Apple’s new iPhone 12 range launched with clear compromises in every model, but now Apple documentation has now confirmed the first details of its next iPhone – and you might want to scrap that upgrade. 

MORE FROM FORBESFirst Apple iPhone 13 Leaks Reveal Smaller Notch, ProMotion Display, Touch ID

First spotted on Twitter and subsequently confirmed by MacRumors, page 71 of Apple’s settlement filing with Qualcomm (following the pair’s long-running legal battle) reveals Apple’s 5G plans for the next 4 four years. Moreover, it specifically confirms Apple will be using Qualcomm’s radically upgraded X60 5G modem in 2021 “Apple Products” (read: iPhone) and this fixes the worst flaws in the iPhone 12 range. 

iPhone 12 models use Qualcomm’s X55 5G modem (also detailed in the settlement filing and confirmed in an iPhone 12 teardown today) and this hardware not only carries a big price premium but also high power drain and limited international support. This forced Apple into multiple compromises, with significant consequences. 

First was cost cutting. The most high profile has been Apple’s decision to remove EarPods and a wall charger from iPhone 12 boxes, but the most significant was the company’s move to also save costs by fitting smaller batteries across the range. The latter decision, combined with the X55’s high power draw means tests have confirmed they deliver inferior battery life to their predecessors. This also explains the absence of 120Hz ProMotion displays. Apple is also not supporting the fastest 5G standard (‘mmWave’) on any iPhone 12 model outside the US and multi-sim 5G is not available. 

But the X60 changes everything. Unlike the X55, it can be integrated into a phone’s main chipset which saves space, reduces battery drain and lowers cost. It is compatible with 5G networks globally, supports dual sim and even aggregates both mmWave and Sub-6GHz (slower, longer range) 5G networks simultaneously to deliver eye watering performance. 

All of which explains why the first iPhone 13 leaks read like a wish list of everything we didn’t get from the iPhone 12 line-up. In addition to this, the iPhone 13 range will be the first models to feature a smaller notch and in-display Touch ID (alongside Face ID) which adds the kind of flexibility a mask wearing world needs. 

So yes, iPhone 12 models offer perfectly solid upgrade options but one they are unquestionably impacted by the compromises caused by the X55 modem. Next year, thanks to Apple’s own documentation, we know the gloves are off. 

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