5G iPhone 12 could make compromises to prevent big price hike

iPhone 11 Pro Max
The iPhone 11 Pro Max (Image credit: Future)

The iPhone 12 is expected to be the first iPhone with 5G on board, which will mean increased component costs – and a new analyst report suggests that Apple is going to try and offset this with a cheaper, smaller battery setup.

Well-respected Apple watcher Ming-Chi Kuo says (via MacRumors) that the battery board inside the iPhone 12 range will cost about half as much as the equivalent components carried by the iPhone 11 series.

Kuo additionally claims that all the shiny new 5G tech could add up to $220 (roughly £165 / AU$305) to the production cost of each phone, so cheaper battery components should help absorb some of that cost and prevent a big price bump for consumers. Previous rumors have also suggested the iPhone 12 won't have earbuds or a charger in the box, to further cut down on costs.

What we don't know is what effect this might have on the iPhone 12 battery life – cheaper components would in theory mean some sort of trade-off in terms of performance or reliability, but it really depends on how smart Apple's engineers have been in the construction of the new iPhone.

iPhone 12 battery life

Last month we heard that the iPhone 12 handsets might have smaller batteries compared with their iPhone 11 equivalents – a 2,227mAh capacity for the 5.4-inch iPhone 12, 2,775mAh for the 6.1-inch iPhone 12 Max and iPhone 12 Pro, and 3,687mAh for the 6.7-inch iPhone 12 Pro Max.

Those sizes are a long way behind the battery capacities you'll get on the top Android phones, but thanks to the various optimizations that Apple packs into iOS, the iPhones are still generally able to offer competitive battery life – well over a day in the case of the iPhone 11 Pro, for example.

It's going to have to be a case of wait and see for the iPhone 12 – even with smaller, cheaper batteries inside, the phones could offer the same or even better battery life if Apple has been able to make them more power-efficient. That efficiency is key, from the chipset to the software to the battery layout.

We might see the iPhone 12 range launch as early as September 8, though even Apple itself has said that the actual on-sale dates will be delayed this year. Besides the addition of 5G, we're also expecting a flatter design in the style of the iPad Pro tablets.

David Nield
Freelance Contributor

Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.