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

Same here, but I think it’s pretty well known that OLED panels are more expensive than the LCD panel that was in the iPhone 11, and we know that the price of the Pro remains the same but with more storage, which goes for the Max as well.

One way to think of this is that we all had to pay for a charger and earbuds all along if we wanted them or not, however negligible the cost, and now the only people paying extra for those are those people who need them, and they don’t have to pay that extra to Apple if they don’t want to.


I doubt if the people and institutions that own Apple, the stockholders, as well as industry analysts, would like to see Apple’s margins stagnate, or worse, diminish, except for competitors like Samsung, LG, Huawei, etc. And when you think about total profit margins, it’s kind of difficult to compare Apple to other competors, as Apple’s services continue to expand and grow in tandem, as do sales of wearables. And in the current highly challenged economic environment, what will happen in the near future is difficult to predict.

In my case, for a 256GB Pro model, the price actually went down by $50 for the unlocked version. I actually am on the iPhone Upgrade Program, so my monthly payments decreased.

Interestingly, the way Apple structures its roll-out presentation makes it hard for them to note this, leaving the potential customers to figure it out on their own. Apple likes to tout the greatness of the device without mentioning price or availability, leaving that for a climatic set of slides at the end of the device presentation. For some reason, they rush through those slides, talking more about the variability in availability between countries and not summarizing the device improvements that justify price changes. They probably should do a recap pull together all the points. In this case, they left Lisa Jackson’s rooftop environmental presentation on its own rather than mentioning that they did pass through some savings from shipping less hardware. They left that for the press to note, and only Gruber seems to have picked up on it.

I suppose that if there had actually been a live rollout, the Apple folks would have been talking up these points when the attendees were playing with the demos after the event, and the information would have filtered into their stories and videos. I’m surprised there haven’t been follow-up contacts by Apple with these influencers to push these points.

1 Like

Same here. I also bought my mom a regular (non-pro) 12 on the upgrade plan and it went down as well over her two-year-old XS.

On another note, Six Colors noted that the AT&T and Verizon prices are $30 less than other carriers – but when I ordered the phones AT&T charges a $30 activation fee (which is less than in the past) so the total price comes out the same (I assume Verizon has the same fee).

This might have helped, but I think a lot of people would have still said that Apple was making excuses, and anyway, “nobody in that entire industry makes more smartphone profit than they do.” :wink: [Edit: just now saw that @silbey has already made this point, and much better than me!]

Either way, this is simply not Apple’s style. For better or worse, they are not going to get into justifying their pricing, or discussing the reasons at all.

Apple needs to make margins so they have money to invest in the development of new products (and production methods, machinery, etc.). Now, I’m well aware that Apple’s profits are extremely large, so you can rightly question whether or not Apple needs to make the margins it does. But that’s another discussion entirely. My point is that there’s a very good chance that leaving out the charger and EarPods doesn’t substantially change their overall margins on the iPhone 12 vs the iPhone 11 series. Maybe the margins (as a percentage) have even dropped slightly.

That’s not the case in the UK. The base iPhone 11 introductory price was £730, the base iPhone 12 mini is £700. Exchange rates can affect prices of these things, especially as parts are sourced from various countries, and then they are sold in even more. And my point was that if they included the charger and EarPods, the base price in the US might have been $750 or $760. I don’t think they really would have gone for such a high base price, more likely the non-Pro models would have lost OLED screens or something.

What is an activation fee for? Surely paying them for your monthly plan activates the SIM??

1 Like

Who knows? AT&T has done this ages. Supposedly it handles activating the new phone, the new SIM card, etc. To me it’s just a ridiculous charge just because they can.

In the past it was higher, like $48, and I successfully called the company and nagged them until they removed the fee (for two phones it was nearly $100). But it wasn’t easy. I was on hold for a long time, I had to ask to speak to a supervisor (the lower-level support people just say the fee is mandatory) and then threaten to cancel service, etc. They also can’t refund the charge until it posts to your bill and only then can they give you a credit that applies toward the next bill.

It’s one thing if you only do a new phone every few years, so I suppose most don’t notice, but quite another if you’re on an annual upgrade program. But even when you buy the phone from Apple on the upgrade program there’s fine print warning of the charge and you have to agree to it to continue.

