05/14 Update below. This post was originally published on May 12
Thanks to a flurry of exciting leaks, Apple’s iPhone 12 lineup has long looked like 2020’s best new smartphones. But now the first cracks have appeared.
Thanks to a pair of credible sources, iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro buyers are going to be frustrated by storage and display problems respectively. Let’s break them down.
05/14 Update: if you own an iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro or iPhone 11 Pro Max, AppleInsider as uncovered a further reason to keep your existing phone, rather than upgrade to the iPhone 12 line-up. This is because it discovered Apple is working on the development of Wireless Personal Area Networks (WPANs) which use the (so far, underused) U1 Ultra Wideband chip inside these models to seamlessly create data and proximity connections between all your Apple equipment. For example, you would be able to switch music playback from your phone to your computer by sitting down in front of it, or have your iMac switch user profiles automatically. The connections over UWB are extremely fast and reliable at close distances, so it lends itself to perfectly to advanced handover technology and the possibilities are endless with Apple Smart Home integration. Moreover, when Apple launches this tech (that remains unknown) you won’t need an iPhone 12 to take advantage of it.
Delivering a possible explanation for the shock news last week from Jon Prosser that the iPhone 12 Pro line-up ship without 120Hz refresh rate displays, Ross Young, CEO of Display Supply Chain Consultants explains that this is due to Apple being unable to source LTPO panels from Samsung.
LTPO (Low Temperature Polysilicon Oxide) enables a variable refresh rate which, in the case of the iPhone 12 Pro, could range from 1Hz to 120Hz. 120Hz panels dramatically impact battery life, so being able to dynamically lower this (such as when viewing photos or reading emails) is a vital battery saver. But Young says Apple will miss out on this and Samsung has allocated its limited supply to the Galaxy Note 20+.
The second blow comes via a mysterious Twitter account, which has had a proven track record to date. It states that the non-Pro iPhone 12 models will start at just 64GB, not 128GB as previously believed. Given the low-low pricing of the 5.4-inch iPhone 12 and 6.1-inch iPhone 12 Max (yes, that’s the somewhat confusing naming), this cost-cutting would make a lot of sense. That said, it also flies in the face of Apple’s widely expected plans to bump all entry-level models up to 128GB.
If correct, these two changes are likely to be a big deal for potential buyers. At the premium end, missing out on a high refresh rate display could be a deal-breaker for many (it would be for me), while the extra money required to jump to 256GB from 64GB will impact sales of the iPhone 12.
On the flip side, Apple will load both models with its phenomenal new A14 chipset, 5G across the range and deliver significantly improved designs with smaller notches. So please, Apple, don’t blow it now.
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