iPhone 12: Everything you need to know about Apple’s 4 new iPhones

Apple lifted the covers off its all-new iPhone 12 line-up a few days ago, unveiling a total of four models across different price brackets. The iPhone 12 Mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, and the iPhone 12 Pro will hit the shelves later this month, with market availability going as far back as November.

The new Apple lineup starts at $699 for the iPhone 12 and goes all the way to $1,099 for the iPhone 12 Pro Max’s base variant. However, the biggest question is, which one should you pick? To answer that, you must know what each iPhone 12 model offers, and accordingly pick the one that better suits your needs (and budget). So, let’s get straight into it!

Design and build 

golden iphone 12 on black background

The entire iPhone 12 series follows in the footsteps of the iPhone 11 trio, retaining its glass rear panel, the squircle camera module and the wide notch housing the Face ID hardware. However, the biggest difference is that Apple has flattened the sides for the iPhone 12 quartet, giving the surrounding frame a uniform metallic finish. While the camera lens layout of the iPhone 12 Mini and the iPhone 12 is identical (and also similar to the iPhone 11), the iPhone 12 Pro and its Max sibling add a third telephoto lens and a LiDAR sensor that we first saw on the 2020 iPad Pro. 

Stainless steel for the Pro models, aluminum for the rest

But there is another key difference that separates the iPhone 12 Pro models from the remaining two iPhone 12 siblings. Apple has used surgical-grade stainless steel to make the iPhone 12 Pro duo, while the iPhone 12 and its Mini sibling utilize aerospace-grade aluminum in their build.

Color options for iPhone 12 Mini and iPhone 12Color options for the iPhone 12 Mini and iPhone 12

All four iPhone 12 series phones use the Ceramic Shield front that offers increased durability and come with an IP68 certification, which means they can survive water immersion for a maximum depth of 6 meters up to 30 minutes. This is an upgrade over the iPhone 11 series, which is claimed to survive water immersion in a maximum depth of 2 meters up to 30 minutes only.

Also, all four of them come equipped with a magnetic charging ring underneath the rear panel that allows wireless charging using the new MagSafe charger from Apple as well as those from certified third-party brands such as Belkin. The MagSafe charger is not just another way, or a fancy name, for wireless charging. Instead, it might prove to be the foundation on which Apple builds a truly portless iPhone in the future. 

A GIF demonstrating the easy and secure attachment of the MagSafe charger to iPhone 12 Pro.The new MagSafe charger in action.

Now that we’re talking about charging, let’s also touch upon the battery life. As usual, Apple has not revealed the mAh figures of the batteries inside the iPhone 12 series, which means we have to wait for third-party teardowns to know that. What we do know, is how long each phone will last on a single charge. Well, here you go:

Video playbackVideo playback
(streamed)
Audio playback
iPhone 12 MiniUp to 15 hoursUp to 10 hoursUp to 50 hours
iPhone 12Up to 17 hoursUp to 11 hoursUp to 65 hours
iPhone 12 ProUp to 17 hoursUp to 11 hoursUp to 65 hours
iPhone 12 Pro MaxUp to 20 hoursUp to 12 hoursUp to 80 hours

All four iPhone 12 series phones can be topped up at a maximum 15W using Apple’s MagSafe charger. However, if you rely on a Qi-certified third-party wireless charger, the charging output drops down to 7.5W only. Apple is also selling a 20W adapter that can charge the battery from 0-50% in just 30 minutes. But do keep in mind that Apple is not shipping the iPhone 12 series with a charger in the retail package, as part of its commitment to reduce e-waste.

Apple iPhone 12 and charging cableThe only two things you will find in the iPhone 12 series’ retail package

As for the color options, the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Mini can be yours in black, blue, green, PRODUCT(RED), and white colors. But if you fancy the Pro models, the iPhone 12 Pro and its Max sibling will hit the shelves in four shades – gold, graphite, silver and pacific blue. If you want to see how the iPhone 12 Pro models look in real life and not just product renders, watch this Good Morning America episode and feast your eyes:

The display

OLED for all, high refresh rate for none

Apple’s new iPhones have an OLED panel, even the cheapest one. All four iPhone 12 series devices feature a flat OLED display, complete with the signature wide notch at the top. But this is not a high-refresh-rate panel and sticks to the traditional 60Hz figure. It is slightly disappointing, as phones that cost much lower now offer panels with a refresh rate as high as 144Hz.

iPhone 12 MiniiPhone 12iPhone 12 ProiPhone 12 Pro Max
5.4‑inch6.1‑inch6.1‑inch6.7‑inch
2340×1080 pixels2532×1170 pixels2532×1170 pixels2778×1284
476 ppi460 ppi460 ppi458 ppi
625 nits (typ.)
1200 nits (HDR)
625 nits (typ.)
1200 nits (HDR)
800 nits (typ.)
1200 nits (HDR)
800 nits (typ.)
1200 nits (HDR)

The panels on all iPhone 12 series devices use the in-house Super Retina XDR technology and True Tone calibration. They offer a wide P3 color gamut and a contrast ratio of 2,000,000:1. Plus, the display is also HDR certified and comes with a fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating on top.

