This year, the new iPhones were delayed and only hit the shelves at the end of October. Interestingly, at first only the 12 and 12 Pro models were released, while the 12 mini and 12 Pro Max will have to wait another month. However, technologically they will differ only minimally from the standard size models. So our today’s testing will already provide answers to many questions. And the main one is whether there are so many differences between models with and without the Pro prefix.
Specifications Apple iPhone 12 and Apple iPhone 12 Pro
- SoC Apple A14 Bionic (6 processor cores: 2 high performance + 4 energy efficient, 4 graphics cores + 16 cores Neural Engine)
- Touch screen 6.1 ″, OLED, 2532 × 1170, 460 ppi, capacitive, multitouch
- RAM (Geekbench 5 info): 3.62 GB / 5.60 GB
- Flash memory 64/128/256/512 GB
- No memory card support
- Cellular: UMTS / HSPA / HSPA + / DC-HSDPA (850, 900, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz); GSM / EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz), LTE Bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 13, 17, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 38, 39, 40, 41, support for Gigabit LTE, 5G (not supported in Russia)
- Wi-Fi 802.11b / g / n / ac / ac / ax (2.4 and 5 GHz; MIMO support)
- Bluetooth 5.1, A2DP, LE
- NFC (Apple Pay only)
- GPS with A-GPS, Glonass, Galileo and QZSS
- Universal Lightning connector
- Cameras: front (12 megapixel, 4K 30 fps video, 720p 240 fps) and 12 megapixel rear modules (shooting 4K 60 fps video): wide-angle, ultra-wide-angle and telephoto
- Facial recognition with TrueDepth camera
- LiDAR Space Depth Scanner
- Li-polymer battery 2815 mAh (unofficial information), non-removable
- Supports Qi wireless charging
- MagSafe Accessory Support
- Dimensions (mm) 147 × 72 × 7.4
- Weight (g) 162/187
- IP68 protection
- Operating system iOS 14
So, the key difference between the new products is support for fifth generation cellular networks. However, it does have Wi-Fi 6, the iPhone 12 Pro’s lidar, a larger screen than last year’s models, and MagSafe technology for connecting accessories. And also, of course, the new Apple A14 Bionic SoC. There are also improvements in terms of cameras, although the main characteristics, as you can see from the table, remain the same. But let’s take a closer look at all the innovations and test the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro to the fullest extent of our methodology.
Packaging and equipment
The fact that the iPhone will no longer have charging and headphones has become one of the most talked about since the October presentation. Recall that the company justified this by concern for the environment: fewer things in the kit – less box, less box – more units of goods can fit in a truck, which means fewer trucks will go from China and pollute the air. It is everyone’s right to consider this decision and reasoning correct or not. But the fact is that the box is now really much more compact.
Pictured above is the iPhone 12 box. The iPhone 12 Pro has the same package size, but the design is completely different.
But their content is identical. As before, there is a Lightning to USB-C cable in the box, so if you own the latest generation MacBook / iPad Pro, you can charge your iPhone directly from their chargers.
There is also a sticker in the form of the Apple logo and a clip for removing the SIM card. But the headphones and the charger, as has been said many times, have disappeared. We will not comment on this decision.
All models in the 2020 lineup are rooted in the iPhone 5, which was launched back in 2012. It was then that Apple smartphones had straight edges, one with the body of the case. The return to the old style, oddly enough, is pleasing. Although, it is possible that it is just the refreshing effect that works. It seems like already rounded edges are tired, I want new sensations. Even if the new is the well-forgotten old.
There is a lot of discussion on the web that the edges of the new iPhones are supposedly too sharp and scratch hands. It is difficult for us to imagine how to take these smartphones in order to really experience some kind of discomfort, let alone harm ourselves. But skillfully and not so possible, I guess.
In general, if you used the iPhone 4 / 4s / 5 / 5s / SE, and everything was fine with you, then there will be no problems with sharp edges. Interestingly, while the iPhone 12 has a matte finish (apparently aluminum), the iPhone 12 Pro uses shiny steel. And, perhaps, it looks more impressive, although it’s a matter of taste.
They also differ in rear surfaces. The iPhone 12 has smooth glass, the iPhone 12 Pro has a matte finish. It turns out that one smartphone has a matte back and glossy edging, while the other has the opposite. And the first option seems to us not only more spectacular in appearance, but also more practical, while on the iPhone 12, fingerprints immediately accumulate on the back.
We tested new models of colors: 12 – blue, 12 Pro – “Pacific blue”. And we just liked the usual blue less. It is, in principle, pleasant, but rustic. It seems that it cannot be said that the shade is too bright or, on the contrary, inexpressive, but it just feels like this is not quite a flagship. The iPhone 12 Pro is a different matter. It has a really interesting color – dark gray with a bluish tint. It looks noble, not deliberate, but not banal either.
