Apple also announced something called the iPhone 12 Mini, essentially a smaller version of the aforementioned iPhone 12, with a 5.4-inch OLED display and the same chipset. The iPhone 12 starts at $799, while the iPhone Mini starts at $699.
And then there are the new iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max, the top-of-the-line devices. They have fancier builds (and a couple new colors, including “stunning gold” and “Pacific blue”); bigger screens (the iPhone 12 Pro jumps up from a 5.8-inch display to a 6.1-inch display, while the iPhone 12 Pro max is the largest iPhone display ever, at 6.7 inches); and seriously souped up cameras. The form factors, though, are nearly identical to last year’s iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max; Apple has simply extended the edges of the displays. Like the iPhone 12, these run on the A14 Bionic chip.
The cameras are the big sellers with these phones. The rear camera modules have three cameras: ultrawide, wide, and telephoto. Apple uses something called “Deep Fusion” to blend all of this captured data in a way that supposedly produces pro-grade photos. Night Mode on these phones is improved by the new lidar scanner, part of Apple’s push into more immersive AR (and, we think, an eventual push into AR glasses). Portrait mode has improved “bokeh” effects and Depth Control, and optical image stabilization is done at the sensor level. Apple is also introducing something called Apple ProRAW, better processing and editing for photos directly in the Photos app. And on the video side, the cameras support 4K HDR video recording, although that’s industry standard now for flagship phones.
These two phones start at $999 for the iPhone 12 Pro, and $1,099 for the iPhone 12 Pro Max. Trick your Pro Max phone out with the most storage offered—and you’re looking at a $1,400 phone. And of course: They both support 5G.
While wireless carriers have rolled out 5G networks in dozens of cities, the earliest versions haven’t been that fast—it all depends on which flavor of 5G is available—and the US has lagged behind other nations, particularly China, in the deployment of these super speedy networks. On the handset side, other manufacturers put out 5G devices long before Apple did. Samsung has, over the past year and a half, released at least 17 smartphones that support 5G. Even Google, which has a relatively tiny hardware business, beat Apple to 5G phones.
But symbolically, a 5G iPhone is a big deal, particularly in the US. It’s one of the most significant updates we’ve seen to the iPhone in years, which has nudged innovation forward with its sophisticated phone cameras and custom silicon but hasn’t had a must-have feature in awhile. This could move the needle in the rollout of 5G across the US, says Patrick Moorhead, founder at Moor Insights & Strategy. “With Apple coming out and supporting it, I wouldn’t call it the last chance for US carriers to make a statement around 5G, but at this point they have to make some kind of statement,” Moorhead says.
Still, it remains to be seen whether 5G—or lidar, or slightly improved cameras—will drive consumers to upgrade, particularly in these uncertain (crazy insane) times. Last year’s iPhone 11 just got a significant price reduction, to $599, and the iPhone SE, announced this spring, costs just $399. Apple has proven that it can produce new iPhones (albeit on a slightly delayed schedule) during the coronavirus pandemic. The question is whether people will need, want, or be able to upgrade their phones as frequently as they did before.
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