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  • Bruce Burke

Upgrade & Coming

Updated: Nov 28, 2020

Everything we know about the upcoming iPhone 12 so far - and when to expect it.


At its September 15th event Apple introduced the new iPad Air with the A14 Bionic processor. This chip is a massive boost in performance using a breakthrough 5 nanometer process technology. It's all but a given that Apple will also utilize this same chipset in the upcoming iPhone 12 models.


What A Difference Two Nanometers Make

Usually you'd expect a blog about an upcoming iPhone to start out talking about the handset design, state of the art cameras and stunning display - We do things a little bit more granular ...

In 2019 Apple introduced the iPhone 11 with the A13 Bionic Processor using a 7 nanometer process, the year before saw the same 7 nanometer process in the A12 Bionic. In the iPhone 8 & 8+ the A11 Bionic utilized a 10 nanometer process for manufacturing this processor. That means in a 4 year period Apple has cut the size of the nanometers in half. It's important to note that Apple has an industry exclusive on this new 5 nanometer process and has secured their place as a leading chipmaker in the silicone industry. With only themselves as a customer ....


This allows for a total of 11.8 billion transistors to fit inside the chip - talk about Intel Inside! This allows for increased performance and power efficiency in nearly every aspect of the chip. And as seen in the illustration above there are quit a few aspects to a System on a Chip (SoC). So stick with me while I break it down - you just might learn something.


The A14 Bionic touts a new 6-core design, resulting in a 40% boost in CPU performance. Additionally this SoC features a new 4-core graphics architecture bringing a 30% improvement to graphics. Other improvements include a new 16-core Neural Engine is twice as fast, capable of performing up to 11 trillion operations per second, accelerating machine learning apps to a whole new level.


The combination of new Neural Engine, CPU machine learning calculations and high-performance GPU enables power experiences for users on their devices for things like image recognition, natural language learning, analyzing motion and more. Here's Tim Millet, VP of System Architecture to tell you more about the A14 Bionic chip that will be included in the forthcoming iPhone 12 lineup.




iPhone 12 Design


As with any iPhone launch there is a ton of rumors in the air. But I am only going to provide the actual facts based on clues that we have been able to ascertain from various tech reviewers. First is the colors - And as with every year Apple will include Black, Space Gray and Rose Gold - But the iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max will be issued in a special Navy Blue color that was unveiled during the Time flies event on the 15th.


At this point I am unsure if Apple will apply the same Midnight finish that was used on the iPhone 11 but we have hopes that this will be the case - They'll surely put it out in Product [RED] variant also but that color will be available for the standard iPhone 12.

While we are talking about model variations, lets outline the various sizes of the forthcoming iPhone 12 - from the Mini to the Pro Max - and everywhere in-between. Based on the dies and molds that are given out to case makers prior to launch we have been able to uncover the four different sizes of the iPhone 12.


According to everything we have laid our hands there will be a 5.4" iPhone mini, a 6.1" standard iPhone, then a 6.1" iPhone Pro, and then the big boy, a 6.7 inch iPhone Pro Max. The mini and standard iPhone should have similar features except for the slightly different screen size. The Pro and Pro Max will differentiate themselves with advanced camera arrays, sensors and higher prices.



iPhone 12 Style

Taking design inspiration from iPhone 4 and recent iPad Pro and Air, iPhone 12 will feature a flat-edge band around the outside edge making it simultaneously look both retro and contemporary

Based on dies for cases and accessories the iPhone 12 will use Face ID for authentication. This means the notch will remain centered at the top of the screen as before. It will contain all the same internals as in previous generations but expect Face ID to be faster with the A14 Bionic processor.


Bezels around the screen are shrinking by about 40% on all four sides, from 2.5 to 1.5 mm on the Pro and Pro Max model.Increasing the device's overall screen-to-body ratio adding to the clean, contemporary look. Leaked schematics show the bezels are thinner on all models with the chin being a minuscule 2.3mm. This all adds up to a more streamlined look and feel on the surface.


Not much as changed on the sides other than the retro band design, I believe the mini and standard models will have aluminum bands while the Pro and Pro Max will have stainless steel bands. It is interesting to note that the sim card tray has been moved to the other side of the device.

Around back the Apple logo will remain centered, but the camera area will change from model to model. There are a lot of refinements to the back of the device. Camera lenses will be milled into the stovetop-like camera bump and the glass used is purported to be stronger than ever before. The mini and standard models will have dual rear cameras, while the Pro and Pro Max will sport three rear cameras and a light detection and ranging (LIDAR) sensor. This feature was first available on the 2020 iPad Pro and assists the device by improving the accuracy of distance and measurement.


