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

At its “Hi, Speed” announcement, Apple did what industry watchers were expecting and introduced not one, not two, not three, but four iPhone 12 models. In addition to the expected iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, and iPhone 12 Pro Max, Apple unveiled a diminutive iPhone 12 mini that at long last acknowledges that not everyone has large hands or pockets.

iPhone 12 hero shot

Apple’s pre-recorded event was jam-packed with hero shots and technical specs, all edited with such quick cuts that taking notes was nigh-on impossible. The details are all now available, but when managing editor Josh Centers and I talked it through, we didn’t see any way that we could convey that information as well as Apple. So, instead of a traditional “speeds and feeds” article, we’re going to take a slightly different tack.

iPhone 12 feature slide

First, let’s get you the numbers you’ll want to pore over to evaluate the four models. Check out these pages:

Now, here’s what you need to know about the iPhone 12 lineup.

Industrial Design: It’s Hip to Be Square

Perhaps the most significant aspect of the iPhone 12 lineup is that it passes the Goldilocks test: you can finally choose from three different sizes. The iPhone 12 Pro Max is the Papa Bear, with a 6.7-inch screen. That’s a hair taller than the iPhone 11 Pro Max, which had only a 6.5-inch screen. In the Mama Bear spot, the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro are identical twins, featuring a 6.1-inch screen that’s the same size as last year’s iPhone 11, but in a case that’s a bit shorter. But the gold star goes to the new Baby Bear model, the iPhone 12 mini, which shoehorns a 5.4-inch screen into a case that’s just 8 mm taller and 6 mm wider than the first-generation iPhone SE that had a 4-inch screen and was the last truly small iPhone.

With the iPhone 12 models, Apple has also returned to the squared-off industrial design last seen in the first-generation iPhone SE. That’s a huge deal in its own right, since that industrial design was widely praised for being easier to hold and less slippery. I never used an iPhone case during that era because the design made me so much less likely to drop my iPhone. If you do drop one of these new iPhones, it will be up to four times more likely to emerge with the screen intact thanks to a Ceramic Shield glass that Apple developed with Corning.

iPhone 12 square edge and Ceramic Shield glass

The similarity in materials ends there. The iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini have a glass back and aluminum design, and they come in five colors: black, white, green, blue, and Product(RED). The iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max sport a textured matte glass back and a stainless steel design. Their colors include silver, graphite, gold, and a snazzy new Pacific Blue.

iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro colors

Finally, it’s worth noting that all the iPhone 12 models have the notch on the screen and rely on Face ID for authentication. The notch isn’t a big deal—you get used to it quickly—but Face ID isn’t a win when you’re wearing a mask. We had hoped that Apple would bring the Touch ID sensor that it integrated into the top button of the recently announced fourth-generation iPad Air to the iPhone 12 (see “Apple Redesigns iPad Air, Updates Base-Model iPad,” 15 September 2020). It may not have been technically feasible, or Apple may not have had time to revamp the internals once it became clear that we’d be wearing masks while out and about for the foreseeable future.

5G: Bandwidth Game Changer or Spectrum Snake Oil?

Apple made a big deal of the fact that all these models support 5G wireless connectivity, even bringing in Hans Vestberg, CEO of Verizon Communications, to talk about how wonderful it will be. The specs are impressive, with up to 4 gigabits-per-second download speeds under ideal conditions, although Apple admitted that typical conditions would see only 1 gigabit per second. Upload speeds could be up to 200 megabits per second. Verizon claimed that “5G just got real,” in part thanks to its 5G Ultra Wideband service and its use of millimeter-wave spectrum. Plus, the company said it is now turning on its 5G Nationwide Network (which presumably doesn’t use the millimeter-wave spectrum), claiming that it will reach 200 million people across 1800 cities and towns.

Hans Vestberg at iPhone 12 debut

Color us skeptical. We have doubts that 5G will produce the kind of real-world performance that Verizon is touting. Coverage is also a question—Verizon says 5G Ultra Wideband is in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago, and will be expanding to 60 cities around the US by year-end. We’re not sure what Verizon’s 5G Nationwide Network entails in terms of technology—is it something real or just rebranded LTE? Regardless, what are the 5G plans for AT&T and T-Mobile in the US, or for carriers throughout the rest of the world? And given the short range of 5G, which requires more base stations, we strongly suspect it will be a long time in coming to people who don’t live in dense urban areas. No 5G service, no 5G benefits.

Even if you can get 5G, will you care? More bandwidth is always welcome, but apart from those who stream video regularly, we’re betting most people won’t notice. Don’t misunderstand—we’re always in favor of better networking, and there will undoubtedly be uses for it in the future, like augmented-reality glasses, but for now, we’d suggest that most people shouldn’t upgrade for the 5G alone. Regardless of its networking utility, 5G won’t give you cancer (see “Worried about 5G and Cancer? Here’s Why Wireless Networks Pose No Known Health Risk,” 6 December 2019).

