iPhone 12 launch event: When it’s happening and what to expect

iPhone 12 launch event: When it’s happening and what to expect thumbnail
iPhone 12 event

(Image credit: Getty Images North America)

This September feels a lot different than recent ones because of — (author gestures wildly around him) — all this. But if you follow the tech scene, there’s another reason something seems a bit off as September 2020 draws to a close. Normally, by this time of the year, we’d already have a new iPhone from Apple — either on its way to store shelves or already in our hand.

Unless Apple is really into surprise announcements, this will be the first September we haven’t gotten an official glimpse at the new iPhone since 2011 when the iPhone 4s waited until the first week of October to enter the scene. That’s enough to throw any smartphone fan off their game.

Adding to the sense of unfamiliarity is that Apple already held a product event this month, but it was focused almost entirely on the Apple Watch 6 and Apple Watch SE, the iPad Air 4 and the iPad 2020. Your only iPhone 12-adjacent bit of news was the hasty announcement of iOS 14‘s release — the software that’s going to come pre-installed on Apple’s new phones.

Next month should usher us into more familiar territory, as Apple is all but certain to hold an event to give us that long-awaited look at the iPhone 12. And even with all the products Apple trotted out at its Sept. 15 Time Flies event, there could be plenty of other devices joining the new iPhone on stage.

Here’s a close look at what Apple could announce at its next product event, along with the latest rumors on when that event might take place.

iPhone 12 event date: When will it happen?

Apple hasn’t issued any formal invitations or even confirmed that the iPhone 12 is coming in October. But logic dictates that if Apple wants to get its latest phones out before the holidays — and as a company that offers products in exchange for money, Apple most definitely wants to do that — an October launch helps the new iPhone arrive in stores as holiday shopping heats up.

Tim Cook hosts the Sept. 15 Time Flies event, at which the iPhone 12 was a no-show.

Tim Cook hosts the Sept. 15 Time Flies event, at which the iPhone 12 was a no-show. (Image credit: Apple)

Rumor sites certainly seem to buy into that October plan for the iPhone 12. The latest rumor, as first reported by AppleInsider, claims that Apple will hold its iPhone 12 launch event on Oct. 13.

Assuming that date is accurate — and the report squares with a similar claim from leaker Jon Prosser — Apple would likely send out invitations a week to 10 business days beforehand. That means we’ll likely get the official word from Apple sometime between Oct. 1 and Oct. 6.

Because Apple hasn’t officially announced a date for the iPhone 12 event, it also hasn’t revealed streaming plans for what figures to be a pretaped unveiling. If the company repeats what it did for this month’s Time Flies event, though, you can expect a live stream both on the Apple website as well as via YouTube.

The date of the iPhone 12 event won’t be the same as the iPhone 12 launch. iPhones typically hit stores on Fridays, with Apple preferring to start the pre-order process a week ahead of time. Assuming the Oct. 13 launch date is a go, that would mean iPhone 12 pre-orders would begin on Oct. 16, followed by a wide release on Oct. 23.

Adding another wrinkle to this year’s iPhone rollout is the rumor that Apple might go with a staggered launch. Under this scenario, the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Max would ship first — more on these models in just a moment — and the iPhone 12 Pro models would follow in the weeks to come, likely shipping in November. But we likely won’t get confirmation of this until Apple details its shipping plans during the iPhone 12 launch event.

iPhone 12 event: What to expect

So we have a pretty good guess as to when Apple might announce the iPhone 12.Funnily enough, we probably have an even better idea of what kind of features to expect from the iPhone 12, thanks to the steady stream of rumors about the phone.

iPhone 12

(Image credit: Everything Apple Pro)

It’s widely assumed the iPhone 12 will be available in four models, and that all four are getting 5G connectivity. That’s a first for the iPhone, and it figures to give a boost to the 5G rollout which, up until now has been missing the support of the country’s most popular smartphone. However, it’s possible not every iPhone 12 model will work on all kinds of 5G networks. One rumor suggests Apple will only add compatibility with mmWave-based 5G networks — the fastest type of 5G — to its new iPhone Pro models, though some people have disputed that claim.

The entry-level models will most likely be called the iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 — the mini is the 5.4-inch model, while the iPhone 12 will feature a 6.1-inch screen. Think of these phones as the replacement for the iPhone 11, with corresponding prices — $699 for the 5.4-inch phone and $799 for the 6.1-inch version. One difference from the iPhone 11 is that the new models are expected to swap out the LCD screen for OLED panels.

