Apple recently gave away its biggest 2020 iPhone upgrade. Now it has all been pieced together to reveal the most radical iPhone in years.
Credit goes to the tag team efforts of teardown specialist iFixit and popular YouTuber Filip Koroy (aka EverythingApplePro), with the former pulling apart Apple’s new iPad Pro to expose its remarkable new LiDAR scanner and the latter for working out how it “fits perfectly” in the iPhone 12. The result is a truly space-age looking device.
03/31 Update: a new exclusive from Bloomberg’s well connected journalist Debby Wu has shed promising new light on the iPhone 12 release. “The next iPhones with 5G wireless capabilities remain on schedule to launch in the fall,” states Wu. “[This is] partly because mass production isn’t slated to begin until the summer, people familiar with matter have said.” This is good news but it comes with a significant caveat: that we will not continue to be impacted (both in terms of manufacturing and consumer demand around the world) come the summer. That said, Apple’s supply chain is the most advanced in the tech industry and its customer base is famously loyal. So if any company can pull off the successful launch of a major flagship smartphone in 2020, it’s Apple.
04/01 Update: Bloomberg has followed up its iPhone 12 release update with further good news today, reporting that Foxconn, Apple’s biggest manufacturing partner, has “reassured investors it can still get the latest 5G-enabled iPhones ready for an autumn debut”.
Bloomberg also attained information shared by Goldman Sach’s investor relations chief Alex Yang in a private conference call, which revealed that Apple will commence its first trial assembly lines for the new iPhone (expected to be called the iPhone 12), in June. This gives Apple a cushion as it waits for the pandemic to ease (at this stage customer demand in the West is more challenging than manufacturing capabilities in the East), but we remain in uncharted territory.
iFixit’s part of the puzzle is dissecting the LiDAR scanner, which reveals two lens-capped modules consisting of a VCSEL transmitter and receiving sensor. The transmitter works a little like Face ID, firing out an array of infrared dots which the sensor picks up. But it is the module design itself which is the giveaway to Apple’s iPhone 12 plans.
Filling in the gaps, Koroy rendered the LiDAR module to scale and mapped it against the iPhone 11 Pro hardware, revealing: “that the two pieces even click together with the current iPhone 11 Pro lens.”
The downside of this discovery is it strongly suggests Apple will not be making dramatic changes to the iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max’s camera hardware for the iPhone 12. But that is unsurprising given the massive step-up in quality these models made, from the iPhone XS and XS Max. The flipside, looking at the early demos from developers (see below), is the LiDAR scanner looks set to be a true differential against rivals and a genuine game-changer.
Cynics will suggest that the support for LiDAR is not there yet. But this is exactly why Apple has released the sensor early in the 2020 iPad Pro line-up. The strategy should mean that when the iPhone 12 launches (and it remains Apple’s most important product – by far), it can hit the ground running thanks to a large number of transformative AR and VR tools and games. Just imagine a LiDAR-optimised version of Pokemon Go.
Furthermore, LiDAR is just the icing on the cake. We already know Apple has equipped all iPhone 12 models with a potentially revolutionary A14 chipset, stolen the iPad Pro’s buttery smooth ProMotion refresh rates and is displaying them on Samsung’s post-Galaxy S20 OLED panels. 5G is also a given, though it may stand out as well because Apple is currently building custom 5G antennas.
With iOS 14 leaks also spoiling Apple’s best new software feature, there’s a lot to be excited about. The only fly in the ointment is when these new iPhones will arrive because, right now, that doesn’t look good.