Apple launched its first ever 5G smartphone at a ‘Hi, Speed’ event on Tuesday, which saw four new iPhone 12 models that analysts expect to kick off a ‘super-cycle’ of consumer upgrades.
The online-only event was pushed back from its traditional slot in September due to the pandemic, but the 45-minute briefing was a showcase for tech that will deliver a “new level of performance”, according to CEO Tim Cook.
Four new handsets were unveiled in total, including the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro, both featuring 6.1-inch displays, a premium 6.7-inch iPhone 12 Pro Max, and a smaller 5.4-inch iPhone 12 Mini.
The new slate of smartphones will be powered by Apple’s latest A14 Bionic CPU, and will have a flatter, squarer metal design, a smaller notch, thinner bezels, OLED displays and Ceramic Shield screen protection.
The headline addition though is 5G, as customers in the UK will now be able to use an iPhone to access ultrafast mobile speeds for the first time.
Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives believes that there is pent-up demand for a 5G product release as around 40% of the 950 million iPhone owners have not upgraded for more than three years.
Apple’s iPhone remains the market leader in the UK, and CSS Insight’s Ben Wood said that network operators will now be looking to do everything they can to entice customers to switch to new phones.
He noted: “Networks are going to have to offer eye-wateringly attractive deals, and the way they’re going to do that is on great tariffs and attractive trade-in deals.”
Cook lauded the arrival of 5G after stating that iPhone 12 buyers will be able to enjoy higher-quality video streaming and faster downloads, while tapping into “real-time interactivity”.
Apple said that it used 5G speeds of up to 3.5Gbps during testing, which would theoretically enable consumers to download a 20GB 4K movie in less than a minute.
There will also be changes to the packaging this year after Apple confirmed that it will no longer include a charger or a pair of earbuds in the box, a move that it attributes to environmental concerns.
However, there will still be a USB-C to Lightning cable bundled in so that customers can use existing compatible adapters to charge devices and make use of fast wireless charging.
Apple also showed off its new MagSafe system, which will enable a range of accessories, including a charger and wallet, to be attached to the back of devices magnetically.
UK customers won’t have to wait long to get their hands on the new handsets as the 6.1-inch iPhone 12 and 6.1-inch iPhone 12 Pro will launch on 23rd October with a retail price of £799 and £999, respectively.
The iPhone 12 Mini and iPhone Pro Max will then launch on 13th November, starting from £699 and £1,099.
One of the key differentiators between the models this year is the camera system.
Both Pro models will house triple camera systems and a new Lidar-based depth scanner system, while the Pro Max will have bigger sensors to improve performance in low light.