As for the iPhone 12 Pro, Apple watchers expect a 6.1-inch version, while the iPhone 12 Pro Max will reportedly increase its screen size to 6.7 inches. Rumors have been swirling throughout the year that the iPhone 12 Pro models would follow the lead set by Samsung with its Galaxy S20 and Galaxy Note 20 releases and increase the refresh rate on their displays to 120Hz, but lately that’s looking like a remote possibility. More likely, Apple will add a LiDAR sensor to the rear camera arrays on the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max to help with portrait photos and power more immersive augmented reality apps.

A couple other iPhones are rumored to be in development at Apple — an LTE-only version of the iPhone 12 and an iPhone SE Plus. Neither of those phones is expected to come out this year, though, so don’t expect any mention at Apple’s iPhone 12 event.

iPhone 12 event: Other rumored product releases

Apple rarely confines its product events to just one product — even if there are four different versions of that product as there apparently will be with the iPhone 12. And even after showing off new watches and tablets at its Time Flies event earlier this month, Apple still has plenty in the pipeline that could debut alongside the iPhone 12.

Apple AirTags: AirTags are the long-rumored key finders that supposedly take advantage of the U1 ultra-wideband chip found in newer iPhones. That chip has a longer reach than Bluetooth, giving AirTags an edge over the best key finders like those produced by Tile and Chipolo. Being able to tie in with the Find My app included with Apple’s own iOS software will help, too.

(Image credit: Front Page Tech)

Rumors about AirTags’ imminent arrival stretch back to last year, but the iPhone 12 launch truly feels like the now-or-never moment for Apple’s rumored key finder. Images reportedly showing off AirTags have leaked, and at least one leaker has predicted Apple’s been saving the AirTags reveal for the iPhone 12 event.

Makes sense that they’re saving AirTags for the iPhone event.UWB is going to be a huge focus.AirTags are more exciting than you think.iPhone 12 AirTags is 🔥👀October is going to be huge. pic.twitter.com/9iJAihjokLSeptember 15, 2020

Apple AirPower: No, you haven’t inadvertently stumbled into an Apple event preview article from 2018. Apple’s wireless charging mat — announced in 2017, scrapped in 2019 when it turned out that Apple couldn’t produce a charging accessory up to its standards — is rumored to be making a comeback. Rumors started picking up steam in the spring that Apple was trying to revive AirPower, and leaked images appeared in June, fueling further speculation that AirPower could make a comeback.

Still, as we get close to October, the pace of leaks hasn’t picked up — usually a sure sign that a launch is imminent. We’d be surprised if AirPower makes an appearance at the iPhone 12 event, given all the other irons Apple has in the fire.

Apple AirPods Studio: One of those irons is AirPods Studio, a set of wireless headphones that aims to recreate Apple’s success with its AirPods wireless earbuds. It was something of a surprise that AirPods Studio didn’t debut with the new Apple Watches and iPads this month, so the iPhone 12 launch represents Apple’s next best opportunity to get these headphones out before the holiday season.

(Image credit: Jon Prosser / Concept Creator)

Expected to cost around $349, the AirPods Studio should feature active noise cancellation along with a feature that lets you hear the world around you. AirPods Studio could also incorporate a head-and-neck detection feature that would automatically pause playback whenever you remove the headphones.

Apple Silicon MacBooks: Here’s the rare product that Apple has actually confirmed will arrive this year. At its Worldwide Developer Conference in June, Apple announced plans to start producing its own processors for its Macs, similar to the way it designs the processors that power the iPhone and iPad. While that transition will take a few years to pull off, Apple has said that the first Macs powered by the company’s own chips will appear this year.

Apple WWDC 2020

Apple Silicon was introduced at WWDC in June. (Image credit: Apple)

Maybe you haven’t glanced at a calendar lately, but there’s not much of the year left. With a press event rumored for Oct. 13, that gives the company the chance to show off its first Apple Silicon Macs, which are largely expected to be the MacBook and MacBook Pro. 

Then again, detailing a new class of Mac laptop while also introducing four new iPhones is a lot to pack into a single event. It’s very possible Apple could schedule a third product launch just for its Macs — a rumor of an Oct. 27 event suggests as much. After all, as Samsung has proven with a trio of Unpacked events stretching from August through mid-September, you can never have too many streaming product launches in this day and age.

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