Well, folks, we’ve survived the second in what is looking like Apple’s multi-event series of spring product launches — with another presumably on the way before the year’s end. Today, Apple showed off its new line of iPhones and a miniature version of its expensive-as-hell HomePod that mercifully doesn’t pummel your pocketbook nearly as hard. If you weren’t following along on the liveblog, no sweat — we’ve got you.
iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Mini
Apple today unveiled not one, not two, but four new iPhones powered by 5G and Apple’s A14 Bionic chip — which the company repeatedly called “the fastest chip in a smartphone.” Both the iPhone 12 and teeny iPhone 12 Mini, which has a 5.4-inch screen versus the standard version’s 6.1 inches, ship in five aluminium colours: a deep blue, red, silvery-white, black, and soft mint green.
The 5G technology that powers these and the Pro and Pro Max versions of the iPhone 12 will offer faster speeds across the board, from downloads to gaming and app responsiveness. This is an exciting development for folks who have access to 5G, but it’s worth noting that the carriers’ 5G networks, including Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband hyped at Apple’s event, are still lacking coverage in many areas (particularly more rural regions).
The other element that makes the iPhone 12 series a powerhouse is its A14 Bionic chip — Apple says it’s the first in the smartphone space to be built on 5-nanometre process — that gives the iPhone 12 lineup the “fastest” GPU and CPU by a long shot compared to competing smartphone chips, if we’re to take Apple at its word. (This is likely true, but we’ll put it to the test.)
Both come equipped with Super Retina XDR OLED displays that nearly double the peak brightness of the iPhone 11. They’re also more durable: The iPhone 12 series features a Ceramic Shield that protects against drops. The iPhone 12 and 12 Mini also have dual-camera systems featuring an ultra-wide-angle and wide-angle lens with an aperture of f/1.6, which should improve low-light shots significantly. Best of all, though, is both phones’ ability to shoot HDR video with Dolby Vision — something that should pique the interest of any iPhone users who regularly use their phones to capture video.
The iPhone 12 Mini and iPhone 12 start at $1,199 and $1,349, respectively. The iPhone 12 Mini will be available for preorder beginning November 7 before shipping November 13. The iPhone 12 can be preordered beginning October 16 and will start hitting shelves on October 23.
iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max
Many of the features of the iPhone 12 and 12 Mini are carried over to the iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max, though the latter get a number of features that could make the extra $400 or so worth the investment. The Pro and Pro Max are notably equipped with a third telephoto camera as well as a new LiDAR sensor, which will boost autofocus capabilities in low-light environments while also supporting Night Mode portraits. The iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max versions also get some flashy stainless steel colour options not available on the smaller models, including a lovely pacific blue, graphite, silver, and gold.
The iPhone 12 Pro will open for preorders October 16 and begin shipping October 23, while the iPhone 12 Pro Max will be available to order on November 7 and will ship starting November 13. They start at $1,699 and $1,849, respectively.
Lastly, the iPhone 12 series introduces new MagSafe for wireless charging and additional accessories that will magnetically attach to the back of the device. The new MagSafe charger, which will retail for $US40 ($56), is a puck-shaped charging device similar to the one used for the Apple Watch — only a little larger. To support this new charging technology on the iPhone, Apple is also rolling out a series of new accessories, including clear and silicone cases as well as a leather wallet that can magnetically connect directly to the phone or over a MagSafe case.
And I’ll be honest, the charging system alone is enough to make me want an iPhone 12. If I never had to use a lightning cable again, or trip over one while trying to escape my own freaking workspace, I would be over the moon.
Editor’s Note: Australian pricing for the MagSafe charger does not appear to be available yet.
Apple HomePod Mini
Also announced today is a new, semi-affordable (by Apple’s standards!) HomePod Mini, which will retail for $149, or a third of the cost of the standard HomePod. Rather than merely shrinking the cylindrical, minimalist design of the larger HomePod, Apple instead unveiled a 3-inch spherical design for the wee smart speaker — kind of shaped like Magic 8-Ball — with a glowing ethereal touch surface up top that controls playback, volume, and Siri. The HomePod mini will work with Apple services immediately, with support for other “popular music services” coming down the line. Though, notably, Apple said nothing of support for its primary rival Spotify.
Multiple HomePod Mini speakers can stream music throughout multiple rooms or be paired for a more immersive sound. Siri will be able to deliver much of the information it already does about the weather, your reminders, and calendar events by asking the HomePod Mini, “What’s my update?” iPhone users will also be able to transfer music playback to the speaker from their iPhones by bringing it close to the HomePod Mini. As with other connected smart home devices, the HomePod Mini will be able to control lights and adjust the temperature of a smart thermostat, among other tasks.
It also features an Intercom function, which will allow someone nearby a HomePod Mini to send a message from one part of the house to a HomePod Mini in another part of the home. The Intercom feature is also supported on iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, AirPods, and CarPlay. Lastly, the HomePod Mini features ambient noise and sleep timer functions.
It’s available in white and space grey and can be preordered beginning November 7 before shipping November 16.