1 Like

Wow, I’m astounded, I hadn’t understood that you get charged this just for putting your SIM in a new phone. It sounds like a racket, sorry you have to put up with it. :cry:

Not all US carriers are like that but yeh :frowning:

It is one of the reasons I don’t use a traditional carrier in the US having moved from the ’sanity’ of European telecoms, which is not something I would have said about the EU operators before moving here. If you think the challenge that Orange bought to the UK mobile operators when they turned up to disrupt the market. Change in the US is a lot slower than it was in the EU/and now I guess the UK.

GoogleFi is the nearest to a large scale disruptor and they do seem to be doing it reasonably well, albeit as a MVNO rather than building infrastructure.

1 Like

Some AT&T plans waive the activation fee. I discovered that last year when I called about a different issue and managed to get my 2019 fee refunded. I’ll be watching like a hawk to see what happens this year.

This gives me the creeps about Google Fi:

“ To provide you with the best possible service, Google Fi may collect the following information in addition to what’s listed in the Google Privacy Policy:

“ * Customer Proprietary Network Information (CPNI) such as call details, call location, and the rates and features you use (see below for more on CPNI).

Except for CPNI, we may share all personal information with other Google products as explained by the Google Privacy Policy and the Google Fi Privacy Notice. This allows Google Fi to work across Google products to give you a seamless Google experience.”

My previous mobile provider was Vodafone - they have very large satellite visible data centres at the end of their interconnection / cable landing stations so that they can tap all the traffic. Google being transparent about data they will be using as a MVNO is minor in comparison to the Governmental monitoring that Vodafone has to provide. At least I knew that Vodafone was definitely tapping, Google only might tap data.

Of course the network providers that Google Fi has to use will also have to do the same tapping, unfortunately privacy in our telecoms was long gone a long time ago, well before the mobile generation :frowning:

Anyway I think we are getting a bit off topic here so happy to discuss off list.

Verizon definitely has the same fee, and they’ve had it for some time. If you buy an unlocked phone and migrate your SIM instead of getting a new SIM from them, they don’t charge it (because they didn’t do anything).

I suspect the $30 charge price increase from Apple was at AT&T and Verizon’s request so you can’t save money by going the SIM-free route for avoiding the activation fee.

Officially (at least on Verizon), it’s to issue a new SIM card and associate it with your account. Of course there’s no way that this is a $30 service, but that’s the excuse. If you buy your phone elsewhere and move your old SIM card, then there’s no activation fee. Until now, you could save money doing that.

Verizon objects to your moving a SIM card because they take the opportunity (during activation) to reconfigure your account for new phone features. For example, if you’re moving from Android to iPhone, they switch your visual voicemail from their Android-compatible server to their Apple-compatible server. There are some other things they do behind the scenes as well. But I doubt they do anything of significance if you’re moving from one model iPhone to another model iPhone.

1 Like

That’s an interesting theory. Wonder then what the deal is now with T-Mobile. Apple has also started discounting iPhone 12 by $30 if you buy it with a T-Mobile SIM. But T-Mobile has to my knowledge never pulled any of this activation fee crap. Maybe they just subsidize Apple to the tune of $30 to stay in line with pricing on the other two carriers. Either way, customers will end up paying for it.

Ah, thanks for clarifying. I hadn’t realised people were getting new SIMs with a new phone. That’s unusual here even if you buy a phone from one of the big network operators – if you’re already their customer the assumption is you will just put your existing SIM into the new phone. Though even so, the activation fee sounds like a rip-off!

Could you buy the phone from AT&T (or Verizon) without a SIM and move your old one to avoid the activation fee? Apart from anything else, it’s a waste to issue a new SIM when the customer already has a perfectly functioning one.

Verizon always issues a new SIM when you buy a new phone. At one time, this made sense, because different phones used different size cards and it would be unreasonable to expect a customer to cut a large SIM to a smaller size or use an adapter to make a small SIM larger.

But today, there’s far less justification since all modern phones (as far as I know) either us a nano-SIM or have an embedded SIM.

Since smaller sizes were introduced, SIMs over here have come in a double and eventually ‘triple SIM’ card where you punch out the size you need; so even before everything standardised on nano SIMs, you weren’t issued with a new SIM with a phone, unless you explicitly asked for one.

