iPhone 12 Review: Gangbuster or Bankbuster?

Apple started selling iPhone 12. How can it surprise and is it worth the money?

In 2020, the release of new iPhones is divided into two parts: the first are the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro, and a month later – on November 13 – the iPhone 12 mini and 12 Pro Max. It is difficult to assess how the pandemic and the economic affected specifically Apple, but the result was that the iPhone is now not only more powerful and better than its predecessors, but also more expensive. “Lenta.ru” talks about the first impressions of the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro.

Since 2017, Apple has begun a process of fragmentation of the iPhone brand, trying to cover the requests of the maximum number of users. That year, the iPhone 8 and X were released, where the first acted as a kind of “people’s flagship”, and the second – a premium phone for an insane, as it seemed at that time, cost. The idea here is simple: those who just need a fresh phone with all the basic functions will go for the iPhone 8, while fans of the brand will wait for the iPhone X and take it at any price.

The real effect of such changes only appeared in 2018, when Apple released the iPhone Xr and Xs. The affordable flagship was the most popular phone in the world until the iPhone 11, which took its place not only in the brand, but at the top of all sorts of charts and reports. Moreover, this is the only phone from the brand that Apple continues to release and for the second year in a row reduces its price.

As a result, for the first half of 2020, Apple shipped 14.4 million iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max (7.7 million for the Pro Max and 6.7 million for the regular Pro) and 37.7 million for the regular Pro. IPhone 11 Pro sales was the lagging behind in the company’s brand, and the release of the iPhone 12 further crippled the position of the Pro version of the phone.

Most importantly, the new iPhone 12 and 12 Pro are now nearly identical devices. They have the same screen diagonal, the same design, dimensions and delivery set. This is a very strong upgrade of the “basic” iPhone, which is now not much inferior to its “big brother”. Of course, it still lags behind the Pro in some aspects, but the first impressions and experience of using these devices are no different now, so in many ways everything that concerns the iPhone 12 Pro applies to the usual “two”.

The design of the iPhone has changed a lot, finally, the new Apple phones can be easily distinguished from last year. The company has returned to the flat-surface iPhone 4/5 concept, and after so many years, the devices feel fresh with stream on new smartphones. It is quite convenient to use, does not cut into the hand and in the pictures it seems much larger than it actually is. The screen in both devices is made using OLED technology with high contrast, accurate color reproduction and a large margin of brightness: the iPhone 12 has 625 nits, and the 12 Pro has 800, and the peak value for viewing HDR content is identical for both devices – 1200 nits.

This was followed by a reduction of the rim around the screen, making the screen larger at the same size. Thus, in the compact body of the iPhone 11 Pro fits a larger screen with a diagonal, the iPhone 11 – 6.1 inches. The screen resolution and aspect ratio have changed slightly, and the pixel density has become higher. Alas, there is still no 120 hertz support and the screen refreshes at 60 frames per second. According to rumors, such a decision was made to preserve autonomy, and if this is really the case, then there is nothing shameful in this.

Ceramic Shield glass, produced using ceramic nanocrystals. Apple promises that the new coating and body design will cut the risk of glass breakage by four times compared to last year’s iPhones, but this claim is difficult to verify. A similar story with water protection: the smartphone can now withstand a submersion of six meters for up to 30 minutes, although Apple advises against checking this, because if water gets inside the case, the phone goes out of warranty. Scratch resistance at the same level.

Apple introduced the iPhone 12

With the iPhone 12, Apple has decided to bring back the once-forgotten MagSafe technology. Previously, this name was the connector for charging Apple laptops, and now it is a special magnetic connector on the back cover, to which you can attach additional accessories. This does not interfere with Qi charging in any way, and Apple even released a special version of wireless charging that attaches to the smartphone with magnets. This helps to accurately position the accessory and avoid cases when the charge did not go due to the fact that the smartphone was somehow incorrectly placed on the “mat”.

In addition to this, there are cases with MagSafe and a leather pocket for plastic cards, which falls off the first time you try to shove the phone into the pocket of skinny jeans. Third party manufacturers have also stepped up and have already announced their magnetic mount products. This mount allows you not only to stick something on the phone, but also to fix the phone itself on some surface. For example, on a tripod or gimbal, or hang your iPhone on a car dash without additional covers and accessories.

Obviously, MagSafe is one of Apple’s steps towards eliminating wires altogether in future iPhones. First, the company “cut out” the headphone jack in the iPhone 7, then equipped the phones with wireless charging, and now it says almost in plain text – “in a couple of years we will get rid of Lightning” – and demonstrates its own vision of Qi-charging. Therefore, there will probably not be any iPhone with Type-C, but a completely wireless phone will appear immediately.

The camera systems in the new iPhones haven’t changed much, aside from the iPhone 12 Pro Max. The situation is about the same as in last year’s modules: the iPhone 12 has two cameras, the 12 Pro has three, plus a lidar has been added to them. Constructive changes have affected only the main sensor – it still has a resolution of 12 megapixels, but the aperture has increased to f / 1.6. The new lens system captures up to a third more light and slightly improves camera performance in low light.

