Apple had their annual iPhone announcement event today, and it was a tight 70-ish minutes of updates from the company. We only got new iPhones and a smaller HomePod, but there's still a bunch to talk about, so let's cover it all (relatively) quickly.
I've been waiting for this product since Apple announced the original HomePod over 3 years ago. I was expecting a $149-199 price tag, and Apple surprised me by going all the way down to $99, which I think makes this an impulse buy for a lot of people. You're going to have to fight with me when these go up for pre-order on November 6.
I'm interested in this product for two reasons:
One, I am curious to see if this gets more traction than the original HomePod. People who own HomePods tend to love them, but they're quite expensive and simply price themselves out of reach for a lot of people. At $99, you're perfectly placed in the "premium for most people" speaker market and if it really does sound amazing, which I have no reason to believe it won't, then it's going to be really appealing to a lot of iPhone customers.
The fact that it has Siri built in brings it into the conversation of what speaker to buy for even more people, and it may even draw in people who are concerned about Google or Amazon having so much potential data from them. These folks likely don't trust Apple much more, but Apple is working hard to show people they are the trustworthy smart speaker company.
And two, I want to see how this compares to the just-release Nest Audio from Google. I'm working on a review of that now, but I quite like it and think it does a pretty good job of delivereing quaility audio considering the price. Apple has a chance to change my opinion of what a $100 speaker can do, and I'd be perfectly pleased if they did just that.
I know we say this every year, but the iPhone 12 looks more and more like The iPhone of this year. Yes, this was the case last year with the iPhone 11 as well, but berds like us really struggled to get over some of the bigger downgrages from the Pro line.
- The screen resolution was fine, but it was notably behind the Pro.
- The screen was LCD, not OLED.
- The bezels were really chunky compared to the Pro.
- It was thicker and heavier than the Pro.
This year those problems have vanished! The screens are each 460ppi, better than even the Pro last year. The screen is now also OLED, the bezels are seemingly identical to the new Pros, and it's even lighter than the Pro model this time.
Oh yeah, and it has the same 5G modem found in the Pro models.
All in all, it's really hard to find fault with this lineup, outside of the missing telephoto lens on the back and other cool, but ultimately obscure camera features. In terms of design, this is a major upgrade from last year's iPhone 11.
iPhone 12 Pro
Which brings us to the final line that Apple unveiled today; the iPhone 12 Pro. Now while Apple made a compelling argument for the standard iPhone 12, of course I'm eyeing the Pro models this year again. This time it's all about the cameras.
Sadly, this also gets me to a point of confusion with the lineup, and also why that confusion may not be neccessary.
I don't love giant phones, so I've gone with the smaller model the last few years, and it's been great to know all I'm missing out on are a few pixels and slightly worse battery life. Apple made a point in their presentation to make it seem like the 12 Pro Max had a notably better camera than the smaller 12 Pro. A bigger main sensor…better stabilization…but it wasn't totally clear to me how many of these features were exclusive to the Max verison of the phone.
Browsing Apple 's site after the event, it seemed like the phones were much closer, so I am holding out hope that they are indeed basically the same in use, but I'm not positive.
I'm still looking at the smaller Pro phone this year, but as someone who buys phones largely for the cameras inside them, it bothered me a little that they seem to be breaking the two Pro iPhones apart when it comes to camera tech.
And finally, 5G was the real star of the show today. If there was one thing Apple wanted you to know about their new iPhones this fall, it's that they all have 5G, and they all have "the good 5G" as well. Every segment seemed to come back to "and all this is made better by 5G". Even the League of Legends segment almost focused more on how 5G made it possible than the increased processing performance in the A14 Bionic!
Also, did Verizon co-sponsor this event, because they got more shout outs than any carrier I think ever has in an iPhone announcement, and that may even count the time Apple did a whole second release of the iPhone 4 specifically for Verizon!
Anyway, I'm on T-Mobile and my LTE caps out at like 5-10Mbps, so the numbers they showed on stage today are so far outside my concept of how fast a phone can be that I can't even register them. If 5G gives me remotely close to the LTE speeds I was supposed to have been getting all this time, I'll be happy enough.