Apple finally took the wraps off its first 5G iPhones, unveiling a quartet of next generation handsets during an event which also featured a special network announcement from Verizon.

The vendor’s CEO Tim Cook (pictured) hailed the addition of 5G to its handsets as “the beginning of a new era for iPhone,” stating it will enable “entirely new opportunities for our developers and our users”.

The iPhone 12, 12 mini, 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max all feature a new A14 Bionic chipset Apple billed as the fastest CPU and GPU available in a smartphone.

Arun Mathias, Apple’s VP of wireless technologies and ecosystems, said the phones also use a custom antenna and radio system which makes them compatible with more 5G bands than any other smartphone, allowing them to work “in more places”.

Addressing potential battery-life concerns, Mathias added Apple optimised its iOS frameworks to allow applications to tap into 5G without using more power, and designed a Smart Data Mode feature which pushes the devices onto 4G when 5G speeds aren’t needed.

All four devices also feature a new ceramic display offering improved durability and compatibility with magnetic accessories using Apple’s MagSafe technology.

The 6.1-inch iPhone 12 and 5.4-inch mini come with a dual cameras comprising 12MP wide and ultra-wide lenses. The 6.1-inch Pro and 6.7-inch Pro Max boast a triple set-up with 12MP wide, ultra-wide and telephoto lenses.

Apple plans to release the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro in 36 countries from 23 October, priced at $799 (64GB) and $999 (128GB) respectively.

The iPhone 12 mini and Pro Max versions are due on sale from 13 November for $699 (64GB) and $1,099 (128GB) respectively.

In a surprise move, Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg took to the stage to announce nationwide availability of a low-band 5G service covering 200 million people across 1,800 cities and towns, declaring “5G just got real.”

The operator in a press release also highlighted continued expansion of an existing limited-range mmWave 5G service, with deployments in 19 new cities raising its total covered to 55, as it works towards a goal of reaching more than 60 cities by the year-end.

Jason Reed, lead analyst for digital consumer at GSMA Intelligence, told Mobile World Live the iPhone launch should help drive 5G adoption in the US, noting “Apple has the largest and most loyal customer base of any smartphone brand” in the country.

But he added Apple failed to show consumers “what they will be able to do with 5G that they can’t already do on their existing network,” meaning that, for many, the capabilities “will be at best an incidental perk alongside accessing all the new camera features of the iPhone 12”.

Watch our 5-min highlights video of the event here.