The iPhone 12: Here’s What You Need to Know

Originally published at: The iPhone 12: Here’s What You Need to Know - TidBITS

Apple has thrown back the curtains on the iPhone 12 lineup, which includes the tiny iPhone 12 mini, the iPhone 12, and the camera-focused iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max. They’re impressive devices at roughly comparable prices to previous years’ models.

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Thank you for a very nice summary, @ace.

Apologies for the nitpicking, but isn’t it 2.5x in and 2.0x out making for 5x overall? If it were indeed 2.5x in and out, the overall would be 6.25x I believe.

Also, apparently Apple is still selling the 11 alongside the SE2 and XR. $599 for 64GB, +$50/150 for 128/256 GB. Maybe you can add that to your practical table.

But don’t expect that 20-watt charger in the box. The new iPhones will include a Lightning to USB-C cable, but say goodbye to included wall chargers and earbuds.

Just wanted to make sure nobody thinks they now need to get a USB-C charger from Apple. Apple’s is $19, bulky, and doesn’t even have a foldable plug. There’s a thread on better alternatives here. For example, Wirecutter’s pick from Aukey has a foldable plug and is much smaller than Apple’s thanks to GaN. It’s $13 (and sometimes less with coupon).

On a side note, Apple’s argument about people already having tons of chargers lying around kind of falls apart when the cable they ship is USB-C while most of those excess chargers are USB-A. IMHO going USB-C was the right call, but trying to claim it’s environmental is bogus. We are still in a transition phase and C is not ubiquitous. If this were truly about going green Apple would introduce a cable option to ensure everybody can actually use their existing chargers with their new iPhone. But now, most people will either use old chargers (if they also have an old non-frayed cable lying around), essentially throwing away the new cable. Or they’ll use the new cable but go out and buy a new charger to use with it, essentially throwing away their old charger. Neither of those two scenarios is particularly green.

The utility of the USB-C charger is not for charging from a wall charger, but for charging from a Mac, especially a laptop. With 2-4 ports USB-C ports(and no standard USB ports), that makes a lot of sense. I you want to charge from the wall, grab an old cable (one associated with one of your old chargers).


There was a good discussion of this in today’s episode of Upgrade:

Upgrade #321: It’s the Hope That Kills You - Relay FM

To summarize their perspective: It’s not that Apple’s environmental claims aren’t true, but by including fewer things in the box, Apple is saving money. By making the box smaller, Apple is saving money. By selling plugs to people who need them, Apple is making money.

IF Apple had passed on some of that savings to the customer, or at least given people who need a charger get one for free when they order the iPhone, Apple would seem to less interested in profiting from this change.

However, as it is, Apple is “double dipping” (actually triple dipping):

  1. They’re getting the savings from the reduced packaging (and associated shipping costs, if they can fit 70% more on a pallet then they have to pay much less to ship the same amount of iPhones from China to the USA) and not including the power brick in the box
  2. They get to claim improved environmental impact
  3. They get to make money from people who need a power adapter

I agree completely. The stupid thing is that the amount of money that Apple is going to make from #3 is probably less than a rounding error, given the amounts of money they are earning overall.

Apple could so easily do the right thing for the environment and the customer by letting people get 1 free power brick at the time of ordering, and they would still be ahead because of the financial savings of the smaller boxes, etc.

Instead, Apple has made a decision which seems both petty and cheap by wanting to be able to eat their cake and have it too.

This is the same sort of thinking that makes them think they still deserve 30% of all App Store sales, but this is such a small (relatively) amount of money, I can’t believe they didn’t decide to say “And we’ve dropped the price of the phone $50”. Heck, even $25. But instead they said “Hey, we’re giving you less but it will cost the same. Because we care about the environment.”

Which obviously undercuts what is probably true that they do care about the environment and the cost savings associated with making this change. But they made it seem disingenuous in exchange for, as I say, a rounding error’s worth of profit.


Not only do lots of people already have usb chargers, they also already have usb-a lightning cables. What most people don’t have is usb-c lightning cables, and now I believe all of Apple’s computer have nothing but usb-c ports. This one is not so strange.

This just seems like stretched logic to me. Apple is making an environmental impact with these changes (however small or large it is), and most people are smart enough to buy a charger from somebody other than Apple if they don’t already have one of the two billion chargers Apple says that they have already shipped with a device.


Apple is shipping the AirPods Pro with the same cable and nothing else. IMO not that concerning. Seemingly people have lightning cables or Qi chargers.

I use the Lightning EarPods though. If I make an important call e.g. to make an appointment, I always use it. To have use of both hands, while avoiding Bluetooth vagaries. Hopefully mine doesn’t malfunction before none of my devices can use it. .

Er… the iPhone 12 very likely DOES have a laser inside. Although “lidar” is an acronym for “LIght detection and ranging,” the light emitter in a lidar almost always is a semiconductor diode laser, which emits shorter and more directional pulses than an LED. (I say almost because some manufacturers don’t say what’s inside, perhaps because they think some customers might be scared by lasers.)

