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Where is the iPhone 12? Rumors suggest Apple's release date isn't far off

If you went into Apple 'Time Flies' launch event expecting the iPhone 12 release date to be announced, right now you're probabl...

If you went into Apple 'Time Flies' launch event expecting the iPhone 12 release date to be announced, right now you're probably wondering "Wait, where's it at?"

You're not alone. The iPhone 12 marks the first time since the iPhone 4S in 2011 that Apple will miss its September release window. It's a significant change for a unique time.

There's good news and possibly distressing news in answering that question. First, the iPhone is coming soon, and Apple made the unprecedented decision to tell us that its new iPhone would be delayed in its latest earnings call. The company doesn't even acknowledge new hardware most of the time.

Second, there are now a lot of questions surrounding supply and features, with new leaks suggesting that planned features like a 120Hz screen aren't making the cut in the iPhone 12. Thankfully, the iPhone 12 series will support 5G.

Here's what we know so far about the iPhone 12 delay and why Apple is delaying the launch of its most important product.

No, iPhone 12 wasn't at Apple's launch event

Apple's 'Times Flies' launch event had a lot of hardware updates, but no iPhone. We got the Apple Watch 6, Apple Watch SE, iPad Air 4 and iPad 2020 instead, along with Apple Fitness Plus and Apple One.

Big products, sure, but the iPhone is what binds these all together. The last time an iPhone launched outside of September was the iPhone 4S, which was announced at an Apple event the day before Steve Jobs passed away. Before that, the new iPhone was announced at Apple's WWDC in June, and the first iPhone was unveiled at the now-defunct MacWorld in January.

This year, the Covid-19 pandemic seems to be responsible for the new iPhone date tipping into October. It has a lot of people confused, asking "Where is the iPhone 12?" which is to b expected given nine years of September iPhone launches.

iPhone launch dates

October?: iPhone 12

Tue Sept 10, 2019: iPhone 11/11 Pro/11 Pro Max

Wed Sept 12, 2018: iPhone XS/XS Max/XR

Tue Sept 12, 2017: iPhone X/9/9 Plus

Wed Sept 7, 2016: iPhone 7/7 Plus

Wed Sept 9, 2015: iPhone 6S/6S Plus

Tue Sept 9, 2014: iPhone 6/6 Plus

Tue Sept 10, 2013: iPhone 5S/5C

Wed Sept 12, 2012: iPhone 5

Tue Oct 4, 2011: iPhone 4S

Mon June 7, 2010: iPhone 4

Mon June 8, 2009: iPhone 3GS

Mon June 9, 2008: iPhone 3G

Tue Jan 9, 2007: iPhone

What has Apple said?

During Apple’s Q3 2020 earning call, Apple CFO Luca Maestri specifically referred to a new iPhone and clarified that the company is expecting its launch to be delayed in 2020 when compared to previous years.

Maestri said, “As you know, last year we started selling iPhones in late September. This year, we expect supply to be available a few weeks later.”

This is unheard of as Apple has never comments on the existence of a new iPhone, but the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the company’s financials – and future financials with an iPhone 12 delay on the horizon – have changed things a little.

Later, Maestri clarified “I said in my remarks that a year ago we launched new iPhone in late September. And I said that this year, the supply of the new product will be a few weeks later than that.”

Apple didn’t specifically call the device the iPhone 12, but this has essentially confirmed the new iPhone range we expected to launch around now will be delayed until at least some point later in 2020.

At first, we believed this may be very specific terminology chosen by Apple. We believed it wouldn't impact the time that you get to see the company unveil the iPhone 12 range announced on stage and is instead about when you can buy the phone.

That doesn't seem to be the case though, and we're going to have a bit longer to wait to see the phones unveiled.

When do we now expect the iPhone 12? 

iPhone 11 Pro Max

The iPhone 11 Pro Max from 2019 (Image credit: Future)

A variety of rumors have suggested October 2020 is when we're likely to see the new iPhones. We've previously expected that we would see the devices announced in September, but that seems less and less likely now.

Maestri’s terminology of “a few” weeks suggests that is pushed back by at least three weeks. That likely means you won’t be able to buy the phone until at least mid-October (the iPhone 11 series was released on September 20 last year).

It's difficult to predict an exact date as these are unprecedented times and they don't match Apple's usual schedule. One report from Bloomberg has suggested that Apple may also stagger the release date of its products after revealing them.

Leaker Jon Prosser who has been accurate on product announcement dates for the iPhone SE, iPad Pro and a few other Apple products has said he believes we'll be seeing the event on the week of October 12.

If that's true, we'd expect it to be October 13 as Apple often hosts its launches on a Tuesday. MacOtakara believes an event is set to take place toward the end of October.

Prosser also believes pre-orders for the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Max will open that same week. We'd estimate that Apple would follow its usual format of opening pre-orders on the Friday after announcement, so that'd be October 16.

Prosser's information also claims the products will begin shipping the week of October 19, while pre-order and shipping dates for the iPhone 12 Pro are set for some point in November.

How certain is any of this? 

None of this is certain. This is all conjecture that we’re able to suggest based on previous iPhone launches, a variety of leaks and Apple's specific way of announcing this, but these are strange times with the world trying to cope with Covid-19. 

Things may even have changed within Apple HQ since the July announcement so there may even be a longer delay than first expected. We won't know anything for certain until we hear directly from Apple on its plans for an event.

If it does happen, we'll be sure to be one of the first to let you know.



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