Much to Twitter’s excitement, on Tuesday 06/10/20 Apple announced another event with the tagline Hi, Speed. At this point, it should not be surprising that the event is all about the iPhone 12. Apple’s iPhones were (to no one’s real surprise), not featured in the September event.
Due to production delays the iPhone 12 will be late this year. It seems though, like Apple might have finally gotten enough devices to launch them. As with all Apple announcements, the design and tagline are usually a give away of something. So what does ‘Hi, Speed’ refer to? A lot as it turns out.
Apple was widely expected to add 5G support to its 2020 iPhone lineup. The Samsung S20 and Google Pixel 5 have already launched with 5G support, so it’s almost a certainty Apple will too. 5G network speed is something a lot of people have been eagerly waiting for, especially as more and more wearables and smart-home goods become commonplace.
There’s no question of 5G bringing speed to the iPhones, the only question is how will Apple utilise it? The company has a history of not including any features unless they have a long-term impact, so the big question is how will 5G shape the iPhone and iOS?
For iOS, we’ve seen some instances already. With iOS 14, Apple showed off App Clips which allow users to perform a specific task without having to download an entire app. If millions of iOS users are going to be scanning and using clips in public spaces, 5G will make it faster and easier. With iOS13, Apple did away with the cap on app size for downloads over cellular networks. Sure, 4G could handle that as well, but with 5G large apps (and especially games) will download almost instantly. Now there’s speed.
Finally, Apple’s services from Music to TV+ and Fitness+ will all feel much more seamless on a 5G network. You will be able to download entire albums, films and episodes on the go, anywhere in the world. That’s core to the iOS user experience, which is why 5G is critical for Apple.
Processor Speed with A14
When it launched the new iPad Air, Apple also debuted the ultra-fast and powerful A14 processor. A14 Bionic is the world’s first commercially produced chipset that is based on 5nm node technology, which is in itself a huge feat. The hexa-core chipset contains 11.8 billion transistors and is capable of 11 trillion operations per second.
In comparison, The A13 Bionic consists of 8.5 billion transistors and is capable of 5 trillion operations per second. For regular readers, it might seem like a huge leap forward, but in reality it isn’t that big. Anyone who purchased a new iPhone 11, iPhone X or the new iPad Air will tell you: it feels so smooth. In reality, you aren’t going to feel much of a difference no matter how many transistors Apple crams inside.
That said, Apple will certainly market “speed” and battery life as a huge part of the A14 chips inside the iPhone 12 series. Sure, you will experience a difference in battery life, but when it comes to speed, not as much as the company claims.
120Hz Refresh Rates
For a few years now, Apple’s top end iPad Pros have featured a display with a refresh rate of 120Hz. For regular users, that doesn’t mean much, but if you are a designer, editor or artist, that’s a big deal. The company is widely rumored to bring the 120Hz refresh rates to the iPhone 12 Pro.
Basically, the faster your refresh rate the smoother your on-screen transitions and animations. On an iPhone, that doesn’t mean much unless you are a gamer. For first person shooters like Call of Duty, Fortnite and PUB-G, a slower refresh rate could literally mean the difference between life and (virtual) death. Having a 120Hz refresh rate on iPhones will be big for gamers. Especially, since 120Hz has been the standard for PC gaming for years.
Of course, this comes with a huge tradeoff – battery life. 120Hz displays consume a lot of battery. Apple has found a workaround for this, with tech it calls ‘ProMotion’. ProMotion is basically Apple’s adaptive refresh rate technology, i.e. the screen decides the refresh rate based on what you are doing. Apple used similar technology in the Apple Watch Series 5, with something it calls LTPO. Anyway, the point being 120Hz refresh rates on an iPhone 12 Pro are certainly bound to speed things up.
With the 2020 iPad Pro, Apple introduced the LiDAR scanner to tablets. LiDAR is a system that uses reflected light to measure distance. At the time, the company said it would revolutionise augmented reality (AR) experiences. There are some rumours floating about that Apple will bring the same tech to the iPhone 12 Pro.
Why LiDAR? Again, it comes down to speed. In other iPhones and iPads, Apple’s AR system is basically guessing where objects in the room are. That means AR experiences aren’t as ‘real’ as they could be. With LiDAR, the device can quickly and accurately understand where objects are, and create an AR experience around them.
If you have a 2020 iPad Pro, you will know that. Even simple AR experiences are faster and more accurate. While it’s extremely unlikely Apple will add a LiDAR scanner this year, you can never be too sure.
Look closely at the event invite, and you will see what looks like an AirTag. Apple’s Tile-like trackers have been in the works for a few years now, and we have some rumours that state the company will launch them this year.
This isn’t a direct reference to speed, but if I was to guess I’d say that having AirTags would certainly speed up the process of finding lost keys, wallets and other small items. Using ultra wideband, AirTags will make it much faster to locate. Hi, Speed indeed.
Of course, at this point you should take all of this with a pinch of salt. There’s really no telling what Apple will introduce on stage. But if you put stock in the rumours, then there are a few things here to excite you. High speed will certainly be a theme on Tuesday.
You can catch the Apple event on Apple’s website, YouTube channel or the Apple TV app on Apple TV and Fire Stick on October 13 at 6:00 PM UK time. If you can’t watch it live, I will be live tweeting the event. Follow me on Twitter (@srivi20) to stay tuned.