Not only has this year’s iPhone release been delayed until October as a result of the novel coronavirus pandemic, but most reports are suggesting that Apple will be adopting a staggered release for its new iPhone models this year, with some of them still being pushed back into November.
At this point we know that Apple plans to release four new iPhone models, and while the names aren’t actually locked in until Apple takes the stage and unveils them, for all intents and purposes we’re calling them the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro. The current iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max will be superseded by new iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max models, which will grow in size from 5.8 inches and 6.5 inches to 6.1 inches and 6.7 inches, respectively.
Meanwhile, the iPhone 11 will for the first time be split into its own pair of different sized models, with the larger iPhone 12 maintaining the same 6.1-inch screen size alongside a smaller 5.4-inch iPhone 12. Again, while we don’t even know for sure that Apple will use the iPhone 12 moniker, the naming for the two different sizes of the lower-end iPhone are even more open to speculation, with some suggesting that Apple will follow the same “Max” designation as it’s used for its Pro models, while others are suggesting “iPhone 12 Mini” for the smaller one, which makes some sense considering that the 6.1-inch iPhone 12 would be a direct replacement for the 6.1-inch iPhone 11, which didn’t bear any sub-designation at all.
All of Apple’s iPhone 12 models are expected to gain 5G support, although recent reports have suggested that the ultra-fast mmWave will not only be exclusive to the iPhone 12 Pro models, but could in fact be limited to the 6.7-inch iPhone 12 Pro Max due to the larger battery and antenna requirements. Both iPhone 12 Pro models are also expected to gain LiDAR Scanners and 120Hz displays, which likely won’t be coming to the standard iPhone 12.
What’s Coming When?
Most recent reports have suggested that it’s the two iPhone 12 Pro models that will be pushed back into November, including a timeline offered by leaker Jon Prosser back in mid-August and a more recent in-depth report by Bloomberg.
However, it seems that DigiTimes is doubling-down on its earlier report that suggests Apple could instead release both of its 6.1-inch models — the iPhone 12 and the iPhone 12 Pro — in October, with the smaller 5.4-inch iPhone 12 and 6.7-inch iPhone 12 Pro Max pushed out into November.
In a new report, DigiTimes cites supply chain sources outlining the shipments of SLP boards and suggesting that this points to the 6.1-inch models coming first, since those components began shipping at least a month earlier than the same boards for the 5.4-inch and 6.7-inch iPhone models.
The new iPhone lineup may arrive in two stages, with two 6.1-inch models in the first and another two 6.7- and 5.4-inch devices in the second, said the sources, noting that shipments of SLP mainboards for the 6.1-inch models were kicked off in July and those for the 6.7- and 5.4-inch ones began in the second half of August.DigiTimes
However, as usual DigiTimes only has supply chain reports to go on, and there are certainly other interpretations for this, including the possibility that Apple may be prioritizing the manufacturing of both 6.1-inch models, regardless of when it plans to release them, or assuming that the 6.1-inch iPhone models will be more popular than the 5.4-inch and 6.7-inch models. The DigiTimes report also focuses on only a single component of the device, and there’s no reason to assume that this has a direct impact on Apple’s manufacturing cycle.
Still, it’s compelling enough to cast some doubt on the other reports that suggest that Apple is actually holding off both of its Pro models until November. While it would be unusual for Apple to split its release based on size, it’s a move that does make some sense, as it would allow Apple to offer both the standard and Pro models right out of the gate in what are effectively still the two most popular sizes, encouraging sales of the higher-end iPhone from users who might otherwise jump on the lower-end model rather than waiting for November. Conversely, users who are eager for the other sizes — especially the new compact 5.4-inch iPhone — may be more willing to wait it out.