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iPhone 12: what we want to see

iPhone 12
(Image credit: TechRadar)

The iPhone 11 range includes a trio of well-rounded handsets, but in many ways they’re a conservative, safe upgrade from the iPhone XS. As such we’re hoping for big changes from the iPhone 12, and these being Apple handsets we’re already hearing whispers about them.

These include the possibility of 5G support, new cameras, a new design, a higher refresh rate and more. So if every rumor proves right then the iPhone 12 could be the big upgrade we’re hoping for.

You’ll find everything we’ve heard so far below, along with information on the likely release date and price of the iPhone 12 range, and a wish list of the things we most want to see from the 2020 iPhone models.

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? The next phones from Apple
  • When is it out? Probably September 2020
  • What will it cost? They won't be cheap

iPhone 12 release date and price

While there aren’t any iPhone 12 release date rumors yet, we can take a good guess at when it will be announced, as Apple unveils new models at a similar time each year.

As such, we can be fairly sure that the iPhone 12 range will be announced in September 2020.

More specifically, it might land on the Tuesday or Wednesday of the first or second full week of September, meaning September 8, 9, 15 or 16. Following that, pre-orders are likely to open the following Friday, with the phones probably going on a sale a week after that.

iPhone 11 pro

(Image credit: Future)

As for pricing, it’s likely to stay broadly in line with the current models. For reference, the iPhone 11 starts at $699 / £729 / AU$1,199, the iPhone 11 Pro starts at $999 / £1,049 / AU$1,749, and the iPhone 11 Pro Max starts at $1,099 / £1,149 / AU$1,899.

Having said that, one report suggests that the cost of materials for the iPhone 12 range might go up, which could mean even higher prices at retail.

iPhone 12 news and leaks

First things first: we're pretty confident the 2020 Apple handsets will be the iPhone 12 series, not the 11S or similar thanks to an industry analyst (with a great track record) saying as such.

That's why we're calling it the iPhone 12, even though Apple hasn't confirmed this name.

Apple could be making some big changes to the design and screen for the iPhone 12 range, including getting rid of the notch.

Or at least, one of the upcoming phones might lack a notch according to analysts, with the front-facing camera potentially set to be embedded under the screen instead. If this happens we’d expect it to be the most expensive iPhone 12 model that has this feature – likely the iPhone 12 Pro Max, or whatever it launches as.

It might not just be the camera that’s built into the screen either, as Apple is also rumored to be equipping its next phones with an in-screen fingerprint scanner.

iPhone 11 Pro

(Image credit: TechRadar)

This would be a big change for the brand, since current models don’t have a fingerprint scanner at all. That said, if the camera really is in-screen then it might not be possible to have all the Face ID sensors, so it could be that this fingerprint scanner will replace Face ID, though we're not convinced Apple would go that far.

One or more 2020 iPhone models might also have a 120Hz refresh rate, up from 60Hz on current models. This – which has been rumored by a reputable leaker - could make interactions feel smoother. Some phones already have higher refresh rates than 60Hz, as do some iPads, so this isn’t unbelievable.

The screen sizes could be changing too, with respected Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo saying that the iPhone 12 Pro Max could have a 6.7-inch screen (up from 6.5 inches on the iPhone 11 Pro Max), and the iPhone 12 Pro could have a 5.45-inch screen (down from 5.8 inches on the iPhone 11 Pro).

He adds that the standard iPhone 12 will apparently stay at 6.1 inches, but will get upgraded from LCD to OLED. That’s a claim we’ve heard more than once, and would mean all three 2020 iPhones would have an OLED screen.

As for the design, we might get more than just a notch removal, with Kuo also saying that he expects the metal frame to be more like the iPhone 4’s frame, suggesting it won’t be curved like on current models. He also says that overall the design is likely to be “significantly” different to current iPhone models.

iPhone 11 Pro

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Another big change could take the form of 5G, which has been widely rumored for the iPhone 12. Kuo even says that he thinks all three models will support 5G. We fully expect at least one of them will, given that multiple sources have suggested as much and that a number of other phones already support 5G.

The iPhone 12 might also get a camera upgrade, with a laser-powered 3D camera rumored for inclusion. This would be on the back, and while only one rumor mentions lasers, another also talks about a depth-sensing snapper, so this might well be something we see in some form.

Finally, there’s an outside chance that Apple could add a fourth handset to its line-up in 2020. By the sounds of things this could be a lower-end option, but we’d take its existence with a serious side of salt.

What we want to see

The iPhone 11 range is a strong but safe upgrade for Apple. For the iPhone 12 we want to see bigger, riskier changes, such as the following.

1. A new design

iPhone 11 Pro

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Perhaps the thing we want most from the iPhone 12 is a new design. Apple has been rolling out basically the same design for several years now, ever since it refreshed the look with the iPhone X.

Sure, some things get tweaked, but the core is the same. And it’s starting to look a bit dated. That’s thanks mostly to the large notch, which might be necessary for all the camera components needed for Face ID, but which we’d like to see shrunk or removed if possible.

Beyond that, we’d really like a whole new look. There’s not too much wrong with the rest of the iPhone 11 Pro’s design, but it certainly feels overly familiar at this point.

2. An in-screen everything

We’d like the iPhone 12 to have an all-screen front, and one way to achieve that is to move the front-facing camera under the display. If Apple can effectively achieve that, it’s sure to impress.

While it’s on, we’d like Apple to re-add a fingerprint scanner, for those times when Face ID isn’t working quite as slickly as it should. But we want this in the screen too, or better yet, make the whole screen one big fingerprint scanner, as it has been rumored Apple might be planning for a future phone.

3. A higher refresh rate

(Image credit: TechRadar)

One way some companies are further improving their displays is by upping the refresh rate from the standard 60Hz. The OnePlus 7 Pro for example has an optional 90Hz refresh rate, while the Razer Phone 2 goes up to 120Hz.

This can help make interactions with the handset and animations feel silky smooth, so we’d like to see Apple offer a higher refresh rate of its own. It’s not out of the question, especially as some iPad Pro models have a refresh rate of up to 120Hz. Indeed, exactly that refresh rate has been rumored for the upcoming iPhones.

4. Further battery boosts

For the first time in years, with the iPhone 11 range it feels like Apple has really prioritized battery life in its phones, but we want the company to go even further with the iPhone 12. Or at the very least not go backwards.

We’re still waiting on an iPhone that can comfortably last two days, and we’d like the iPhone 12 (or at least the iPhone 12 Pro Max) to be it.

5. 5G support

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Apple is behind when it comes to 5G, as none of the iPhone 11 range offer it, while rival handsets like the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G and OnePlus 7 Pro 5G do.

Apple’s lack of support isn’t a big deal right now, as 5G coverage is still very sparse in most countries, but by the time the iPhone 12 launches it will be more widely available and a large number of other handsets will support it, so it will be time for Apple to jump on board.

The good news is that it’s heavily rumored that 2020’s iPhones will support 5G, so this is one thing we’re likely to get.

6. A lower price

We ask for this every year with new iPhones and this year we actually kind of got it, with the base iPhone 11 starting at less than the iPhone XR did. So it’s actually not impossible that we could see an even lower price – or a reduced price for the rest of the range – with the iPhone 12.

We wouldn’t count on it, but Apple’s more affordable phones are typically its best-selling in recent years, so there should be some incentive to cut costs where possible.

7. Exciting new features

We’re talking things that we haven’t even thought of. Things that we’re hoping Apple’s brightest minds are currently dreaming up in the company’s labs. Because a tweaked design and improved specs are expected, ordinary, and no longer enough.