With the addition of 5G and a rumored new design, the iPhone 12 is one of the most anticipated phones in years. But will it lead to the so-called “super cycle” upgrade as some have been predicting?
Wedbush analyst Dan Ives told CNN that “the iPhone 12 represents the most important product cycle for (Apple CEO Tim) Cook & Co. since the iPhone 6 in 2014.” He added that Wall Street is “underestimating the massive pent-up demand around this hyper-cycle for Apple.”
Ives is optimistic about Apple’s prospects, estimating that 350 million of the 950 million iPhones in the market can be upgraded within the next 12 to 18 months.
Not so quickly, other analysts say. And they downplayed the importance of 5G as a driver of consumer iPhone upgrades. In addition, there is still an ongoing pandemic, which is affecting heavily the economy.
“Certainly many consumers have delayed the upgrade last year and expect Apple to launch a 5G iPhone this year,” said Avi Greengart, chief analyst at Techsponential. “However, I don’t think anyone can predict iPhone 2020 sales with any degree of certainty. The global pandemic recession is dampening demand.”
Then there is the problem of 5G. Yes, rollouts are accelerating, but 5G won’t be nationwide available in the U.S. this fall on the three major carriers. T-Mobile has its biggest mark to date, and AT&T and Verizon are catching up.
And while 5G is a must-have feature if you want a future phone, there aren’t any killer apps for it yet. You just need to get faster download speeds and less lag for things like streaming games.
“I think the iPhone 12 will push for upgrades,” said Carolina Milanesi, an analyst at Creative Strategies. “But unless there are more things coming soon than 5G, I suspect we’ll see a supercar. For most consumers, 5G is still not essential.”
There are other iPhone 12 upgrades to get you excited about, based on leaked information. This time there will be four models, including the most affordable new compact 5.4-inch iPhone 12 in the group. Prices can be as low as $ 649 based on previous reports.
All four iPhone 12 models are expected to feature a fast new A14 Bionic chip that could blow Android phones away, and all four must have OLED displays. The iPhone 12 and 6.1 inch iPhone 12 Max are said to have two cameras, while the 6.1 inch iPhone 12 Pro and the 6.7 inch iPhone 12 Pro Max will have a third camera (telephoto) plus a LiDAR sensor to have better AR performance.
However, the jury still doesn’t know whether the iPhone 12 Pro will have a smooth 120Hz display. The latest rumors poured cold water into that possibility.
Phone buyers tend to be concerned with core features like size, screen quality and battery life, and the Apple A14 Bionic chip can really help with this. An earlier leak indicated that this new 5nm chip could be 30% more efficient than the A13.
But I wouldn’t expect 5G to be the main buying driver for the iPhone 12 this October.
“In most countries around the world, 5G networks are still in the early stages of deployment,” Greengart said. “I hope Apple will roll out 4G-only iPhone configurations, segmented by price or by region.”
Wedbush’s Ives has also predicted that the lower-cost 4G-only iPhone 12 will hit the market early next year. And we’ve heard that rumor from other sources as well.
Assuming the economy continues to be tough, the best low-cost phones – like $ 349 Pixel 4a and $ 399 iPhone SE – could become even more attractive. They are proving that you can get most of the features you need with less money than you think you can.
Adding 5G to the iPhone 12 won’t be enough to move the needle.