Executive Editor, MacworldOCT 13, 2020 4:53 am PDT
It took a little longer than usual, but the iPhone 12 is finally here. And just like we expected, there are four phones this year, with Apple adding a new “mini” model to the lower-end of the lineup. But even with an extra option, the choice of which one to buy might not be so difficult this year.
That’s because the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini are closer than ever to the higher-priced Pro models that cost hundreds more. The iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini might not have all the same features, but when you break down the differences between the standard and Pro lines, they’re a lot closer than you’d think. Here are the surprising iPhone 12 features that make the baseline iPhones a lot more pro.
They look just as good and won’t scratch as easily
The new Pro models might look stunning, but don’t sleep on the iPhone 12. Not only do they have more color options—black, white, red, green, and blue—they also use aluminum on the edges versus the fingerprint- and scratch-attracting stainless steel on the Pro. Otherwise, you’re getting the same design as the Pro with smooth, flat edges and uniform construction. And now that the bezels have been reduced compared to the iPhone 11, the new 12 is as thin and small as the Pro version. So, unless you really, really want that gold color, the regular 12 is just as gorgeous.
They have the same incredible OLED screens
Apple previously differentiated its Pro and non-Pro iPhone lines with the type of display they had: LCD in the entry-level model and OLED in the pro models. That’s no longer the case. With both the 6.1-inch iPhone 12 and 5.4-inch iPhone 12 mini, you get the same Super Retina XDR that was previously reserved for the Pro models, with rich colors, deep blacks, incredible contrast, and super-sharp text and images. And with Ceramic Shield, it won’t shatter as easily when you drop it. Add it all up and you’ve got a Pro-level display for a whole lot less.
They’re just as fast
This one isn’t a surprise. Apple always puts the latest processor in the latest iPhones, Pro or not, and this year that’s the A14 Bionic. And boy is it fast. The A14 Bionic chip packs 11.8 billion transistors onto its 5nm frame f04 greater performance and efficiency over the already fast A13 Bionic. You’re also getting a 16-core neural engine capable of handling 22 trillion operations per second and a machine learning accelerator that’s 70 percent faster than before.
They have the speediest 5G
While it’s still going to be a while before most people can take advantage of the new 5G modem in the iPhone 12, when it arrives they’ll be getting the fastest possible connection. That’s because Apple has supported both slower sub-6Ghz and speedy millimeter wave 5G in all iPhone models, something you won’t find on the Galaxy S20 FE or the Pixel 4a 5G without paying a premium. You could argue that it’s not necessary and Apple could have reduced costs even further by dropping mmWave support, but in a few years when those incredible speeds are a bit more widespread, your iPhone 12 feels just as fast as an iPhone 14 Pro.
They support the super-cool new MagSafe
We might not have gotten the AirPower charger, but Apple did bring an old tech back from the dead:
MagSafe. It’s not quite what it was before, but it’s just as cool and way more versatile. A new magnetic ring built into the back of the iPhone lets a variety of accessories snap into place, including 15W wireless chargers, wallets, and cases, and likely many, many more.
The camera is very, very good
OK, the new Pro zoom lens and video editing might be must-have features for smartphone shutterbugs, but for the rest of us, the “baseline” iPhone 12’s camera is still among the best you can buy, even with just two lenses. You get a 12MP wide ultra-wide lens paired with a new 12MP wide lens with an f/1.6 aperture and a 7-element lens for better low light images. Smart HDR3 keeps color balanced and exposure under control while the new night mode works on all three lenses, so you won’t be limited when snapping nighttime shots. And video recording is massively improved as well, with the ability to shoot HDR video with Dolby Vision as well as stunning night-mode time-lapse vids with a tripod. And, really, who needs the LiDAR Scanner on the Pro anyway?
The iPhone 12 will be available for order on Friday, October 16 for shipping October 23, while the iPhone 12 mini will be available for preorder on Friday, November 6, and ship a week later on November 13.
Michael Simon has been covering Apple since the iPod was the iWalk. His obsession with technology goes back to his first PC—the IBM Thinkpad with the lift-up keyboard for swapping out the drive. He's still waiting for that to come back in style tbh.