iPhone 12 Pro Review: Everything Old is New Again

Evaluation:
9/10
?

1 – Absolute hot garbage
2 – Sorta warm garbage
3 – Strongly imperfect design
4 – A few advantages, many disadvantages
5 – Acceptably imperfect
6 – Good enough to buy on sale
7 – Excellent, but not the best in its class
8 – Fantastic, with some footnotes
9 – shut up and take my money
10 – Absolute Conception Nirvana

Price: $ 999

iPhone 12 Pro in Pacific BlueJustin duino

Not to say something that has been said over and over again, but you know it only works when you buy an iPhone. The iPhone 12 Pro, Apple’s flagship smartphone for 2020 alongside the Pro Max, retains everything that makes the iPhone loved by so many while bringing back a popular design that makes it all.

This is what we like

The material is premium
The cameras are top notch
MagSafe is really nice

And what we don’t do

5G is overrated
No display at high refresh rate
No AC adapter included

Here’s everything you need to know if you’re planning to buy an iPhone 12 Pro for yourself.

Material: square edges and flat screen

Most of the high-end phones on the market in 2020 are rectangular, feature two pieces of glass that sandwich a metal frame, and have curved edges. Even Apple has used this basic formula for its last half-dozen iPhones.

Fortunately, the iPhone 12 Pro (and the rest of the 12 series) brings back the proven design first introduced with the iPhone 4 in 2010. Instead of rounded sides, the 12 Pro is (almost) completely flat with edges that appear. to meet the front and back glass pieces at 90 degree angles.

Although retro, Apple made the design extremely upscale and modern. As the title says, everything old is new again.

But before we go ahead, let’s take out the list of iPhone 12 Pro specs:

Display: 6.1 inch OLED, 2532 x 1170 resolution, 60Hz refresh rate
Processor: Apple A14 Bionic
RAM: 6 GB
Storage room: 128 GB, 256 GB, 512 GB
Rear cameras: 12 MP Wide (main), f / 1.6 aperture; 12 MP Ultra-wide, 120 degrees, f / 2.4 aperture; 12 MP telephoto lens, f / 2.0 aperture, 4x optical zoom range, LiDAR sensor
Front cameras:12 MP, f / 2.2 aperture; TrueDepth Camera for Face ID
The ports: Lightning
Headphone socket: No
Drums: 10.78 Wh (~ 2,814 mAh)
Fingerprint detector: No, Face ID
Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) with 2 × 2 MIMO; Bluetooth 5.0; NFC; Ultra-wideband chip for spatial awareness
5G compatibility: 5G (sub-6 GHz and mmWave); Gigabit LTE with 4 × 4 MIMO and LAA
iOS version: iOS 14.2
Colors: Silver, Graphite, Gold, Pacific Blue
Price: $ 999

Beyond the hand-held feel, the square, flat construction provides more screen space. Even though the iPhone 12 Pro is slightly larger than the iPhone 11 Pro, you get a 6.1-inch (up from 5.8-inch) screen thanks to the reduced bezel sizes required by the previous round design.

iPhone 12 Pro vs. iPhone 11 ProLeft: iPhone 11 Pro; Right: iPhone 12 Pro Justin duino

It’s hard to describe how the iPhone 12 Pro feels in the hand. I started to call it dense. While it doesn’t weigh much more than other flagships like the Samsung Galaxy S20 (164g vs. 163g), the 12 Pro has a solid, balanced weight that’s about perfect.

The rear of the 12 Pro consists of a very family-friendly matte finish that is both grippy and fingerprint resistant. The front, however, is made of something named Ceramic shield. In partnership with Corning, Apple made a clear, colorless glass ceramic that is said to be four times more resistant to damage from drops.

And speaking of the screen, despite early rumors that Apple might adopt a 120Hz display, the iPhone 12 Pro peaks at 60Hz. I personally don’t have any issues with that and think the screen OLED is beautiful. But when similarly priced (and cheaper) Android smartphones come with high refresh rate screens, I understand the complaint.

The worst part about the design of the iPhone 12 Pro is the stainless steel edge. It’s not very slippery, but it’s a fingerprint magnet. Hit that. I wish it was just a fingerprint magnet. The only time you’ll see the mirror finish is when you take the phone out of the box.

The fingerprint magnet of the iPhone 12 Pro on the stainless steel sideJustin duino

The shiny edge honestly drags the excellent material down. If the handset had the matte edge of the iPhone 12 or iPhone 12 Mini, I wouldn’t be inclined to stick the 12 Pro in a case.