Photos, alas, do not convey the real look at all. And on the Apple website too. In reality, the shade is more gray, graphite, that is, there is only a hint of blue, but that’s the beauty.
Of course, in addition to the color and texture of the surfaces, the two models differ in camera blocks. The Pro has three of them, located the same as on the iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max, but under one of the cameras there is another lidar, similar to that used in the iPad Pro. In turn, the iPhone 12 does not have a lidar or third camera, so in this regard it is no different from the iPhone 11.
We add that although the presence of buttons and connectors in the new products is completely identical to the previous generation, the location of the SIM card slot is different. From the right side, he moved to the left. Otherwise, no changes.
The screens of both iPhone 12 models have the same characteristics: it is OLED with a diagonal of 6.1 “and a resolution of 2532 × 1170, which gives a dot density of 460 ppi. We tested the display of the novelty to the fullest extent of our methodology.
The only significant difference between the screens of the two smartphones is the higher brightness of the screen of the Apple iPhone 12 Pro, the rest of the differences are so small that they can be attributed to the natural variation between samples and measurement errors. Therefore, below, unless otherwise stated, the results and images are for both smartphones.
The front surface of the screen is made in the form of a glass plate with a mirror-smooth surface, resistant to scratches. Judging by the reflection of objects, the anti-glare properties of the screen are slightly better than that of the Google Nexus 7 (2013) (hereinafter simply Nexus 7). For clarity, here is a photo in which a white surface is reflected in the turned off screens (on the left – Nexus 7, on the right – Apple iPhone, then they can be distinguished by their size):
Apple iPhone screens are slightly darker:
Parameter Apple iPhone 12 Apple iPhone 12 Pro
Brightness from photographs (in brackets – for Nexus 7) 107 (109) 105 (108)
The screen, of course, has no air gap. On its outer surface there is a special oleophobic (grease-repellent) coating (effective, better than that of the Nexus 7, but sometimes better), so fingerprints are much easier to remove, and appear at a slower rate than in the case of ordinary glass.
The maximum brightness is very high, and given the excellent anti-glare properties, readability even on a sunny day outdoors will be good. In complete darkness, the brightness can be lowered to a comfortable value. In the presence of automatic brightness control according to the light sensor (it is located above the slot of the front speaker), which is enabled by default.
In automatic mode, when the ambient light conditions change, the screen brightness both increases and decreases. The operation of this function depends on the position of the brightness adjustment slider: the user sets the desired brightness level for the current conditions. The automatic brightness control function works adequately, and it is possible to adjust the character of the brightness change to the user’s requirements. At any brightness level, modulation is present with a frequency of about 240 Hz.
This screen uses a Super AMOLED matrix – an active matrix on organic light-emitting diodes. A full color image is created using subpixels of three colors – red (R), green (G), and blue (B), but there are half the number of red and blue subpixels, which can be referred to as RGBG. This is confirmed by a fragment of a micrograph:
In the fragment above, you can count 4 green subpixels, 2 red (4 halves) and 2 blue (1 whole and 4 quarters), while repeating these fragments, you can lay out the entire screen without gaps and overlaps. For such matrices, Samsung has introduced the name PenTile RGBG. The manufacturer considers the screen resolution for green subpixels, for the other two it will be two times lower.
The screen has excellent viewing angles. True, when deviated even at small angles, the white color acquires a slight bluish tint, but the black color remains simply black at any angle. It is so black that the contrast setting is not applicable in this case. For comparison, we present photographs in which the screens of the Apple iPhone 12 and the second participant of the comparison displayed the same images, while the brightness of the screens was initially set to about 200 cd / m2, and the color balance on the camera was forcedly switched to 6500 K.
Note the good uniformity of brightness and color tone of the white field.
And the test picture:
The color balance is slightly different, the color saturation is normal. Recall that a photograph cannot serve as a reliable source of information about the quality of color rendition and is provided only for a conditional visual illustration. In particular, the pronounced reddish tint of white and gray fields present in the photographs of the Apple iPhone 12 screen is visually absent when viewed from a perpendicular view, which is confirmed by hardware tests using a spectrophotometer. The reason is that the spectral sensitivity of the camera matrix does not exactly match this characteristic of human vision.
Now at an angle of approximately 45 degrees to the plane and to the side of the screen. White box:
The brightness at an angle on both screens has noticeably decreased (to avoid strong darkening, the shutter speed is increased compared to previous photos), but in the case of the Apple iPhone 12, the drop in brightness is much less pronounced. As a result, with formally the same brightness, the screen of the Apple iPhone 12 visually looks much brighter (in comparison with LCD screens), since you often have to look at the screen of a mobile device at least from a slight angle.