Thanks for the catches! Yes, I think the better way to express the 5x zoom is as a range, from 0.5x to 2.5x. Similarly, the 4x zoom range in the iPhone 12 Pro is from 0.5x to 2x.

I can’t believe I missed seeing the iPhone 11 in the header of Apple’s site—I’ve added it to the chart.

Man, you try to make a frickin’ lasers joke… :slight_smile: I just gave up and deleted it, since it wasn’t worth getting into what was really in the LiDAR Scanner at that particular juncture in the article.

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They did on the iPhone 12s.

But what about innocent and unsuspecting MacBooks and Pros and iPads?

Well those rumors were pretty much right on the money.

Finally, there’s once again a compact iPhone with modern specs. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this become the 2nd best selling model. Will probably sell as many as Pro and Pro Max combined. So much for ‘people want cheap but nobody wants smaller phones’.

I’ll be getting a 128GB model for my wife (green) and blue (myself) on launch day to replace our 128GB SEs. I was really impressed with its 476 ppi display. This thing has about as many pixels in width as my current SE has in height. :slight_smile: Too bad 120 Hz didn’t make it this time around, but no biggy. Truth be told, the thing I would have really craved for is power button TouchID (as on the latest iPad) augmenting FaceID. In a masked life, FaceID is a pain. I’m looking forward to hearing what real world battery life looks like on the mini. The $30 surcharge if you’re not on Verizon or AT&T is bullshit. But of course, Apple didn’t get to $250B+ in cash by ever leaving any money on the table.

There’s already an industry report that Apple is expecting the 6.1" iPhone 12 to sell the most. The manufacturing order according to that report is 40% for that model and about 20% each for the remaining three.

I noticed that they didn’t seem to mention battery life. I would think about the smaller 5.4" but if the battery life is as bad as I suspect it will be I won’t do it. So for now I’ll be looking at some real-world reports of battery life for each model and then decide if I buy one or hold on to the iPhone X for one more year.

Since the smaller phone has a 5.4 inch screen, I’m pretty sure it’s actually demonstrating the correctness of that argument.

What annoyed me is when Tim Cook trotted out the Verizon guy who claimed how quickly the company is expanding its 5G coverage. Here in New York City we have been hearing this from Verizon, who happens to be my cell provider, for years. And there isn’t any consumer 5G availability here that I have heard of, and it’s not like the Big Apple is a tiny little town.

Verizon did just win an auction to acquire more 5G bandwidth, but even if they manage to move quickly on building the service out, it’s not within striking distance of the release of the new 5G iPhones and Pros,

It really was deceptive, especially when Verizon and other carriers have been claiming for years that 5G will be rolling out any minute now. It’s not like they will be able to build out a network covering over 200,000,000 Americans overnight during a major and often deadly pandemic.

Maybe next year for iPads as I don’t recall it being mentioned in last month’s event. BTW, the Apple shill seemed to think this was a “first” for Apple products; probably is clueless about MagSafe for laptops.
For the iPhone it is a big honking disc that magnetically mounts to the center of the iPhone back.

They sort of did: they mentioned that the use of 5G is a battery drainer so the iPhone only uses 5G when it is absolutely necessary; otherwise it use the LTE 4G networks.

I find the change in dimensions interesting. Although the screen sizes have gotten larger (the 12 “mini” has a screen only 0.1" smaller than my iPhone 6+, which was the big model in its day), the actual phone size is smaller, mostly due to the elimination of bezels:

  • iPhone 6+ (my current phone): 5.5" display. 6.22" x 3.06" x 0.28"
  • iPhone SE 2: 4.7" display. 4.87" x 2.31" x 0.3"
  • iPhone 12 mini: 5.4" display. 5.18" x 2.53" x 0.29"
  • iPhone 12 & 12 Pro: 6.1" display. 5.78" x 2.82" x 0.29"
  • iPhone 12 Pro Max: 6.7" display. 6.33" x 3.07" x 0.29"
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Saw that report too. Not buying it. I don’t see anywhere near that kind of demand for the 12 Pro now that the 12 has come so much closer to it than we saw in the old lineup. My wager is about 40-30-10-20 percentages for 12, mini, Pro, and Pro Max. Of course Apple will never tell us what it truly ends up shipping, but it will be interesting to see estimates as we get closer to the start of 2H21.

It might be time to upgrade my “old” iPhone X. The new iPhone 12 looks attractive. Normally I wouldn’t consider the “Max” because I like the smaller size of my regular X. But… the Max has a 5X optical zoom! I love photography, and I particularly like optical zoom. A nicer optical zoom is something I have missed from my older regular digital cameras. The 12 Pro (non-Max) is 2.5X optical zoom).

Does anybody know if the carriers here in Japan support the newest 5G millimeter networks? Though I understand the new iPhone 12s only switch from 4G to 5G under certain circumstances, to prevent excessive battery use and overheating.

I’m also interested in the new magsafe chargers.