Apple just wrapped up its big iPhone 12 event, where it announced four new iPhone 12 models, all of which support new faster 5G networks.
It also announced a new smart home speaker, called the HomePod Mini, and some fun accessories for the new iPhones that use magnets to attach to them.
Here are some of the highlight announcements from the event, but scroll down to see even more.
Here's how Apple priced its new iPhone lineup
As of Tuesday, Apple's iPhone lineup will be very broad, with several models spanning a wide range of price points.
Wireless carriers will offer their own deals, payment plans and discounts if you trade in your old phone, but that will vary by carrier. Prices will also go up if you choose a model with higher storage.
Here's starting price for each iPhone model in Apple's new lineup:
- iPhone SE starts at $399
- iPhone XR starts at $499
- iPhone 11 starts at $599
- iPhone 12 Mini starts at $699
- iPhone 12 starts at $799
- iPhone 12 Pro starts at $999
- iPhone 12 Pro Max starts at $1,099
A couple of things we didn't see: AirPods Studio and AirTags
The Apple event is finished. There were a couple of things we didn't see that we thought we might. The AirPods Studio, Apple's rumored luxury headphones that sit over your ears, weren't announced. Neither were AirTags, a gadget that's been rumored for a long time and is supposed to help you find your lost stuff. —Todd Haselton
Apple stock drops after product announcement
Apple shares dipped more than 3% while the company announced a slew of new products, including the iPhone 12. At the beginning of the event, it was down about 1%. —Jessica Bursztynsky
The new iPhone 12 Pro has a lidar sensor — here's what that's for
Apple's iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max feature a new lidar sensor on the back. This was first introduced on the iPad Pro in March and is used for augmented reality, or AR, which Apple has been pushing pretty hard in recent years.
AR allows you to drop digital items on top of the real world that you can see through the screen of your phone. I used it on the 2020 iPad Pro to plop some digital furniture in a nursery I was building to make sure it all fit before I bought it. It's also good for measuring stuff.
The lidar sensor is easier and faster than a regular camera when you need to scan a room. It starts immediately, instead of taking a few seconds for your camera to scan.
But, Apple said it's also using lidar in the iPhone to improve focus. It can cut down focus times in low-light scenes by up to 6x, Apple said. That means better low-light portrait shots, too. Portrait pictures are the kind that blur the background of a subject and add a professional look to your pictures. —Todd Haselton
A list of things Apple has removed from the iPhone over the years
2016 iPhone 7: No headphone jack.
2017 iPhone X: No home button.
2020 iPhone 12: No headphones, no charger in the box.
Apple announces high-end iPhone 12 Pro Max with biggest iPhone screen ever, starting at $1,099
Apple is also releasing new high-end iPhone models under the Pro moniker. It comes in four colors: silver, gray, gold and blue.
The iPhone 12 Pro with a 6.1-inch screen starts at $999 and goes on sale Oct. 23. Preorders start Friday. The iPhone 12 Pro Max starts at $1,099. It goes on preorder Friday Nov. 6 and will ship Nov. 13.
The iPhone 12 Pro Max will have a bigger 6.7-inch display that Apple says is the largest iPhone screen it has released so far.
One distinguishing feature between the Pro models and the main iPhone 12 models is that the Pro phones will have an additional camera lens. The Pro models include a telephoto lens in addition to wide and ultrawide lenses and bigger camera sensors. It also has a lidar scanner that can create 3D scans of rooms with depth data that Apple says makes autofocus faster. In an example, Apple said that Medtronic used the lidar scanner to lay out a proposed setup for a lab under construction.
Apple is angling these phones for serious photographers. The iPhone 12 Pro will be able to take photos using a new Apple format that enables more detailed post-production tweaks. It can also record videos using HDR, a feature that makes captured images more vividly colored. It also supports recording Dolby Vision videos. —Kif Leswing
We're finally getting AirPower (sort of)
Three years ago, Apple promised to release a new wireless charging gadget called AirPower that could charge your iPhone, Apple Watch and AirPods simultaneously.
It never launched, and Apple was forced to announce a year and a half later that it killed the project.
But on Tuesday, Apple announced a new charging paradigm for the iPhone called MagSafe that lets chargers, cases and other accessories snap onto the back of the device. Apple also made its own new MagSafe charger that can charge your watch and iPhone at the same time.