What’s inside?

Now, let’s talk about the internal hardware of the iPhone 12 quartet. Apple has equipped all four iPhone 12 models with the in-house A14 Bionic chip. Based on the 5nm process, Apple is calling it the most powerful smartphone chip out there.

4 iPhones of different colors in a row

And if the early benchmark results of the iPhone 12 Pro are anything to go by, we are looking at an almost 25 percent performance gain over the iPhone 11 Pro duo. Now, that is some serious firepower, especially considering the fact that Qualcomm’s top-of-the-line Snapdragon 865 is still playing catch-up with last year’s A13 Bionic chip.

How much do you pay though?

As usual, Apple has not revealed the amount of RAM it has packed inside each model. But we know the storage options on the table. The iPhone 12 Mini and iPhone 12 are listed in three storage trims –  64GB, 128GB, and 256GB. As for the pricier iPhone 12 Pro pair, they will be offered in 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB models. Of course, you pay more for extra storage. How much exactly? Well, here you go:

64GB128GB256GB512GB
iPhone 12 Mini$699$749$849——-
iPhone 12$799$849$949——-
iPhone 12 Pro—–$999$1,099$1,299
iPhone 12 Pro Max—–$1,099$1,199$1,399

With the asking price out of the way, let’s get to the internals and talk about another huge change – 5G. All four iPhone 12 models support 5G. And yes, they are compatible with both Sub-6GHz (the slower, but more reliable one) and mmWave (blazing-fast, but less widely available) networks. And oh, that elongated pill-shaped thing you see on the side is actually a part of the 5G hardware fitted inside the phone. Here, have a look:

iPhone 12 5G internal locationHere’s to hoping that this doesn’t pave the way for another ‘Antennagate‘

The cameras

Say hello to the LiDAR sensor

Now, let’s talk about cameras. The number of cameras has not increased, but that’s not a red flag. Apple has made some major upgrades to the iPhone 12 series’ imaging setup, both in terms of sensor hardware and software-based capabilities. The camera hardware of the iPhone 12 series is identical, and so are their capabilities. So, let’s dissect it down.

Two different models of iPhone 12 series cameras next to each other

The primary camera on the iPhone 12 series uses a new 12MP wide sensor with an f/1.6 aperture, which is wider than the 12MP (f/1.8) sensor used on the iPhone 11 series. It is backed by OIS, which has also been upgraded to offer improved stabilization during video capture. It is accompanied by a 12MP ultra-wide angle (f/2.4) camera with a 120-degree field of view. 

Apple says the new wide camera allows in 27% more light, which means night photography results will be much better. Deep Fusion has been improved as well, and the new Smart HDR 3 technology has also arrived, promising better control over contrast, white balance, saturation, and texture to deliver more true-to-life images. As far as zooming capability goes, you get 2x optical zoom and up to 5x digital zoom output. 

Another noteworthy camera capability that Apple has introduced this year is the ability to record HDR videos with Dolby Vision. And you can not only record such videos, but watch and edit them natively on your iPhone 12 series device. Plus, Apple’s latest offerings now also support Night mode Time-Lapse capture, promising longer exposure times for sharper videos and better light trails. The output will automatically be enhanced when users employ a tripod. 

iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max camera details

The iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max pack the two aforementioned sensors and also inherit the same capabilities. But the iPhone 12 Pro pair adds an extra 12MP telephoto lens as well. The optically stabilized telephoto lens on iPhone 12 Pro has a 52mm focal length and ups the optical zoom output to 4x. Here’s the table that highlights the key differences in hardware and still photography capabilities of the iPhone 12 series’ camera setup:

iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 MiniiPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max
Ultra-wide: f/2.4 aperture and 120° field of view
Wide: f/1.6 aperture
Ultra-wide: f/2.4 aperture and 120° field of view
Wide: f/1.6 aperture
Telephoto: f/2.0 aperture (iPhone 12 Pro)
f/2.2 aperture (iPhone 12 Pro Max)
2x optical zoom outiPhone 12 Pro:
2x optical zoom in,
2x optical zoom out
4x optical zoom range
iPhone 12 Pro Max:
2.5x optical zoom in
2x optical zoom out
5x optical zoom range
Digital zoom up to 5xiPhone 12 Pro:
Digital zoom up to 10x
iPhone 12 Pro Max
Digital zoom up to 12x
—————–Night mode portraits enabled by LiDAR Scanner
Portrait mode with advanced bokeh and Depth ControlPortrait mode with advanced bokeh and Depth Control
Optical image stabilization (Wide)Dual optical image stabilization (Wide and Telephoto)
—————–Sensor-shift optical image stabilization (iPhone 12 Pro Max Wide)
5‑element lens (Ultra Wide)
7‑element lens (Wide)
5-element lens (Ultra Wide)
6‑element lens (Telephoto)
7-element lens (Wide)
Night mode (Ultra Wide, Wide)Night mode (Ultra Wide, Wide)
Deep Fusion (Ultra Wide, Wide)Deep Fusion (Ultra Wide, Wide, Telephoto)
Smart HDR 3 with Scene DetectionSmart HDR 3 with Scene Detection
—————–Apple ProRAW

The addition of a LiDAR sensor is another key hardware upgrade that is limited to the iPhone 12 Pro models. Aside from opening the doors for advanced AR capabilities, the LiDAR sensor also enhances autofocus by 6x in low-light scenarios. But the biggest advantage of the LiDAR sensor, taking purely from a photography perspective, is the arrival of Night mode Portrait shots.

