional purchase if Ming Chi Kuo is to be believed. In June, MacRumors obtained a research note from the famed Apple analyst that states this year’s lineup will not include a charger.

In an earlier note, Kuo wrote this will be the first year Apple would not include a pair of EarPods in the box. Instead, the company plans to launch an AirPods promotion to coincide with the release of the new phones.

If Apple does in fact release this year’s iPhone without a charger or EarPods, it’s almost certain the packaging will change significantly as well. Updated packaging would likely be slimmer to minimize its environmental impact. Slimmer packaging would also allow Apple to reduces shipping and manufacturing costs.

Patent rending of optimized Apple packaging in June 2020 patent. Patent drawing for optimized Apple packaging fist published June 30, 2020

In June 2020, Apple was awarded a patent by the United States Patent and Trademark Office that may give us a glimpse of what’s to come. In the patent application, Apple states it may use this design for nearly all of its consumer electronics, with some minor variations depending on design. It cites several reasons to optimize its packaging, among them are minimized environmental impact, improved guest interaction, and reducing the risk of imperfect packaging in retail settings.

How Big Is the iPhone 12’s Screen?

Earlier this year, Apple leaker Jon Prosser tweeted all the upcoming iPhone 12 models would have a smaller notch for the TrueDepth camera. Apple reportedly tweaked its TrueDepth camera and other sensors partly to improve screen-to-body ratio. And while Prosser has a decent track record, he’s been way off base on several occasions, and he may have called it wrong on this one as well.

In August, anonymous Apple leaker Mr White tweeted an image of what he claims is an OLED display for the upcoming iPhone 12. The tweet say, “Same Face iD Size” [SIC]. From the image alone, it’s impossible to tell the size of the display so it’s possible the smaller TrueDepth camera notch will be limited to the iPhone Pro models, but we’ll have to wait until more details are revealed or Apple announces its lineup to know for sure.

Korean tech site The Elec reports the iPhone 12 and 12 Max will feature OLED displays constructed by LG. These will reportedly be traditional OLED panels with a separate touch film. Additionally, the less expensive duo will feature dual 12MP camera stacks with larger sensors for improved photos.

The iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max will reportedly include premium Y-OCTA OLED display panels from Samsung. These panels are more durable, since the touch layer is built into the screen. Both sets of phones are said to support the 120Hz ProMotion refresh rate currently available on the iPad Pro

How Many Cameras Does the iPhone 12 Have?

The Pro models are reported to feature a triple-lens camera stack. While all of the camera sensors are said to be larger this year, MacRumors reports the wide-angle lens will support sensor-shift image stabilization. This technology uses the iPhone’s accelerometer along with electrical actuators to prevent the effect of quick movements causing a deviation between what you see in the viewfinder and what the camera captures.  

9 to 5 Mac reports that code in a beta version of iOS 14 confirms LiDAR will appear on the Pro models. LiDAR uses pulsed lasers to detect the distance from the phone to a specific object; it will likely be used to help image quality, more accurately detect distances, and improve AR apps and features.

The iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Max will reportedly sport dual-sensor cameras according to a report from Ming-Chi Kuo. In the same report he states the primary lens will get a major upgrade, moving from 12MP on the iPhone 11 to 64MP on the iPhone 12.

What Are the iPhone 12’s Specs?

Digitimes (via The Chinese Commercial Times) says that Apple tapped TSMC to create its A14 SoC for the upcoming iPhone 12 lineup. The A14 processor will reportedly be the first to use a 5nm process. In July, Apple leaker Mr White, gave us the first glimpse of the Apple’s forthcoming A14 chipset, which does in fact appear to use a 5nm process. While some manufacturers are using 7nm process chipsets in their flagships, Apple’s plan to shrink its SoC even further could translate into a significant performance boost and greater energy efficiency. If the A14 chipset does indeed use a 5nm process, it may offer performance that rivals even high-end desktop computers.

Jon Prosser shared hardware details about the upcoming iPhone lineup in a YouTube video. He claims the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro will ship with 4GB of RAM with 128GB and 256GB storage configurations, while the iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max will sport 6GB of storage with 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB storage variants. 

Does the iPhone 12 Have 5G?