Cameras: Pro Means Pro

We’ll admit to glazing over somewhat during Apple’s explanation of just how amazing the cameras are on the iPhone 12 models. So many numbers, spoken so quickly! The practical upshot is that the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini have a dual 12-megapixel camera system with ultra wide and wide cameras with 2x optical zoom. They have optical image stabilization and support Night mode and Deep Fusion, which are essentially Apple marketing terms for computational photography features that provide better photos, particularly in low-light situations. Night mode and Deep Fusion are also now available on the front-facing camera. For video, they offer 1080p and 4K recording at up to 60 frames per second and introduce HDR video recording with Dolby Vision at up to 30 fps. Again, that just means higher quality video, particularly in challenging lighting.

We’re feeling intimidated by the iPhone 12 Pro model cameras. Like last year’s iPhone 11 Pro, they feature a triple 12-megapixel camera system with ultra wide, wide, and telephoto cameras. Along with everything the plain iPhone 12 models can do, the Pro cameras boast a better optical zoom: the iPhone 12 Pro has a 4x zoom range from 0.5x to 2x, whereas the iPhone 12 Pro Max has a 5x zoom range from 0.5x to 2.5x.

iPhone 12 Pro ultra wide camera specsiPhone 12 Pro wide camera specsiPhone 12 Pro telephoto camera specs

A new LiDAR Scanner gives the iPhone 12 Pro models faster autofocus in low light, Night mode portraits, and improved AR experiences. They also support a new Apple ProRAW format that provides professional photographers with the benefits of Apple’s computational photography combined with the flexibility of a raw image format. In terms of video, the Pro models bump that HDR video with Dolby Vision to 60 fps. The iPhone 12 Pro Max also features something Apple calls “sensor-shift optical image stabilization for both photos and video—which is supposedly better than the regular optical image stabilization in the iPhone 12 Pro.

Finally, I’m going to slip another significant fact in here—all the iPhone 12 models use Apple’s new A14 Bionic chip, which the company announced with the fourth-generation iPad Air last month (see “Apple Redesigns iPad Air, Updates Base-Model iPad,” 15 September 2020). Apple geeked out on its many capabilities, but in the real world, I suspect the main utility of the A14 comes in powering the computational photography capabilities behind every image taken by a modern iPhone. It’s probably good for fancy gaming too, if small-screen games without physical controllers float your boat, or for editing those snazzy HDR videos with Dolby Vision.

So let me put all that in context. The iPhone 12 Pro model camera system is almost certainly the best iPhone camera ever. If you’re a pro or want pro-level photos and videos from your iPhone, buy one right away. The harder questions come if you’re not a pro and need to choose between models, with some attention paid to cost. How does the iPhone 12 camera compare to the iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max cameras? And how do they stack up against the iPhone 11 Pro? We’re not pro photographers, so we’re not even going to attempt such an evaluation. We’re sure photo sites and photography-involved Mac sites like John Gruber’s Daring Fireball will be publishing side-by-side comparison images soon enough.

Magnets and Batteries, Oh My!

Magnets feature heavily in the iPhone 12 with the return of Apple’s MagSafe name. Previously, MagSafe referred to the magnetic break-away charging cables Apple laptops relied on before the move to USB-C and Thunderbolt 3. (We will all now pause for a minute of silence to mourn the passing of MagSafe in laptops.)

The new MagSafe is a magnetic coupling and charging technology built into the back of each of the iPhone 12 models. It’s a ring of magnets inside the case, coupled with a magnetometer and an NFC sensor. An Apple MagSafe Charger (sold separately for $39) snaps onto the back for wireless charging at up 15 watts. Qi wireless charging is still supported as well, at up to 7.5 watts. Ironically, MagSafe could eliminate the positioning problems that caused Apple to cancel its AirPower wireless charging mat (see “Apple Cancels AirPower, Can’t Take the Heat,” 29 March 2019).

MagSafe charging parts

On the wired charging front, all the iPhone 12 models have Lightning ports and are fast-charge capable, which means they can achieve a 50% charge in 30 minutes with a 20-watt or higher charger. 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. Speaking from the rooftop of Apple Park (and looking just a touch nervous about the height), Apple’s vice president of Environment, Policy, and Social Initiatives Lisa Jackson spun this as an environmental change that will spare the world from some electronic waste and make shipping more efficient, which is undoubtedly true and good, but it also saves Apple a lot of money that it’s not passing on to the customer. A win-win for Apple, if not the rest of us.

Lisa Jackson at the iPhone 12 event

The MagSafe technology also enables an entire ecosystem of accessories. Apple sells several cases that rely on it, along with a leather card wallet that just snaps onto the back. If I left the house more frequently these days, that would be compelling. We expect to see lots of other accessories—Apple previewed a MagSafe combination charger that could charge an iPhone 12 and an Apple Watch at the same time and noted that Belkin has several MagSafe charging accessories in the works as well. We hope MagSafe is a huge hit and Apple builds it into the iPad and MacBook lines in the future.

iPhone 12 MagSafe charger with Apple Watch

Finally, it’s worth noting that although we expect all the iPhone 12 models to have decent battery life in real-world use, the iPhone 12 mini has the shortest estimated battery life, and the iPhone 12 Pro Max the longest. Apple’s benchmarks give only relative impressions, since it’s unhelpful to know that the iPhone 12 Pro Max could play video for up to 20 hours, whereas the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 could do so for only 17 hours, and the iPhone 12 mini for only 15 hours. If you regularly binge the full 15.5-hour Berlin Alexanderplatz in one go, I apologize for my presumption.

