Apple took the wraps off the iPhone 12, its first smartphones that support 5G wireless technology. And the company touted new lineup’s ability to capture and edit 4K HDR video, potentially giving filmmakers a powerful new tool to work with.
Apple said it has tested the 5G iPhone 12 phones with 100 carriers in 30 regions — and claims it obtained speeds up to 4 Gbps under ideal conditions on networks that use higher-frequency millimeter wave 5G. That said, Apple cautioned that real-world speeds will vary.
“5G just got real,” Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg said at Apple’s virtual product launch event Tuesday from the tech giant’s Cupertino headquarters. Vestberg announced that the telco was activating 5G across the U.S., now available to more than 200 million people in 1,800 cities nationwide. Verizon’s higher-speed 5G Ultra Wideband service (which uses millimeter wave spectrum) is now available in 55 cities, 43 stadiums and arenas, and seven airports.
Apple announced four models of the new smartphone: the iPhone 12 with a 6.1-inch screen (starting at $799, available starting Oct. 23); the iPhone 12 mini with a 5.4-inch screen (starting at $699, available starting Nov. 13); the iPhone 12 Pro with a 6.1-inch screen ($999 and up, available Oct. 23) and iPhone 12 Pro Max, whose 6.7-inch screen is the largest screen Apple has ever produced ($1,099 and up, available Nov. 13).
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“While the event provided little surprise, we are optimistic about [Apple’s] ability to see a return to iPhone growth, given the combination of 5G, a host of features that will appeal to the consumer, and ability to sustain price points,” CFRA Research analyst Angelo Zino wrote in a note.
That said, Apple’s 5G iPhones might not trigger a new “supercycle” of phone upgrades anytime soon. Given that smartphone replacement cycles are steadily lengthening, “the real 5G cycle is at least a year or two away,” MoffettNathanson principal analyst Craig Moffett said in a research note.
The iPhone 12 Pro models can record HDR video in Dolby Vision and they provide the ability to edit 4K video at up to 60 frames per second directly on the phone. Apple said they’re the first smartphones with those capabilities. During the launch event, Apple showed a short film shot in HDR video with Dolby Vision on iPhone 12 Pro by cinematographer Emmanuel “Chivo” Lubezki, who won Oscars for his work on Alejandro Iñárritu’s “The Revenant” and “Birdman” and Alfonso Cuarón’s “Gravity.”
“Now, you can really go out with one of these devices and make a movie,” Lubezki says in the Apple video. “The iPhone Pro… will allow filmmakers all around the world to make films that are otherwise impossible because you don’t have the means or because the cameras are too heavy or too complicated.” (Watch the film at this link.)
The new iPhone 12 is 11% thinner and 15% smaller in volume than the comparable previous 11 model. All of the new devices feature a Ceramic Shield screen developed with Gorilla Glass that dramatically improves its toughness over conventional glass screens, according to Apple. The new iPhones also include Apple’s Super Retina XDR OLED display and support Dolby Vision and HDR 10.
The iPhone 12 models feature Apple’s faster A14 processor and when combined with Verizon’s 5G network support console-quality games, according to the company. At Apple’s event, Riot Games announced that “League of Legends: Wild Rift” is coming to the iPhone 12.
The iPhone 12 and 12 mini feature a new flat-edge design with an “aerospace-grade” aluminum enclosure, while the Pro models have the same flat-edge design with a surgical-steel grade band and a matte-glass back. None of the iPhone 12 models will include headphones; in addition, Apple will not include a wall-charger plug (but will include a USB-C-to-Lightning cable that can be plugged into a computer or adapter for charging).
Apple also announced MagSafe for iPhone, a magnet-based system for rapid wireless charging (up to twice as fast as other systems) and attaching accessories. The company is introducing new iPhone cases and a snap-on wallet for MagSafe, and said there are third-party add-ons coming from partners including Belkin.
Here’s an animation from Apple showing the iPhone 12 Pro connecting to a MagSafe Charger (sold separately for $39):
Prices for the new iPhones cost slightly more on T-Mobile and Sprint than if you buy them through AT&T or Verizon. For example, the iPhone 12 starts at $799 for AT&T and Verizon customers, but it’s $829 for T-Mobile and Sprint customers.
In addition, the company has a new smart speaker: the 3.3-inch-tall HomePod mini, which uses “computational audio” to deliver higher-quality audio, according to Apple. HomePod mini will be available in white and space gray for $99, shipping starting the week of Nov. 16.