Apple’s launch schedule is so predictable that you probably don’t need to be reminded that the next iPhones are due out in September 2020. But even though that is still months away there are plenty of rumours about how Apple will change the design for the iPhone 12, how it could have more cameras and that it will support 5G.
There could also be a major redesign with squarer sides (like the latest iPad Pro), a removal of the signature screen notch and potentially the return of Touch ID by the introduction of an under-screen ultrasonic fingerprint sensor.
iPhone 12 rumours at a glance:
- Up to four models in the range
- New midnight blue colour for 12 Pro / Pro Max
- 5G support
- USB-C to replace Lightning port
- Screen notch to disappear
- Under-screen fingerprint scanner
When is the iPhone 12 release date?
Everyone expects Apple to hold a special event in September 2020 to launch new hardware, among which is certain to be new iPhones.
At least a couple of analysts have predicted that the Coronavirus outbreak in China will have an effect on Apple’s production facilities, but that relates more to iPads and Macs (and the also-rumoured iPhone SE 2). Apple is said to begin production of the next-generation iPhones in June each year so, depending upon how long the crisis continues, it could potentially have a knock-on effect on supply.
That means that we could be in for an iPhone X-style launch for the iPhone 12. Apple is unlikely to change the phones’ announcement date, but there may be limited supply in October, possibly even until the end of the year. We’ll just have to wait and see on that one.
Will the iPhone 12 have 5G?
Although we can’t say it with 100% certainty, yes, the iPhone 12 will have 5G. Apple is rarely first to adopt new technologies, preferring instead to wait until it can offer the best possible user experience. So it wasn’t a huge surprise that the iPhone 11 range stuck with 4G modems.
5G is more complicated than 4G – for various boring reasons we won’t go into here, but if you’re interested you can read our guide to 5G which explains that it operates on various frequencies. Put simply, some current 5G phones don’t support all the frequencies, but Apple will probably want to avoid that scenario.
However, one analyst – Mehdi Hosseini of Susquehanna – predicts that Apple will first launch the iPhone 12 with only “sub-6GHz” capabilities and then launch another model a few months afterwards with “mmWave” support. To us, that seems unlikely, as it would annoy users too much to find out their brand new iPhone 12 isn’t the latest model any more.
As to which supplier Apple might use, Qualcomm is a good bet with its new X60 5G chip.
How many models of the iPhone 12 will there be?
The rumours don’t all agree on this. And the reason is because no-one is quite sure what Apple will do regarding 5G.
If we look at the state of Android phones, even Samsung’s Galaxy S20 range has expanded because there’s a choice of models with and without 5G.
Apple may opt for the same approach, as some customers won’t want to pay extra for 5G that they’ll never use (or can’t use). The core range will probably be the same as the current one though:
- iPhone 12 – 5.8in screen – From £729 / $699 (64GB)
- iPhone 12 Pro – 6.1in OLED screen – From £1049 / $999 (64GB)
- iPhone 12 Pro Max – 6.5in OLED screen – From £1149 / $1099 (64GB)
We don’t expect storage capacities to change, with 256- and 512GB options if you can’t manage with the base 64GB model.
What other new features will the iPhone 12 have?
It goes without saying that there will be a new processor – the A14 Bionic – and that cameras will be improved across the range.
Talking of cameras, the rumour mill has run wild with this, and people have made concepts and mockups showing insane camera arrays such as this one for the iPhone 12 Pro Max:
The video also shows the new, squarer design and USB-C port replacing Lightning.
However, it’s really just speculation about what camera upgrades will appear this year so far, and there are no details as to what each of the four – or five – lenses are for. PhoneArenareckons that Apple might add just one extra lens to the Pro (and Pro Max), but you won’t be able to take pictures with it as it’s a time-of-flight sensor for sensing depth.
And that neatly leads into the next rumour about an enhanced 3D system, potentially rear facing. This could even be one of the headline features: enhanced AR. Indeed, a Bloomberg article (paywall) predicted this before Apple launched the iPhone 11 range.
As AR becomes more prevalent – and useful – in the real world, phone camera systems need to be able to scan the environment around the user, which is something depth sensors are already beginning to do on some Android phones.
Under-screen fingerprint sensor
Another feature we’re used to on Android phones is a fingerprint sensor embedded into the screen. Qualcomm’s ultrasonic sensor is perhaps the best example of this, as it can still work even if you have wet fingers.
And since the legal disputes between Apple and Qualcomm are resolved – for the moment at least – Qualcomm could supply its second-generation ultrasonic sensor for the new phones.
That’s what the Chinese Economic Daily News reckons, and the article also says that Japan Display Corporation will likely supply the OLED screens – a new supplier to Apple.
The reason to re-introduce fingerprint scanning is so that Apple can create a full-screen display. Currently, the notch houses the selfie camera and the Face ID components, plus other sensors, and in order to have an all-display front, Face ID might have to go.
Well-known Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has predicted that the firm will launch a new, lower-cost iPhone in 2021 which will feature a fingerprint scanner built-into the power button on the side of the phone, something that Sasung and Honor (and Sony) have all done with Android phones.
Will it fold?
No. As we said, Apple isn’t one to embrace new features quickly and given the issues that have plagued all folding phones to date (including thelatest failure of a Motorola Razr screen), it’s highly improbable that there will be a folding iPhone in 2020.
For further reading, check out the best phones launching this year.