Another big change applies exclusively to the iPhone 12 Pro. It’s about the LiDAR depth sensor. Portrait mode works better with it and focusing is faster in the dark. However, this only works when shooting people and when you try to shoot some object or animal with a blurred background, artifacts may still appear in the final image.

Everything else is hidden in the camera software. So, the night mode now works on all modules, and not as before – only on the main one. On the iPhone 11 Pro, when trying to use 2x zoom during night shooting, the image was cropped from the main module, and the camera with real zoom did not start. You can also take night shots on the front camera. As a bonus, a new algorithm for processing photos from the ultra-wide-angle camera, which reduces the “barrel” effect and slightly corrects the perspective. This still does not fix the main problems of super-width, such as the lack of stabilization and low aperture, which is why you can shoot with it only in good light, although the night mode saves the situation a little.

The video shooting algorithms were also slightly changed. First, the iPhone 12 can shoot HDR videos in Dolby Vision, and the standard is backward compatible, so videos can be played on SDR screens (although Instagram cannot handle HDR videos and instead gives out blown mess). And here, too, there is now a night mode, but only when shooting time lapses.

The new six-core Apple A14 chip is interesting not so much because of its speed (because all iPhones of recent years have been working equally fast), but because of its architecture. This is the first smartphone with a 5nm processor, which further reduces power consumption. For artificial intelligence tasks, the processor has a 16-core Neural Engine (previously there was an eight-core). In total, Apple’s new processor includes 11.6 billion transistors.

For the average user, these numbers say little, and it will be difficult to estimate the real performance gain. Another thing that will remain inaccessible to most iPhone 12 users is 5G support. In the United States, the process of transition to new generation networks is in full swing, and finding a place with coverage does not pose any particular problems, so a separate block was devoted to this aspect at the presentation.

However, the process has stalled. The frequencies included in the “golden range” (3.4-3.8 gigahertz) are assigned to law enforcement agencies and special communications, and for cellular operators, frequencies from the upper range of 26.5-29.5 gigahertz are available. In the West, the situation is different, and those frequencies that are military in our country are considered civilian. These decisions were made during the Cold War in order to prevent the interception of data by NATO countries, so no one will change the situation for the sake of Apple alone. So, before the normal launch of 5G, you first need to resolve the issue with frequencies, and then with equipment that should be domestic and which simply does not exist.

The iPhone 12 works fine on fifth-generation networks, according to Western reviews. When connected to networks, the data transfer rate on the iPhone was twice as fast as compared to the OnePlus 8. This also leads to a faster battery discharge: on average, when using 5G, the phone will last two hours less.

According to analysts, it was costly for Apple to introduce 5G into the iPhone, so with the new phones the company has raised prices and tried to cut costs. The most painful thing here was that the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro no longer included headphones with a power adapter, and only a Lightning to Type-C cable remained in the kit.

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Here one could argue that users have enough of these power adapters, but the problem is that most people have units with USB Type-A input, and Type-C, despite the long existence of the standard, is a small number of users. This leads to the need to separately buy a charger for two thousand from Apple or from a third-party manufacturer with all the consequences. Alternatively, you can buy a MagSafe charger for three thousand, although there is also no power supply.

This is the most controversial decision by Apple in recent years. The company explains this by caring for the environment: “This solution allows you to make iPhone packaging smaller and lighter, that is, reduce the number of shipments – now you can send 70 percent more smartphones at a time. All of these measures reduce carbon emissions by 2 million metric tons per year – as if almost 450,000 cars disappeared from the roads. ” If we put the emphasis differently, then there is another plus for the company – a significant reduction in the cost of transporting phones from the factory to the distributor. This has already been laughed at by all and sundry, including Samsung, Xiaomi and OnePlus, but it is enough to recall the story of the rejection of the headphone jack to assess how soon all these companies, following Apple, will get rid of charging bundled with their phones.

At the same time, the iPhones themselves have become more expensive. After the presentation, it seemed that in the US, the iPhone 12 would cost the same as last year’s models – $ 700. However, upon closer examination of the site, it becomes clear that such prices are available only when buying a “tied” device with a contract from the operator, and in another case, the iPhone 12 will be $ 30 more expensive. iPhone 12 Pro costs the same with and without a contract with a telecom operator – $ 1,000 and $ 1,100.

It goes without saying that the iPhone 12 and the 12 Pro are one of the most important devices of 2020, each of which works for its own audience. However, the 12 Pro has weakened a lot after such a major improvement to the base iPhone 12. If you look soberly and not try to cling to the premium and materials of the case, the Pro has no feature that would be decisive in choosing between the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro. Although you can never discount brand fans who are ready to buy the most expensive iPhone simply because it is the most expensive.

The 12 Pro has a better camera, but the main modules are the same as in the regular iPhone 12, so only active users of portrait photography will appreciate the Pro, which has become much better with the introduction of lidar. And in the 12 Pro Max, the camera is even better, so for those who are really interested in mobile photography, it is worth waiting for this smartphone. Otherwise, with over paying, the user will receive in the basic version an increase in memory by 64 gigabytes (128 instead of 64), two additional gigabytes of RAM, a steel frame of the case and a weight gain of 30 grams. Is it worth it?