It's probably the closest Apple will get to its real promise of the original AirPower. —Steve Kovach
Apple announces iPhone 12 Mini for $699
Apple has announced a smaller iPhone device with a 5.4-inch screen called the iPhone 12 Mini. It's the first time that Apple has ever released a new iPhone with a smaller screen than the previous year's models. Apple says it is smaller and lighter but has the same features as the larger iPhone 12. —Kif Leswing
The new iPhones won't include a charger or headphones in the box
Apple said the new iPhone 12 models won't include a charger or headphones in the box. This is in an effort to cut down on its carbon footprint. It will still include a new higher-power charging cable, but not the brick you need to plug that cable into the wall. If you want the brick that plugs into the wall, you'll have to buy it separately. You can also buy one of Apple's new magnetic chargers. —Todd Haselton
Apple announces MagSafe for iPhone for attaching accessories and wireless chargers
Apple announces MagSafe for iPhone for attaching accessories and wireless chargers. The new accessories, which include a wallet and case that can show the time, will simply snap onto the back of the phone.
The MagSafe wireless charger will work even if it doesn't line up perfectly with the center of your phone, helping alleviate a problem with earlier wireless chargers. —Michelle Gao
Over 2.5 million people are watching Apple's launch event on YouTube
Thirty minutes into Apple's launch, over 2.5 million people were livestreaming the event on YouTube. That's not even counting people following on Apple's website or liveblogs like this one. —Kif Leswing
League of Legends: Wild Rift
Riot Games is bringing League of Legends: Wild Rift to iPhone 12 later this year. It's one of the most popular and most viewed games in the world, the company said Tuesday. —Jessica Bursztynsky
5G reality check
5G sounds cool, right?
Just keep in mind, many (or most) of you reading this won't be able to take advantage of the fastest "millimeter wave" speeds Apple bragged about during this presentation. The technology has limited availability on limited carriers, mostly in urban areas.
And even if you live in a city with millimeter wave 5G, the signal has limited range and can't penetrate through walls. You need to be standing right near the tower. Good luck using it indoors. —Steve Kovach
The iPhone 12 has a new case design with magnets
The iPhone 12 announced by Apple has a few cosmetic changes, according to images from Apple. It has flatter edges than the current iPhone 11 phones, and it comes in blue.
It also uses glass that Apple says is more scratch resistant.
Apple is spending a lot of time talking about the A14 chip inside these new phones. It is supposed to have better AI performance, and Apple says it's the fastest chip in a smartphone, which should enable phones to play more advanced games, such as League of Legends from Riot Games.
The iPhone 12 will have two camera lenses, one that shoots ultrawide photos and one that shoots wide photos. As Apple has focused on in recent years, it is using a lot of post-processing computer algorithms to combine photos and make them look better on these new phones.
The phone also has magnets on its back so that wireless chargers will snap to it. Apple calls the feature MagSafe, a reference to its historic magnetic laptop chargers. Apple says that third-party developers will be able to create accessories such as cases or chargers using the magnets. However, new iPhones won't come with a charging brick in the box.
The iPhone 12 Mini will cost $699, and the main size will cost $799. —Kif Leswing
I'm digging this new blue color. —Steve Kovach
Apple announces the iPhone 12 with 5G
Apple announced that new iPhones will have 5G, in a prerecorded launch event filmed in Cupertino, California.
The iPhone 12 Mini with a 5.4-inch screen will cost $699, and the main size with a 6.1-inch screen will cost $799. The main size goes on sale Oct. 23 with preorders starting this week. The Mini goes on preorder Nov. 6 and ships Nov. 13.
"Today is the beginning of a new era for iPhone," Cook said.
Cook brought on Verizon CEO Hans Vestburg to announce a 5G partnership. The new iPhones will support speedy millimeter wave 5G, Vestberg said. The new iPhones can download data at 4 Gbps speeds using Verizon's millimeter wave network.
Verizon also announced a "nationwide" network using low-band signals that will have wider coverage but speeds closer to current LTE networks.
However, 5G networks have not been completed in the United States and availability may be limited to certain regions. —Kif Leswing
Apple plays up 5G before it even shows the new iPhones
It's clear 5G is meant to be the star of this show. The iPhone plays second fiddle. —Steve Kovach
Unclear if this was just a goof or if it was intentional. But it's highly notable that Spotify didn't get a mention during the HomePod Mini announcement. Apple and Spotify are currently beefing over Apple's App Store payment rules. I'm sure Spotify will have something to say about this.
Spotify already works on the current HomePod, and it will likely function on the Mini as well. —Steve Kovach
Apple announces HomePod Mini starting at $99
Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a video filmed at the Steve Jobs Theater on Apple's campus that it is releasing a new smart speaker called the HomePod Mini. It's the first product announcement today.
It's significantly smaller than the current $299 HomePod and uses an Apple Watch chip to run Siri and audio processing. The speaker can recognize different voices from different members of a household and is integrated with Apple Home smart home automation.
Another new feature is called Intercom, which allows HomePods in different rooms to act like an intercom and send quick voice messages to other HomePods or iPhones.
Apple says it works with Apple Music and several other services such as Pandora but did not mention Spotify, which has accused Apple of anticompetitive behavior.
