Missed the Apple Event? Here are our Apple ‘Hi, Speed’ event highlights

What was announced, and why it matters

author_img Tushar Kanwar Published :  14th October 2020 03:01 PM   |   Published :   |  14th October 2020 03:01 PM
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After the brief pandemic-induced lull, the teams at Cupertino are going full-tilt to stuff your holiday hampers with more shiny stuff than you (or your wallets) can handle! Close on the heels of the new Apple Watch and iPads launched last month, Tim Cook and his merry band at Apple took to the virtual stage last night to unveil the iPhone 12 lineup – all four phones (a first!) plus a more affordable HomePod mini speaker. There’s much to unpack from this jam-packed event, so let’s get going.

What was launched:

Tim Cook

iPhone 12: The ‘iPhone for everyone’ got a significant bunch of updates, starting off with a new OLED display with a much sharper 2532x1170 pixel resolution, a move which finally puts all iPhone 12 models firmly in the ‘1080p resolution or higher’ camp. You get the somewhat retro but thinner and lighter iPhone 4/5 series flat-edged design which we saw brought back to great effect on the iPads Pros/Air in recent times, with an added fillip in terms of durability courtesy the Ceramic Shield glass layer co-developed with Corning, the makers of the popular Gorilla Glass. Under the hood, the iPhone 12 packs the company’s latest A14 Bionic chip, which aside from being faster (15 per cent) and more energy-efficient (30 per cent) than its predecessor, comes with 5G network support.

Cameras see a boost in low-light performance too, with faster f/1.6 aperture lens on the primary 12MP camera. Interestingly, Apple brought back the MagSafe brand back from the dead to give the iPhone 12 series magnetic sensors on the rear panel for wireless chargers to snap directly on the back of the phone. Bear in mind, you will need to either one of your existing USB Type-C power adapters to charge the phone or buy a new one – all the iPhone models Apple announced skip on the bundled charger inside the box, opting instead to ship with a USB-C to Lightning cable for fast charging.

iPhone 12 mini: Think iPhone 12 – same A14 Bionic, same MagSafe and Ceramic Shield enhancements - but smaller, less expensive and way more manageable in the hand with its 5.4-inch OLED Super Retina Display. For the first time since the iPhone 5S, you get a fully kitted out modern flagship at a size which can be called ‘small’. If you’ve longed for an iPhone that doesn’t ask you to stretch your hands or your wallet, this is it.

iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max: Apple’s Pro-level models of the iPhone got a serious shot in the arm with the 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max – they feature 6.1-inch and 6.7-inch displays, stainless steel cases and all the 5G, MagSafe and Ceramic Shield goodness of the non-Pro variants, but the cameras are where all the extras are at! LiDAR sensors (remember the iPad Pro?), sensor-shift image stabilization in the Pro Max variant and the ability to take images in Apple’s new ProRAW format will up its appeal to pros, and support for video capture in 10-bit Dolby Vision is just the cherry on the icing.

HomePod mini: The sweet-sounding Apple HomePod now has a mini variant at a sweet, sweet Rs. 9,990 price point, taking it up against the Google Nest Audio and Amazon’s Echo lineup. Designed using the “same acoustic principles” as the HomePod, the mini can be paired together for stereo sound or for multi-room audio. Expect this to fly off the shelves when it launches in November.

What Deserves Your Attention

Along with all the glitzy, slickly produced announcements, we cottoned on to some nuggets that need to be said. Without having used these devices as yet, consider this informed commentary.