While all of the upcoming iPhone 12 variants will reportedly support 5G connectivity, details are still scarce. There are, however, a few different scenarios we can expect based on global 5G build-outs and other factors. 

At this point, we are confident at least some versions of the iPhone 12 will support mmWave. A patent filed by Apple entitled “Electronic Device With Millimeter Wave Antennas” confirms Apple plans to release an iPhone with mmWave and shows possible antenna placement. The patent also states the “antennas may be mounted along the peripheral edges of housing, on the rear of housing, under the display cover glass or other dielectric window on a rear face of housing, or on the edge of course, or elsewhere on the device.” That pretty much covers every inch of the phone, but we believe the render below shows the most probable locations for antenna placement on the iPhone 12.

There is one notable mention in Apple’s antenna patent, however. It states antennas may be mounted under the display cover glass. Apple first introduced its LCP antenna design on the iPhone X and has included the technology on some subsequent models. The technology would likely mean better 5G performance than what we see on many flagships at the moment because its performance doesn’t suffer temperature fluctuations and has a very low loss.

Image of mmWave antenna placement on iPhone 12United States Patent 10,680,663 B2

We believe Apple will reserve dual-band 5G for its Pro lineup, and will include sub-6GHz coverage for its less expensive phones. In this scenario, it’s also possible it may follow the lead of other manufacturers and create a dual-band version of the non-Plus iPhone 12 models for Verizon.

To some, it may seem like Apple is arriving late to the 5G party, but the company has long held the position it would rather wait until new technology has matured instead of using its customers as beta testers. If that philosophy continues to hold true, Apple’s unique antenna arrays combined with the LCP antenna, will likely mean the next-generation iPhone will have remarkably better 5G connectivity than its competitors.

There’s also a chance that Apple will release at least one version of the iPhone 12 that is LTE-only, though these rumors originate from an unreliable source. We’re including this as a possibility based solely on the fact Apple filed registrations with the Eurasian Economic Commission for nine different iPhone 12 variants.

How Much Does the iPhone 12 Cost?

Of course we don’t know any of this for certain, but as of this writing we believe pricing for the various iPhone 12 models will start at $549 and go up to $1,449. We’ve compiled potential iPhone 12 pricing in the graphic below.

Infographic of iPhone 12 pricing

When Is the iPhone 12 Coming Out?

Apple typically announces its latest iPhones in September and releases them a week or so after the launch event. This year, things will be different.

We got our first hint in February, when Apple CEO Tim Cook released a public statement noting that the coronavirus pandemic had “temporarily constrained” iPhone supply and that facilities in China were “ramping up more slowly than we anticipated.” And while there were hints that Apple managed to play catch up, Apple CFO Luca Maestri squashed those rumors in a quarterly earnings call last month, when he said he projected iPhone availability would be a few weeks late.

But COVID may not be solely to blame for the Apple’s delay. Even before the coronavirus pandemic swept the globe, analysts at Susquehanna predicted the iPhone 12 release would be delayed by months due to Apple’s decision to manufacture its own 5G antennas.. 

It’s also worth noting that Maestri’s announcement was somewhat cryptic and there’s a chance certain models may be delayed even even longer, though Apple appears to be working to minimize delays as much as possible. DigiTimes (paywall), reported in June that Apple already had pre-production units and would begin manufacturing of the phones in July. In July, however, the Asian Nikkei Review stated Apple has ramped up production of its existing smartphones to make up for a delay of four weeks, and two months for its upcoming 5G phones. Both publications are solid sources with excellent track records when it comes to Apple supply chain reporting.

So when can we reasonably expect to see the Apple’s next generation of iPhones? If Apple tipster Jon Prosser is to be believed, Apple will hold an iPhone event the week of Oct. 12. iPhone 12 pre-orders will go live the same week, and will begin shipping on the week of Oct. 19. Pre-orders for the iPhone 12 Pro models will reportedly be delayed until November and ship the same month. If this leak turns out to be correct, it’s likely we will see limited availability of the iPhone 12 Pro until the beginning of 2021, which could be a significant blow to Apple’s fourth quarter earnings.

Ultimately, we’ll just have to wait and see. But make sure to check back soon, as we’ll be updating this story as we learn new information.

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