Pricing and Availability

Here’s where numbers matter, since everyone understands dollars and cents. It’s worth noting that the second-generation iPhone SE, iPhone XR, and iPhone 11 remain for sale to provide an even ramp-up on price points, so we’ve included them for comparison’s sake.

Model 64 GB 128 GB 256 GB 512 GB
iPhone SE $399 $449 $549
iPhone XR $499 $549
iPhone 11 $599 $649 $749
iPhone 12 mini $699 $729 $749 $779 $849 $879
iPhone 12 $799 $829 $849 $879 $949 $979
iPhone 12 Pro $999 $1099 $1299
iPhone 12 Pro Max $1099 $1199 $1399

What’s the deal with the two prices for the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini? It turns out that Apple has swung some sort of deal—initially with AT&T and Verizon, and shortly after launch with T-Mobile (which merged with Sprint)—such that the price is $30 less if you activate the iPhone with one of those carriers. Apple says that all iPhones are still unlocked, except for those sold on AT&T installment plans. Nevertheless, this is being widely seen as a sneaky price increase, especially since there’s no word on whether the $30 discount is a limited-time offer or permanent.

It’s worth noting that the iPhone 12 is $100 more expensive than last year’s iPhone 11—the iPhone 12 mini has taken over the $699 price slot. Nevertheless, we like the 128/256/512 GB storage levels for the iPhone 12 Pro—they’re more sensible than the iPhone 11 Pro’s 64/256/512 GB approach and mean that the base-level iPhone 12 Pro has twice the storage as the equivalently priced iPhone 11 Pro Pro from last year.

Pre-orders for the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro started at 5 AM Pacific on 16 October 2020, with delivery and in-store availability beginning on 23 October 2020.

The iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 Pro Max will be available for pre-order at 5 AM Pacific on 6 November 2020, with delivery and in-store availability on 13 November 2020.

Upgrade Decisions

Based on what we could see during Apple’s announcement, along with the published specs, I can confidently say that the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max are the fastest, most capable iPhones ever. This is an unsurprising assessment, given that it has also been true of every top-of-the-line iPhone model Apple has ever announced. But if you want the best, buy one of those two, with the choice between them based on physical size, optical zoom, battery life, and price.

For those for whom small size is the key variable about an iPhone, it’s an easy decision to get the iPhone 12 mini, which at long last fills the hole left by the first-generation iPhone SE as a phone for those with smaller hands and pockets. Thank you, Apple!

It’s harder to provide upgrade advice from other older iPhones. For instance, what about the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro? There’s no question the new models are more capable, but are they enough more capable for the price? Neither Josh nor I currently plan to upgrade from the iPhone 11 Pro because there just doesn’t seem to be enough bang for the buck. The iPhone XR and iPhone XS might fall into the same category, although the iPhone X could be old enough for an upgrade to be attractive.

The iPhone 8 and the second-generation iPhone SE certainly don’t have the processing power or camera capabilities of the iPhone 12 models, but they have one key advantage that might give some people pause when pondering an upgrade: Touch ID. Given that the earliest estimates I’ve seen for widespread availability of a vaccine for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus are the middle of 2021, people with Touch ID-based iPhones might want to stick with them until mask-wearing is no longer necessary in public spaces.

Nevertheless, everyone’s decision will be driven by combinations of variables, and I sincerely doubt that anyone who can afford the upgrade will feel let down by any of the new iPhone 12 models.

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

Notable Replies

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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).

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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. .

  7. 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.)

  8. 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.

  9. They did on the iPhone 12s.

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

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

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

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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"
  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. It’s not a 5X optical zoom; it’s 2.5X over the normal, ‘wide’ lens. The confusion is that there is also an ‘Ultrawide’ wide-angle lens with a 0.5X zoom. So the total range over the 3 lens represents a magnification factor of 5. For the Pro, the optical zoom of the telephoto lens is 2X over the normal lens, so the total range represents a magnification factor of 4.

  21. Oh, thanks for that extra info. The CNET article I was reading reporting incorrectly then.

    I’m a bit confused about how a 0.5X zoom can add more optical zooming capability though.

    Let me see if I got this right though: My current original iPhone X has 2X optical zoom. The iPhone 12 Pro has 4X total optical zoom using all the lenses and the iPhone 12 Pro Max has 5X optical zoom using all the lenses?

