iPhone 12 leak shows plenty of new features that most phones already have

iPhone 8
An iPhone 8. Image credit: TechRadar (Image credit: Future)

A new report on Apple's 2020 iPhones, which we're calling (for now) the iPhone 12 series, suggests they'll pack plenty of new features. 

The report comes from J.P. Morgan analysts, and it lists the new additions to the smartphones – all of which, many 2019 Android smartphones, even budget ones, already have.

Apple's smartphones, especially in recent years, have become less known for cutting-edge technology (exceptions such as Face ID aside), and more for the sleek, stylish branding, great performance and premium build quality – so it's not a surprise that the rumored 'new' features for its future iPhones is actually tech we've seen before.

What Apple is known for, and does well, is taking features we've already seen on other phones - especially in the recent explosion of Chinese brands such as Huawei, Oppo, Xiaomi and OnePlus - and finesse them for ease of use.

However, the upcoming iPhone 11 looks set to be a negligible upgrade over the iPhone XS – but if these are the only new features the iPhone 12 is set to have, it may be another nail in the coffin for the iPhone range.

What are these 'new' features?

One of the most talked-about rumors for the iPhone 12, which the report corroborates, is that it could be a 5G device, or come with a 5G variant. 

That's great for iPhone aficionados who want to connect to 5G networks without jumping ship, but by the time the iPhone 12 launches in late 2020, the first 5G phones would have launched a year and a half ago, and there will likely be budget and mid-range 5G phones at that point.

It means Apple may be late to the party, but it could be perfectly timed as it's going to take until late in 2020 for 5G networks around the world to offer the coverage and reliability people expect from the next-generation of connectivity. 

Currently, 5G is limited to just a handful of cities worldwide, and Apple will be keen that its first 5G phone will be able to take advantage of the network in as many places as possible from launch.

Another point the report brings up is that there could be four iPhones launching, including a budget alternative (and by 'budget' we mean 'actually affordable', not 'slightly less expensive' like the iPhone XR).

That makes sense, given the high price of most iPhones, but again releasing a budget alternative to a premium smartphone brand is common practice now – just look at the Honor 20 Lite or Huawei P30 Lite as examples.

The report suggests the iPhone 12R (which will likely have a better name than that) could come with OLED screens, a step up from the iPhone XR's LCD. LCD is typically a more mid-tier display technology, reserved for true budget smartphones, so it makes sense that Apple is ditching the technology.

One last improvement the analysts predict is that the smartphones will have Time-of-Flight cameras added, which are used to calculate distance in order to add better depth effects to portraits. 

Several premium smartphones have this camera already, like the Huawei P30 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S10 5G, and by late 2020 many mid-rangers will have it too, but it will still be a useful addition to the iPhone camera.

None of these features are particularly new, and we've seen them all in several phones already, so judging by the report, Apple is playing a game of catch-up. 

Tom Bedford

Tom Bedford was deputy phones editor on TechRadar until late 2022, having worked his way up from staff writer. Though he specialized in phones and tablets, he also took on other tech like electric scooters, smartwatches, fitness, mobile gaming and more. He is based in London, UK and now works for the entertainment site What To Watch.

He graduated in American Literature and Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. Prior to working on TechRadar, he freelanced in tech, gaming and entertainment, and also spent many years working as a mixologist.