Software: it’s iOS, but now with (a few) customizations

iOS: either you like it or you don’t like it. Apple takes pride in creating a simplistic yet powerful mobile operating system that anyone can use and use. Unlike some Android manufacturers, you are not encouraged to make major changes to the iPhone interface. If you’ve seen an iPhone, you’ve seen them all.

iPhone 12 Pro in handJustin duino

That changed a bit with the release of iOS 14. Literally 12 years after Android, Apple introduced widgets and an application drawer (in the form of Application library).

These new features don’t remotely bring iOS near the amount of customization offered by Google’s mobile operating system. Still, you get better control over what information is visible and a place to hide unused (or rarely used) apps that don’t involve endless Home screen folders.

IOS app library on the iPhone 12 ProJustin duino

But in hindsight, these new features aren’t limited to the iPhone 12 Pro. If you even have a five year iPhone, you have these features. And therefore the beauty of owning an iPhone. Every year a faster, more powerful processor is built into the latest handset, but the overall experience won’t change.

The iPhone 12 Pro is no different. Equipped with the A14 Bionic processor, I have never experienced lagging or forced closing of background apps due to low memory. One advantage of Apple that owns the full stack (CPU, iPhone and iOS) is that there are very few bugs or hiccups on a daily basis.

Cameras: Apple is fighting for gold or silver

Apple has always focused on iPhone cameras, but that hasn’t stopped Google and Samsung from taking the top spot in the picture quality category. The tides started to turn in 2019 when Apple focused more on computational photography.

Let’s say Apple has spent the last year refining its technology and is rapidly encroaching on Google and Samsung territory.

The cameras of the iPhone 12 ProJustin duino

As with the iPhone 11 Pro, the 12 Pro includes three cameras: one wide, one ultra-wide, and one telephoto. New this year is the addition of a LiDAR sensor.

While the sensor can be used to measure depth and enhance AR experiences, it is primarily used to help the iPhone 12 Pro’s three cameras. For example, having depth information allows for cleaner shots in Portrait mode and even allows for portraits at night or in low light situations.

Below are some sample photos taken with all three lenses. Click on one of the images to view the file in full size.

Ultra Wide Camera for iPhone 12 Pro IPhone 12 Pro main cameraIPhone 12 Pro Telephoto Camera IPhone 12 Pro main camera with portrait modeTop left: ultra-wide; Top right: main camera; Bottom left: telephoto lens; Bottom right: main camera with portrait mode

As you can see there is no color shift between the sensors and all three record realistic color tones. Unfortunately, it seems that ultra-wide cameras and telephoto lenses take smoother images. That’s an improvement over the iPhone 11 Pro, but they’re still not as sharp as the wide lens.

Speaking of which, Portrait mode on the main sensor (with the help of the LiDar sensor) creates beautiful photos. Using my puppy as a model, you can see a smooth transition from his face to the blurred background. There are no hard lines between the subject and the false bokeh.

The same can be said for the front camera of the iPhone 12 Pro. Obviously, it’s not as crisp as the device’s main shooter, but there is still a lot of detail when you want to take a quick selfie. Portrait mode isn’t as smooth, but that’s to be expected since there’s no LiDar on the front of the phone.

Selfie camera iPhone 12 Pro IPhone 12 Pro selfie camera with portrait modeLeft: Selfie camera; Right: selfie camera with portrait mode

As tradition has it, the iPhone is still the champion of video capture on your smartphone. This year, Apple took the leap by including Dolby Vision HDR recording without any special material. On the iPhone 12 Pro, you can use the new technology and record colorful and bright 4K videos at 60 frames per second.

I haven’t included an example video because you can only view HDR video on a compatible Dolby Vision display (like newer iPhones and iPads that support HDR). If you have such a device (or even a newer Mac running Big Sur), I recommend checking them out. video examples provided by David Imel of Android authority. Download both files to your compatible device and see the difference Dolby Vision HDR makes.

Switching to night mode, I’ll say the iPhone 12 Pro does a good job. Every phone is different in the way it handles low light situations, and Apple is not my favorite.

You can see the difference between the Pixel 5’s and the iPhone 12 Pro’s night modes below. Pixels (the first two frames) try to keep the overall look of the scene without over-processing. The iPhone (bottom two photos) lets you see more, but things are unusually bright.

Night shot of the Pixel 5 against the iPhone 12 Pro. There is a clear winner. pic.twitter.com/m41T7PSgbE

– Justin Duino + (@jaduino) November 5, 2020

Before I continue, I should also mention the handset’s big brother: the iPhone 12 Pro Max. While almost all of the specs are the same between devices (except for the bigger screen and bigger battery), Apple does include a slightly better camera sensor in the Pro Max.

