iPhone 12 Pro Review: The odd one in the middle

While a 'Pro', the iPhone 12 Pro shares too much with its younger sibling to completely justify it's price

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The launch of the new iPhone every year makes a huge impact to the tech space. No one can deny that. Apple determines what’s coming for the industry, the stand its taking after far as new tech is concerned and sets the pace for the coming year of smartphones. This year Apple decided to launch not 1 or 2 but 4 iPhones, namely the iPhone 12 Mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max. 

With the split releases of the devices, we first got our hands on the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro. The iPhone 12 Pro has been my daily driver for almost 3 weeks now and the phone has left me perplexed. It’s a solid premium iPhone with almost all the best tech the company has to offer but it didn’t bring as much to the table as I expected.

iPhone 12 Pro 

Body and Display 

The iPhone 12 Pro comes in a stainless-steel body with frosted glass on the back like last year and maintains its shiny sides as it did too. The phone feels edgier and obviously resembles the iPhone 4/5/5S and original SE. While a lot of people criticised Apple’s decision to ‘go back’ to an older shape, I love it! No more slippery edges, no more worry while holding the phone and as a small bonus the phone can stand on its own! There’s no need for a brand to try ‘new’ for the sake of trying new and there’s no reason you can’t go back to something that worked really well. 

No 120Hz

The display on the 12 Pro this year is a larger (compared to last year’s 11 Pro) 6.1” Super Retina XDR display (with a resolution of 2,532 x 1,170 and a pixel density of 460ppi) and yes, it is just a 60Hz display. In my opinion, this is the biggest disappointment of this year’s iPhones. You might argue with me that most people will be coming from older devices with 60Hz displays and won’t know the difference. That being said people also do use iPhones longer than most other smartphone users. With more content (especially games) being consumed on and created for smartphones, I feel it was a crucial feature to have. 

When you compare colour or contrast or clarity to something like the Samsung Note 20 Ultra, you might not find a difference or even find the iPhone to be your preference, but in daily use the Samsung will always win. That being said I love the new 6.1” screen size. I think this is the perfect size for a smartphone. It’s not so small that you can’t read anything on the phone but it’s also not so large that it’s a big brick in your pocket. 

Another drawback of the display is that the notch is the same size too. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve come to love Face ID more than any form of security on a smartphone, but I do wish the notch would have been made smaller.

Cermaic Shield

This year the iPhone displays are also coming with Ceramic Shield. While I’m not completely sure what it is, Apple claims to have much better protection to falls than it did before. I would’ve preferred Apple directed its efforts more towards building scratch resistance on the display. My unit saw scratches on the first day and I suggest that you get a screen protector on yours ASAP. 

Camera

The iPhone 12 Pro comes with a triple camera 12MP Wide (f/1.6,26mm) + 12MP ultra-wide (f/2.4,13mm) + 12MP telephoto (f/2.0,56mm) setup. The cameras are wider, brighter and definitely perform better than their predecessor. Apple’s colour science is still unbeaten, and pictures come out quite close to what you wanted to shoot. 

There are still no ‘Pro’ controls on the iPhone, but the company did add Exposure controls which does show that they might be leaning towards giving more control to users over time. Another feature soon to be released via an OTA update is the new Apple ProRAW format. Giving more control to edit images with way more control, that too right in the Photos app, will be something I’m very interested to see.  

Coming from the 11 Pro, the biggest improvement I saw was in the low-light images. Night-mode, which is on all three lenses now, comes up easier and works really well. While the rear cameras succeed with night mode, I did find the selfie camera struggling quite a bit. 

One of the biggest differences between the camera on the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro is the LiDAR sensor. The LiDAR sensor does a great job with depth perception and the difference is very clearly visible. I noticed it most while shooting portrait shots.

Dolby Vision

Another new feature to come to the iPhones this year is Dolby Vision. While on videos are gorgeous and have that ‘pop’ you want from your videos, especially in broad day-light. That being said, there’s still not a lot of displays which can take advantage of the Dolby Vision support, so it’s not exactly a persuading factor when getting the device. That being said, Prosumers will definitely be looking out for this feature. 

Below you can find some of the images I’ve taken over the past few weeks with the phone. Click on the gallery to check them out.

On the overall the iPhone 12 Pro provides a great camera experience. It packs a bigger punch that the iPhone 12 and various social media app optimisations definitely help build a case to invest in an iPhone with a better camera. 

To see video samples from the iPhone 12 Pro and a comparison between the cameras on the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro, check out the video below.

If you do like what you see, don’t forget to like and subscribe to our Youtube channel by clicking on the channel logo above.

