At last, some good news! It’s been a difficult few months, but Apple is ready to help lift your spirits. On Tuesday, the company finally introduced the iPhone 12, in four different variants and a smattering of delightful colors. Could this be the best thing that has happened in 2020? Maybe!


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This was a very special Apple event. Because it’s still not safe to gather in crowds, the usual hoopla was abandoned in favor of a series of prerecorded videos. But you didn’t need to be there to understand that this is the most dramatic iPhone release in years. The new model uses Apple’s new A14 Bionic system on a chip, which has 11.8 billion transistors spread across six cores and powers a whole slew of cool new features.

The Big Picture

The feature that will have the biggest day-to-day impact for most users is the improved set of cameras. When you’re living through history, you really want to have the best possible image capture at your fingertips. The sky can now turn bright orange because of how much of the planet is on fire, and the iPhone 12’s Deep Fusion computational photography system and Smart HDR 3 system will help you catch every last surreal hue. Future generations may not believe it was ever blue, so now is the time to take your final beautiful shots of the horizon using the new 12 megapixel f/1.8 “wide” camera. Kudos, as always, to Apple’s hardware engineers for designing the devices we’ll need in this previously unfathomable future.

Some have speculated that the front-facing cameras’ FaceID unlocking feature may be significantly faster on the new phones. This is all a bit theoretical for now, given that your face will always be covered by a mask. Still, it’s nice to know that the feature will be waiting for us if we do ever manage to develop a vaccine. Also, credit where it’s due: Apple’s is one of the only widespread facial-recognition technologies on the market that helps people instead of surveilling them.

In the meantime, the stress of long-term isolation has made it more important than ever to keep in touch with your support network, particularly if your terrible health insurance doesn’t include mental health benefits. This is still technically a phone, after all, even if the unchecked proliferation of spam callers makes it nearly impossible to use it as one. Tools like Facetime are absolutely vital when you can’t safely see your friends and family in person, and on the iPhone 12 you’ll always look great no matter how you’re actually doing. FaceTime is end-to-end encrypted, too, so your conversations will be private—although if you’re really worried about that you should probably just switch to Signal.

The Silver Lining

The iPhone 12 does its part to keep up with the breakneck pace of life in 2020. Connectivity speeds have been dramatically upgraded, with the new models all operating over high-speed 5G networks and delivering data at up to 4 gigabits per second. That’s especially welcome given that most of the mainstream internet is now bloated with ads that are difficult to block from mobile device operating systems. I guess you could try to solve that problem by addressing the underlying economic forces, but as usual Apple has a more elegant solution: Just move everything to higher speeds!

At this week’s unveiling event, Apple CEO Tim Cook pointed out that faster connectivity also helps improve your personal security, since you won’t need to connect to the internet as often via sketchy Wi-Fi hot spots. He’s right: You really can’t afford to trust foreign networks anymore. At the very least, you have to use a VPN service anytime you connect to the internet through a network that you don’t personally control. In fact, it may even be wise to just use a VPN all the time, even over your own connection, now that the FCC has explicitly allowed ISPs to undermine net neutrality and the FBI doesn’t need a warrant to examine your browsing history. Whether you pay for an extra layer of protection or not, 5G is a big deal.