Looks like we're on for a 13th October launch for the iPhone 12 – but for the first time, your new iPhone won't come bundled with a free pair of headphones. Both rumours have circulated before, but recent happenings lend them more credence.
Firstly, the new iPhone release date. According to noted Apple leaker Jon Prosser (opens in new tab), the first shipment of iPhone 12 units will be sent out to distributers on 5th October. He went on to reiterate that the device will launch eight days later, on 13th October.
Now, the lack of headphones. New code in the latest version of iOS, Apple's mobile operating system, heavily hints that, for the first time, Apple will sell the phone without bundled headphones.
Whereas code in previous versions of iOS mentioned using the "supplied headphones" to reduce exposure to RF energy, this has been changed in iOS 14.2 to remove the word "supplied" – now it reads just "headphones".
Here's the statement in full, via Mac Rumors (opens in new tab):
"To reduce exposure to RF energy, use a hands-free option, such as the built-in speakerphone, headphones, or other similar accessories."
Rumours have suggested for months that Apple would remove its EarPods headphones from the iPhone 12 box, along with the power adaptor. Fuel was added to the rumour fire last month when Apple launched the Apple Watch Series 6, which ships without a power adaptor. If true, buyers of the iPhone 12 would only get the handset along with a Lightning-to-USB-C cable in the box.
Apple's headphones have been a staple of portable Apple products since the first iPod was introduced in 2001. They have gone by various names over the years, with the EarPods models shipping with every iPhone since 2012. However, they have always been regarded as pretty poor, with those users concerned with audio quality tending to replace them pretty quickly.
With the launch of the latest Apple Watch, Apple sold the lack of a power adaptor as an environmental concern. But critics say not bundling headphones with the iPhone 12 is a bid to boost sales of its excellent AirPods wireless earbuds. Either way, it could be the end of Apple's iconic free earphones.