iPhone 12 vs iPhone 12 Pro: what may be the key differences?

iPhone 12 vs iPhone 12 Pro: what may be the key differences?
There are always new iPhones to look forward to and if the rumors are true, in 2020 Apple will finally bring some major improvements to its smartphone lineup. All the juicy details will probably leak months before the official release, just like this year, but until that happens, we can do some theorizing. The question is this: how Apple will differentiate between its iPhone 12 (11S?) and iPhone 12 Pro models.

This year, there were two major upgrades Pro owners can enjoy: a high-resolution OLED display and a telephoto camera. However, it’s unlikely that Apple will keep things the same next year, especially if big changes are really coming. So then, what can we expect the Pro treats to be in 2020? Well, here’s how we see it:

A high refresh rate display


It’s expected that next year, all three iPhone models will come with OLED displays but not all OLEDs are made equal. One of the most commonly heard rumors about 2020 iPhones is that they will receive what Apple calls ProMotion display with an adaptive refresh rate of up to 120Hz. If that is true, we assume that these displays will be reserved for the Pro iPhones only, with the regular iPhone 12 receiving an OLED panel similar to what the iPhone 11 Pro has now. 

This is a perfect separation since high refresh-rate is a desirable feature but at the same time it’s not an essential one (just like OLED is for current generation), so those that don’t care for it will be happy to save a few hundred dollars and go for the non-Pro iPhone. At the same time, if Apple goes straight to 120Hz, it will leapfrog some of its competitors that are either already selling or are planning to release smartphones with 90Hz displays.

But the display might not be the only major difference...

A new design


Other rumors are already talking about how Apple might finally get rid of the notch in 2020. And while we’re all looking forward to that day, the chance of it happening next year is rather slim. Still, if there’s a major design change coming, such as the rumored iPhone 4-style frame, it might be a Pro exclusive.

Let’s go back to 2017 for a minute, the year when Apple introduced the iPhone X with the now infamous notch. Alongside it were released two other phones: the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus that had the old, familiar design with the round home button. The two 8 models looked very different from the X and perhaps in 2020, we’ll see something similar, with the regular iPhone 12 being a blast from the past, while the iPhone 12 Pro gets the fancy new look.

Assuming the design changes are coming in hand with new features, whatever Apple is planning to introduce next year will likely be found on the Pro models first. By keeping the new tech exclusive on the more expensive phones for at least a year, Apple can get the maximum returns for its investment, just like it did with FaceID.

USB Type-C charging port



Again, a prediction we can confidently make based on Apple’s practices in the past. Last year, the company released its new iPad Pro models with USB Type-C ports, a move welcomed by experts and consumers alike. Since then, other new iPads have been released but they’re all sticking to the Lightning port. This proves then that Apple has no issues releasing different models from the same product line with different ports. And since it already adopted the Pro moniker for its iPhones, it only makes sense that those will be the ones to get USB Type-C.

The explanation here is the same as with the 120Hz display: people would like to have the broadly adopted Type-C on their phones. However, that’s not an essential feature. This means that you’ll have to pay extra for it, just like with the fast-charging adaptor in the box. You don’t like it? Well, you’re in the wrong garden then!

Now that we’ve mentioned charging, let’s move to the next item on this list:

Reverse wireless charging


Apple released AirPods with a wireless charging case a few months ago and yet there are no signs of an official Apple-made wireless charging pad after AirPower kicked the bucket. What signs we do have, and by signs we mean rumors, is that Apple is working on its own technology for reverse wireless charging (they should call it AirPower as a tribute). With it, you’ll be able to charge your AirPods and Apple Watch (presumably) on the back of your iPhone.

Following the already established reasoning, regular iPhones might not get this feature for another generation or two, depending on how generous Apple feels.

5G connectivity


Another feature that for now is just for those that like to be on the cutting edge. It will likely remain so for the next couple of years until 5G network coverage becomes widespread enough to make it practical to use. Meanwhile, 4G is plenty fast for the average user which means 5G as well is a prime candidate for the 2020 iPhone Pro lineup.

Apple Pencil support


Ha-ha, we got you! That’s not happening. Or is it…

No, no it’s not. Now time to get back to reality and it’s a bleak one.

Only one of the above


Those of you that are following tech news more closely probably know that some of the features we mentioned above were initially rumored to appear on this year’s iPhones. Instead, the only truly new hardware feature we got this year was the Ultra Wide Camera. Was that because the rest of the tech is not ready for prime time yet? Could be. But when we consider the resources Apple has at its disposal, that seems unlikely.

What does seem likely and very Apple-esque is for each of these (or perhaps a couple) features to be the Pro differentiator in different iPhone models. Maybe next year we’ll get reverse wireless charging and 5G, with 120Hz displays and USB Type-C left for 2021, or vice versa. The possible permutations are plenty.

The goal is clear: by “spoonfeeding” us with new features, Apple ensures that there’s something enticing for every new iPhone that it releases. If everything from the list above makes it to the iPhone 12 then what’s left for the iPhone 12S? Or the 13? Of course, other technologies are bound to arise and make it to smartphones but probably not at a rate frequent enough for the annual releases.

So, if you’re already saving money hoping to hit the jackpot with the iPhone 12 then you might want to tone down your expectations to avoid facing disappointment next Fall. There will always be something more coming the year after.

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7 Comments

1. sgodsell

Posts: 7428; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

What's left? An entire new category is left. For instance standalone AR glasses. Or AR glasses that uses the iPhones new USB-C port.

4. sgodsell

Posts: 7428; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

What about foldables. There is lots left. However Apple only releases new hardware if it can be cheap enough to manufacture, so Apple can keep their really high profits.

7. mackan84

Posts: 546; Member since: Feb 13, 2014

Foldables are not ready 2020.

2. pimpin83z

Posts: 588; Member since: Feb 08, 2019

I mean...........can the 11 be out for a least a month first before these unnecessary next gen posts, please?

3. tyracz

Posts: 5; Member since: Sep 19, 2018

they needed to release something....PLUS PhoneArena is PRO APPLE so whatever Apple releases is awesome :P all these features are for long time in Samsung...but who cares right ?:D

5. Deadeye

Posts: 101; Member since: Jul 26, 2019

Yawn, we have that already.

6. darkkjedii

Posts: 31274; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

No split view, no PIP, no Pencil support, no slide over, no symbols on keyboard, probably 4 gigs of RAM again (app reloads galore), and 64 gigs base at $1400 starting price. Oh yeah, and the Pro name. C'mon Apple, at least make the gen one Apple pencil work with iPhones. it's obsolete already.

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