- New 5G-capable iPhone 12 starts at £699
- Customers protest at loss of included charger
- Analysis: Apple is betting on experimental tech
- 5G phones could get spotty coverage in the UK
- Follow updates below in our live blog
Apple has placed a major bet on 5G with four new iPhones featuring the technology, including a cheaper model and a £99 home speaker as it sought to appeal to budget-conscious consumers hit by the pandemic.
The company's £699 iPhone 12 mini, one of four 5G-enabled phones unveiled by the tech giant, is the most affordable flagship-series phone the company has announced in several years.
Apple including 5G in its entire new lineup represents a departure from the strategy taken by many other smartphone manufacturers, which have saved the technology for its higher-end phones.
Tim Cook, Apple's chief executive, declared that the iPhone 12 line marked "a new era" for Apple and that 5G was the "most exciting step yet" in network technology.
The company also made a renewed push into the smart speaker market, which has been dominated by Amazon and Google devices, with the HomePod mini, a smaller and cheaper version of the Siri-powered smart speaker.
Smart speakers have become increasingly popular during the pandemic as more people are stuck at home, but Apple's existing £279 HomePod, launched in 2018, has been seen as too expensive compared to rival devices.
5G networks, which promise greater download capacity and speed, have been available in the UK and US for more than a year, but early coverage has been patchy and speeds underwhelming.
Apple said its new iPhones delivered 5G speeds of up to 4 gigabits per second and would be able to balance speed with battery life, which early 5G networks have often been tough on.
The company’s iPhone 12 range, which will be released between next Friday and November 13, range from the 5.4-inch iPhone mini at £699 to the iPhone 12 Pro Max, which has the biggest ever iPhone screen size at 6.7 inches and costs up to £1,399 for the model with the highest storage.
For the first time, the phones will come without bundled earphones or charging plugs, a move that Apple said was designed to cut carbon emissions and reduce use of precious materials.
Rewatch Apple's launch event here, or follow our live updates below as they happened.
Thank you and good night
That's it for us in the Telegraph's Silicon Valley bureau, and so too for this live blog. Our London team will continue to bring you fresh news and analysis in the morning.
For now, here's what we've published today:
- Everything you need to know about the iPhone 12
- Analysis: Apple bets on experimental technology
- iPhone 12 comes with no headphones or charger
- Compared: iPhone 12 vs Samsung Galaxy S20
Bye for now, and thanks for reading!
Head to head: Apple's iPhone 12 vs Samsung's Galaxy S20
It's not all about the iPhone. As military planners might put it, Apple's enemies get a vote. The Korean smartphone giant Samsung beat Tim Cook's brave techies to the 5G market all the way back in May 2019. In February, it went further with the Galaxy S20.*
If you're wavering on whether to splash out, Margi Murphy has rounded up the specs and features of both company's flagship phones, from their price to their screens to their battery life. Check out the full comparison here.
*Hell's bells, have they really gone through 20 versions already? I remember being wowed by the Galaxy S2 when I got one in 2016. But no, in fact Samsung skipped ten places, claiming that the S20 was so "revolutionary" it deserved a clean break. There should be a law against it.
The chipmakers lifted by Apple's rising tide
The iPhone 12 has done little to move Apple's share price today. Any benefit seems to have already been priced in over the past five days, rising by up to 9.3pc.
But Apple isn't the only stock affected by Apple products:
- Qualcomm, which makes the iPhone's 5g modem chips, is up 4.9pc since five days ago
- The Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, which manufactures Apple's proprietary central processors, is up 5.7pc
- NPX Semiconductors, which makes short-range communication chips, is up 2.6pc since Oct 7 – but has actually fallen by 3.3pc today
Disappointment as 'AirTags' fail to materialise
One big absence from today's event was Apple's long-awaited "AirTags" – or so the rumour mill calls them.
According to reports, AirTags are tiny Bluetooth tracking devices that you can attach to other objects (keys, wallets, passports, your nuclear access code briefcase, etc) and then locate using the iPhone's existing "Find My..." app. When they lose signal, they will reach out via Bluetooth to any passing iPhone and send you a notification.
None of this is exactly new: other companies such as Tile and Pebble have made similar products for years. The advantage for Apple is that it can integrate these devices closely into iOS.
Having recently spent a panic-inducing five minutes scrabbling through the midnight gutters of Oakland, California, clutching my iPad and listening out for the plaintive beeping cry of my lost iPhone, I have no doubt that such devices have a significant audience (reader, I found it).
