On Tuesday at its California Headquarters, Apple unveiled its long-awaited first 5G iPhones. In an effort to offset the weaker consumer demand for new handsets caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. tech giant is keeping the starting price for the next-generation smartphones in line with the previous year’s models at $699.

The iPhone 12, adorned with a better dual-camera, five new colours, a new A14 Bionic chip which Apple says is the “fastest smartphone chip,” a tougher screen that’s less likely to crack. 

Apple introduced four models of iPhone 12, all 5G-compatible and come with three screen sizes: 5.4 inches, 6.1 inches and 6.7 inches. The 5.4 inches model — named iPhone 12 Mini — is according to Apple, the “smallest, thinnest, and lightest 5G smartphone in the world.”

For the first time, the iPhone will include a LiDAR scanner, which stands for “Light Detection and Ranging. The feature enables object and room scanning, and precise AR object placement, Apple says. It will also improve camera accuracy and capture time, as well as autofocus in low light.

Two of the 5G iPhones which will come with high-end triple cameras, are the 6.1- inch Phone 12 Pro and 6.7-inch iPhone 12 Pro Max. The other two will support dual cameras like last year’s popular iPhone 11. iPhone 12 Mini is priced at $699 and above, while the 6.1 inch iPhone 12 starts at $799. The more expensive models,iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max, start at $999 and $1099 respectively. 

Produced by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. using the Taiwanese company’s latest 5-nanometer chip production technology, iPhone 12s will be powered by Apple’s in-house designed A14 mobile processors, which are currently the industry’s most advanced. 

iPhone 12 and iPhone Pro will be ready for preorder this Friday, Oct.16, and will start shipping on Oct. 23, in more than 36 countries. Meanwhile, the preorder for iPhone 12 Mini and iPhone Pro Max won’t be available till Nov. 6, and shipping for the two models will begin Nov. 13. 

Apple will ship the new iPhones without earphones or charging heads, as part of the effort to keep the cost down and reduce wastes. 

The American tech giant’s main rival in China, Huawei — which briefly overtook Samsung as the world’s leading smartphone maker by shipments in the June quarter — announced that it will launch its flagship Mate 40 smartphone on Oct. 22.

This year’s new iPhone announcement came about a month behind Apple’s usual September launch schedule, owing to development and production delays from the pandemic.

However, Apple and key suppliers are ramping up production and working through holidays to make sure that the long-awaited 5G iPhone range hits shelves soon, Nikkei Asia previously reported. The production volume for the new 5G iPhone range could end up between 73 million and 74 million units for this year, falling short of Apple’s original orders for up 80 million units’ worth of components.

Like the company’s new iPad and Apple Watch announcement event in September, the iPhone launch was online-only, live-streamed from corporate headquarters in California.

Apple also introduced a new smart speaker, the HomePod mini, at the Tuesday event.

The author works as a sub-editor at The Correspondent, focusing on Student Politics, Social issues and International Relations.

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