Updated Oct 13, 2020 - Technology

Apple debuts 5G-capable iPhone 12, cheaper HomePod

Apple CEO Tim Cook unveiling the 5G-capable iPhone 12 lineup

Photo: Apple

Apple introduced a lineup of new iPhone models Tuesday, all with 5G support, as well as a smaller, cheaper version of its HomePod speaker

Why it matters: Apple's events may not be as drama-packed as they once were, but the iPhone remains the most important product in Apple's lineup and a bellwether for the broader industry.


Apple CEO Tim Cook confirmed that 5G support is coming to the full new iPhone 12 lineup, inviting Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg on stage to confirm that the devices will also support Verizon's super-fast (but sparsely available) ultra-wideband flavor of 5G.

  • "5G just got real," Vestberg said, promising the service will reach 60 cities by end of the year. Vestberg also said Verizon is turning on its low-band 5G network in more than 200 cities to offer broad coverage, following T-Mobile and AT&T.

The 6.1-inch iPhone 12 has the same size screen as the iPhone 11, but has twice as many pixels, and comes in a smaller, thinner and lighter aluminum case.

  • It features the A14 bionic chip first included in the iPad Air announced last month.
  • It comes with a wide and ultra-wide rear lens, similar to iPhone 11, although the new camera has a wider aperture for better low-light performance.
  • The device will use LTE when speed doesn't matter and switch to 5G in cases where speeds do matter, Apple said.
  • A stronger glass should better protect the iPhone against damage from falls, Apple said.
  • A magnetic back allows for better alignment in wireless charging as well as new accessories, such as a credit card holder.
  • It comes in blue, red, white, light green or black, and starts at $799.

The 5.4-inch iPhone 12 mini is smaller than the iPhone 8, with the same features as iPhone 12, starting at $699.

The 6.1-inch iPhone 12 Pro and 6.7-inch iPhone 12 Pro Max feature three rear cameras, have a stainless steel coating and a design that recalls the iPhone 4, and a LiDAR scanner not found on the standard iPhone 12 line.

  • The LiDAR sensor, which Apple already includes in iPad Pro, allows for depth sensing, room scanning and precise placement of AR objects as well as for autofocus in low-light settings.
  • The extra rear camera on the two Pro models is a telephoto lens. (Update: Apple talked about it as 4x (Pro) and 5x(Pro Max) but that refers to the range from ultra wide to telephoto. The telephoto itself is 2.5x (Pro Max) and 2x (Pro) the standard wide lens.)
  • Apple is also adding additional video recording options including support for HDR and Dolby Vision HDR.
  • It comes in four finishes including a new "Pacific blue" option.
  • Iphone 12 Pro starting at $999 with 128GB of memory and iPhone Pro Max starts at $1099 with 128GB of memory.

Pre-orders for iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro start Oct. 16 and the devices begin shipping Oct. 23.

  • The iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 Pro Max will be available for pre-order Nov. 6 and start shipping Nov. 13.

HomePod mini

The new HomePod mini is a small, mostly spherical speaker designed to offer a cheaper alternative to the company's pricey smart speaker. The device has a touch panel on the top for playing and pausing music.

  • A pair of HomePod minis can be used for stereo sound.
  • The devices will soon work with third-party online music services, starting with Pandora and Amazon. (Notably not mentioned was Spotify, which has been publicly critical of Apple and encouraged antitrust inquiries.)
  • A new Intercom feature can be used to send messages to AirPods throughout the home, as well as to iPhones, AppleWatches and vehicles, via CarPlay.
  • The HomePod mini comes in white and space gray, will sell for $99, can be ordered as of Nov. 6 and starts shipping Nov. 16
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