LIDAR is a pulsed laser that records the time it takes (nano-second speeds) for the signal to return to its source, enabling generation of a 3D model with greater accuracy than a camera ever hope to compose. LIDAR will not only aid in computational photography but also in AR, something that Apple will take to the next level. LIDAR is used in autonomous vehicles and has many other uses as demonstrated in the video below.




Dazzling Displays


However the center of attention will be the display, and of course they will be dazzling. The mini will house a 5.4" Super Retina OLED, while the standard model will contain a 6.1" version of the same OLED display. Pro and Pro Max models will have 6.1" and 6.7" Super Retina XDR OLED displays. There have been on-again, off-again rumors about 120Hz displays on the Pro models but since that has not been 100% confirmed I don't want to put it out there.


Please note that these are all OLED panels, none of them are LCD as on previous iPhones. The 5.4" model will have 2340 x 1080 resolution with 475 pixels per inch. Standard iPhone will have 2532 x 1170 resolution with 460 pixels per inch. Compare this to the 326 pixels per inch of the iPhone 11. Top of the line models promise even more viewing pleasure with XDR OLED on the Pro model and the Pro Max coming in at 2778 x 1284 resolution with 458 pixels per inch.


These new iPhone displays utilize a new Samsung technology called Y-OCTA, which allows touchscreen circuitry to be directly patterned on the OLED panel - eliminatingr a separate layer. This results in a thinner, lighter and stronger display. I'd like to see ProMotion technology move over to the iPhone lineup - but if not these upcoming displays are sure to greater image quality.

How Many G's Is There?


iPhone 12 is expected to have 5G compatibility across all four of its models, thanks to its new A14 Bionic chipset. However, it has become clear that Apple will create two tiers of 5G performance, and the line between them is drawn between the standard and Pro model lineup.


Tier 1 is sub-6GHz, low band (600Mhz to 1GHz) and mid band(1GHz to 6GHz) frequencies. Tier 2 will combine sub-6GHz with millimeter wave support, which means users will get the full spectrum bandwidth of 5G — all the low, mid, and high frequency bands. The Pro and Pro Max are the only models that will have the required antennas to utilize the millimeter wave being broadcast.


Now I don't want to tarry long in my rundown of 5G, the many uses for this ultra-wide network technologies and the conspiracy theories that surround it (just kidding about that last one). 5G holds tremendous promise - when the world needs it most and the 2020 has been engineered to handle the tremendous gain in speed you'll see over the next few years. Here's more about our 5G future.




Bringing It All Home


Now we've covered the basics of this upgraded iPhone experience, but before we wrap up lets take a quick look at some of the other technologies that will be included in this soon to be released and highly desired handset. A certification from 3C implies that the iPhone 12 mini (5.4 inches) will have a 2,227mAh battery, and the standard 6.1-inch iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro will reportedly feature 2,775mAh batteries. The iPhone 12 Pro Max would have a 3,687mAh battery.


Images on the Internet said to be from the iPhone 12 depict a round array of magnets in the body of the device. There are 36 individual small magnets, which could be attributed to charging and/ or alignment purposes if Apple releases the long awaited AirPower charging mat - still an unknown.


Tthe iPhone 11 and iPhone Pro were the first to include what Apple's calling a U1 chip. The U1 will enable these ultra-wideband positioning superpowers, giving mobile devices the ability to determine each other's location when they're in close proximity. Think of it as Bluetooth on steroids. This U1 chip will also be available in the new iPhone 12 lineup - lets bring get up to speed on this.

Ultra-WideBand (UWB) is more accurate by many orders of magnitude over Bluetooth. It can transfer data faster; up to 8 megabits per second on mobile devices. That's four times what Bluetooth can currently manage. UWB operates on a wide frequency band, allowing it to pass through walls more easily than some of its radio frequency counterparts. It can provide positioning updates as often as every 100 milliseconds. This helps devices become more aware of each other and function better together - it also benefits tracking devices like the Apple's upcoming AirTags.


So although the form factor may look the same at a casual glance, you now know that iPhone 12 has been completely reengineered to deliver a powerhouse combination of features and capabilities. Apple is said to be having another virtual event on the October 15th to share the release of the iPhone 12 and other peripherals that are related to the iPhone - the new devices will be ready for consumers at the end of October. I for one am really looking forward to this release.




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