Hard-edged phones for a hard-edged year, Apple’s iPhone 12 series brings a solid feel, excellent screens, better low-light camera performance, and improved network connectivity to America’s most popular smartphone line. If you have an iPhone more than a year old, one of the four new iPhones is worth your money. The trick is figuring out which one.
I’m the 5G guy, and during the iPhone 12 launch, Apple talked about 5G a lot. The iPhone 12 is the best 5G phone so far, but Verizon’s and AT&T’s so-called “nationwide” 5G aren’t worth your time. T-Mobile’s mid-band 5G does deliver improved performance, but T-Mobile doesn’t have a map for that system, which makes it hard to find. That said, as I’ll lebih jelasnya momentarily, the iPhone 12 series improves 4G performance enough that it’s worth buying just for that.
There are four new iPhones; and they’re not all that different from one another. You’re reading our main review of the iPhone 12 (starts at $799 for 64GB), which overlaps our review of the iPhone 12 Pro (starts at $999 for 128GB)—the two models available in October. When the iPhone 12 mini(starts at $699 for 64GB) and iPhone 12 Pro Max (starts at $1,099 for 128GB) arrive in November, we’ll update this review with more comparative analysis. (Pre-orders start on 11/6.)
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The iPhone 12 and the 12 minilook to be very similar. According to Apple’s spec sheets, they’re identical except for price, screen size, and battery size. If all other things are equal, I think that a slightly less expensive iPhone that is closer to the size of the beloved iPhone 6, 7 and 8 models sounds like an absolute winner. So we’re going to hold back the Editors’ Choice award here in anticipation of the 12 kecil. If the miniturns out to be a bust, we’ll reconsider.
The iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max have more advanced features for photo buffs: telephoto lenses, a Night Portrait mode, better Dolby Vision handling and Raw photo handling. I think that’s worth the extra money for photography enthusiasts, but only for them. So the iPhone 12 Pro gets an Editors’ Choice award for camera phones since it packs all that fantastic image capability into a manageably sized phone. The Pro Max, with it’s 6.7-inch screen, is just too large for most people.
The iPhone 12 family (from left): the iPhone 12 Pro Max, the iPhone 12 Pro, the iPhone 12, and the iPhone 12 mini(Apple)It’s a Hard-Knock Phone (for Us)
The iPhone 12 and 12 kecil come in black, blue, green, red, or white. I got the blue one to review, which is a rich, gorgeous navy. The phones have smooth, shiny glass backs which attract some fingerprints, but not as many as you’d expect. There’s a matte metal band around the edge of the body in a similar blue color to the back; the side has some black plastic antenna windows and the usual buttons. The square camera module pokes out a bit from the back of the phone; if you drop it, that will be the first thing to crack.
The 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max come in blue, gold, gray, or silver; I got a gray one. These have matte backs, with a dark but shiny stainless steel band around the edge. The matte back is cool and pleasant to hold, and doesn’t attract many fingerprints. The edge band doesn’t attract prints at all.
The iPhone 12 comes in five attractive glossy colors. (Apple)
From the front, it’s impossible to tell the 12 and 12 Pro apart. (The 12 miniand Pro Max are different sizes.) Both have the big notch at the top which Apple needs for its Face ID sensor, and very small bezels around their beautiful screens. The phones are slightly smaller than the iPhone 11 but noticeably wider than the iPhone 8 series at 0.29 by 5.78 by 2.82 inches. They’re surprisingly relatively small for flagship phones nowadays, but people looking for a phone that feels more like their iPhone 6, 7, or 8 should get the 12 kecil. The iPhone 12 Pro is noticeably a little heavier than the 12 (6.66 versus lima.78 ounces). Both are lighter than the 11, but heavier than the 8.
The new iPhones have the glowy, saturated OLED screens which have become de rigeur for high-end smartphones in the past few years. They measure lima.4 inches and 2,340 by 1,080 pixels for the iPhone 12 mini; 6.1 inches and dua,532 by 1,170 pixels for the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro; and 6.7 inches and dua,778 by 1,284 pixels for the iPhone 12 Pro Max. The displays are all higher resolution, and denser, than their iPhone 11 predecessors; the 12 and 12 Pro are about the same resolution as the 11 Pro was.