But the product could deepen Apple's trouble with European regulators, who are probing allegations from Tile that Apple has been using its power over the iPhone and its App Store to try to squash a future competitor. Apple denies those claims.
Can Apple catch up with Amazon's smart home business?
Let's take a closer look at the latest addition to Apple's smart home system, the HomePod Mini.
Despite being the most valuable company on the planet, Apple remains an underdog in the smart home business. According to research by the smart speaker news site VoiceBot, Google commands a 30.9pc market share, while Amazon has 53pc (!).
By comparison, Apple has 2.8pc – beaten by Sonos with, a far smaller but more specialised firm that has been in the game for longer, with 4.7pc.
In theory, Apple should have big advantages here: the most famous virtual assistant in the world (Siri), a knack for designing beautiful objects that look good in your home, and a strong reputation for privacy (apart from that one time it was caught listening to Siri users' voice clips without their permission).
In reality, however, Apple's pretty but expensive devices have struggled to compete against its rivals' data-sucking cut-price options. And, if we're honest, Siri is actually a bit rubbish.
The HomePod Mini – a bargain by Apple's standards at £99 – looks like an attempt to change all that. Here's Ben Wood, chief of research at CCS Insight:
"Offering the HomePod mini at $99 is surprising. Such keen pricing is rare from Apple and illustrates the company's efforts to invigorate its smart home strategy in the face of intense competition from Amazon and Google. It's a positive move, but Apple still faces an uphill battle when it comes to smart home tech."
Everything you need to know about the iPhone 12
Want to see all important information about the new iPhone range compiled in one place? My colleague James Cook has you covered with this comprehensive explainer featuring release dates, prices, technical specs, deals and the lowdown on odd new elements like the LiDAR sensor.
'So many features, so little point'
Here's a different and more acidic take on the iPhone 12's new technology. Certainly it's far from clear whether consumers really have any demand for all the gewgaws packed within.
Then again, their inclusion at this early stage could help catalyse new trends in app development, which would pay dividends for the iOS ecosystem if and when these technologies go mainstream.
5G, LiDAR, Ultra-Wide Band. Never before has the iPhone had so many features that will make essentially no difference to the experience of using the phone over its lifetime.— Benjamin Mayo (@bzamayo) October 13, 2020
Analysis: Apple is betting big on experimental technologies
Compared to previous iPhones, the 12 contains an unusual amount of new and experimental technology, from 3D laser scanners through machine learning to 5G connectivity.
That, according to our Silicon Valley bureau chief James Titcomb and London-based special correspondent James Cook, is an indication of Apple's future plans:
Customers will be forgiven for having a vague idea of the benefits of 5G, but Cook’s statement that 5G connectivity is “the beginning of a new era for iPhone” rings true. Apple is hoping that customers will share Apple’s vision of a world where they’re consuming large amounts of data on their iPhone wherever they are.
A second new technology added to iPhones for the first time is a LiDAR sensor, the same type of technology used by self-driving cars to detect the world around them.
It might seem like a niche sensor to include, but Apple has for years been working on improving its support for augmented reality apps that use your iPhone to create virtual worlds based on your surroundings.
Do you have too many smartphone chargers?
My colleague here in San Francisco, Margi Murphy, has written in detail about the iPhone charger issue. A European Commission study has found that many people feel they have too many smartphone chargers in their homes, but some Apple customers have decried the new policy as "madness".
Apple claimed it was removing the accessories because it believed most customers either have an old pair of EarPods or use their own wireless buds and charging device when they buy a new phone. The company will also stop bundling the accessories with previous models of the iPhone.
It estimated that there were already 700m sets of EarPods and 2bn Apple power adapters in the world, in addition to the many third party alternatives. Removing the wall adapter and headphones will avoid the unnecessary mining and use of precious materials, it said.
This will also allow for smaller and lighter iPhone boxes, which means the company can increase the boxes on each shipping pallet by 70pc and ultimately reduce carbon emissions in its global logistics chain.
According to a recent European Commission study, many people feel they have too many smartphone chargers in our homes, and 40pc who received a new charger with a new phone would rather just use one they already have.
How iPhone users feel about the lack of a charger
Initial reactions to Apple's charging adapter stinginess and/or tree-hugging altruism are mixed. Some relish the chance to switch all their devices to the increasingly common USB-C format. Others... do not.
