Still, it’s nice that all the new iPhones are getting 5G capabilities. And that starts with the iPhone 12, Apple’s new “main” device. And what’s old is new again, with the “smooth flat edges”of the iPhone 4/5 (and the newer iPad Pros) coming back. And it looks great, with some new colors to boot. The same 6.1-inch screen as the iPhone 11 but thinner and lighter.
Then we went into the cellular testing room — last seen in the iPhone 4 “Antennagate” days. I should know, I was there, quite literally. It’s a little weird to call back to that when you’re rolling out a new design which calls back to that design? I hope that’s just a coincidence!
Hans Vestberg, the CEO of Verizon, came on stage with Cook in a very socially distanced manner (though no masks — might have been a nice, if symbolic gesture and a way to show off Apple’s own masks?). He spent the whole time talking up 5G “ultra wideband” with its theoretical 4 Gbps download speeds (and 200 Mbps upload speeds). This is where we got the first “ideal conditions” disclaimer. And that’s important because as everyone knows, given how nascent 5G still is, it’s very unlikely you’re going to see speeds anywhere near that with the 5G iPhone.
And again, that’s just “ultra wideband” which is the better 5G technology but not the standard one. The nation will get the okay one, while 60 cities will have the better version by the end of the year, Verizon says. Yeah, this is going to take some time. Which is why it’s fairly surprising to me that Apple decided to lead with it. This is a technology that’s largely out of their control.
Cue the James Bond music. Literally. That happened. At first, I thought we were about to get a real wildcard: what if Apple had bought the rights to bring the latest — many times postponed — No Time to Die to Apple TV+?! Or what if Apple was buying all of MGM, as has long been rumored?!!! Alas, it was just a cute way to unveil… the iPhone 12 mini.
And it also includes a new “Ceramic Shield” which is a new tech Apple made with Corning to provide “4x” the drop protection. This seems like an awfully scientific measurement for such a thing, but we’ll take any improvement.
Yes, it’s a cynical take. I just believe both things can be true: this is good for the environment and good for Apple, the question is the order of importance, and more transparency around that would be welcomed.
Then it was back to the chip lab to hear about the “A14 Bionic”. Why are we keeping “Bionic” in the name? Unclear. I had hoped Bionic would evolve into some other fun name as a way to secondarily denote a new chip — a la the ‘Big Cat’ names for OS X way back when. But no, the A14 is just as ‘Bionic’ as the A13 was. Even though it’s the first smartphone chip built with 5nm tech. That’s impressive! It deserved it’s own hyperbolic name, damnit!
Next it was to the roof of Apple HQ for Lisa Jackson walking amongst the solar panels. She made the case for removing the power brick and headphones from the iPhone packaging. And it was a good one. This should legitimately be good for the world. But left unsaid is that it’s also likely good for Apple’s bottom line, of course. When Jackson made a call for other companies to do the same thing, you have to wonder who Apple thinks is going to make power bricks… Oh, that’s right, Apple is! You’ll just have to buy one.League of Legends is coming to iPhone as a middle finger to Fortnite — er, to showcase the A14 Bionic as well as Verizon’s latency? Will the game only play on the iPhone 12? Unclear.
But the return of MagSafe actually has me excited. For serious. Everything about this looks fantastic and very Apple. Cases should no longer require the feeling of ripping two intertwined objects apart and it should be more akin to the iPad Pro magnetic cases. The MagSafe Wallet is genius. Apple finally — finally — has their own power mat of sorts. And it folds! AirPower, eat your vaporware heart out.
Cut to Greg “Joz” Joswiack, the latest Apple SVP taking Phil Schiller’s place on stage as well for the big, marquee reveal: the iPhone 12 Pro. He starts off on the right foot with the “Pacific Blue” reveal. Also, that gold, wow. Is that a blatant attempt to suck up to Donald Trump?I’ve long been a fan of this concept and it’s good to see Apple fully embrace it. This is an iPhone 12 in every way, just smaller. And slightly cheaper, to boot! A 5.4-inch screen with 476 ppi starting at $699 in a body that’s smaller than the 4.7-inch iPhone 8 seems like a thing of beauty. I’m legitimately torn between getting that and….I did enjoy all the talk about how Apple put in a lot of work to make sure the new iPhone could downgrade to LTE from 5G to save battery when 5G doesn’t make sense to use. Because again, it will likely rarely make sense to use in these early days. We also got the fun dampening of expectations that 1 Gbps is how the phone will operate in “typical conditions”. And again, that’s when it’s in 5G mode. Which again, it won’t be all that often, I imagine. At least they didn’t call it the ‘iPhone 5G’, I guess!From there, we zoomed further down the dollhouse into a mini empty Steve Jobs theater, where Cook was back to talk iPhone. A “new era of iPhone” — which feels like an awfully grandiose thing to say about 5G right now.