The iPhone 12 and 12 mini’s screens are slightly brighter than the iPhone 11’s LCD at 625 nits max brightness. The Pro and Pro Max are each 800 nits, but I couldn’t see a visual difference between the 12 and 12 Pro (and our screen-testing lab equipment is still in our COVID-abandoned office). All of the panels have a 60Hz refresh rate, while leading Android phones often have 90Hz or even 120Hz screens now. While you can see the frame-rate difference when filming screens in slow motion, it’s not really visible in everyday use because scrolling smoothness has always been much better on iPhones than on Android phones. Apple’s 60Hz might very well be as good as Android’s 90Hz.
The iPhone 12 Pro comes in four more low-key, matte hues. (Apple)
The screens are covered in a new Corning product called Ceramic Shield, which Apple says is four times less likely to shatter than previous iPhone glass. At PCMag, we don’t test ruggedness—our loan agreement with Apple involves returning phones to the company undamaged. Allstate performed some drop tests, and found that the new material “improved durability,” although both the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro cracked when connecting with a sidewalk from six feet above. Dropped face down, the iPhone 12 “suffered only small cracks,” which was better than the Galaxy S20, the iPhone 11, or the heavier iPhone 12 Pro. But Ceramic Shield doesn’t seem to protect against scuffs and scratches. Overall, it’s more of a Way Station between you and your favorite screen repair shop than a guarantee against needing to get your screen fixed. And if you go to Apple, a screen replacement will set you back $279, if you don’t have AppleCare. (Ouch!)
The new iPhones rely on Face ID for authentication, which has become really annoying in 2020 because it doesn’t recognize the same face with and without a mask. This year’s iPad Air pivots to a fingerprint scanner in the power button, which I love and wish Apple was using here. The phones also still have Lightning ports, but no headphone jack, of course.
iOS 14 is installed here and runs nearly identically on every iPhone back to the iPhone X, and probably a bit sluggishly on the iPhone 8. Check out all the new OS capabilities in our full review of iOS 14.
The blue back is shiny and handsome. Fast Running, Fast Charging
The iPhone 12 (and 12 Pro) feature Apple’s new A14 processor running at 3GHz, teamed with 4GB and 6GB of RAM respectively. They scored the same in benchmarking: 1,599 in Geekbench single-core; 4,006 in Geekbench multi-core; around 9,350 in Geekbench Compute, and about 600 in Basemark Web. That’s a 16% lift over the iPhone 11 series in Geekbench and a similar speed-up when it comes to Web browsing. The bump in Geekbench Compute, which measures GPU computing power, was a startling 48%.
Oddly, I had trouble running graphics benchmarks on both phones; GFXBench and 3DMark came up with inconsistent and sometimes nonsensical numbers. Apple tried to help me figure it out and we were both stumped.
Apple phones never feel slow when they’re launched. The processor speeds are more about future-proofing than anything else—preparing for applications that are three or four years down the road. (New CPUs are also, generally, why Apple ends support for new iOS versions after four or five years.) So although the iPhone 12 has a speedy CPU, I wouldn’t buy it over the iPhone 11 specifically for that—there are plenty of other reasons to do so.
Both the 12 and the 12 Pro pack 2,815mAh batteries. That’s smaller than the iPhone 11’s 3,110mAh cell, yet these iPhones last longer on a charge; that’s the effect of the OLED screens combined with the more efficient A14 processor. The 12 minihas a smaller battery, and the 12 Pro Max a larger one.
Apple doesn’t put a power adapter in the box this year, and that’s trouble. The new iPhones charge at up to 20 watts. They’ll take that wattage at 9v, dua.22a. Your old iPhone charger will not charge the new iPhone at that speed, so you’ll probably have to get a new charger. I used the Anker Nano 20W ($19.99), an adorable little box of a charger which got my iPhone 12 to 20% in 10 minutes, 58% in 30 minutes, and 100% in 100 minutes.