The iPhone 11 rarely sees negative press. The excellent camera system, long battery life, and more affordable price point smooth over detractions like its lower-res LCD and recycled form factor. The iPhone 12, on the other hand, appears to make strides on all fronts. Could this be the best iPhone yet?
Before you dive too deep into the rumor mill, know that when we say "iPhone 12," we're talking about the rumors surrounding Apple's "cheaper" iPhone for 2020 — not the upgrades to the iPhone 11 Pro or 11 Pro Max. Instead, iPhone 12 is the successor of the iPhone 11 and iPhone XR. If you're looking for the latest gossip about what Apple's pro models are going to look like, check out our rumor roundup for those.
As of right now, "iPhone 12" is just a guess. Truth be told, we have no idea what Apple is planning to name the 2020 iPhone models. Will it bring back the "S" line, dubbing these devices the iPhone 11S? Only time will tell.
Another naming quirk might come from Apple's strange number of iPhones coming in 2020. If the rumors are true, Apple could be making two "cheaper" iPhone models. If we're going with the "12" naming scheme, one of these would presumably be the iPhone 12, but what would the other be? iPhone 12 Max?
That wouldn't make much sense compared to the Pro line's sizes, and it's just confusing with the iPhone 12 Pro Max's name. That said, for now, we'll call the smaller iPhone 12 just that, with the larger option being the iPhone 12 Plus.
- iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Plus
If this is your first time following the iPhone rumor mill, you should know that we never know this far out when Apple will release its new phones. We usually find out announcement dates just weeks before the event itself, with preorder and release dates during the event.
This year, however, the uncertainty of the coronavirus threatens the fall 2020 iPhone release. Apple admitted the virus will affect Q2 revenue, including new iPhone production, but other than that, we're in the dark.
Even with the coronavirus affecting production, it still seems likely Apple will continue with release tradition and unveil the new iPhones sometime in September of this year. We imagine preorders will go live the Friday following the event, with the official release one week after that. It might just be harder to get your hands on one.
- Announcement date: September 2020
- Preorder date: September 2020
- Release date: September 2020
Without any rumors yet available about the storage options for the iPhone 12, we can make an educated guess. The entry-level iPhone 12 will likely come in at 64 GB, with additional options for 256 GB and 512 GB. These sizes have been standard practice for Apple since the iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and X. We'd love to see Apple up the base storage to 128 GB, so users looking for more than 64 GB of storage don't need to spend the extra $150 on 256 GB.
- Storage available: likely 64 GB , 256 GB, 512 GB
- Expandable storage: no
Speaking of dollars, what is the iPhone 12 going to cost? Well, that all depends on what Apple's strategy this year is. If we get one iPhone 12 as a successor to the iPhone 11, we expect Apple to price it similarly at $699. If the company really releases two "cheaper" iPhone 12's this year, the price is anyone's guess. Apple could charge that $699 price for the 12 while adding an extra $50 or $100 for the iPhone 12 Plus.
- iPhone 12 Price: likely $699, $749, and $849
- iPhone 12 Plus Price: likely $749–$799, $799–$849, and $899–$949
- AppleCare+: likely $199 or $299 (or $9.99 or $14.99 each month)
Tired of the recycled iPhone X design we've seen for the past three years? The iPhone 12 might just be what you're looking for.
Apple is rumored to be creating a suite of iPhones that resembles the iPhone 4, as well as the current iPad Pros, more than the iPhone X. That involves a device that's more square than round, with raised sides. PhoneArena made some fantastic renders, based on design reports by Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.
That raised edge holds the antenna band, which should be larger than older iPhone antennas with the new design. That more significant antenna line might support 5G connectivity, which we'll talk about more below, and it might be made out of glass, ceramic, or sapphire.
- Frame: possibly stainless steel
- Back: likely glass
- Finish: unknown
As exciting as a design refresh may be, it unfortunately means we can't guess the basic dimensions of the new iPhones this far out. Until we see more rumors, we'll have to leave this section mostly blank for now, although we do expect the 12 to retain the IP68 rating.
- Height: unknown
- Width: unknown
- Depth: unknown
- Weight: unknown
- Dust/water resistance: likely IP68 under IEC standard 60529
- Mobile network operators: likely AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon
For the environmental operating requirements, Apple has listed the same ones since its iPhone 7 models, so we don't expect any change with the 12 models.
- Operating temp: 32° to 95° F
- Nonoperating temp: -4° to 113° F
- Relative humidity: 5–95% noncondensing
- Operating altitude: up to 10,000 feet (though could be more)
There's no other part of an iPhone you spend more time with than the display. That's why we follow display rumors especially closely, and 2020 looks to be a good year for innovation.