I sometimes wonder if large companies intentionally make things convoluted to justify high-margin fees :speak_no_evil:

Yeah, not with Verizon. You always got a SIM of the specific size you need, and it would be pre-installed in the phone before shipping it to you.

I wonder if this may be a result of their CDMA legacy. CDMA phones, as you may recall, don’t use SIMs. The network operator needs to “activate” a phone by entering its various hardware addresses into their database. And it would have to be done for every new phone.

Once LTE phones came out, Verizon switched to using SIM cards, even for legacy CDMA connectivity, but there’s probably a lot of inertia in their provisioning systems.


Several thoughts. People who’ve used conventional point-and-shoot OR SLR cameras wouldn’t consider the option to choose among different focal length lenses to be the same as using a true zoom lens, and more than they’d consider “digital zoom” to be an accurate description of what happens when one takes a portion of the sensor’s recording and blows its pixels up. There are other differences besides the loss of quality that comes from enlarging a portion of a digital image. For example, when one goes from a wide-angle optical lens to a longer focal length portrait or true telephoto lens, two things happen because the physics of the optics mandate it

The depth of field decreases
The nature of optical distortion changes. That’s why when one takes a selfie without a selfie stick the diameter of the forearm holding the camera/phone gets bigger, yet the entire image is in focus, whereas when a photographer does portraits he/she always uses a longer focal length lens to narrow the depth of field to just the subject, and also “flatten” the face a bit so that the nose, lips, and orbital ridges don’t look so prominent. Putting a multi-element true zoom lens into a camera phone would not be impossible, but it would be difficult, I think. Of course, Apple “fakes” some of that, with the digital blurring of the background when one uses portrait mode.

I’m entirely in the dark regarding how mmWave 5G content will be licensed. For example, Verizon has contracts with NFL Network to add LOTS of infrastructure to stadiums so that people who go to the games will be able to see individual plays from several different camera angles and positions simultaneously. Will Verizon be able to limit reception of that content solely to people who purchase their cell service from Verizon, or will the purchasing be leveraged by the price for the NFL Network subscription, regardless of which carrier one’s phone comes from. It seems likely that if it’s the latter Verizon is still likely to get its mitts in the deal, either by paying Verizon something for EVERY subscriber, or by limiting 5G mmWave subscriptions solely to Verizon network devices (which I don’t think is the case now).

But I’m blown away by those low light portrait images with individual stars highlighting the sky at dusk but gorgeous detail in the shadowed areas of faces, or the rich colors in those same faces in bright daylight images without blown-out white skies as a result.

I’m guessing that the content will be available to anyone with the NFL app (and appropriate subscription fees, I assume). Verizon is making their money by selling tons of equipment to the stadium owners. We’re talking about several high capacity access points to cover the stands, plus dozens of lower capacity access points for all of the rooms and corridors throughout the stadium.

Between equipment rental, installation charges and ongoing maintenance, Verizon will do very nicely no matter whose customers’ phones are actually connecting.

And you would be correct in assuming that the other major operators (AT&T and T-Mobile) will have similar deals, even if they’re not mentioned at an Apple product event. They’re all selling access points to event venues (stadiums, conference centers, hotels, etc.) all around the world, and they all have roaming-access agreements with each other, just like they do everywhere else (which is why you never pay domestic roaming charges these days).

I have a friend that sells digital ads on stadium signage. Verizon wired up 5G for usage for broadcast and signage in a few stadiums. Some areas were 5G wired in some areas in some of a few stadiums, and it was supposed to roll out gradually in the seated areas in the business, and media communications areas of the stadiums, but the Covid 19 threw everything into suspended animation.

Because the biggest stadiums accommodate tens of thousands of spectators, Verizon will have to build out very many more stations and wiring than they did for 4G. Because broadcast rights and advertising is a greater source of revenue for the stadiums and the NFL than ticket sales, they’ll continue to get priority. So I think the chances are good that when they do begin to open stadiums, a lot of fans who bought 5G iPhones will be disappointed if they think they will have access everywhere in seats in stadiums in the near term.

The NFL app is free, and they make a mint selling ads on it.