The iPhone 12 should be a big change for Apple’s smartphone. The iPhone 11 series has delivered little in terms of an upgrade. With new camera tweaks and a little more power inside, they were modest updates to the popular iPhone range.
What will the next iPhone – the first of a new decade – bring? Is Apple going to give us a real new iPhone?
The good news is that in the run-up to the launch of the iPhone 11 we heard a lot of rumors and leaks about a much-changed iPhone. These include the possibility of a 5G iPhone model, new cameras, a new design, a supercharged screen… If all these rumors turn out to be true for the next-gen device, the iPhone 12 could be the big upgrade we hope for.
iPhone 12 release date, price, specs
The next set of iPhones will almost certainly be released in the autumn of 2020. (More specifically September 2020 is the heavy favorite for the announcement event at least; if the company faces production difficulties it’s possible that pre-orders and the actual onsale launch could be delayed until the following months, as happened with the iPhone X.) Apple’s release schedule is extremely predictable, and every autumn since 2011 there has been at least one new model.
The only slight disruption to that schedule came in the spring of 2016 when Apple gave us the iPhone SE as a bonus. (We still got the iPhone 6s the autumn before that, and the iPhone 7 the autumn after.) So it’s possible – albeit a long shot – that some kind of small-screen or budget handset will be released around March or April of 2020. For more on that theory, see iPhone SE 2 release date rumors.
We expect at least three different models in September, to match the iPhone 11/11 Pro/11 Pro Max rollout in September 2019. Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has predicted, however, that there could be as many as four, as Apple caters for multiple versions of 5G.
Apple revamped the rear cameras on the 2019 handsets (with three lenses for the first time, and even the twin lenses of the iPhone 11 arranged in new square housing), but left the rest of the design largely untouched for the third generation in a row. The full-screen/notch look of the iPhone X in 2017 was kept for the XS – although a new, larger Max screen option was added – and the 11 Pro.
There’s only so many times you can offer the same design and expect people to keep upgrading – although Apple has tested this theory at times in the past. On the whole, however, we suspect that 2020 will be a year of significant design change.
We could see the shrinking or total elimination of the notch, for example. The latter is probably more likely; the notch is an imperfect arrangement but it has become, perhaps accidentally, a signature part of the design, and we can’t see Apple changing this until it’s ready to remove it entirely.
The notch contains a number of important sensors – those for Face ID, for example – and removing it would raise design problems, of course. Apple may go for a punch-hole design, which is a compromise of its own. But we feel that would be the worst of both worlds: an admission that the notch was a misstep, the loss of an iconic piece of design, and a failure, still, to actually provide a seamless all-screen design.
For us, then, the decision to get rid of the notch is dependent on the technology to embed the sensors in the screen (since we can’t imagine Apple going for a gimmicky-looking flip-round camera, a la ZenFone 6) becoming affordable at scale. That way your iPhone 12 would be nothing but screen – which is a tough ask, design-wise, but might justify the overused adjective “magical”.
PhoneArena has posted concept illustrations showing an iPhone with four camera lenses on the rear. This is madness, surely… Although it does fit the square housing rather neatly. (The flash is placed in the center.)
Our feeling is that Apple already offers too many screen sizes across its iPhone and iPad ranges. (All together now: 4.7in, 5.5in, 5.8in, 6.1in, 6.5in, 7.9in, 10.2in, 10.5in, 11in, 12.9in. Confusing, right?) However, it’s rumored that yet another size is about to be added to the portfolio: 5.4in.
Max Rudberg, a Swedish graphic designer, has created a concept illustration of how this might look. And if it seems like an arbitrary number, it’s not: he’s taken a chassis roughly halfway between the iPhone 8 and the (much-missed) iPhone SE, given the result an iPhone X-style notch-screen layout, and ended up with a superbly pocketable device with a bigger screen than either.
These rough, but gives you an idea of what Apple could be going for with a 5.4” device — something in between an iPhone 8 and an SE, but with a much larger screen.
I would guess they would scale down the UI of the XS, even if screen would be narrower than that of an 8. pic.twitter.com/EFR88i1hEb
— Max Rudberg (@maxrudberg) June 24, 2019
Honestly, based on the emails we read all the time from iPhone SE fans who feel abandoned by Apple, this would sell like mad.
It’s a recurrent rumor, but will 2020 be the year Apple finally gives in and replaces its proprietary Lightning port with USB-C, as it did on its iPad Pro models in 2018? We think probably not since that was a special case – fast data transfers to and from cameras being a requirement of many digital creatives. And owners of Lightning-based headphones and other accessories would be pretty ticked off.
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