Firstly, let's clarify this whole "two iPhone" rumor we've discussed. According to Kuo, Apple is planning to release two "cheaper" iPhones this year. One, the iPhone 12, will have a smaller display than the 11 Pro, coming in at 5.4 inches. The other, the 12 Plus, will have a 6.1-inch display, matching the display size of the iPhone 11 and "12 Pro." That 5.4-inch iPhone could be mixing up Macotakara, which claimed that Apple was working on both a 4.7-inch Touch ID SE 2 as well as a 5.4" Face ID iPhone 9. While we believe the SE 2 is real, we don't think the 5.4-inch iPhone will be a budget device, rather the smallest entry in the fall 2020 lineup.
If you're looking for good news, Kuo continues his report to suggest that both the iPhone 12 and 12 Plus will come with OLED displays. Currently, only the Pro models have OLED displays, as the 11 has a standard LCD. That said, a report from analyst Suseuqhanna claims that one of these devices will continue to use LCD. Personally? We hope Kuo is right here.
What could be bigger news than OLED panels on all the new iPhones? How about 120 Hz? According to Apple leaker Ice Universe, Apple is thinking about a variable refresh display that can alternate between 60 Hz, the refresh rate of current iPhones, and 120 Hz, the refresh rate of current iPad Pros. OnePlus and Google have used variable refresh displays on their recent devices, but only up to 90 Hz. A faster refresh rate results in more fluid motion and animations on-screen, but if your device is capped at 60 Hz, it's impossible to demonstrate online. It's something you just need to see for yourself.
We've also seen multiple reports of Apple working on an in-display fingerprint reader for all 2020 iPhones. Like variable refresh rate displays, Apple would be far from the first to implement such a feature into its phones. Anyone following Samsung and OnePlus, for example, knows their recent devices feature the technology. That said, it would be a major comeback story for Touch ID, last seen on the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus. Since then, Face ID has completely taken over new iPhones, although the tech is still available on the newest iPad Air and iPad mini.
One thing that's likely to stay the same this year is the notch, or at least the presence of one. While some reports suggest that Apple might introduce an iPad Pro-style design to the iPhone this year, others say the notch will still be with us, although possibly smaller. We'll keep an eye on these rumors — an in-display fingerprint reader traditionally removes the need for a notch, but Apple is still all-in on its Face ID tech, so both will make an appearance probably.
- Screen size: likely 5.4 inches (12) and 6.1 inches (12 Plus)
- Screen resolution: unknown
- Pixel density: likely 458 ppi
- Screen type: likely OLED, Super Retina XDR
- HDR: likely Dolby Vision and HDR10
- Notch: likely yes
- Screen-to-body ratio: currently unknown
- Aspect ratio: likely 19.5:9
- Minimum brightness: Unknown
- Maximum brightness: likely 1,200 nits
- Refresh rate: 60 Hz, possibly 120 Hz
- Color temperature: Unknown
- 3D Touch: likely no
Every year, Apple equips its newest iPhones with its latest chipsets. This year doesn't appear to be any different, as rumors suggest TSMC is soon beginning production on the A14 chip. The new chipset will improve upon last year's A13 Bionic chip found in the 2019 iPhones. The biggest news so far? The A14 is said to be a five-nanometer chip, which, if true, could make it the first chip of that size to hit the market. Jason Cross of Macworld even speculates that the A14 could match the power of the 15-inch MacBook Pro, if the chip really reaches 15 billion transistors.
As for RAM, frequency, or number of cores? These are figures we simply don't know yet.
- Memory: possibly 4 GB RAM
- Processor: likely Apple A14
- Chip size: possibly 5 nanometer
- Coprocessor: unknown
- CPU frequency: unknown
- CPU cores: unknown
- GPU: Apple-designed (unknown model)
- GPU cores: unknown
So far, the only iPhone 12 battery rumor we see suggests that a new circuitry design could open up room for a larger battery. The new circuitry is 50% smaller than in previous iPhones, theoretically allowing Apple to add a larger battery to the iPhone 12.
As for charging that battery, we expect Apple to include the 18-watt USB-C power adapters it included with the 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max models, so that's a nice upgrade there.
- Battery: likely rechargeable lithium-ion
- Capacity: Unknown
- Wireless charging: likely yes, Qi standard (7.5 W)
- Charging port: likely Lightning
- Wired charging: likely yes, USB PD (18 W)
Like last year, camera specs appear to be what will separate the cheaper iPhones from the Pro options. As the rumors stand, expect to find two rear cameras on the iPhone 12 this year, in opposition to the three or four cameras rumored to be on the 12 Pro. That means we expect to see Apple omit a telephoto camera on the 12, opting instead for the wide-angle and ultrawide cameras found on the iPhone 11.
In addition, the iPhone 12 will skip out on the 12 Pro's "Time of Flight" (ToF) cameras, which can be used to better analyze an environment for more accurate AR capabilities. It will also omit a new "sensor-shift" stabilization coming to the pros, which adds stabilization to the camera sensor itself, rather than adding it to the lens.