    Or am I still mixed up? :slight_smile:

    doug

  22. At the Apple site (iPhone 12 Pro tech specs it says:

    • 2x optical zoom in, 2x optical zoom out; 4x optical zoom range (iPhone 12 Pro)
    • 2.5x optical zoom in, 2x optical zoom out; 5x optical zoom range (iPhone 12 Pro Max)

    I guess it must be the “zoom in” vs “zoom out” that is confusing me.

    doug

  23. I hope this isn’t a dumb question…would a big disc charge faster than a small one?

  24. Oh, I think I get it. Zoom out means go wider, so everything looks more distant.

    In that case, I think the iPhone 12 Pro is sufficient. Unless I really want the extra 0.5X optical zoom in.

  25. Apple is playing fast and loose with the numbers here.

    No iPhone has any form of optical zoom. That is, there is no system to mechanically move lenses in order to produce zoom effects, like you might find on a point-and-shoot or SLR camera.

    Instead, the iPhone has three different fixed-width lenses, which they call ultra-wide, wide and telephoto. Depending on the zoom level and digital effects that are active when you shoot the picture, the phone will use image data from one, two or all three lenses and combine them together to produce the final image.

    If you are using a normal 1:1 zoom level and no other special processing, it will (as I understand it) take the image from the “wide” lens. If you zoom out to 0.5:1, then it will take the image from the “ultra-wide” lens. If you zoom in to 2:1 (or 2.5:1 on a Pro Max), it will take the image from the “telephoto” lens. If you choose any other zoom level, then it will use one or more of the lenses in conjunction with the digital zoom software to produce the final image.

  26. Actually, after a clearer understanding of the way the optics works (thanks) I’m now wondering if it’s worth spending money on an upgrade from my iPhone X at all. It’s still under monthly AppleCare+ warranty and works fine.

    I guess I should do a side-by-side comparison of the iPhone X with iPhone 12 Pro (not max) and see what really has improved all that much these past few years.

  27. It all depends on what your wants and needs and budget are. Spouse and I have 10x and 10x Max respectively…she doesn’t want the larger one due to hand and women’s pocket size…that we paid for on the essentially no cost monthly plan. We have in the past upgraded every 2 years…but decided months ago that we didn’t need to do so yet. Until the battery life goes down or the perceived speed on newer iOS goes down…we will wait at least another year unless there’s a feature we decide is worth it. My guess is that battery aging will be the biggest issue for us.

  28. I don’t know but they discussed the problems of misaligned iPhones on Qi chargers are addressed by the redesign of the charging circuitry and placement of the magnets. If you go to 35:38 on the event video you’ll see the section on wireless charging. Here is a shot showing the MagSafe charger on the back of an iPhone 12 Pro (IIRC)

    Screen Shot 2020-10-13 at 17.10.35

  29. My X remains under AppleCare+ warranty. In fact, during the summer, I got a battery life warning on my iPhone and Apple replaced the battery for free, so battery health is still at 100%.

    Decisions, decisions.

    doug

  30. It’s been a long time since I took a physics class, but it seems to me that the magnetic field strength is what’s key. A stronger field should be able to induce a stronger current in the phone’s coil and therefore transfer more energy.

    Once way to make a bigger field is to put more windings in the coil. If all other things are equal, that will make the coil bigger, but that’s only one of several things you could do. You could also use thinner wires, which might require different kinds of metal in the wire (to carry the required current). You could also increase the current delivered through the coil or change the oscillation frequency.

    One issue, which Apple hinted at in their presentation, is one of magnetic interference with other devices. An electromagnet (which is what a charging coil really is) can affect electronics. If the field strength gets too large, it can erase magnetic media (like nearby credit card stripes), interfere with radio reception (including Wi-Fi and cellular) and even interfere with digital circuitry.

    In Apple’s presentation, they pointed out new shielding layers on their charge coil, indicating that this was a concern of theirs and might be the reason why their system can move more power than a Qi system:

  31. Here’s my thinking…5G and the much improved camera features are the only justification for upgrading from my “it works just fine” iPhone 8+. Since it’s extremely unlikely that 5G networks will be available in the US in the next few years, and due to health and safety precautions I’m not out and about nearly as much as I always have been, I’m not snapping photos near as much as I usually have been. Though the new camera features and specs are truly amazing, unfortunately I won’t have as many interesting photo ops in the next year or more than I usually would. So I’ll wait until 5G really and truly starts spreading out, at least locally, and I’ll be able to return to my normal activity levels before I shell out big bucks for a new iPhone. And maybe this time next year there will be new and more spectacular iPhones, and the prices will drop on the iPhone 12 models.

  32. :laughing: I was going to point out that every iPhone since the X has come with a laser. FaceID relies on it for its ToF sensor (VCSEL, Vertical Cavity Surface Emitting Laser).

  33. Apparently the Pro models now come with 6 GB of RAM while the non-Pro 12s come with 4 GB like the previous 11 (all flavors). The assumption is of course that the additional memory is required for all the fancy image/video processing on the Pro models with their more sophisticated camera setup.

  34. I checked, and there is 5G millimeter broadband available from my carrier, Softbank, here in Tokyo. But I got the feeling that it is in some locations, and not in others. Plus if you make a contract with a 5G phone the monthly fee is an extra 1,000 yen/month. I don’t know why considering that they’re already likely to sell more data if it really is faster. Plus the iPhone 12 only switches from 4G to 5G under certain download circumstances to save battery and prevent overheating.

