Even at a Higher Price, the iPhone 12 May Be the Most Affordable 5G Smartphone of the Year

iPhone 12 5G Concept Image Credit: EverythingApplePro
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There’s been some speculation lately that this year’s iPhone 12 lineup may actually come with a higher price tag than the iPhone 11 that it will supplant, despite the fact that Apple may also be removing accessories from the box, but even at a higher price, the standard iPhone 12 could still become the most affordable 5G-capable smartphone to hit the market this year.

Back in April, leaker Jon Prosser reported that the iPhone 12 in the new, smaller 5.4-inch size would actually come in at $649 — that’s $50 cheaper than the current 6.1-inch iPhone 11, while Prosser noted that the price of the 6.1-inch iPhone 12, which would be the most direct replacement for the current iPhone 11, would jump by $50. Prosser’s suggestions sounded pretty reasonable; since this would be the first time that Apple has released two models of the non-Pro iPhone, straddling either side of the current $699 makes a lot of sense.

However, this was contradicted by a more recent prediction from analyst Jeff Pu who pegged the 5.4-inch iPhone 12 at the $749 price point, and although Pu didn’t share any specific thoughts on the pricing for the 6.1-inch version, Apple’s normal spread between iPhone sizes could put this as high as $849, or $150 more than the iPhone 11’s asking price.

According to Pu, the iPhone 12 prices will be driven upward not only by the cost of including 5G technology in the new iPhones, but also the shift from Apple’s Liquid Retina LCD screens to OLED technology.

Pu also offered no thoughts on pricing for the iPhone 12 Pro models, but if OLED is one of the things driving the increase in the lower-end models, it’s likely that the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max will sell for the same price points.

Affordable 5G

Even if Pu’s predictions are accurate and the iPhone 12 comes with a higher price tag than its predecessor, it still may not matter all that much to iPhone buyers. Pu expects that the price increase will be “accepted by consumers” and won’t have any impact on the demand for the iPhone 12.

He’s probably right about this on any count — people will grumble of course, but it’s not likely going to prevent too many folks from buying the new iPhones — but this may be even more true when you consider that the iPhone 12 is poised to be the most affordable 5G smartphone to come out this year.

According to a research note from Wedbush Securities analyst Daniel Ives shared by Business Insider, the iPhone 12 could “mark a critical turning point” in the smartphone industry by offering the first high-profile 5G iPhone selling for under $1,000.

We believe there are 4 models being launched for iPhone 12 with a mix of 4G/5G with price points that potentially could be lower than $1,000 on some versions despite the additional 5G component.

Daniel Ives, Wedbush Securities

While some competing smartphone companies like Samsung, OnePlus, and TCL have been entering the market with cheaper 5G smartphones, these are secondary “budget” models that are more akin to Apple’s iPhone SE in terms of how they’re positioned, and they most definitely don’t compete with Apple’s main iPhone lineup. The flagship devices from these companies are still well above the $1K mark, and there haven’t been any indications that they’re going to come down below that anytime soon.

Notably, however, Ives suggests that the iPhone 12 could come in a “mix of 4G/5G,” which goes against the grain of most recent predictions from more reliable analysts like Ming-Chi Kuo, who have indicated that all of this year’s models will be getting at least some form of 5G (with the obvious exception of the iPhone SE, of course, but even that model could get updated with 5G as soon as next year).

There’s still a lot of speculation about which models will get the ultra-fast mmWave flavour of 5G, but this is the first suggestion we’ve heard in a long time that there could be models that don’t support 5G at all.

Regardless, however, Ives maintains that there will be 5G models under $1,000, which definitely means the non-Pro iPhone 12, so it’s most likely that Ives simply believes that Apple might release some non-5G models for specific emerging markets.

As Business Insider notes, it’s also likely that the iPhone 12 will help push the 5G needle forward significantly among carriers, encouraging them to adopt the technology in a much bigger way than they have thus far.

Apple has a history of leading from behind when it comes to nascent technologies. The company is rarely the first to adopt new technologies in its products, but once it does, those quickly become mainstream as a result of Apple’s focus on making the technology both reliable and accessible. For example, Apple Pay was far from the first contactless payment technology available in the U.S.; Google Wallet had been around since 2011, and yet when Apple Pay launched in the U.S. in 2014, only 2% of U.S. retailers supported any kind of contactless payment technology. Yet only a year after Apple Pay debuted, that number had skyrocketed to well over a million retailers.

Many analysts have been predicting since last year that Apple will dominate the 5G smartphone market this year, possibly selling as many as 100 million 5G iPhones as a result of pent-up demand for the new technology, and the iPhone 11 is already the most popular smartphone on the planet, so it’s not hard to see how 100 million new 5G-capable devices in customers’ hands won’t spur the carriers to even more aggressive deployments of 5G technology.

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