Gizmos

Three Things Apple Announced That People Actually Want, and One They Don’t

The iPhone 12 Pro
Guess what this doesn’t come with? Apple

On Tuesday, Apple held its annual, slightly COVID-delayed iPhone unveiling event, only this year it was remote and starred CEO Tim Cook in an empty auditorium. The company ended up introducing four new phones: the iPhone 12, the iPhone 12 mini, the iPhone 12 Pro, and the iPhone 12 Pro Max. Over the course of the hourlong presentation, Apple executives detailed a host of new features sure to please this season’s phone buyers, along with one change that’s sure to infuriate them.

The Crowd-Pleasers

iPhone 12 mini: This is the first time that Apple has used the “mini” descriptor for an iPhone, following the Mac mini, iPad mini, and iPod mini. Apple has been making iPhones bigger and bigger over the years, much to some users’ chagrin, particularly those with tiny hands. Analysts have offered various explanations for these growing sizes, from making room for 5G parts to questions over how much demand there really is for smaller phones. The $700 iPhone 12 mini is smaller than the iPhone SE released earlier this year, as well as the iPhone 8, and this new model will still be able to support 5G. (In fact, the iPhone mini has a larger screen than the iPhone 8’s, even while its body is smaller.) Apple calls the iPhone 12 mini “the smallest, thinnest, lightest 5G phone in the world.” This new smaller phone was able to trim its size by replacing Touch ID with Face ID, reducing the bezels, and forgoing a triple-lens camera.

League of Legends: Owners of the iPhone 12 will be able to play a new version of the wildly popular game, which will be called League of Legends: Wild Rift. Developer Riot Games designed the game specifically for mobile and is expected to release it later this year. The iPhone 12’s new A14 Bionic chip will be crucial for supporting the game, as it runs 15 percent faster while using 30 percent less power compared with its predecessor, the A13.

League of Legends is one of the most successful gaming franchises of all time, with millions of players, billions of dollars of revenue, and esports tournaments that attract tens of millions of fans. Gameplay involves teams of players engaging in fantastical battles. League of Legends’ entry into the Apple ecosystem notably comes right after the App Store kicked out another immensely popular franchise, Fortnite, over a payment disagreement that has ignited a full-on antitrust battle.

Magnetic charging: Apple is bringing back the MagSafe brand for its iPhone 12 line, which will allow the devices to more easily connect to wireless chargers and juice up their batteries twice as fast. The new iPhones will have a magnetic back that lets the user attach a charger and a variety of other accessories. The company had previously featured MagSafe in its laptops, which used magnets to attach wires to the devices’ ports. The new MagSafe products for the iPhone 12 include a leather wallet and cases—and will no doubt lead to a new cottage industry of iPhone-back decorative flair.

The Crowd-Bummer

No charger or earbuds: The new iPhone 12 line will not include earbuds or a power adapter in the box, so users will have to buy them separately. During the Wednesday event, VP Lisa Jackson cast the omissions as part of the company’s effort to reduce waste. “Customers already have over 700 million Lightning headphones, and many customers have moved to a wireless experience. … There are also over 2 billion Apple power adapters out in the world,” she said. “We are removing these items from the iPhone box, which reduces carbon emissions and avoids the mining and use of precious materials.” This may smack of the company trying to give consumers less bang for their buck in the name of environmentalism, though CNET notes that the move will actually allow Apple to offset the costs of creating its first 5G-enabled phones. Whatever the reason, the company is probably hoping this will finally nudge more users to invest in some AirPods.