  • The iPhone 12 Pro Max is, without a shadow of a doubt, the one to pick up for photographers, even though its pricing and size may deter even some pros. This is the one that packs all the bells and whistles, a deeper telephoto, for instance. You now get a 65 mm-equivalent rather than the 52 mm found on previous iPhones, which lets you get in closer for those portrait shots. It’s also the only one in the lineup to get sensor-level image stabilization on the primary camera, a system which detects motion and shifts the sensor several thousand times a second to compensate (instead of trying to move the heavier lens). Apple claims a full F-stop, allowing for two-second handheld night shots, a claim we’ll test in the full review. The support for ProRAW, files with minimal processing and oodles of extra image information, will be a godsend in the right hands.
  • The ability to capture, edit and share Dolby Vision HDR video – a cinema grading standard usually applied in post-processing when shooting with digital cinema cameras – in real-time no less, is pretty phenomenal for a device this size, showing the sheer amount of headroom that Apple’s A14 Bionic packs in. The big gains in computational photography courtesy A14 Bionic are evident by the inclusion of Night mode and faster-performing Deep Fusion now on all cameras - zoom, wide and ultra-wide - for improved photos across shooting scenarios.
  • The HomePod mini may have raised a number of eyebrows with its compelling sub-10,000 rupee price point, but it does make a couple of compromises to get the price just right. For instance, the mini-packs in a single driver for all the audio duties, and doesn’t adjust the sound to the environment you place it in. Instead, it monitors the type of music its playing and tweaks playback on the fly, and so it packs in only three mics instead of the size in the original HomePod. Neat feature – the Intercom feature lets you send voice messages not only to other HomePods around the home but also to Apple Watches and AirPods!
  • No bundled chargers and earplugs have serious environmental implications – Apple claims the impact of less e-waste will be the equivalent of getting 450,000 cars off the road per year! That said, many Apple users are unlikely to have a USB Type-C charging brick, so that will have to be factored into the already premium cost.
  • All models sporting sub-6GHz 5G support is a welcome move, but the faster mmwave 5G is restricted to models sold only in the US…though I suspect we’ll be looking at 6G models by the time 5G actually rolls around to India!

iPhone 12 Lineup Specs

iPhone 12 Mini

  • Screen: 5.4-inch Super Retina XDR display with Corning Ceramic Shield protection
  • Resolution: 2340 x 1080 pixels
  • Processor: Apple A14 Bionic
  • Rear camera: 12-megapixel wide camera with f/1.6 aperture + 12-megapixel ultra-wide camera with f/2.4 aperture (120-degrees)
  • Front camera: 12-megapixel with f/2.2 aperture
  • Internal storage: 64GB/128GB/256GB
  • Starting price: Rs. 69,900
  • India Availability: expected mid-November, no confirmed dates

iPhone 12

  • Screen: 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR display with Corning Ceramic Shield protection
  • Resolution: 2532 x 1170 pixels
  • Processor: Apple A14 Bionic
  • Rear camera:12-megapixel wide camera with f/1.6 aperture + 12-megapixel ultra-wide camera with f/2.4 aperture (120-degrees)
  • Front camera: 12-megapixel with f/2.2 aperture
  • Internal storage: 64GB/128GB/256GB
  • Starting price: Rs. 79,900
  • India Availability: October 30

iPhone 12 Pro

  • Screen: 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR display with Corning Ceramic Shield protection
  • Resolution: 2532 x 1170 at 460 pixels
  • Processor: Apple A14 Bionic
  • Rear camera: 12-megapixel wide camera with f/1.6 aperture + 12-megapixel ultra-wide camera with f/2.4 aperture (120-degrees) + 12-megapixel telephoto camera with f/2.0 aperture
  • Optical zoom: 4x optical zoom range
  • Front camera: 12-megapixel with f/2.2 aperture
  • Internal storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB
  • In the box: No earpods and charging brick; Lightning to USB-C cable included
  • Software: iOS 14
  • Starting price: Rs. 1,19,900
  • India Availability: October 30

iPhone 12 Pro Max

  • Screen: 6.7-inch Retina XDR display with Corning Ceramic Shield protection
  • Resolution: 2778 x 1284 at 458 ppi (pixel per inch)
  • Processor: Apple A14 Bionic
  • Rear camera: 12-megapixel wide camera with f/1.6 aperture + 12-megapixel ultra-wide camera with f/2.4 aperture (120-degrees) and Sensor-shift optical image stabilization + 12-megapixel telephoto camera with f/2.2 aperture +LiDAR scanner for depth mapping
  • Optical zoom: 5x optical zoom range
  • Front camera: 12-megapixel with f/2.2 aperture
  • Internal storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB
  • Starting price: Rs. 1,29,900
  • India Availability: expected mid-November, no confirmed dates
Tushar Kanwar is a tech columnist and commentator, and tweets @2shar
 

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