Apple Announces HomePod mini and iPhone 12 Lineup at Live Event

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Apple held its “Hi, Speed” event today and, as expected, we got our first official look at the new iPhone 12, which is available in four (four!) different configurations. Along with the new smartphones, Apple also introduced its latest smart speaker, the HomePod mini. In case you missed it, here’s everything Apple debuted today.

HomePod mini

Apple kicked off the event with a bit of a surprise announcement: the HomePod mini—a miniaturized (and slightly rounder) follow-up to the original HomePod. Like its predecessor, the new HomePod mini features an attractive mesh fabric exterior with an illuminated touch surface on top that allows users to navigate music, adjust volume, and interact with Siri. So far, it’s available in two colors: white and space gray. Sitting on a shelf, the white version sort of looks like a futuristic candle—which is a very good and cool thing.  

HomePod mini

The HomePod mini features Apple’s new S5 chip, which, according to Apple, works alongside the company’s specialized acoustic waveguide technology to produce incredible, immersive sound. Supposedly, this approach uses the same acoustic principles as the original HomePod, which, we can confirm, sounds really, really good. 

Just like the original, the HomePod mini is a smart speaker with “Hey Siri” functionality, so you can ask it questions and get answers to all your pressing queries. However, in addition to its digital assistant capability, the HomePod mini also comes with the all-new intercom feature, which lets users send voice messages between HomePod minis and other supported devices, including the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, AirPods, and CarPlay.

The HomePod mini also appears to play well with others. Obviously it’s going to work flawlessly within Apple’s own ecosystem, but according to Apple, the HomePod mini will support lots of third-party music apps and services, including Pandora, Amazon Music, and iHeartRadio. That support won’t be available right away, but should roll out later this year.

iPhone 12 

Coming into this year’s event, we all knew what the headliner was going to be: the iPhone 12. However, what we didn’t know was just how many versions of the iPhone 12 were going to be announced. Four! That’s how many variations we saw today. According to Apple, they are the iPhone 12, the iPhone 12 mini, the iPhone 12 Pro, and the iPhone 12 Pro Max.


Probably the best way to think about the four different models is to categorize them into two classes: Standard and Pro. The Standard class includes the “regular” iPhone 12 and the iPhone 12 mini. Both models feature Apple’s newest smartphone chip—the A14 Bionic—a powerful dual-camera system, a “Super Retina XDR” display, and Apple’s new “Ceramic Shield” front cover. Oh, yeah, and they both support 5G technology. 

Now, as you might have guessed, the big difference between the iPhone 12 and the iPhone 12 mini is screen size. Both models feature an edge-to-edge custom OLED, but the iPhone 12’s display is 6.1", while the iPhone 12 mini offers 5.4". Both screens are said to deliver “industry-leading color accuracy” with better visuals and more peak brightness than the iPhones before them, so it doesn’t sound like there will be any difference in picture quality. It’s just a matter of size preference.

In addition to those mentioned, there are plenty more shared features between the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini, but one of the most exciting is the new MagSafe system. Now, OK, technically speaking, MagSafe isn’t new new—we first saw a version of it used with our old MacBooks. It was handy back then, and it looks even handier now. The updated MagSafe system will feature a suite of useful functions and accessories, including a magnetic wallet and combination folding charger; it will also help facilitate wireless charging, which is a nice add-on for those that prize contactless charging.

Jumping over to the “Pro” phones, the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max, we see a lot of the same features as the “Standard” class: A14 Bionic chip, 5G performance, Ceramic Shield, and edge-to-edge Super Retina XDR displays. Those displays, by the way, measure 6.1" for the iPhone 12 Pro (same size as the standard iPhone 12) and 6.7" for the iPhone 12 Pro Max.

So why are these phones labeled “Pro?” Well, if what we saw today was any indicator, the iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max might just have the most powerful camera system ever made—definitely one of the most sophisticated and capable. 

Both Pro models employ a triple-camera system with telephoto, wide, and ultra-wide lenses (although the Max’s system is spec’d a little higher and has a slightly longer tele lens). On top of capturing gorgeous stills, both Pro phones can record in 10-bit HDR. Both also support an end-to-end Dolby Vision HDR experience, including editing. Both models also feature advanced optical image stabilization—the Max even has sensor-shift on the wide, a first for any iPhone. Plenty of upgrades come to all three cameras, including better low-light performance, thanks to bigger sensors and larger apertures. Apple even brought Night Mode to all the cameras this time around. Plus, there is a new ProRAW format which captures an incredible amount of information for incredible editing flexibility. The list of pro-grade camera features goes on for a while, but suffice it to say, if you’re in the market for a new iPhone and you’re looking for superior camera performance, the Pro class is the way to go.

In addition to the three-camera array, the front camera has been improved, as well. But the real news is the addition of a new LiDAR sensor to the rear of the phone. Augmented Reality (AR) apps can now enjoy incredibly accurate measurements and performance. And, the inclusion of LiDAR allows Portrait Mode to work at night and enable faster autofocus in dim light.

One More Thing ...

Although it wasn't announced at the live event, Apple-owned Beats also released a new product today: Beats Flex. These new earphones are said to combine the signature sound quality of Beats with Apple’s advanced audio processing tech. The result is a relatively inexpensive pair of wireless earphones that are powered by Apple’s sophisticated W1 chip and said to feature impressive, Beats-quality sound and bass, reliable Bluetooth connectivity, and a 12-hour battery life. They’re available now in four stylish colors: Beats Black, Yuzu Yellow, Smoke Gray, and Flame Blue.

Beats Flex

What do you think about all the new Apple products? Are you planning on getting the HomePod mini or one of the four new iPhone 12 smartphones? Let us know!  

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