Night mode now supports portrait shots

The iPhone 12 Pro duo also supports a new image format called Apple ProRAW. It blends the benefits of RAW capture with products of computational photography such as Deep Fusion and Smart HDR 3. Apple ProRAW will be rolled out at a later date, and the third-party API is also in the works that will allow developers to add this new capability in their camera apps. It also enables Dolby Vision video capture at up to 60fps, while the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Mini will cap Dolby Vision capture to 30fps. 

iPhone 12 Pro duo camera details

The iPhone 12 Pro Max further improves the imaging experience by using a 47% percent larger primary camera sensor with 1.7micron pixels to offer a massive 87% percent improvement in low-light photography. Compared to the 52mm telephoto camera on the iPhone 12 Pro, the telephoto camera on the iPhone 12 Pro Max has a 65mm focal length, which further increases the optical zoom range to 5x

iPhone 12 Pro Max introduces Sensor-shift image stabilization

Another major upgrade that is exclusive to the iPhone 12 Pro Max is Sensor-shift optical image stabilization. As the name suggests, this technology shifts the whole image sensor inside the camera using electrical actuators to compensate for hand movements, delivering blur-free photos and videos. In contrast, regular optical image stabilization involves shifting only the lens element inside the camera, and not the actual sensor. It also works fine if you attach an external lens to the phone.

Following is a detailed comparison of how the camera capabilities of the iPhone 12 and iPhone Mini differ from the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max when it comes to video capture:

iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 MiniiPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max
HDR video recording with Dolby Vision up to
30 fps
HDR video recording with Dolby Vision up to 60 fps
4K video recording at 24 fps, 30 fps,
or 60 fps
4K video recording at 24 fps, 30 fps, or 60 fps
1080p HD video recording at 30 fps
or 60 fps
1080p HD video recording at 30 fps or 60 fps
720p HD video recording at 30 fps720p HD video recording at 30 fps
Optical image stabilization for video
(Wide)
Optical image stabilization for video (Wide)
2x optical zoom outiPhone 12 Pro
2x optical zoom in
2x optical zoom out
4x optical zoom range
iPhone 12 Pro Max
2.5x optical zoom in
2x optical zoom out
5x optical zoom range
Digital zoom up to 3xiPhone 12 Pro
Digital zoom up to 6x
iPhone 12 Pro Max
Digital zoom up to 7x
Slo‑mo video support for 1080p at 120 fps or 240 fpsSlo‑mo video support for 1080p at 120 fps or 240 fps
Cinematic video stabilization (4K, 1080p,
and 720p)
Cinematic video stabilization (4K, 1080p, and 720p)
Take 8MP still photos while recording
4K video
Take 8MP still photos while recording 4K video
Video formats recorded: HEVC and H.264Video formats recorded: HEVC and H.264
Stereo recordingStereo recording

The TrueDepth 12MP (f/2.2) front camera on the iPhone 12 quartet has also received some major improvements when it comes to its capabilities. It now supports Night mode as well Deep Fusion, and Smart HDR 3 support is there as well. And just like the rear cameras, it can also record Dolby Vision HDR videos at up to 30fps, 4K videos at up to 60fps, and slo-mo 1080p videos at 120fps. Notably, the hardware and software capabilities across all the iPhone 12 series models are identical. Here’s everything else it is capable of: 

  • Portrait mode with advanced bokeh and Depth Control
  • Portrait Lighting with six effects
  • Animoji and Memoji
  • 1080p HD video recording at 30 fps or 60 fps
  • Time‑lapse video with stabilization
  • Night mode Time‑lapse
  • Extended dynamic range for video up to 30 fps
  • Cinematic video stabilization (4K, 1080p, and 720p)
  • QuickTake video
  • Wide color capture for photos and Live Photos
  • Lens correction
  • Retina Flash
  • Auto image stabilization
  • Burst mode

Phewww… !

So, that was it about the entire iPhone 12 series and what it has to offer. Decided to buy one yet? Check out our exhaustive list of all the places where you can pre-order the iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Mini, iPhone 12 Pro, and the iPhone 12 Pro Max here. You will also find the best deals out there in the same article. Also, here’s a family portrait of the entire iPhone 12 lineup:

iPhone 12 series lineup Source

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