What to Expect From Apple's October iPhone 12 Event

New iPhones, new AirPods, and maybe even new Macs?

Key Takeaways

  • The iPhone 12 will have 5G, a new flat-sided design, and come in three sizes.
  • The A14 chip will be extremely fast.
  • Rumors predict new AirPods Studio headphones and AirTags tracking tiles.
Apple CEO Tim Cook delivers the keynote address during a special event on September 10, 2019
Justin Sullivan / Getty Images 

On Tuesday, October 13, at 10 a.m. PDT, Apple will reveal the latest iPhones at yet another virtual event. We may also see new AirPods, the long-awaited Apple Tags, and perhaps even an ARM-based Mac.

October is loaded for Apple. The iPhone launch is pretty much a 100% certainty, but long-term rumors also point to plenty of other new gadgets. Plus, Apple has promised us new Apple Silicon Macs by the end of the year. It’s possible there will be another event for these new Macs, but Apple might also use the ultra-bright media spotlight that shines on the iPhone to boost the Mac message. 

"I feel like MacBook and Mac mini will be the first models to get an upgrade to Apple Silicon," La Stampa’s tech writer Andrea Nepori told Lifewire via instant message.

iPhone 12, a Radical ‘Redesign’

The iPhone 12 (as it will probably be named) is interesting enough on its own. It will probably adopt the iPad Pro and new iPad Air’s flat-sided, thinner design, similar to the iPhone 5 and 6 (which were the best-looking iPhones, in my opinion). The iPhone will have the latest A14 chip, as seen already in the new 2020 iPad Air, and it will almost certainly have a 5G cellular connection. Whether 5G is useful depends on coverage in your area. The notch which houses the front-facing cameras will also be smaller. 

Other likely additions will be a new camera array, which will include the LiDAR depth-sensing camera from the 2020 iPad Pro. This makes augmented reality much more realistic. Also expected are OLED screens across the range (currently only the Pro iPhone 11 models have OLED).

According to 9to5Mac, these are the names and sizes of the planned models:

  • iPhone 12 mini: 5.4-inch
  • iPhone 12: 6.1-inch
  • iPhone 12 Pro: 6.1-inch
  • iPhone 12 Pro Max: 6.7-inch

I like the idea of a little 5.4-inch model with the edge-to-edge screen. If I were getting an iPhone 12, that’s the one I’d buy.

Also expect Apple to ditch the USB charger brick in the iPhone box to avoid waste. Perhaps the EarPods will also be left out, but the charging cable may be replaced with one that’s covered with braided nylon. 

Finally, I have my fingers crossed for Touch ID in the iPhone 12’s power button, just like in the new iPad Air. I love Face ID, but Face ID doesn’t love masks. If Apple manages to get this in, I think it would sell a lot of iPhones for COVID-mask reasons alone.

AirPods Studio & AirTags

Also expected on Tuesday are the AirPods Studio and AirTags. AirTags are Apple’s long-rumored tracking disks, little Bluetooth-enabled widgets that will show up in the Find My app on your iPhone. They periodically send out an anonymous pulse that can be picked up by any passing iPhone, and is passed on to Apple, along with the location. This lets you find your device, even if it’s never connected to the internet.

AirPods Studio will be old-school, over-the-ear headphones. These will presumably combine all the amazing sound-processing tech Apple has perfected in the HomePod, the latest MacBooks, and the AirPods Pro, and put them into Siri-enabled headphones. They’ll probably be amazing. They’ll also probably be really, really expensive. 

Apple Silicon Macs?

My predictions for the first Macs to use Apple’s own Apple Silicon chips are the MacBook and a 24-inch iMac. “Apple Silicon” is what Apple calls the A-Series chips it puts into iPhones and iPads, and this fall it will also be in Macs.

"I feel like MacBook and Mac mini will be the first models to get an upgrade to Apple Silicon."

I think that Apple will have two points to make at launch: that these new Macs are way more powerful than the Intel-based Macs they replace, and that Apple Silicon Macs can be as portable, powerful, and long-battery-living as an iPad Pro.

A MacBook of some kind would prove the latter—no fan (just like the iPad), all-day battery, and neat extras like Face ID and instant-wake. Maybe even a touch screen.

For the power part of this equation, the iMac is perfect. For one, the current design is almost a decade old, so it’s due for a redesign sooner rather than later. The iMac is also a perfect way to demonstrate how powerful Apple’s A14 chip can be when it’s put in a big box with cooling fans.

"Apple might also use the ultra-bright media spotlight that shines on the iPhone to boost the Mac message."

“The iMac is still an average family machine that could easily sneak Apple Silicon into a lot of households,” says Nepori. “Especially if the price is right.”

Crucially, the regular iMac is not seen as a pro-level machine, so it won’t be compared to the Mac Pro. It only has to beat current iMacs and most everyday desktop PCs.

Sit Back and Enjoy the Show

To follow along, just find any Internet-capable screen next Tuesday morning. If it runs like previous Apple events, you can watch it in the browser on any device, or on your Apple TV. I’m hoping for new iMacs because my iMac is ten years old and needs a break. But even if there are no new Macs, this looks like an exciting way to spend a couple of hours on a fall Tuesday morning.