We might be right smack in a pandemic but it hasn’t stopped the brilliant minds at Cupertino, California from bringing Christmas to us early.
Comprised of four distinct models — ranging from the entry-level iPhone 12 Mini to the top-range iPhone 12 Pro Max — Apple’s extensive range means that there’s now one for everyone, whether you’re in it for the speed, the camera, or simply want a device that can handle your everyday needs in style. So begs the question: Which model do you really need?
After spending a week with the iPhone 12 Pro, it was clear that this particular model wasn’t just about better tech. Instead, it was designed to fit into any modern lifestyle as seamlessly as possible — a feat few others brands are still trying to achieve. Here’s why it’s my pick.
The first thing you’ll notice is how the iPhone 12 Pro deviates from previous generations in terms of looks, mostly because the rounded bezels have been replaced with a flat metal frame, an aesthetic reminiscent of the iPhone 4 and 5. While it didn’t nestle into my hand quite as comfortably as it used to, it does feel more compact. Still, it didn’t take very long to get used to.
Both the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro look essentially the same and can even share the same cases, but while the former has an aluminium band around the edges, the latter has a surgical-grade stainless steel band finish in four matching colours that lends more sleekness and toughness to the smartphone. There’s the usual Graphite and Silver, but for something that’ll stand out a little more go for the Gold or — my personal favourite — Pacific Blue.
A Ceramic Shield front cover that’s infused with nano-ceramic crystals promises to increase drop performance by four times, although this is one feature I won’t be actively testing out anytime soon. Same goes for the IP68 rating that comes with all iPhone 12 Pro models, which claims to withstand water submersion up to six metres for up to 30 minutes. If you’re as big a klutz as I am, Apple claims the phone does well under accidental water, coffee, and soda spills too.
Durability aside, the flat edges have allowed Apple to extend the screen even closer towards the edges to grow the display from 5.8 inches to 6.1 inches. You’ll notice the difference when you’re watching a movie; the larger screen and OLED colour and contrast really bring HDR videos to life.
The iPhone 12 Pro houses the A14 Bionic, which manages to be even faster and more efficient than ever (i.e. it can squeeze more life out of a smaller battery). It’ll also enable better photography and video processing on the device.
One of the biggest draws of getting this model is also its 5G capabilities. Instead of simply bringing this super-fast connectivity to the non-Android masses, it explored a new approach by embedding the highest number of radios and antennas around the bezel, giving not only better reception but also a higher quality of reception.
This means you won’t only get faster uploads and downloads, but also greater latency if you’re big on games from the Apple Arcade. Apple also revealed that it’s worked closely with carriers here by tuning the phone to the network via extensive testing, so that consumers have the best experience possible at launch.
The camera experience is possibly the main thing that stands out between the Pro models and the rest, and the extra hardware in the form of the 2x zoom and the LiDAR feels like good enough reasons to splurge a little more.
The iPhone 12’s camera is no doubt already a force to be reckoned with (review here), but the iPhone 12 Pro goes above and beyond with a new seven-element lens wide camera with an ƒ/1.6 aperture, which is the fastest ever on an iPhone. Both the photos and videos that the smartphone capture are superb — whether you’re documenting your life for Instagram or actually making a film — with camera hardware that drives better image quality and computational photography capabilities not possible with traditional cameras.
The Night Mode that was introduced on the iPhone 11 continues to make waves here again, only this time with boosted low-light performance for crisper image with finer details and less noice. This means your night out can now be immortalised without being a super dark or over-lit mess. The triple-camera system of the Pros also sport a LiDAR scanner that helps enable Night Mode portraits and improves autofocus at night, so you still get that dreamy bokeh effect. You can also take time-lapse videos with Night Mode.
Even the selfie camera, in general, is a step up from previous years and boasts nearly every feature that the rear cameras offer, including Smart HDR 3 for better image processing, Deep Fusion image enhancement, and Dolby Vision video recording.
There are also video upgrades that would make even the professionals jealous. If you’re an aspiring filmmaker, go for the Pro models — they have the first cameras and only devices in the world that can record, edit and watch Dolby Vision content in 4K at 60 frames per second, with better video stabilization for cinema-grade productions.
Other notable details
Battery life is still decent on this phone. With a full charge, I spent a a full day taking photographs, downloading files, web-browsing, and checking into places, and the phone lasted me till after dinner. If you want to squeeze a little more juice out of the device, Apple has its power-saving mode and a smart data mode that automatically switches from 5G to 4G to preserve battery and better manage data, so no more racking up ridiculous bills.
Even if you do run out of power, there’s the new MagSafe, which joins Apple’s ecosystem of accessories to offer high-powered wireless charging. A series of magnets is built into the back of every iPhone 12 model to help cases snap into place at the perfect orientation during charging to juice up your phone faster than traditional Qi wireless chargers. There are clear and silicone cases (out now) as well as leather ones (coming soon) that can support this nifty tech, so you’ll want to keep an eye out for those instead of the random cases you usually get for cheap.
Another important thing to note is that Apple has downsized its packaging in its commitment to reducing its carbon footprint, so while the box is thankfully smaller and lighter, it also means that there won’t be a charging adapter (although a Lightning connector port is provided instead) nor headphones that come with your purchase of the iPhone 12, which could turn some people off seeing as the phone as the phone is pretty pricey. Still, knowing that these changes will cut over two million metric tons of carbon emissions annually is just enough to make the lack of accessories slightly easier to swallow.
The iPhone 12 Pro is easily the most feature-rich iPhone you can buy right now, and is the perfect candidate if you’re wondering if the base iPhone 12 has enough raw power to handle all your needs. If you’re really all about the camera, however, you might want the Pro Max, which will see notable upgrades such as a standard wide lens, with a much larger sensor with sensor-shift stabilization.
Besides, the starting storage of the Pro is 128GB as opposed to the base iPhone 12’s 64GB, and that extra bit of RAM will definitely come useful if you’re an avid photographer or videographer. The phone is fast and superbly efficient, and while battery life hasn’t really improved can be charged rather efficiently if you have access to the Magsafe charger. Unless you already have the iPhone 11 Pro and want to wait another generation, I say make the switch. You won’t regret it.
Shop or find out more about the iPhone 12 Pro at all Apple stores, retailers, or online here.