The color gamut is sRGB:
This Apple device has a Night Shift function that makes the picture warmer at night (how much warmer – the user indicates). In any case, when having fun with a tablet or smartphone at night, it is better to lower the screen brightness to a low, but still comfortable level, and there is no point in turning the screen yellow with the Night Shift setting.
There is a True Tone function that, if enabled, adjusts the color balance to the environmental conditions.
The color temperature is lower under the incandescent halogen light bulb, which means the function works as expected. Note that now the established standard is to calibrate display devices to a white point of 6500 K, but in principle, correction for the color temperature of external light can be useful if you want to achieve a better match of the image on the screen with what is seen on paper (or on any medium where colors are formed by the reflection of incident light) under the current conditions.
According to the criterion for outputting frames, the quality of video playback on the screen of the device itself is very good, since frames (or groups of frames) can be output with more or less uniform intervals and practically without frame drops, up to 4K files and 60 fps. However, since the refresh rate of the screen is slightly lower than 60 Hz – about 59.9 Hz, then in the case of files with 60 fps, one frame is occasionally skipped, but in fact this is noticeable only in the case of special test files. When playing video files with a resolution of 1920 by 1080 (1080p) on a smartphone screen, the image of the video file itself is displayed exactly at the height of the screen (in landscape orientation). The clarity of the picture is high, but not perfect, since there is no escape from interpolation to the screen resolution. The brightness range displayed on the screen is the actual brightness range for the video file. Note that this smartphone has support for hardware decoding of H.265 files with a color depth of 10 bits per color, while displaying gradients on the screen is performed with much better quality than in the case of 8-bit files. The display of HDR files is also supported: colors are saturated, the number of gradations is not reduced.
Let’s summarize. The screen has a very high maximum brightness and excellent anti-reflective properties, so the device can be used outdoors without any problems, even on a sunny summer day. In complete darkness, the brightness can be lowered to a comfortable value. It is permissible to use a mode with automatic brightness adjustment, which works adequately. The advantages of the screen also include an effective oleophobic coating, support for sRGB color gamut (with the participation of the OS) and a very good color balance. At the same time, let’s recall the general advantages of OLED screens: true black color (if nothing is reflected in the screen), noticeably less than that of an LCD, the drop in image brightness when viewed from an angle. The disadvantages include the modulation of the screen brightness, which appears at low brightness. Users who are particularly sensitive to flicker may experience fatigue as a result. However, the overall screen quality is very high. The conclusion applies to the screens of both smartphones, but recall that the Apple iPhone 12 Pro has a higher maximum brightness.
Both models run on a new platform – the Apple A14 Bionic, Apple’s first 5nm SoC. It is also used in the latest generation iPad Air. Moreover, Apple claims that there are no differences in the tablet and smartphone SoC. We will be able to check this when the iPad Air appears in our testing.
The amount of RAM in the iPhone 12, according to Geekbench 5, is 3.62 GB. But the iPhone 12 Pro has 5.60 GB. That is, apparently, we are talking about 4 and 6 GB of RAM, respectively. That being said, even the iPhone 11 Pro Max only had 4GB of RAM.
Let’s see if this affects performance, and if so, how. And also, of course, let’s compare the new items with last year’s flagship iPhone 11 Pro Max, updated to the same version of the operating system – 14.1. Let’s start with the browser benchmarks: SunSpider 1.0.2, Octane Benchmark, Kraken Benchmark and JetStream of the second version. We used the Safari browser on all smartphones.
Apple iPhone 12 Pro (Apple A14) Apple iPhone 12 (Apple A14) Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max (Apple A13)
SunSpider 1.0.2 85.8 ms 85.8 ms 102.8 ms
(less is better)
Octane 2.0 57496 points 57683 points 49668 points
(more is better)
Kraken Benchmark 1.1 455 ms 453 ms 555 ms
(less is better)
JetStream 2 161 point 156 points 153 points
(more is better)
So, there is no difference between the two new products – the scatter of results is not greater than the error. In turn, the superiority over last year’s model is already noticeable, but relatively small – less than 15%.
Interestingly, there is practically no difference in performance between the regular and Pro versions. Although, for example, it is in the AnTuTu RAM test. At the same time, in general, the iPhone 12 even slightly won the iPhone 12 Pro.
Well, the overall picture is clear. Despite the transition to a new 5 nm process technology, there was no significant performance increase. Even in 3D graphics, the difference between new products and last year’s flagship is no more than 20%.
The difference between the two new products with different amounts of RAM is practically not noticeable. You may feel this when opening many browser windows and applications, but in benchmarks, the result for both smartphones in 2020 is almost the same.
