iPhone 12 is supposed to be a blowout upgrade. But COVID-19 could change that

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Apple's iPhone 12 lineup

This year, Apple introduced four iPhones, ranging from the iPhone 12 Mini to the iPhone 12 Pro Max.


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This story is part of Apple Event, our full coverage of the latest news from Apple headquarters.

Apple’s iPhone 12 family hits the market at an extraordinary time — with the coronavirus pandemic leaving tens of millions of people out of jobs and kicking off a recession that has thrown everything into a state of uncertainty. The new phones feature a boxier look, a magnetic attachment called MagSafe and, yes, super-fast 5G, but the price tag of these typically premium gadgets may be more important than ever. 

Rivals have already responded to the economic and health crisis. Samsung unveiled the Galaxy S20 FE, a budget phone with high-end specs wrapped in a plastic housing that helps push its price down to $700 from the $1,000 price tag for its standard cousin. Google cut the price of its flagship Pixel 5 by $100 from the previous year’s model to $699. 

On Tuesday, Apple announced its $699 iPhone 12 Mini, a handset the company says is the smallest 5G phone in the world. The Mini is nearly identical to the iPhone 12, only with a 5.4-inch screen, compared to the larger one’s 6.1-inch screen. Both have the same new, sharper screen technology, “ceramic shield” screen protector system, faster A14 Bionic processing chip, and the new MagSafe charging and accessories system.

A smaller phone for the same price may come across as a price hike, which is likely why Verizon and Apple are offering that people can turn in phones as old as 2017’s iPhone X and buy the $699 iPhone 12 Mini

In City Where China Welcomed the World, Xi Prepares for a Colder One

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When China first opened to overseas investors, the country was desperate for foreign technology to revive its growth. Now, as China faces rising global barriers, its leader, Xi Jinping, is urging greater domestic innovation.

Mr. Xi delivered this message on Wednesday while making an anniversary pilgrimage to the southern city of Shenzhen, which in 1980 was established as a “special economic zone” next to the global financial hub of Hong Kong. Shenzhen quickly became an incubator for “reform and opening up,” the strategy championed by the Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping that paved the way for the country’s decades-long economic takeoff.

Forty years later, Mr. Xi said China still welcomed foreign investors, but he also said it must prepare for a less welcoming world. The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the rise of barriers to the free flow of goods and technology, Mr. Xi said, a theme that he has stressed recently.

“The world economy is at low ebb and international trade and investment have drastically shrunk,” Mr. Xi said to a conference hall packed with officials and guests wearing protective masks, in a speech that was promoted heavily by the Chinese news media.

Mr. Xi did not refer directly to the Trump administration’s efforts to restrict Chinese companies’ access to American technology amid escalating tensions between the two countries. Instead, Mr. Xi broadly warned that “the world has entered a period of turbulence and transformation.” Shenzhen’s experience, he said, showed that China must “gain the initiative in the global technological revolution.”

China is striving to revive its economy and repair its international standing amid the coronavirus pandemic, which began late last year in the central city of Wuhan. The pandemic has driven negative views of China to new heights in the United States and other wealthy democracies, according to a survey

iPhone 12 with 5G, HomePod Mini and more: Everything Apple just announced

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2020-10-13-11-06-15

Apple/Screenshot by Sarah Tew/CNET

This story is part of Apple Event, our full coverage of the latest news from Apple headquarters.

Another year, another iPhone. (Did I say that last year?) This is the iPhone’s last year of tweendom before it hits teenhood: Apple announced its four-model iPhone 12 line on Tuesday, the first major revamp of the iPhone’s design since 2017’s iPhone X, which introduced face unlocking and better screen technology. This year they sport an array of colors, more models and 5G wireless support across the lineup. In addition to the HomePod Mini smart speaker, we were treated to the MagSafe wireless charging system for the iPhone and a stealth release of the $50 Beats Flex wireless headphones.

Here’s how you order iPhone 12, Mini, Pro and Pro Max models, on different days and at different prices.

Apple’s late to the 5G party (if you can call it “late” when the party’s just started), and incorporating the new wireless tech poses potential problems for Apple, but it could still be a big win for the company and carriers. And experts are already worrying about the new design’s affect on repairability, given that Apple already ranks pretty low on that score.

Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg came out to talk about the iPhone on its 5G Ultra Wideband network and its expansion plans, including turning on its nationwide 5G network. The iPhone 12 has a custom antenna design and, according to Apple, a boatload of testing. All models support mmWave 5G, at least in the US.

Apple updated its wireless charging with MagSafe for iPhone, a new charging coil design with a magnet that

Apple iPhone 12 Pro’s four cameras aim at serious photographers

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Apple’s iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Mini add significant new photography features, but camera hardware and computational photography software on the higher-end iPhone 12 Pro models really show how hard Apple is working to attract photo and video enthusiasts.



a close up of a camera: Apple's iPhone 12 Pro phones get new camera abilities, including a bigger image sensor, a faster main camera lens, improved image stabilization, a lidar sensor for low-light autofocus and a longer-reach telephoto lens on the iPhone 12 Pro Max. Screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET


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Apple’s iPhone 12 Pro phones get new camera abilities, including a bigger image sensor, a faster main camera lens, improved image stabilization, a lidar sensor for low-light autofocus and a longer-reach telephoto lens on the iPhone 12 Pro Max. Screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET

Among the changes in the iPhone 12 Pro models are new abilities to fuse multiple frames into one superior shot and a lidar sensor for improved autofocus. The iPhone 12 Pro Max also gets a larger sensor for better low-light performance on the main camera, a telephoto camera that zooms in better on distant subjects and better stabilization to counteract your shaky hands.

iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Mini, Pro and Pro Max explained

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The iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Mini, iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max debuted at Apple’s iPhone 12 launch event Tuesday. The iPhone 12 (from $799, £799, AU$1,349) and 12 Mini (from $699, £699, AU$1,199) stick to last year’s design, with regular, ultrawide and selfie cameras. 

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The bigger photography improvements come with the 12 Pro (from $999, £999, AU$1,699) and 12 Pro Max (from $1,099, £1,099, AU$1,849), which get a larger image sensor and a fourth telephoto camera for more distant subjects, too. The iPhone 12 Pro has the same 2X zoom telephoto reach as earlier iPhones — a 52mm equivalent focal length — but the 12 Pro Max’s extends to 2.5X zoom, or a 65mm equivalent lens.

Cameras are one of the most important features on a new smartphone along with processor

New features and some new hurdles

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