    My feeling is that 5G is “not quite there” yet, and my expectations would be greater than what I actually see.

    You mention much improved camera features. That’s of interest, but what really is much improved over the original X which I have? The zoom is a bit better, but I’m mostly interested in zoom in. That apparently just changes from 2 to 2.5 because of the zoom out, which I would rarely use.

    There are some miscellaneous features which apparently are supported by later models, like the selfie “mirror mode” (so your selfies look like what you actually see on the display rather than the reverse). That doesn’t work on the X.

    Anyway, my X is in perfect condition. The battery was recently replaced under AppleCare+ warranty. So I’m wondering what would really be so much better in day to day life at the moment.

    I’m “on hold” thinking about it, or whether it’s worth waiting yet another year.

    doug

  35. I saw the last 15-20 minutes of the event, and I can’t believe I am saying this, but I am impressed with the camera capabilities. Not the zoom, but the low light.

    Not that I’d ever expect it to replace my actual camera but it is intriguing.

    I’m also impressed with the size. Would definitely like to get one in hand.

    Not impressed with price however. And I don’t care at all about 5G.

    Diane

  36. I think $729 for the mini isn’t bad. I’m willing to pay for engineering high-end specs into a svelte package.

    But I get when people aren’t thrilled with the price of the 12 when comparing to the previous iPhones. A lot of people felt the iPhone 11 for $699 was very well priced and sure enough strong sales promptly followed. The iPhone 12 is now $829 (+19%) but Apple also has another two $19 add-ons that were included with the 11 and are now missing from the BOM of the 12. Including those puts us at $867. That’s a 24% price hike. Not insignificant for what is primarily 5G vs. LTE and OLED vs. LCD.

  37. I have a set of lightning earbuds in almost every room in my house (I’m the only one who ever uses them so everyone gives them to me) and a drawer full of chargers that I should really donate to Goodwill so I guess I just saved $38.

  38. I want to clarify - it’s the size for me. Apple could make a stripped down Mini and I’d be on it in a heartbeat. I actually wish they had made a stripped down one. (I wonder how new SE sales will end up?)

    I’m coming from an original SE and I just love that size. Fits in my pockets and hands easily. I think the Mini is close enough that I’d like it. I was pretty disappointed in the new SE although I haven’t seen one in person to compare.

    Diane

  39. I’m with you, @dianed143. It’s all about the size for me (also still on the first gen SE). I would have happily moved to a non-flagship iPhone as long as it was a similar size to my SE, but as you say, the second gen SE is not. I love the look of the mini, and really glad their are some good colour options, too!

    I don’t think Apple should off free chargers when ordering an iPhone, because loads of people would just add it on, knowing that it’s their one shot to get something free. Even if they already have a charger, they would get it “in case” theirs breaks or to have an extra charger for convenience. I think there needs to be a reasonable cost for the chargers, because that’s the only way to reduce the waste, and I think the environmental arguments for this change are genuine and meaningful. (Most people really do have plenty of chargers lying around.) However, I also agree that Apple needs to cut the price of something, otherwise it looks like (and is) a money-grabbing exercise, regardless of the environmental benefits. They shouldn’t be making lots of profits on chargers out of this decision.

    When they announced no charger in the Watch, my first thought was that they should offer a discounted charger if ordering at the same time as the watch. However, this could cause the same issue of inducing false demand amongst people who don’t want to miss out on a ‘deal’. Then I saw this story yesterday: Apple cuts EarPods and iPhone charger prices by $10 after it stops bundling them - The Verge. I actually think this is perfect. $20 for a good quality 20W charger seems like a ‘reasonable’ price to me. There’s clearly a margin in there for Apple, but it doesn’t seem overly expensive (which is what $30 felt like).

  40. Well, SE2 was inexpensive but not small. The 12 mini is small, but not inexpensive. In a sense I guess you could say there’s now a phone for everybody in Apple’s lineup. Eventually the 12 mini will become the SE3, maybe by the time we reach the iPhone 14. Or maybe they tweak its design for that purpose, for example power button TouchID instead of FaceID, or LCD instead of OLED.

  41. No, it’s still excessive. There’s plenty of better chargers (including quality hardware) for little more than half of what Apple still charges. Usually the Apple tax can be justified by some superior aspect. But when it comes to chargers they’re just plain lazy. And charging twice for sub-par, in my book that’s nowhere close to ‘reasonable’.

  42. They’re basically the same size. SE 2 is a quarter of inch taller, one-eight of inch wider, and same thickness as the 12 mini.

    Eh. It’s fine; a rounding error compared to the overall cost of the phone.

  43. I’m not saying you can’t get something better or less expensive, or both, but I still consider $20 to be ‘reasonable’. The chargers in your first post linked to there are in the same region ($13-$25). I’m not including promotional deals, because the skews like-for-like comparisons, there’s nothing to say the new Apple charger won’t be available with a coupon from somewhere online.

    Also, you can look at it another way: you’re no longer getting a less-than-best charger in the box, so you can buy the charger you really want instead. If you can get a great one for $10, I don’t see it as a big deal. And, honestly, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t already have a charger or three.

