5 biggest takeaways from Apple’s iPhone 12 event [Cult of Mac Magazine 371]

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Let's run down all the week's big Apple news.
Let's run down all the week's big Apple news.
Cover: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

New iPhones (both “regular” and mini, as well as Pro and Pro Max). A new, pint-size HomePod mini. And the triumphant return of MagSafe … this week’s “Hi, Speed” event delivered the goods.

Read up on all the new Apple gear, and find out why we’re totally psyched about the iPhone 12 mini (and a bit less so about 5G), in this week’s free issue of Cult of Mac Magazine. Download it now to read on your iOS device.

Oh, and don’t worry — we’ve got plenty of post-show analysis (and some even fresher Apple news and rumors, too) …

These 5G supercuts will burn the word into your brain

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Apple isn't exactly subtle about pushing high-speed 5G networking. These 5G supercuts from the
Apple isn't exactly subtle about pushing 5G.
Photo: Apple

Apple execs uttered the term “5G” so many times during Tuesday’s iPhone 12 unveiling that they could have triggered semantic satiation. (That’s when you hear something so many times that it starts to sound … really weird.)

If their repetition of the word didn’t burn 5G into your brain — or turn your gray matter into mush — the 5G supercuts that followed certainly will.

Apple leaks must make things completely crazy in Cupertino

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When will the Apple leaks stop?
Some people love Apple leaks. Other people surely hate them.
Photo: Apple

I imagine Tim Cook seething with rage.

And I imagine workers in Apple’s marketing department filled with a gut-churning mixture of righteous anger, paranoia and dread.

What could cause such unpleasantness inside the pristine glass walls of Apple’s spaceship HQ (or within remote employees’ home bubbles)? Tuesday morning, images of the entire iPhone 12 lineup and HomePod mini leaked just hours ahead of Apple’s “Hi, Speed” event.

5 big takeaways from the iPhone 12 launch event

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The Apple “Hi, Speed” event was critical, including the iPhone 12 launch.
Apple called Tuesday’s event “Hi,Speed” as reference to the iPhone 12 with super-fast 5G networking.
Screenshot: Apple

Apple’s “Hi, Speed” event included the company’s most critical release of 2020: the much-anticipated iPhone 12 series. And a long-awaited cheaper HomePod, too.

Here are the most important takeaways from Tuesday’s event to put these new products in context.

All the things we didn’t get at Apple’s ‘Hi, Speed’ event

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Hi, Speed event image with wishlist in background
Apple's "Hi, Speed" event offered up some nice updates to the iPhone 12 and HomePod, but left some boxes on the wishlist unchecked.
Photo: Ian Fuchs/Cult of Mac

It happens before every Apple event. The rumor mill, tech blogs (hello), and iPhone-obsessed nerds pin every hope, dream and desire on the next version of Apple’s devices.

More often than not, those desires are dashed, pushing those wants off to another event. While Apple’s iPhone 12 event showed the steps the company is taking toward iterating on its most popular device, there were also some things left on the wish list.

Apple resurrects MagSafe as snap-on iPhone accessory system

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How it works
What's old is new again.
Photo: Apple

Apple’s beloved MagSafe branding made its return at Tuesday’s “Hi, Speed” Apple event. And, if it’s not quite like it was before, isn’t that the same as every single story about something being brought back from the beyond?

The new, different version of MagSafe will allow users to snap on accessories to the back of their iPhones. Think wallets, cases and — in a new move for Apple — its first official wireless charging pads for iPhone.

iPhone 12 Pro dazzles with new design, 5G, improved cameras

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iPhone 12 Pro in Pacific blue
iPhone 12 Pro is "the photographer's iPhone."
Photo: Apple

The wait for iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max is over. During its big “Hi, Speed” keynote on Tuesday, Apple showcased its latest flagships with a dazzling new design inspired by iPad Pro, super-fast 5G connectivity, and the latest A14 Bionic chipset.

The lineup also brings new color options, improved cameras, and MagSafe — but not as you know it. You can preorder yours this Friday, October 16, before the new handsets make their official debut one week later on October 23.

With HomePod mini, Apple goes small, cheap and smart

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HomePod mini lives up to its name
HomePod mini offers a smaller and cheaper Apple smart speaker experience.
Photo: Apple

Apple took the wraps of the HomePod mini Tuesday, showcasing a pint-size smart speaker that promises high-end audio at a lower price than its big brother. But the most interesting parts might have nothing to do with music.

With Apple’s custom U1 ultra-wideband chip inside, the HomePod mini also can serve as an advanced hub for home automation. A new Intercom feature promises to connect family members wherever they are. And, in typical Cupertino fashion, the speaker will work closely with other Apple devices.

Like the larger HomePod, the small, round smart speaker comes wrapped in a mesh fabric. A backlit touch surface on the top offers volume controls and shines during Siri interactions.

The HomePod mini measures just 3.3 inches high by 3.9 inches wide, and weighs just 0.76 pounds. It packs one full-range driver and dual passive radiators, and it leans on what Apple calls “computational audio” to deliver high-quality audio out of this smaller form factor. Despite many of Apple’s glamor shots making it look totally wireless, the HomePod mini relies on a cord just like its big brother.

An experience ‘only Apple can deliver’

Long-time Apple fans might not be too shocked to hear that the $99 smart speaker will offer an experience “only Apple can deliver.”

Why Apple should blitz us with frequent virtual events

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Apple monthly events don’t have to stop. Ever.
Let's make this a monthly thing, Apple.
Composite : Cult of Mac

The only thing wrong with Apple’s product-release events is that there aren’t enough of them. The company supposedly will put on three of them this autumn — and while that’s a good start, there needs to be many more.

Apple held a product-release event in September, and will announce more new products at a second event on Tuesday. Unconfirmed reports point to a third event in November. But there’s no reason to stop there. Apple should keep holding them every month. They get us excited about new products, which is good for Apple — and for Apple fans, too.