Apple will pull back the curtains on its iPhone 12 family of smartphones in the early hours of October 14, Australian time.
The company's invitation to the virtual event, bearing the welcome "Hi, Speed" makes it clear that 5G will be at the forefront of the iPhone 12 launch.
The device line-up is expected to include three screen sizes – at 5.4 inches, 6.1 inches and 6.7 inches – but four model variants including the iPhone Pro and iPhone Pro Max.
However, how Apple will handle the two types of 5G technologies – mmWave and sub-6GHz – remains to be seen, with reports that not all iPhone 12 models will include both systems, and the release dates may be staggered to accomodate this rather than have all models released on the same day.
5G at the forefront
Australia's 'big three' mobile telcos – Telstra, Optus and Vodafone – have all adopted 'sub-6', which offers 5G coverage over a wider distance but at reduced speeds.
However, the rollout of shorter-range mmWave services in 2021 will dramatically boost speed and capacity, making it better suited to busy locations such as airports, stadiums and some parts of the CBD.
As previously reported, Apple has asked suppliers to build at least 75 million 5G iPhones for later this year, roughly in line with last year’s launch, in a sign that demand for the company’s most important product is holding up in the midst of the global pandemic and recession.
The California-based technology giant anticipates shipments of these next-generation iPhones may reach as high as 80 million units in 2020, according to people familiar with the situation.
Four new iPhone 12 models
The four new phones will be split into two basic and two high-end models for the first time, and all will feature OLED displays with improved color and clarity.
The two regular iPhones will come in a new 5.4-inch size and a 6.1-inch option, while the Pro devices will offer a choice of a 6.1-inch or an enlarged 6.7-inch display, which will be the largest Apple’s ever put in an iPhone.
All of the new smartphones will have updated designs with squared edges similar to the iPad Pro, and the high-end phones will continue to use stainless steel edges versus aluminum sides on the cheaper variants.
The company is also planning a dark blue color option on the Pro models to replace the Midnight Green of 2019’s iPhone 11 Pro line.
At least the larger of the Pro phones will have the same LIDAR camera as on the latest iPad Pro, which allows augmented-reality apps to have a greater understanding of their surrounding environment. Among the most significant improvements of the new handsets will be the new A14 processor, upgrading speed and power efficiency.
Some Apple employees testing the new devices think that the new 6.7-inch screen is one of this year’s most notable improvements, the people familiar with the situation said.
A few testers have also found that some of the current 5G networks are not improving connection speeds much, the people added.
Apple plans to ship the lower-end phones sooner than the Pro devices, according to people familiar with the staggered release strategy..
New headphones, HomePod
Apple may also use the iPhone 12 launch event to introduce a smaller, lower-price smart speaker which some suggest will be called the HomePod Mini; over-the-ear noise-cancelling Airpods Studio headphones; and so-called Apple Tags or Airtags that will let users track real-world objects like keys and wallets.
Apple has recently stopped selling headphones and wireless speakers from rivals such as Bose, Sonos and Logitech, in a move which is believed to signal the company's further push into those audio markets.
Additional reporting by David Flynn