Everything You Need to Know About the iPhone 12 (Updated)

Here is a quick overview of everything you want to know. Before and after you buy the iPhone 12.

Chloe, Senior Contributor WUDN Customer Service, and a massive Apple geek

October 2020
(Mobile, Consumer, Tech)
Chloe, Senior Contributor
WUDN Customer Service, and a massive Apple geek 

Here is a quick overview of everything you want to know. Before and after you buy the iPhone 12.

What makes this the best iPhone upgrade in years are a fabulous-to-hold design and substantial camera improvements. Even those who bought iPhone 11 models last year might pine for these new ones.

Stronger glass that’s "4x" less likely to crack, a camera that takes better photos in low light and higher resolution video and has a more powerful processing chip for much faster performance.

As great as the 11 Pro model, it's just not as good as the 12.

5G is Built-In to All Four Models

Including: iPhone 12 Mini (5.4"), iPhone 12 (6.1"), iPhone 12 Pro (6.1"), and the iPhone 12 Pro Max (6.7")

But to select which of the four models to get, it’s best to group them together:

iPhone 12 Mini ($699 and up) and iPhone 12 ($799 and up): Apple’s mainstream options have 5G, a new design and an improved wide camera. (They have an ultrawide camera found on earlier models.) The Mini has a 5.4-inch screen; the 12 has a 6.1-inch screen—otherwise, they’re identical.

iPhone 12 Pro ($999 and up) and iPhone 12 Pro Max ($1,099 and up): These have 5G (of course) but come with a slightly more premium design and a trio of cameras, including the new wide one. The iPhone 12 Pro has the same 6.1-inch screen as the iPhone 12. The Pro Max has a 6.7-inch screen, and a new telephoto camera.

Two Cameras or Three?

The biggest decision between the 12 and 12 Pro comes down to a single camera. Both have the same ultra-wide cameras, which are great for capturing a whole scene. Both also have new wide cameras, updated with a wider aperture to let in 27% more light, according to Apple. In my low-light scene tests I could see a noticeable improvement over the iPhone 11, and big improvement over the iPhone X and iPhone 8. So what’s different? The Pro adds a telephoto camera for taking closer shots. Whenever I would switch back from the 12 Pro to the 12, I missed the flexibility of being able to zoom into a scene without disrupting the action—a big thing for people with kids and pets. The Pro also has a new lidar sensor, which uses lasers to capture depth information. This will improve augmented reality apps but also enables Night Portrait Mode, photos with that nice blur around the subject, even in low light. It did a nice job, but Portrait Mode still generally struggles with tough backgrounds.

Less Phone, More Screen

This one example shows how much better Apple has gotten at minimizing the bezel and maximizing the screen. the iPhone 12 is more compact than the iPhone 8 Plus, even with a screen that adds an additional 0.4 inches.

Aluminum or Steel Body?

You know that feeling when you cut your hair and it feels super different for a few days? This year’s new iPhone design change feels like that. The squared-off edges, the rounded corners, the clean glass back make this the best iPhone design in years. It reminds me of a slick, grown-up iPhone 5 (which was the most beautiful of all iPhones). I prefer the less expensive iPhone 12’s lower-end aluminum for its lighter weight. And the 12 Pro’s flashy stainless-steel frame is a fingerprint magnet.

Pushing the Limits of Camera Tech

An iPhone 12 Review from the perspective of a working, professional photographer

Video in high-resolution Dolby Vision

Yes, you can get brighter colors and sharpness from Dolby Vision, a feature seen on many TVs for more lifelike color and sound. But don't expect to share the videos on social media. The video files will be in a different format than what's supported on Facebook and Twitter. Best practice: sharing them from phone to phone, or using the AirPlay feature to beam the video from your phone to the TV could be your best shot, for now.

The iPhone 12 is Missing some Key Accessories

There's been a lot of chatter about Apple's new iPhone 12—mostly that it doesn't come with a wall plug or headphones. Apple says they are saving the planet, but I think they are saving some serious money, and increasing their margins. You should probably get an iPhone 12 and buy a couple shares of Apple stock.

Shoppers who purchase the newest smartphone will receive a USB-C lightning cable. Not only is this cable way to short to be of any real use, but the plug that goes into a power outlet is NOT included. This will be frustrating if you don't already own a USB-C wall charger. If you are an Apple person, up through the iPhone 11, you probably don’t have a USB-C wall charger. Don’t be a sucker and pay full price at the Apple store; Here’s one that we like: Anker USB-C Dual 18W Wall Charger (unlike pretty much all the news, review and gift-guide sites, WUDN does not make a commission on sales).

Apple did put some magnets in the backside of these phones so you can snap on its new line of MagSafe accessories. The $39 MagSafe charger, charged a dead iPhone 12 up to 50% in about an hour— somewhat faster than a typical Qi- wireless charger. Apple’s 20-watt wired charger took just 28 minutes. Plus, it comes with a much too short cord and like we mentioned above, the USB-C charging brick is sold separately.

On top of the wall plug, there are a few other accessories you'll want to purchase if you plan on getting the iPhone 12. 

Wooden Phone Case for iPhone 12

Wireless Chargers for iPhone 12

Official MagSafe Accessories from Apple

Here is a longer list of good iPhone 12 Accessories from the team at Reviewed

Apple killed off the iPhone 8, 8 Plus, 11 Pro and Pro Max models

Still available for sale are the entry-level 11 (6.1”), the ever-popular XR from 2018 and the entry-level SE. The 11 Pro and Pro Max were introduced in 2019.

And lastly, the remaining older phones in the lineup are discounted. The XR is now $499 and the 11 is $599. The SE is still the best bargain, and a great phone at $399. 

As of Q4-2020, these are the only remaining iPhones officially available to purchase. When the retail channel, and carriers clear out the old models, they will be gone forever. The iPhone 8, 8 Plus, 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max are all gone.

Still haven’t made up your mind about this upgrade?

I don’t blame you. It’s starting to feel like we’re supposed to upgrade every single year, instead of every two years. And I am still paying at&t installments for the last upgrade. But it does make economic sense to upgrade every year.

Still deciding – Here are a few resources for your continuing research:

Official Apple iPhone 12 Site – offers all the specs you need from a trusted source, and massively over-produced videos.

Is 5G Available Where I am? These are the carrier maps, so take these with a grain of salt: Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile / Sprint

Everything Else You Want To Know About the iPhone 12 (More Reading)

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The iPhone 12, the first with 5G, is the fastest 5G smartphone

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