iPhone 12 Review: The one you should get your hands on

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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. I’ve been using the iPhone 12 alongside my iPhone 12 Pro for almost 3 weeks now and I love it! It’s a great phone with a relatively justified price too. 

iPhone 12 

Body and Display 

The iPhone 12 comes in a lightweight aluminium body with glossy glass (hello fingerprints!) on the back like last year and has matte sides. 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

This year, the display on the iPhone 12 gets the biggest bump of all. It goes from last year’s lack-lustre 720p LCD to the same 6.1” Super Retina XDR display (with a resolution of 2,532 x 1,170 and a pixel density of 460ppi) found on the 12 Pro. If you read my review of the iPhone 12 Pro, you’ll notice that I do have a huge issue with the refresh rate there but I can say that on the iPhone 12 it doesn’t hurt as much considering the bump in resolution and display technology it gets this year. 

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. While that’s all well and great, I would’ve preferred Apple directed its efforts more towards building scratch resistance on the display. While my 12 Pro unit saw scratches right on the first day, my iPhone 12’s display is still fine. This obviously could be because I’ve used the device lesser but considering it’s the same exact display, I do suggest getting a screen protector on it. 

Camera

It’s on the cameras that you find the most physically distinguishable difference between the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro. The iPhone 12 comes with a dual camera 12MP Wide (f/1.6,26mm) + 12MP ultra-wide (f/2.4,13mm) 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. 

Coming from the 11, the biggest improvement I saw was in the low-light images. Night-mode, which is on both lenses now, comes up easier and works really well. 

One of the biggest differences between the camera on the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro is the LiDAR sensor. The lack of the LiDAR sensor is noticeable to someone like me who is using both the 12 and 12 Pro but to the average person, the iPhone 12 does a good job with portraits. Throw a complicated scenario (like my hair in the shots below) and you’ll see the camera struggle with edge detection but in most other scenarios it works well. 

Below you can find some of the images I’ve taken over the past few weeks with the phone. 

Dolby Vision

Another new feature to come to the iPhones this year is Dolby Vision. Unlike the iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max which shoot in Dolby Vision up to 4k 60fps, the iPhone 12 can shoot Dolby Vision up to 4k 30fps.  I don’t see this making a difference to most users, unless you’re planning on shooting hardcore footage with the device. 

While Dolby Vision is 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.

If you’re choosing between the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro, and the camera is a big factor for you, check out our below comparison

Power and 5G 

The iPhone 12 comes with Apple’s A14 Bionic chipset, 4GB of RAM and a base storage of 64GB going up to 512GB. There’s no surprise here that the iPhone 12 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. 

Unlike it’s elder sibling, the iPhone 12 starts at 64GB which isn’t the biggest problem but definitely either keep some money aside for iCloud storage or spend a little more for the 128GB version. 

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. 

The iPhone 12 (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. 

Battery and MagSafe

Now I didn’t use the iPhone 12 as my daily driver for more than 2-3 days days (it was used as my work phone the rest of the time) but I do feel the battery experience was the same as the iPhone 12 Pro. 

The iPhone 12 comes with a 2815mAh battery this year (smaller than last year’s 3110mAh battery) and it’s not going to be a pleasant change if you’re coming from an iPhone 11. While Apple dopes claim that the new 5nm A14 Bionic chipset is much more power efficient, the iPhone 12 has a lot of battery chugging capabilities the iPhone 11 didn’t. The new phone comes with 5G and a much better display. Two things which immensely consumer battery. 

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? 

If you’re considering an iPhone but don’t want to shell out the big bucks, the iPhone 12 is my definite suggestion. It comes with a whole load of upgrades and manageable drawbacks. At Dh3399, the iPhone 12 (with 64GB storage) is Dh800 cheaper than the iPhone 12 Pro. 

In these highly volatile times, if you’re trying to save some money, the iPhone 12 might be the way to go. 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. 

Even at the same storage of 128GB, there is a Dh500 difference between the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro. In these times, saving that money could go a long way for most. In my opinion the iPhone 12 is the perfect iPhone for almost everyone!