Power and 5G 

The iPhone 12 Pro comes with Apple’s A14 Bionic chipset, 6GB of RAM and the base storage now starts at 128GB going up to 512GB. There’s no surprise here that the iPhone 12 Pro has been a beast. Apple’s A14 Bionic doesn’t show the slightest lag or slow down irrespective of what you put its way. While there is no formal ‘multi-tasking’ on iOS, switching between apps is a breeze and the app is always in memory, letting you pick up right where you left off. 

Storage

One huge plus about the new iPhone 12 Pro is that its base storage starts at 128GB. While 64Gb was less for most people today, 128GB is a great starting point for most. Unless you’re going to be constant shooting 4K video on your iPhone I don’t see why you would need more than 128GB. 

PRO TIP: If you’re getting a new phone (any phone), I always suggest clearing your old one before moving everything over. Now days, we have so much unnecessary content on our devices. Random memes, documents we needed to download and videos we never took a second look at. Might as well get rid of everything and start fresh on a new device. 

5G

The iPhone 12 Pro (along with all its siblings) comes with 5G. Now the UAE has been pretty quick to roll out 5G. But it’s still not everywhere and even when you do find it, it’s only around the 400-700MBps range. While that’s much faster than 4G, I do think that 5G is still not a factor to consider while upgrading your phone. It’s great if it’s there but it’s not the reason to get a new phone. 

Gaming

While I’m not the biggest mobile gamer, Vaibhav has taken extensive look at gaming on his iPhone 12. Considering it’s a same display and processor (with a slight difference in RAM), I suspect the gaming experience should be pretty similar. Check out his full video below.

For more focused content like this, check out Vaibhav’s Youtube channel but clicking on the channel logo above.

Battery and Charging

This past year, after being a large phone user for as long as I can remember, I switched from the iPhone 11 Pro Max to the 11 Pro. While I was jumping phones because I wanted a smaller phone, my biggest concern was battery-life. The iPhone 11 Pro (3040mAh) completely shattered my expectations and was an absolute beast. I easily got through more than a day with around 7 hours of screen-on time. 

Unfortunately, the iPhone 12 Pro has shaken that faith a bit. The iPhone 12 Pro comes with a smaller 2815mAh battery this year and it’s not been the best for me. Now I consider myself a moderate to heavy user on the daily. I would get an average of 6 hours screen-on time from the phone but that didn’t mean the phone would last me the whole day. There were days where I would take my phone off the charger at my usual 7.30-8 AM and I’d need to charge up again by 3-4 PM. These were mainly days which were out and about using Google Maps on 5G but still, a larger battery could’ve probably helped with this issue. Now whether this will be an issue for you or not is subjective but for me this is definitely a sour point. 

Like many years previously, this year too Apple disappointed fans with no USB type-C charging. The lighting port remains and charges the iPhone at a max speed of 18W. Now considering the amount of time I’m spending indoor; the charging speed wasn’t an issue. 

MagSafe

While there might have been no type-C, Apple did introduce MagSafe charging for the iPhone. A MagSafe charger is basically a wireless charger which (you guessed it!) wirelessly charges the iPhone but the trick here is that these chargers have magnets in them which connect to new magnets on the phone. If you’re not familiar with wireless chargers, then all this makes no sense to you, but I can tell you one thing. This is such a great feature. It makes finding the right spot to charge the phone easier and also when you lift your phone, you don’t miss out on precious charging time. MagSafe charges at a max of 15W but this only works with Apple’s own 20W chargers. 

Speaking of chargers, yes you don’t get one in the box. Now I personally have type-C ports all over my house, so I didn’t face an issue, but I understand if you hate the fact that you have to buy a charging brick separately. I’m not going to delve into the conversation about whether Apple’s environmental reasons for the move make sense, but I do feel that in a few years’ time many brands will have jumped on board and also wireless charging will be the standard anyway. 

Should you buy the Apple iPhone 12 Pro? 

There’s nothing wrong with the iPhone 12 Pro. It’s actually the ideal ‘Pro’ iPhone for most people. That being said, I do advise you to read my iPhone 12 review before you go get yourself a 12 Pro.

The iPhone 12 and 12 Pro have too much in common. Same display, same processor, same wide and ultra-wide cameras, same battery and same shape. If you’re looking for the iPhone experience but aren’t planning to push any boundaries with your smartphone, the 12 might be a better option specially considering its Dh800 cheaper. Even at the same storage option (128GB), there’s a Dh500 difference between the phones. I do feel that the iPhone 12 might be the right choice for most people out there.

At Dh4199, the iPhone 12 Pro promises you the elegance, polish and one of the best cameras the company has to offer in a smartphone. Unfortunately, at Dh3399 you can get the iPhone 12 with most of what the 12 Pro has to offer and at Dh4699, you can get the iPhone 12 Pro Max with a slightly better camera and a beefier battery. The iPhone 12 Pro this year is a great phone but the odd middle child too.

If you’re still deciding between the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro, here’s a video to help you out!