Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the (officially delayed) iPhone 12 line-up is their (relatively) affordable prices. But now we know why, and not everyone will be happy with where Apple is making the cuts to achieve it.
In a new report from acclaimed Apple insider Ming-Chi Kuo (seen by MacRumors), Kuo reveals that Apple will avoid the massive price increases impacting rivals, by putting a squeeze on component supplies and downgrading the new iPhones’ battery technology. Something which looks damaging.
Breaking this down, Kuo explains that Apple’s adoption of Sub-6GHz 5G technology in the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Plus will increase Apple’s costs by $75–$85, while the full fat millimeter wave 5G in the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max will add $125–$135. Such increases have added $200/300 to the final retail price of phones like Samsung’s Galaxy flagships, but Kuo says Apple will slash up to 50% off its battery costs by moving the iPhone 12 models to batteries with simpler, smaller designs with fewer layers.
The result looks set to be a circa 10% reduction in battery capacities across the range, compared to the iPhone 11 line-up. Given the higher power consumption of 5G, this is a puzzling change and places real pressure on Apple’s superlative new A14 chip to pull off some power efficiency miracles. The lower capacities are also thought to be the reason behind Apple’s decision to scrap the ProMotion displays on the Pro models.
Moreover, while some iPhone fans may not be happy trading battery life for a cellular standard they cannot even receive, Apple looks committed to this process for the long term. Kuo states that Apple will go even further in 2021, moving the iPhone 13 lineup to a “purely soft board” battery design which will cut a further 30-40% from costs. How this impacts their performance, remains to be seen.
Needless to say, this cost cutting decision could be a deal breaker for some upgraders, especially with the iPhone 12 range set to keep its big notch for another generation. That said, the aforementioned A14 chip could be a game-changer, their super small and super large new screen sizes will win new fans, the cameras are about to get a lot smarter and they have a new chassis design that looks great. Then there’s the fact Apple is going to beat rivals on price this year, and that alone could be huge.
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