Damn, if removing the charger from the box has such a massive environmental impact, imagine the environmental impact of SIMPLY NOT BUYING A NEW IPHONE— Stan Schroeder (@franticnews) October 13, 2020
the new iPhone won't come with a charger and headphones in the box?😭— Malik Ofori (@malikofori) October 13, 2020
the day iphone goes usbc will be great. i fantasize about charging my ipad/computer, phone, camera and power bank with 1 cable when traveling.— abdul (@Advil) October 13, 2020
A weighty slab
If you want to get a sense of just how much bigger smartphones have grown, consider this: the new iPhone 12 Pro Max, Apple's biggest ever handset, has a 6.7in screen. That is only 1.2in smaller than the 7.9inc display you'll find on the venerable iPad Mini. Where will it all end?
5G's killer app?
Here's an updated quick take from Wedbush analyst Dan Ives, who believes 5G is the real star here.
"The linchpin to this iPhone 12 product event was the 5G capability, which will unleash significantly upgraded speed and performance for the company's golden installed base."
A major focus was highlighting the changes 5G brings to consumers on an everyday basis, [such as] streaming and accessing various data in high volume areas (airports, stadiums, cities, etc.) with no latency issues."
Paolo Pescatore, an independent tech analyst, says the new handsets could "kickstart consumer demand for 5G", and potentially help Apple capture more market share on the new networks.
He believes the combination of the iPhone 12 range and the new Apple One all-in-one subscription package will be particularly potent, with sales of each motivating adoption of the other.
This year's iPhone day: October 23
As usual, you won't have to wait long. In the UK, as well as in the US, Germany, China, Japan and Australia, you can pre-order the base iPhone 12 and the Pro model from October 16, and get it in your hands on October 23.
The Mini will be available for pre-order on Nov 6, and to have and to hold on Nov 13.
And speak of the devil! We've just received some UK prices:
- iPhone 12 – starts at £799
- iPhone 12 Mini – starts at £699
Both models will start with 64GB of storage, moving up to 12 GB and 256GB. You can also buy it in installments: £23.70 per month for the 12, and £19.54 per month for the Mini.
That's a wrap
The live stream is over. We saw three new variants of the iPhone 12, with a new A14 Bionic processor, and a new, smaller version of the
Here's the whole of Apple's iPhone range as it now stands, laid out before you like the kingdoms of the world before Jesus, or the savanna before Simba (the Mini and Pro Max are bundled in with their siblings). Stand by for UK prices.
Now with added lasers!
Apple product manager Francesca Sweet touts the iPhone 12 Pro's new LIDAR sensor, a tiny laser scanner that can build rapid 3D models of the space around you.
That is extremely useful for augmented reality (AR), a nascent technology that may yet overturn the smartphone industry.
By building in LIDAR, Apple is positioning itself well in Silicon Valley's race to grab market share in AR (even if there isn't much of a market yet).
It may help Apple get the jump on Facebook, whose chief executive Mark Zuckerberg believes AR is the next big technology platform, and who is trying to build AR goggles to finally bring Facebook into the hardware world (and displace the iPhone while he's at it).
First images of the iPhone 12 Pro
Of course, there is also a Pro. Here it is:
A mini price of $699
We now have US prices for the iPhone 12s:
- iPhone 12: starts from $799
- iPhone 12 Mini: starts from $699
And a UK price for the HomePod Mini: £99.
Revealed: the Apple iPhone 12 Mini
Small handed people rejoice! Apple has confirmed that the iPhone 12 will come in a Mini version, which it describes"the smallest, fastest 5G smartphone in the world".
Next up: iPhone 12 Mini— Marques Brownlee (@MKBHD) October 13, 2020
All the same features as iPhone 12, just in a smaller body with a 5.4” display! pic.twitter.com/LLJkOGeqAX
No charger for you
There are, Apple claims, more than 2bn iPhone chargers in the world – not surprising, given how many we all lose and have to duplicate. Now the company confirms that it won't include a charger block with its latest iPhone, just as with the most recent Apple Watch.
The reasons it gives are all ecological and environmenal: less carbon into the air, fewer rare earth minerals. But of course it will also be lucrative for Apple.
Even more controversially, there will be a charging cable – but it will be USB-C to Lightning, meaning it is unable to plug into most of your existing mains adapters. Hmm.
The toughest, fastest iPhone yet
According to Apple, here are some of the standout features of the iPhone 12:
- A new A14 bionic processor – the "fastest chip ever in a smartphone"
- Smooth, sharp edges!
- 11pc thinner, 15pc smaller and 16pc lighter than previous models
- A new "ceramic shield" protective screen, fusing "nano-ceramic crystals" into the glass
- A 415 pixels per inch OLED display (twice as many pixels as the iPhone 11)
Behold the iPhone 12
The new iPhone is here. After a good ten minutes hyping the power of 5G, Tim Cook introduced the iPhone 12 in a new dark colour range. Here it is:
One HomePod Mini: $99
The HomePod Mini will cost only $99, though we do not know the UK price.