- Resolution (Photos): likely at least 12 MP
- Resolution (Videos): likely 1080p and 4K
- Max frame rate: likely 60 fps for 1080p and 4K
- Slow motion: likely yes, 1080p at 120 fps
- Aperture: likely at least ƒ/2.2
- Zoom: unknown
- Flash: likely screen-based
- Image stabilization: likely software-based
- RAW support: likely no
- Object detection: likely bodies, faces, winks, tongues
- Resolution: likely at least 12 MP (wide-angle), 12 MP (ultrawide)
- Aperture: likely at least f/1.8 (wide-angle), f/2.4 (ultrawide)
- Zoom: likely 1x optical, 10x digital
- Flash: likely Quad-LED True Tone flash with Slow Sync
- Image stabilization: likely optical, wide-angle and telephoto
- RAW support: likely yes
- Lens cover: likely sapphire crystal
- Object detection: likely bodies, faces
- Formats: likely HEIF, JPEG, RAW
- HDR: likely Smart HDR
We haven't seen any iPhone 12 audio rumors yet, but don't expect a headphone jack this year.
- 3.5 mm headphone jack: likely no
- Stereo speakers: likely yes
- Mics: likely three total (on rear, front, and bottom)
- Max speaker volume: unknown
The iPhone 12 and 12 Plus will likely feature the same sensors as previous iPhones.
- Sensors: GPS, barometer, accelerometer, three-axis gyroscope, proximity sensor, barometer, digital compass
While the four major US carriers all begin their 5G rollouts, Apple looks to start its implementation. All 2020 iPhones are rumored to ship with 5G connectivity, according to Kuo, bringing the latest suite of iPhones in line with other major OEM's 5G devices. While the rumors seem to indicate all new iPhones will be 5G-compatible, Apple may release 5G versions of each phone, in a similar strategy to how other OEMs handle 5G devices.
A rumor from Susquehanna suggests that these 5G iPhones will only work with sub-6 GHz spectrum 5G, rather than also including mmWave support. Kuo, on the other hand, suggests that both technologies will be compatible with the 2020 iPhones. The analyst even released a second report on the subject following the Susquehanna report, restating how all late 2020 iPhones will come with both 5G technologies.
Why the desire for both technologies? In short, sub-6 GHz isn't quite as fast as mmWave. The latter can reach speeds of up to 1 Gbps, while the former keeps between 100–150 Mbps. While 150 Mbps is speedy in its own right, if you're looking for the best of the best, you'll want to look out for an iPhone with mmWave technology for sure.
- Wi-Fi: likely 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6)
- Bluetooth: likely 5
- NFC: likely yes
- Cellular: likely dual Nano-SIM card tray, Gigabit-class LTE and 5G
- Port: likely Lightning
- Other: likely iBeacon microlocation, AirPlay, AirDrop
So far, the in-display fingerprint reader is the only major security rumor we've come across. How secure that technology is remains to be seen. Will it improve upon Touch ID's one-in-ten-thousand chance of failure? We also expect Face ID to stay the same as in previous iPhone models, at least at this point.
We're sure USB restricted mode will make its return as well. This feature is iOS-based and prevents third-party devices from connecting to your iPhone via USB without your permission.
- Security: possibly Face ID, Touch ID, and USB restricted mode
Without much doubt, the iPhone 12 and 12 Plus will likely run iOS 14 out of the box. We expect Apple to beta test the new software from June until the iPhone's release. The only significant deviation we can imagine here is if iOS 14.0 is buggy at launch, which could lead Apple to ship the iPhone 12 with iOS 14.0.1, or iOS 14.1.
- Software: likely iOS 14
Working off previous iPhone features, we expect to see Wi-Fi or cellular FaceTime video calls, FaceTime audio, voice over LTE (VoLTE), Wi-Fi calling, and full Siri support. A variety of language options, QuickType keyboard, Siri, dictation, dictionaries, and spell check, will also likely be available.
We expect the following audio files to be supported — AAC-LC, HE-AAC, HE-AAC v2, Protected AAC, MP3, Linear PCM, Apple Lossless, FLAC, Dolby Digital (AC-3), Dolby Digital Plus (E-AC-3), Dolby Atmos, and Audible (formats 2, 3, 4, Audible Enhanced Audio, AAX, and AAX+) files. Video playback support likely includes HEVC, H.264, MPEG-4 Part 2, and Motion JPEG, as well as High Dynamic Range with Dolby Vision and HDR10 content.
How does a fresh pair of AirPods with your iPhone sound? According to some rumors, Apple is thinking about including its wireless earbuds inside the iPhone 12's box. The logistics of such a move are unknown. Would Apple keep prices the same? Would it charge the full price for a new iPhone plus a new pair of AirPods? Would they offer the bundle at a slight discount? All remains to be seen.
The rest of the box should look pretty familiar from our guess:
Want to help support Gadget Hacks and get a great deal on some sweet new tech? Check out all the deals on the new Gadget Hacks Shop.