    (As for the EarPods, those were always a waste – I have brand new ones sitting in drawers, as they don’t fit my ears.)

    Addendum: Also, a lot of companies don’t make well designed chargers for different plug styles. For instance, the UK version of the Aukey charger in your post is an ugly chunky thing that is bulky, compared to a nice Apple design that has folding prongs. The Aukey one is only £2 less expensive. I honestly think Apple’s charger price is now more in line with the market.

  44. You nailed it! Some of us were hoping for both in one package :wink: I actually thought the original SE was good on both counts!

    As impressed as I am by the 12 cameras, I don’t need a fantastic camera in my phone and would happily have given that up for a price cut.

    Diane

  45. It’s ironic that in the UK they apparently have a folding plug, whereas here in the US they stubbornly resist a folding plug unlike their competition.

  46. It most definitely was. It was not only small and less expensive, at the time it also came with the latest and greatest (well, 6 months old) chipset. It was simply an awesome iPhone.

    I think the 12 mini is similar, except perhaps for its price. Considering though that Apple has jacked up prices of the iPhone across the board, it seems in line. I suppose if you don’t care about having the latest and greatest internals you could always wait for two years and then hope to pick up a mini for $529.

    Re: size, the original SE is what I use daily because I can use it single handed. I had a 6 which went straight to the garbage because it was too wide to be used with a single hand (and it was slippery like heck too). The SE2 is the same size as the 6 (a bit thicker actually) so that certainly would have never served as a replacement for my SE. The 12 mini is 5.5 mm wider than the SE, so just barely within reach.

    If I could change anything about the 12 mini package though it would be the camera bump. Make the back case flush so no more bump, but use that extra volume for more battery. My hunch is Apple has a certain max weight figured out for this form factor and since batteries are heavy, that extra battery thickness would push beyond their weight limit. Perceived weight depends a lot on size as I learned though. My 6 was 16g heavier than my SE, but it always felt a lot lighter. The mini is 22g heavier than the SE, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it felt about the same weight simply due to its larger footprint.

  47. A Tale

    I bought a new car last week. Beautiful vehicle. I went to a filling station on the way home and discovered there was no way to add gasoline. I called the dealership and was told, “Oh, you wanted to be able to drive the car after you got home. It’s a necessity but not included with your car and is available for $800.” (2% of a $40,000 car.)

    That is what Apple is doing: finagling its customers out of another 2% on a $1000 (or more) iPhone. Calling it green is, at best, disingenuous.

  48. Funny, but when 90% of the car’s buyers can use their old “add gasoline adapter” from their previous car, they look at it as a savings.

    I haven’t even taken the EarPods or power brick out of my iPhone boxes for the last 5-6 iPhones I’ve had (and I pretty much get a new one every year as I’m on the annual upgrade plan). I’ve got USB chargers all over the house (many installed in AC outlets).

  49. The whole thing would have been a non-issue if they would have allowed those customers who actually need a new charger to get one for free (or at cost) when they buy a fancy new iPhone 12. That would have sent a clear message this is about environment alone. And if indeed it’s true that everybody and their dog already has dozens of chargers, well then the environment would have certainly benefited just as much.

    But because Apple couldn’t resist raking in another couple of bucks, the discussion people are now actually having is how the world’s largest company sells a $1099 phone and is still too cheap to include a charger. Apple’s PR is not as good as I thought they were if they didn’t anticipate the discussion turning this way. But maybe they are that good and maybe they did know it would turn into this and they just figured, bite us. :laughing:

    That said, what’s truly ridiculous is that Samsung is now mocking Apple for this when we all know they will be following Apple’s move next chance they get. :roll_eyes:

  50. On the flip side, as someone who’s bought only 2 iPhones and 1 iPad, at this point I only have two chargers as one of the early ones seems to have died.

    I also use my EarPods nearly daily, and have gone through more than what I’ve received from my phones and iPods. The set I’m using now is nearly new but a bit flakey. I was happy to find an unopened box in a closet clean last month, but they are the old shape and actually painful for long periods of time, so it looks like I’ll be buying another set soon.

    Diane

  51. Cartoonist Mike Smith commented on this issue with the cables a year ago with the iPhone 11. Who says Apple doesn’t pay attention to the media? :stuck_out_tongue:

    The other thing I’d like to note is that most of us know other people who have iPhones. I’m not offering to mail stuff around, but if anyone I knew complained about needing a power adapter or pair of earbuds, I’d dig one out and give it to them. (In fact, I did that just a few months ago, when my late friend Oliver mentioned that his wife really liked the wired EarPods but had damaged her pair.) I’m sure lots of others would be happy to share as well.

  52. I’ve got a drawer full of USB chargers from all kinds of devices. Unfortunately, most of them (especially from older non-Apple devices) are very low power, many of them around 2.5W (the old USB 2.0 standard of 500mA). I often bring these with me when traveling, because I don’t care if they get lost or stolen, but they charge modern devices very slowly.

