Apple announces iPhone 12 complete with 5G, glass-ceramic OLED display

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Apple's latest iPhone finally supports 5G.
Image: Apple

The rumors about a 5G iPhone have been more than a year in the making. Ever since the new network technology started rolling out, consumers have wondered when Apple would add 5G support to its flagship smartphone. That wondering came to an end on Tuesday as the Big Tech firm announced the new iPhone 12.

It features 5G support as well as a sharp OLED display. The new phone also returns to iPhone 4 form with flat aluminum sides, giving it a profile similar to the latest iPad Pro and iPad Air.

Sadly, there are a few drawbacks to touch on, mostly related to the accessories Apple is excluding from the box.

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Hardcore Hardware

Apple hasn’t held back in terms of the iPhone 12’s internals. The phone features the company’s new A14 Bionic processor.

It is the first smartphone chip built on the 5nm process. Apple claims that this design delivers “up to 50 percent faster” performance than flagship Android devices.

The company also promises that the iPhone 12 features the best GPU on the market. Whether or not those promises live up to real-world tests remains to be seen. Nonetheless, the iPhone 12 should deliver excellent performance capable of rivaling that of any competing device.

5G Meets iOS

The iPhone 12 marks a major milestone for Apple—its first step into a growing 5G-enabled smartphone reality. Given the importance of Tuesday’s reveal, Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg was in attendance to make an announcement of his own. The carrier is launching its sub-6 5G network nationwide.

Of course, Apple has designed the iPhone 12 to make the most of its 5G features. It utilizes a “smart data mode” to automatically switch between 5G and LTE connections depending on what users are doing. This helps strike a balance between battery life and performance. To ensure that the launch of its first 5G iPhone is seamless, Apple says that it tested the device with more than 100 carriers in 30 countries around the globe.

Importantly, the iPhone 12 supports both sub-6 and millimeter-wave 5G networks. That’s a key distinction—at least for the next few years—as carriers experiment with different types of networks.

Gorgeous, Tough Screen

As mentioned, the iPhone 12 features an OLED display. That’s a big upgrade from the regular LED screen seen in previous iPhones. The newest device can reach a peak brightness of 1,200 nits. That will make it easy to see in even the brightest outdoor conditions.

The iPhone 12’s display also supports a number of picture-enhancing features. Dolby Vision, HDR 10, and HLG all fall into that category. As such, the latest iPhone will be ready to deliver the best picture quality available regardless of what format the content is in. That’s another major win for Apple.

Consumers who own an iPhone know that they can be prone to cracks. Apple hopes to address that with a new “ceramic shield” that better protects the phone against drops. It worked closely with Corning to develop the display, which it says is “the world’s first transparent and color-free glass-ceramic.” It theoretically delivers up to four times greater resistance against damage when dropped.

Interestingly, this isn’t the first time a smartphone maker has used a glass-ceramic approach. The Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus also featured the technology. However, that phone came with a glass-ceramic back panel. By incorporating the technology into the display itself, Apple is giving users additional peace of mind that their iPhone is safe. Although the ceramic shield isn’t invincible, it is a lot more durable than a regular glass display.

Unfortunately, the iPhone 12 still features a notched screen. It is a necessary reality to house Apple’s high-tech Face ID hardware. That being said, it’s a bit disappointing to see the latest iPhone cosmetically lagging behind the majority of other smartphones on the market.

Despite the notch, the iPhone 12 has significantly reduced bezels. That’s partially thanks to the OLED display. Although its flat sides look like the iPhone 4, the latest device is very similar to the iPhone 11 in terms of style.

Bad Look

There was one major surprise during the iPhone 12 reveal that left a bad taste in the mouths of many consumers. Citing its environment-conscious policies, Apple has decided not to include a charging brick or headphones in the box with its latest iPhone (or future shipments of the iPhone XR, iPhone 11, or 2020 iPhone SE).

Many were quick to dismiss the environmentally-friendly claims. After all, the iPhone 12 comes with a charging cable that is USB-C to Lightning. This means that consumers won’t be able to use it with the USB-A power brick(s) they most likely have. Instead, they’ll need to purchase a USB-C power adapter—which Apple conveniently sells at $29 apiece.

The omission of headphones is slightly less bothersome. After all, older Lightning EarPods will still work with the phone.

Nonetheless, the move is a bit suspect. Many suggest that it is more closely related to lining Apple’s pockets than protecting the environment. Although the change may marginally decrease shipping emissions and let Apple pack the iPhone 12 in a smaller box, not including a power adapter is clearly about the company’s bottom line.

That’s a disappointing move for a company that prides itself on its devices working seamlessly right out of the box. Now, people will need to pay extra to charge the phone they just paid nearly $1,000 for.

Options Galore

Consumers will have plenty of options to choose from when they’re ready to buy a new iPhone. The 12th-gen device comes in black, white, blue, red, and green. That’s a bit of a change from Apple’s more subtle color selections of the past. However, it is nice to see bright and exciting colors in the company’s mainstream line of phones.

Consumers will be able to choose between a 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB model. Again, that is lagging behind some Android competitors, but today’s cloud storage solutions more than make up for it.

The iPhone 12, which will be available on October 23, has a starting price of $829. It will be worth keeping an eye on some carriers who are reportedly offering a $30 discount on the device. Preorders will become available on October 16.

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