What we know about Apple's iPhone 12, its 5G technology and how much it will cost in Australia

iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max feature a new, elevated flat-edge stainless steel design

The iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max have a flat-edge design that reminded many of the old iPhone 5.(AP/Business Wire)

After delays due to pandemic-related disruptions, the newest model of Apple's biggest seller — the iPhone — was unveiled in a launch that touted the device's new ability for 5G connectivity.

In September, Apple CEO Tim Cook unveiled the tech giant's virtual fitness service and a bundle of all its subscriptions called Apple One.

But fans of the company's smartphones had been holding out to see what the next-generation model iPhone would bring.

Here are the top five takeaways from the launch.

The iPhone 12 supports 5G technology, but Aussies won't be seeing those speeds for some time

5G is a new technical standard for wireless networks that promises faster speeds and less lag when connecting to the network, as well as the ability to connect several devices to the internet without bogging it down.

Ideally, 5G networks will also be better able to handle more users, lots of sensors and heavy traffic.

All four of the newly announced iPhone 12 models can tap 5G wireless data networks, although nearly all of Apple's rivals, including Samsung, have 5G models on store shelves already.

US models will support millimetre wave 5G, which is a much higher frequency promising data speeds more than 100 times faster than 4G, as well as supporting lower frequency bands.

Millimetre wave isn't yet available in Australia, but telcos will be able to bid for a slice of the millimetre wave spectrum in March 2021.

You won't receive a charger or headphones with any future iPhone purchase

Apple won't include a wall charger or headphones with all future iPhone purchases in a bid to reduce their environmental impact.

Lisa Jackson, Apple's vice-president of environment, policy, and social initiatives, said there were already more than 700 million Lightning headphones, and more than 2 billion Apple power adaptors out in the world.

She also pointed out those numbers do not count the billions of third-party adaptors and the uptake of wireless headphones.

The decision was met with mixed reviews online, with many people expressing scepticism over the inclusion of a USB-C cable instead:

The iPhone 12 has a new feature for the more clumsy smartphone users

Cracked iPhone screens can be expensive to replace, but a new "ceramic shield" screen on the latest models could be the antidote.

Apple boasted the ceramic shield was tougher than any smartphone glass.

So what is ceramic shield and how does does it work? Apple's vice-president of marketing, Kaiann Drance, explained:

"Ceramic shield goes beyond glass by adding a new high temperature crystallisation step, which grows nano ceramic crystals within the glass matrix to dramatically improve toughness.

"To make this material both tough and optically clear, we precisely control the type of crystals and degree of crystallinity."

Apple also launched a mini version of its smart speaker

The HomePod Mini is a smaller smart speaker priced at $149 (compared with its larger $469 equivalent).

It will compete with offerings from market leaders Amazon and Google, which dominate the space.

In comparison, Amazon's third generation Echo Dot currently sells for $26.69.

But Ben Bajarin, principal analyst for consumer market intelligence at research firm Creative Strategies, said Apple had fleshed out its vision for how its devices could interact more directly with its own speakers than rivals had.

For example, Apple customers can speak into their iPhone or iPad to use the HomePod Minis like an intercom system.

"That's not something that Google or Amazon, particularly Amazon, can do so cleanly," he said.

So how much will the iPhone 12 cost in Australia?

As usual, quite a bit more than the widely advertised US price.

These are the four new models on offer for Australians:

  • The iPhone 12 Mini ($1,199)
  • The iPhone 12 ($1,349)
  • The iPhone 12 Pro (from $1,699)
  • The iPhone 12 Pro Max (from $1,849)

In comparison, the Samsung Galaxy S20 ranges from $999 to $1,999 and Google's newly released 5G Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a cost $999 and $799 respectively.

The cost of the iPhone 12, along with a return to the flat edge design, led many to joke it is simply a reproduction of the iPhone 5, just with better cameras.