    Until recently, I never had enough Apple 5W chargers because I only got them bundled with new phones and iPods, which I don’t purchase very often. I recently bought three of them from Apple in order to have enough to use around the house. Now I’m glad I did, since my next phone won’t be including one (assuming 5W will be able to fully charge it during the 5-8 hours it’s on my nightstand…)

  53. “tiny” iphone12mini? yeah, it’s smaller than all the current phablets on offer but it’s still about 15% bigger than my se(tos). still, i’ll take what i can get: the se(tos) is getting a tad long in the tooth …

  54. A further thought on the issue of (not) including a charger or EarPods, for all the people who say that Apple is just taking that as extra profit: how do we know that the new iPhones (and watch) don’t have improvements that would have otherwise required raising the price of the phone by ~$30 (or whatever the cost of a charger+EarPods is to Apple). As someone who doesn’t need the charger and has never had a use for the EarPods because of their fit, I didn’t much like that I was forced to pay for them. This way, the entire amount of what I’m paying goes to the ‘phone’ (including Apple’s profit margins, of course, but that’s part of how the business runs).

    Nothing is free, even if you don’t pay for it. Just because it’s no longer included doesn’t mean the savings to Apple are being taken as pure profit. It could be they developed a more ambitious phone knowing they didn’t have to recoup the cost, logistics, and shipping of including the charger and EarPods.

  55. I think the backlash to the announcement of dropping the charger and earbuds comes from the fact that Apple, as usual, only talked about the bright side in the announcement. I think critics may have been mollified somewhat by a statement in the announcement something like “By omitting this hardware, we have been able to keep the price lower than you would expect for the many improvements we have made.”

    By the way, John Gruber at Daring Fireball has provided a year to year analysis of the price and quality differences between the 11-series and 12-series phone. He notes that the base model has had its retail price increase by $130 but now has the same OLED screen as the Pro models. He also notes that the Pro models are less expensive than last year, given that the storage in the base model has gone from 64GB to 128GB and prices were decreased for the models with more storage.

  56. If Apple had said something like “all these new features would have forced us to raise the price by $50, but we managed to keep it at the same price as last year by not including parts that most people already have - chargers and headphones”, then I think most people would understand.

    But they didn’t say that. Their announcement was entirely focused on supposed environmental savings. So the announcement sounds, to a lot of us like “we’re going to give you less, charge more, and you aren’t allowed to complain because of, um, er, climate change”.

  57. We do since they did. The base price is $729 and only becomes $699 when one of the carriers subsidizes it (i.e. has you pay off those extra $30 over the course of your contract with them). Apple already raised the prices, regardless of the whole charger thing.

    Now if that price hike was because they just felt like increasing their margins or if it was because of increased BOM and this being the only thing they could do to maintain their margins, is beyond my knowledge. What I do know is that nobody in that entire industry makes more smartphone profit than they do, so excuse me when I say I’m not terribly concerned with them being able to maintain said margins.

  58. I’m skeptical of that. What I suspect would have happened is that people would have grumbled about Apple’s margins, and why couldn’t they just absorb the cost, trillion dollar company, etc etc etc. (I promise, I did not read Simon’s response before typing the previous sentence, since he essentially proves the point: “What I do know is that nobody in that entire industry makes more smartphone profit than they do, so excuse me when I say I’m not terribly concerned with them being able to maintain said margins.”) Reporters would parse how much exactly the new parts cost and did that justify the hike. Forum threads would be dedicated to vigorous discussions about whether it’s justified. Etc.

    Essentially, any time they spend talking about raising the price is time they’re talking about raising the price, and that’s just not going to go over well.

  59. 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.

  60. 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.

  61. 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.

  62. 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).

  63. 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??

  64. 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.

  65. 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:

  66. 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.

  67. 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.

  68. 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.”

  69. 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.

  70. 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.

  71. 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.

  72. 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.

  73. 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.

  74. 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:

  75. 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.

  76. 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.

  77. 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).

  78. 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.

  79. Verizon gets a percent of The ad time during game broadcasts that they can use to sell ads and for their own advertising. They also get call outs during broadcasts, plugs in the stadiums, and they can use the NFL affiliation in their ads and promotions. Verizon has its own huge advertising network, and it’s one of the top teams in the ballpark. In addition to the media properties they own, they also own one of the largest ad networks in the US:

    This deal is much better for Verizon and the NFL. Verizon saves money they would have to spend on media and PR, and the NFL doesn’t have to pay for equipment and maintenance they don’t have any expertise in managing or choosing.

  80. Originally it was “LADAR” standing for LASER Detecting And Ranging or more correctly: Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation Detecting And Ranging! Fortunately common sense prevailed and they dropped the last six words making up “LASER” and just use the first two letters of the first word.

  81. It was the low light photos that wow’d me as well. For quite a few years I’ve seen fantastic concert photos from friends with non-iPhones. Granted mine is the 2016 SE but I’m pretty sure a friend had a high-end other make that did well around the same time. I actually expected the Mini to have a lesser camera when I saw that portion, I thought that is definitely Pro specs! (I came into the event late).

