Apple has launched the iPhone 12 with faster 5G connectivity, which the company hopes will spur a wave of upgrades and keep its sales booming through the end of the year.

Apple said all iPhone 12 models in the United States will support millimeter wave (mm-Wave) 5G, the fastest variant of the technology, as well as lower-frequency bands. However, the Australian version does not list mm-Wave support.

Some rival Android devices support only the lower-frequency versions of 5G.

The iPhone 12, with a 6.1-inch display, has flat sides with a flush display, similar to the company’s iPhone 5 and a departure from rounded edges in recent years.

The new phone will have a “ceramic shield” glass cover to resist cracks when dropped.

It also has a “smart data mode”, which Apple claimed “extends battery life by intelligently assessing 5G needs and balancing data usage, speed, and power in real time.”

Apple will offer iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini models in 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB and five colours, starting at A$1349 and A$1199 respectively. 

It will start taking orders for iPhone 12 beginning at 11.00pm AEDT on Friday October 16, with availability beginning Friday October 23.

iPhone 12 mini will be available for order beginning at midnight AEDT on Saturday November 7, with availability beginning Friday November 13.

Apple also announced a HomePod Mini smart speaker that will come in white and gray, cost A$149 and be shipped starting November 16.

The new HomePod offers features like allowing use by multiple users in a home and sending information to car-based systems.

For example, a user can tee up driving directions to a store after asking the HomePod what time it closes.

Many of the features serve as a catch-up to similar offerings from Amazon.com and Google.

The annual launch event is nearly one month later than normal and comes as the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted Apple’s well-oiled machine for designing and churning out its biggest-selling product.

The iPhones announced Tuesday will test whether Apple can keep up that streak and ride a wave of consumer excitement around 5G wireless data networks, whose speediest variants outstrip their predecessors’ data rates multiple times over.

Android devices from Samsung Electronics and others have featured the new networking capabilities for months, and analysts say 5G phones are driving upgrades.

But Apple is in a delicate position of needing to excite consumers with 5G without setting them up for a disappointment.

For many of its fans, it will be their first experience with 5G networks, which in the United States remain years away from delivering dramatic speed boosts for most consumers; Australia, however, is already boasting significant 5G speeds.

Shares of Apple fell 2.7 percent on Tuesday, after jumping 6 percent the day before, which added US$128 billion (A$178 billion) to its stock market value.

Apple in January quit giving financial guidance, citing uncertainty from the pandemic.

But despite waves of retail store closures and travel bans that delayed the development of the iPhone because Apple engineers were not able to cross the Pacific to Chinese factories as frequently, Apple’s financial results have largely bucked the pandemic.

In July at its most recent earnings, the company posted year-on-year revenue gains across every category and in every geography as consumers working and learning from home during the COVID-19 pandemic turned to its products and services.

Apple last month launched new watch models with blood oxygen sensors and updated its iPad models while also rolling out a new bundle of its paid subscription services called Apple One.

The company has also committed to introducing new Mac computers before year’s end based on processors of its own design rather than those from Intel.

Additional reporting by iTnews

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