As noted, the iPhone 12 Pro has three rear cameras – wide-angle, ultra-wide-angle, and telephoto, while the iPhone 12 has two rear cameras without a telephoto lens. We took comparison shots on the iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max.
As a rule, you don’t expect any breakthroughs from a smartphone camera. And even more so from the iPhone camera. For a long time, iPhone cameras have really been the best. Then they just got good. And now they are already ordinary. This is normal. As the saying goes, don’t touch what already works. And everything would be fine if the manufacturer did not create high expectations in our country. A lot of loud statements about the incredible abilities of a tiny module, an ingenious program and a powerful processor, the unique symbiosis of which this time has improved the quality of images almost twice (by 87%, to be precise), make you believe that now there will be that very leap.
We have to look at the pictures in more detail every year to see at least some improvements in comparison with the predecessor … Of course, there are some improvements, but mostly this is the merit of the firmware, which is updated on last year’s iPhones. And all the hardware improvements like enlarged pixels, a LiDAR space scanner and other things are somehow not particularly noticeable. Rather, they most likely work, but the user does not always see this even when studying images by pixel.
It is even more difficult to come to terms with the words that the wide-angle module now has uniform sharpness across the entire field of the frame, or that it reproduces the smallest details even in low light. And it seems to be clear that these are just marketing phrases, but you still feel cheated. As if looking for a black cat in a dark room, but she is not there.
So let’s forget about flashy ads and just look at the camera in a vacuum. After all, it turns out that she’s not so bad. Yes, it is no longer the best, outdated in places, but time-tested. The image quality of the main module has not changed for several years, which we patiently check from year to year. The quality of the wide-angle module and the telemodule has grown a little with the firmware update, so now it is almost impossible to say in which model – last year or the current one – the picture quality is better.
Sharping on contrasting borders and in the distant shots is a little upsetting. And also on all three modules, an incomprehensible soapiness appeared, especially noticeable on small details. Oddly enough, in the iPhone 11 shots, it is less pronounced. But the work of the HDR mode has really improved, so now the dynamic range has become a little wider. Perhaps this is the only tangible change.
To summarize, we can say that the camera has not received noticeable improvements, whatever they say. But it is still good and reliable.
IPhone 12 Pro Gallery (26mm):
IPhone 12 Gallery (26mm):
First, the new iPhones now have a night mode when shooting with an ultra wide-angle camera. And this is really striking. Below are the footage, the first of which was shot on the iPhone 11 Pro Max and the second on the iPhone 12 Pro.
In theory, another strong point of the iPhone 12 Pro cameras should be working in conjunction with a lidar, which will help focus faster and more accurately (in fact, this is laser focusing). The difficulty is that it is practically impossible to verify this in practice and, all the more, to demonstrate it clearly in test conditions. Probably, this requires prolonged use of the smartphone and frequent shooting of moving objects or objects in the dark, so that at least by sensations one can say that yes, the smartphone focuses better. But what is definitely possible thanks to the lidar is the portrait mode when shooting at night.
The iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro are cute, but not disruptive. The increase in the display and the design update really make an impression, and we liked the appearance of the iPhone 12 Pro much more. In addition, the manufacturer claims that smartphones are now much stronger than before. But we did not dare to check this.
Otherwise, the differences between the new generation and the previous one are not as significant as one might expect. Performance, of course, has grown, but judging by the benchmarks, not much – by 20 percent or even less. Even the addition of 6GB of RAM in the Pro model does not help. True, the owners of the flagship can count on a longer life cycle – in other words, after a few years, 4 GB may not be enough for current applications, but 6 GB is still enough.
We were promised to improve the cameras, but in fact, the only noticeable innovation in this area is the appearance of a night mode when shooting with an ultra-wide-angle module. Both new smartphones have it. But if we compare head-on images on the iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max, which we did, it will be very difficult to find the differences. It is possible that in some special situations this will manifest itself. It is also possible that Apple’s ProRaw format will expand photo capabilities. But for now, we have what we have.
Among the features of the Pro version, in addition to the telephoto lens, it is worth mentioning the lidar, but how necessary it is in everyday life is still a question. At the moment, its only undoubted plus is shooting portraits in night mode. Although in the future, lidar can open a very wide range of possibilities. It all depends on how actively and efficiently application developers use it. The benefits of Dolby Vision are also not well understood.
We’ll come back to both of these questions when we talk about the iPhone 12 Pro Max. In the meantime, we note that despite the difference in price of 15 thousand rubles (if we compare versions with the same amount of flash memory), we consider the purchase of the iPhone 12 Pro justified due to the design, more RAM, a brighter screen and a number of technologies , which may be useful in the future.