    My real camera is not good in low light either. I bought it for the zoom and most of my pix are outdoors anyway, so it wasn’t an issue for me.

    Diane

  82. I want to make the family more agile - we’ve been locked into AT&T forever, and I want to have the ability to move us around between carriers for the best deal, so my wife is getting my iPhone 11 Pro Max 512 with 99% battery health - up from her iPhone 7 which she powers by lugging around battery brick all day, my daughter’s getting a new iPhone 12 which I believe to be a step up from her iPhone 7 Plus 256 (I intend to get us into the high tier Apple One plan so she won’t need more than 128 GB), and I’m moving on to a 12 Pro Max 512 (since I like a lot of storage for local entertainment and extended 4K capture - plus I gotta have those cameras).

    The chargers and earbuds we don’t need - everyone’s got AirPods and lightning charging and computers and cables - so the lack of chargers and earbuds don’t bother us.

    My opinion? The money saved from the lack of those items is going into the coffers of the OLED panel makers and Qualcomm - and I mourn the fact that Apple capitulated and ceased their FTC complaint against Qualcomm (who has been conning standards bodies and extorting the handset industry since CDMA).

    The Qualcomm FRAND model is a travesty, and I think their double-dipping is outrageous. Charging for the chip and then again a percentage of the full retail price of the phone for their IP is the very definition of patent exhaustion - but then Apple needed the 5G chips to future-proof their amazingly long-lived phones and Intel couldn’t do 5G on a timely basis.

    About the only bright point is that the Qualcomm modems are faster - and LTE advanced will move up to a potential 2 mbps theoretical maximum, so though I expect to get nothing out of 5G mm wave (I live in a Chicago suburb and don’t attend conventions or sporting events) and little out of long wave, there will probably be a bump up on LTE advanced performance.

    Really, for the most part I see 5G as a solution desperately trying to find a problem.

    Thank Qualcomm trying to sell chipsets, carriers wanting to sell plans, and analysts trying to sell prognostication for the whole 5G push.

  83. In my experience, not necessarily, sort of.

    I bought an original iPhone SE to use with Virgin Mobile USA when the sign-up deal was a year of service for $1. Sweet deal. After a couple of years, I had VMU unlock the phone so I could use a GiffGaff SIM during a vacation in England. (Thanks for that idea, Adam!)

    Another year later, VMU evaporated and all accounts were transferred to Boost Mobile. My monthly charge actually went down, to my surprise.

    Then I bought a new iPhone SE with the idea that I would move the SIM from the old phone to the new phone. I forget the exact message, but it was something like the SIM is locked. I needed to buy a new SIM and get a new phone number. (I didn’t need to get the new phone number, but if I transferred the phone number from the old phone, I would have needed to buy another new SIM for the old phone and get a new number for it, since it was going to remain in service.)

    In my case, I bought the second phone from Apple rather than from the carrier. That might have made a difference. However, at the time of attempted SIM transfer, both phones were unlocked.

  84. So here’s an interesting teardown (YouTube auto-translate works surprisingly well). Apparently, for the non-Pro 12, Apple simply added a plastic filler where the 3rd camera goes on the Pro. Sure would have been nice if there would have been some way to use that volume for some extra battery. It’s amazing to see how much commonality there is between the 12 and 12 Pro. That must amount to massive savings. Lots of different screws for sure (and even some adhesive), but an assembly that’s just fascinating to see.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BEQHcKdwzhc
  85. Now I’m really looking forward to the iFixit teardown. If there is filler where the camera would go, I wonder if there is still a connector on the board.

    If so, then I suspect we’ll see DIY upgrade kits coming out of China in the future. Swap camera module and replace the back panel and you’re good to go. Of course, you’d have to be an iPhone repair expert in order to do this successfully, since it would require a complete teardown and reassembly.

    Update: After watching the video all the way through, it appears that the non-Pro model doesn’t have the connector for the extra camera module, so no DIY kit will be possible. But I will still be really interested to see if the circuitry exists. Maybe someone with microsoldering experience (some YouTube channels I watch) will try to attach a connector to attempt an “upgrade”.

    Of course, even if such an upgrade is possible, we won’t see anyone doing it for a year or so, since I guarantee this is not a connector you’re going to be able to find at DigiKey, so we’ll have to wait for old “donor” boards to make their way into the used parts market.

  86. My understanding is it’s actually the LIDAR connector that’s missing. The soldering pods are there, but no connector. So I guess possible, but that will definitely require some serious soldering skills. :wink:

  87. Definitely beyond my skill set, but anyone with experience performing board-level repairs on an iPhone could do it - if he/she can get a connector.

    Of course, there may be more components missing than just the connector.

  88. Well that sure didn’t take long. According to industry rumors, Samsung now wants to get rid of charger and earphones in the S21 box too. I knew they were going to follow Apple’s move, I just expected they would wait for a while considering their ads mocking Apple and all. :roll_eyes:

    Last time they did this, at least they waited 2 years to drop the headphone jack after mocking Apple for dropping it on the iPhone 7. Classy outfit they’re running over there. :sob:

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