"We want to bring this experience to even more people," Cook said. It costs $99. —Kif Leswing
The iPhone 12 event is starting
The iPhone 12 event is starting now. We're seeing a quick video of Apple's headquarters, and Tim Cook should be speaking shortly. —Todd Haselton
Apple livestream draws large crowds on YouTube
Apple's streamed events draw eyeballs. More than 300,000 people were waiting on the YouTube page 10 minutes before Apple's prerecorded livestream started. That's likely to keep rising.
More than 1.5 million people watched last month's Apple Watch launch live on YouTube. The number of viewers suggests launch events are still an extremely valuable way for Apple to market its products. —Kif Leswing
Tim Cook's launch day playlist
Here are the jams Apple CEO Tim Cook has pumping through his AirPods this morning.
Let's just hope Apple doesn't load these songs onto everyone's new iPhone without their permission. (Again.) —Steve Kovach
Fix the remote!
I've had a five-year battle with my Apple TV remote.
It's too thin, and it gets lost between my couch cushions. The touchpad is glitchy and doesn't always respond well. The button layout makes it hard to tell which buttons you're pressing if you're not looking at the remote. It's one of the worst accessories Apple has ever made.
I know we're not necessarily expecting this today, but I'd love to see an update to the Apple TV box and the remote. Give us real buttons! A man can dream. —Steve Kovach
Bad news dump o'clock
I've covered too many Apple product launch events to count.
One thing I always watch out for: bad news dumps from other tech companies. It's not unusual for companies to release something bad or damaging to their reputation while the tech world is focused on the latest Apple gizmo.
Apple stock slips in trading ahead of event
Shares of Apple dipped 1.4% ahead of the event in early afternoon trading, while its tech peers saw slight gains.
It's not a surprising drop for the company's stock. Data from hedge-fund analytics tool Kensho showed Apple shares are down on average for the day and week of a media event, but the stock bounces back. On average, Apple's stock is 10.7% higher three months after the event. — Jessica Bursztynsky
The new iPhones will have 5G, but carrier networks may not be ready
The biggest new expected feature on this year's iPhones is the capability to connect to speedy 5G networks. That will mean different things in different countries around the world.
In the United States, AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile are still building their 5G networks, and the mid-band networks available in other countries — which balance fast speeds and wide coverage — aren't widely available yet. Other countries generally don't have the fastest kind of 5G, millimeter wave, which is primarily aimed at dense, urban areas.
Qualcomm, which is providing modems to Apple, could be one of the biggest beneficiaries of the 5G iPhones. —Kif Leswing
Will the iPhone 12 spur another 'super cycle' for Apple?
For months, analysts have predicted this year's iPhone lineup will spur another "super cycle" of iPhone sales. Remember: iPhone sales revenue hasn't recovered since it hit its peak back in the fourth quarter of 2017.
Will this year's lineup be enough to juice growth again?
There are a few factors working in Apple's favor:
First, analysts predict as many as 30% of iPhone owners today have a phone that's at least three years old. Those people are likely ready to upgrade.
Second, this will be Apple's first 5G phone, which will offer faster cellular connections. Apple will have to make a compelling argument for why people need to buy a 5G phone today, though, when 5G networks aren't fully built out yet.
There are other factors working against Apple:
We're in the middle of a global pandemic. People may not feel comfortable going in person to their carrier's retail store or an Apple store to buy a new phone. Is Apple's shipping and logistics network ready for all those online orders?
We're also in the middle of a recession, with the unemployment rate in the U.S. at 7.9% in September, and things look gloomy if Congress can't pass another stimulus package. We all know Apple doesn't make cheap products. How well can a pricey iPhone sell in this economy? —Steve Kovach
About that 'HomePod Mini' leak from this morning
Apple has been woefully behind its rivals on voice computing. The HomePod, which has amazing sound, hasn't been selling well since it first launched in early 2018. Amazon and Google own this market thanks to their cheap alternatives.
If Apple does end up announcing a "mini" HomePod and can price it in the $100 range, it's going to be a hot seller over the holidays. —Steve Kovach
Photos of some of the new Apple products leaked early
Apple's big iPhone 12 event starts in about a half hour. But this morning, a bunch of purported images of the new iPhones were leaked by Evan Blass, who has a solid track record revealing new pictures of gadgets before they're officially announced.
They show pretty much everything we're expecting: the iPhone 12 mini, the iPhone 12, the iPhone 12 Pro and the iPhone 12 Pro Max. It looks like the Pro models will have new lidar sensors for faster augmented reality and three new cameras. The other iPhone 12 models have two cameras, according to the images.
The HomePod mini was also leaked by Blass. It looks like a small orb and the images suggest it will come in black and white. Apple's first HomePod has great audio quality, but it costs $299, which is $200 more than competing devices from Google and Amazon. This one might cost a lot less. —Todd Haselton