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Apple debuts four 5G iPhones

The new iPhone 12 series devices feature 5G and a boxy iPhone 4 design, but fewer accessories are included, which may
cause headaches, writes BRYAN TURNER

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Apple last night revealed four new smartphones in its 12 series lineup,  all with different sizes and feature sets to cater to different market segments. The usual iPhone, iPhone Pro, and iPhone Pro Max devices were revealed, alongside a newer iPhone 12 mini, with a “small” 5.4-inch display.

The larger devices come in roughly the same screen sizes as the iPhones before them: the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro with a 6.1” display, while the iPhone 12 Pro Max had a Galaxy Note 20 sized 6.7” display.

One glaring detail, conspicuous by its absence, is the lack of a wall charger. At face value, this may not seem much of a loss, especially due to the abundance of wall chargers one tends to collect with smartphones over the years. On finer inspection though, Apple is including a USB Type C to Lighting cable, which presents a problem: other than owners of the iPhone 11 Pro, no other Apple user has a USB-Type C wall charger. Apple users who are upgrading to the new iPhone 12 model may find themselves forking out a little more than they intended, for yet another wall charger to juice up their iPhone.

A horizontal profile of iPhone 12 Pro shows off the new flat-edge design and Ceramic Shield front cover.
The iPhone 12 Pro from the side

That said, users who aren’t giving away their old iPhones can still use the USB Type A to Lighting cable and Type-A wall charger with the new device.

The most significant upgrade to the iPhone line-up this year is 5G, which is setting the standard for other phone manufacturers to start making this feature more of a standard. At it’s unveiling last night, Apple did a spectacular job of showcasing the consumer benefits of 5G, which included everything from creating fast live streaming video to downloading an album of music in a second. To make for a consistent supply chain, Apple has taken the Nokia approach of making the new iPhones compatible with all major 5G networks around the world. That means frequent travellers will be able to connect to 5G networks from country to country.

“The arrival of 5G marks the beginning of a new era for the iPhone and we’re thrilled to bring these impressive new capabilities to our customers with the iPhone 12 and 12 mini,” says Greg Joswiak, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing. “We’re once again pushing the boundaries to deliver incredible computational photography advancements, Super Retina XDR displays, and the biggest leap in durability in iPhone history with the new Ceramic Shield front cover.”

iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini in the blue aluminum finish.
The iPhone 12 mini and 12, from left to right

The iPhones feature the A14 Bionic chip, which was unveiled in the refreshed iPad Air lineup revealed last month. This is the first processor in a smartphone to have been made with a 5nm manufacture process, which means the transistors inside the CPU are 5nm thick. For perspective, the transistors are so small, they need to be weighed in atoms. This translates to improved performance and much better battery life, compared to previous iPhones.

The boxy design takes notes from the new iPad Pros, which took notes from the iPhone 4. The edges are more ridged, which allows for a flat glass design. This is paired with a new type of strengthened glass called Ceramic Shield, which was developed with glass experts Corning – makers of Gorilla Glass. Apple says this new type of glass is 4 times stronger than its predecessors, which could translate into far fewer screen replacements after drops.

The camera system on the iPhone 12 and 12 mini feature a dual 12MP array, one a standard lens and the other ultra-wide. Apple has always deemed a zoom lens to be a Pro-user feature, and has kept it this way by adding a third 12MP telephoto to the iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max. Overall, the cameras have faster apertures, at f1.6, and can take better night shots thanks to on-device machine learning powered by the A14 Bionic.

The iPhone 12 Pro models also have a new feature that enhances augmented reality (AR), in the form of LiDAR, which stands for Light Detection and Ranging. This sensor, first debuted in the iPad Pro, pulses invisible lasers to measure distances, and takes the approximation out of camera-based AR. The result is that objects seen in AR will stay where they are and not jump around as much as with past AR experiences.

A gif demonstrating how a MagSafe Charger easily attaches to the back of iPhone 12.

One of the niftiest features of the iPhone 12 series is MagSafe wireless charging, which aligns the wireless charging pad to the iPhone with magnets. This is an issue that has plagued wireless charging for years because phones would heat up and not charge correctly if they weren’t positioned carefully, coil-to-coil. Very few of us have transparent phones and see-through wireless charger pads to know exactly where the coils are, so Apple has taken out the guesswork with automatic magnetic alignment, as seen in the older MacBook MagSafe chargers.

The iPhone 12 and 12 mini will start at $800 and $700 respectively, for the 64GB model, and the devices range up to 256GB of storage. The iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max start at $1000 and $1100 respectively, for the 128GB model, and the devices range up to 512GB.

Local pricing and availability have not yet been announced. iStore South Africa has said it will facilitate home delivery when the devices. For more information on iPhone contracts and trade-ins, click here.

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