Apple clearly has no intention of giving up command of your living room to the likes of Amazon and Google, saying that the Mini will "bring the power of Siri to your smart home".
The company is touting numerous integrations for its new generation of smart speakers, such as an "intercom" system that lets you send messages between two speakers in the same home (which is pitched as always being able to get your children's attention. Put two speakers together and they will become, effectively, one stereo speaker.
Tellingly, while Apple touted compatibility with a number of music and audio services, there is no mention of Spotify. The two companies are locked in a regulatory feud in the EU, with Spotify accusing Apple of abusing its market power to suppress its service in favour of Apple Music.
Apple HomePod Mini unveiled
We're off, and we have the first new device of the day: Apple's new HomePod Mini, a more compact version of its Siri-loaded smart speaker range. Here's what it looks like, with a size comparison to Tim Cook:
This is what Apple's online store looks like today in both the US and the UK, as it takes down its old line-up in preparation for the latest flourish.
News from the rumour mill
What do seasoned Apple watchers expect? John Prosser, a well-sourced YouTube reporter who has become a fixture of the Apple rumour mill over the past few years, has some thoughts, as do others:
It’s #AppleEvent day tomorrow!— Jon Prosser (@jon_prosser) October 12, 2020
Here’s a quick reminder of what you can expect, and what you shouldn’t:
iPhone 12 mini ✅
iPhone 12 ✅
iPhone 12 Pro ✅
iPhone 12 Pro Max ✅
HomePod mini ✅
Wireless charger ✅
AirPods Studio ❌
HomePod 2 ❌
See ya then!
A supercharged iPhone cycle
On the business side, there is considerable optimism on Wall Street about this iPhone generation. According to some estimates, it just so happens that a larger than usual number of older iPhones already out there are ripe for an upgrade.
Combine that with the new 5G technology and you get what Dan Ives , an analyst at Wedbush Securities, calls an iPhone "supercycle". Here's what he says:
"With our estimation that 350 million of 950 million iPhones worldwide are currently in the window of an upgrade opportunity, we believe this will translate into an unprecedented upgrade cycle for Cook and co. "China remains a key ingredient in Apple’s recipe for success, as we estimate roughly 20pc of iPhone upgrades will be coming from this region over the coming year. To this point we are seeing considerable strength from the China region over the last few months, with positive trends heading into the all-important holiday timeframe."
He also expects the more expensive Pro handsets to have LIDAR sensors, highly useful for augmented reality (AR) apps.
5G networks expand in the UK ahead of the iPhone 12 launch
The biggest feature of the iPhone is likely to be its 5G connectivity. Operators started launching 5G in the UK last year, although there are concerns that the new iPhone might run into coverage issues with the fledgling networks.
In a cleverly timed move, operator EE announced earlier that it has added 5G coverage to 12 new towns and cities in the UK including Oxford, Aberdeen and Blackpool.
Tim Cook's event playlist
Apple chief executive Tim Cook is known to hint at what's coming with an early-morning tweet on Apple event days. This morning he's tweeted his "Event Day" Apple Music playlist, a potential nod to the new HomePod speaker we're expecting.
It ranges from current Fleetwood Mac TikTok favourite Dreams to Dylan's Tangled Up In Blue. While Apple founder Steve Jobs was a famous Dylan fan, Cook's taste appears to be a little more eclectic.
How much will the new phones cost?
One closely watched factor is how much you'll be paying for the new devices. For several years, iPhones seemed to get more and more expensive, but in recent years, Apple has started offering a more affordable phone alongside the pricier flagships that often cost more than £1,000.
Here's James Cook on why Apple is set to reverse course on the era of the £1,000 phone:
Apple is likely to launch four different iPhones, catering to everyone from regular smartphone shoppers looking for an improved camera and battery life, all the way through to loyal Apple fans wanting the most expensive model available.It is expected to launch its cheapest new iPhone model at around £699, a far cry from the £1,000 entry point of 2017. More premium devices could sell for £999 and £1,099. [CCS analyst] Ben Wood calls the iPhone line-up “good, better, a little bit better, best.”
It's that time of year again: iPhone day. The annual launch of Apple's latest smartphones comes later than usual, due to production issues caused by the pandemic, but is expected to be the biggest change to the lineup since 2017's iPhone X.
We'll be following along with news and analysis right here.