Apple on Tuesday launched the iPhone 12 with faster 5G connectivity starting at US$799, which the company hopes will spur a wave of upgrades and keep its sales booming through to the end of the year.
The iPhone 12, with a 6.1-inch display, has flat sides with a flush display, similar to the company’s iPhone 5 and a departure from rounded edges in recent years. Apple also introduced a “Mini” version with a 5.4-inch screen for $699 and a “Pro” version with three cameras starting at $999.
Pre-orders for the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro begin on 16 October and go on sale on 23 October. The iPhone Mini will be available for pre-order on 6 November and in stores on 13 November. A South African launch date and pricing is yet to be revealed.
Apple said it had tested 5G on more than 800 carriers in 30 regions globally. Shares of Apple fell over 3% during the event, erasing $77-billion worth of stock market value. In China, the biggest online video platforms, including Tencent Holdings and Bilibili, cancelled Apple’s live-stream event without explanation.
Apple also announced a HomePod Mini smart speaker that will come in white and grey, cost $99 and be shipped starting on 16 November.
The new HomePod offers features like allowing use by multiple users in a home and sending information to car-based systems. For example, a user can tee up driving directions to a store after asking the HomePod what time it closes. Many of the features serve as a catch-up to similar offerings from Amazon.com and Google.
A month late
The annual launch event is nearly one month later than normal and comes as the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted Apple’s well-oiled machine for designing and churning out its biggest-selling product.
The iPhones announced on Tuesday will test whether Apple can keep up that streak and ride a wave of consumer excitement around 5G wireless data networks, whose speediest variants outstrip their predecessors’ data rates multiple times over. Android devices from Samsung Electronics and others have featured the new networking capabilities for months, and analysts say 5G phones are driving upgrades.
But Apple is in a delicate position of needing to excite consumers with 5G without setting them up for a disappointment: For many of its fans, it will be their first experience with 5G networks.
Apple in January quit giving financial guidance, citing uncertainty from the pandemic. But despite waves of retail store closures and travel bans that delayed the development of the iPhone because Apple engineers were not able to cross the Pacific to Chinese factories as frequently, Apple’s financial results have largely bucked the pandemic.
In July, at its most recent earnings, the company posted year-on-year revenue gains across every category and in every geography as consumers working and learning from home during the Covid-19 pandemic turned to its products and services. — Reported by Stephen Nellis, with additional reporting by Noel Randewich, (c) 2020 Reuters