First of all, as is often the case with most modern smartphone cameras, the wide-angle and telephoto lenses on the iPhone 12 Pro are optically stabilized. But on the iPhone 12 Pro Max, the actual sensors behind those lenses are stabilized.

You probably won’t notice too much of a difference between the two. Nonetheless, optical image stabilization by sensor shifting will help you when shooting in situations that include extreme movements (like running, sitting in a moving vehicle, etc.).

Second, the Pro Max includes a physically larger main sensor. Although both Pro models have an f / 1.6 aperture, the larger sensor is able to capture more light. The difference is negligible in most situations, but at night and in dark scenes, the larger sensor tends to take sharper pictures.

I recommend to watch The Verge’s Check out to learn more about the improved camera quality of the iPhone 12 Pro Max.

Accessories: MagSafe is back and better than ever

Apple (apparently) retired the MagSafe brand around five years ago when it introduced USB-C charging to its MacBooks. Now the company uses the name for its line of magnetic iPhone accessories.

Apple MagSafe Leather Wallet on iPhone 12 ProJustin duino

The principle is simple. Using a ring of magnets built into the iPhone 12 Pro, you can magnetically attach cases, wallets, wireless chargers, and other accessories to your phone. The company has opened up the specs to everyone, so expect the market to be awash with MagSafe compatible accessories.

Apple and some third-party products include an NFC chip that helps the handset identify what item you’ve connected. For example, when I toss my 12 Pro into the blue Apple case, a blue dialog box appears on the screen. It’s more of a party thing, but I’m not complaining.

There is a big downside to MagSafe, however. First of all, you can only get 15W wireless charging using Apple MagSafe Charger. If you use another Qi wireless charger, you will upgrade to 7.5W.

Oh, and don’t forget that the iPhone and the MagSafe charger don’t come with a power adapter, so you’ll need to pay Apple $ 19 extra or buy something like GaN Aukey Charger.

Apple MagSafe Charger, Leather Wallet and Case for iPhone 12 Pro MagSafe charge indicator on iPhone 12 Pro

Apple’s accessory ecosystem can be expensive, but I can guarantee their quality. Things will start to show some wear after a few months, but they shouldn’t break or become faulty. But if they are not for you, hundreds, if not thousands of third-party companies are ready to offer you a case or wireless charger for your iPhone 12 Pro.

Connectivity: 5G is all the rage (for now)

I’ll keep it short. If you live in the United States, 5G is not as exciting as your carrier wants you to believe. I live just outside of downtown Charlotte, a pretty tech-driven town, and I’ve never seen my iPhone go from LTE to 5G.

LTE symbol on an iPhone 12 ProJustin duino

And even if I saw 5G, there’s a good chance the iPhone didn’t use the advanced network. To save battery power, Apple designed the handset to keep using LTE unless what you’re doing requires faster speeds or a better connection.

So unless you take a regular walk outside to download an entire series from Netflix or a 5GB game from the App Store, 5G will probably never be used.

5G antenna bands on iPhone 12 Pro Ultra Wideband 5G Antenna Bands Justin duino

Once things get back to normal and we start seeing events like soccer games with a large number of participants, 5G will become more important. 5G is capable of handle 10 times the traffic compared to LTE and 4G. Basically, the next time you’re crammed into an arena with thousands of other people, you’ll still be able to upload photos and videos while surfing the web.

Conclusion: iOS fans will love the iPhone 12 Pro

iPhone 12 Pro laying on shelfJustin duino

It boils down to this: If you don’t like Android, you can’t go wrong with the iPhone 12 Pro (or any of Apple’s iPhone 12 handsets, honestly). It’s a solid device that will last over two years and won’t stop receiving firmware updates for as long as you own it.

Personalization isn’t a huge thing on the iPhone, but it doesn’t have to be. You grab an iPhone and immediately know it’s going to work. You also know it will work the same 12 months it did when you first took it out of the box.

Redesigned hardware and improved camera quality take the iPhone 12 Pro up a notch, even over last year’s iPhone 11. one day I didn’t care.

Whether you need a new phone or want the latest and greatest, you can’t go wrong. $ 999 is a lot of money, but the iPhone 12 Pro is probably the best bang for the buck compared to other 2020 flagships at similar price ranges.

This is what we like

The material is premium
The cameras are top notch
MagSafe is really nice

And what we don’t do

5G is overrated
No display at high refresh rate
No AC adapter included

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