Last year’s iPhone 11 Pro was our favourite Apple device. It took a big leap in the camera department with a versatile triple rear cam and also aced battery life – a constant crib for many iPhone users. Apple launched four iPhone 12 devices this year, add the iPhone XR, the SE and the 11, you have a fairly diverse portfolio that cuts across price points. If you’re in the market for an iPhone upgrade, you’re probably asking a couple of questions – is the price premium (over the iPhone 12) justified and is this a big leap over the 11 Pro.
We’ll kick off this review with a basic question. What is a premium smartphone experience? You might find different answers to that question, depending on whom you ask. For me, it begins with that moment when you first hold a smartphone in your hand. That’s the point when you justify the stiff price tag you’ve coughed up for the device of your choice. You’re bound to experience that wow moment when you clasp the iPhone 12 Pro for the first time. Especially if you opt for this year’s new shade – Pacific Blue (that we checked out); this is a device you have to experience first-hand. Videos or images simply don’t do justice.
Apple has turned back the clock somewhat with its new flat edge design that has echoes of the iPhone 5’s industrial design and shades of the iPad Pro design template. It’s flatter than the 11 Pro and feels nicer in your hand compared to its predecessor. It’s almost the same weight as the 11 Pro despite a slightly larger 6.1-inch display. The surgical grade steel on the rim looks stunning especially against light but you get the same notch that we’ve grown accustomed to on iPhones for a while now. The 12 Pro boasts of ceramic shield (with nano crystals infused into the glass) front cover that Apple claims is four times tougher than glass. The 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR OLED display (1170 x 2532 pixels / 460 PPI) is gorgeous with deep blacks and vibrant colours but doesn’t feature the 120Hz refresh rate that is fast becoming a norm in flagship devices.
Just like last year, the triple rear cam is a big part of Apple’s sales pitch. The first thing I did after setting up the device was to do a quick set of comparison shots with the iPhone 11 Pro. The standout feature for me was the night mode and Apple’s Deep Fusion now being available on all lenses and shooting scenarios. The 11 Pro didn’t offer night mode when you were shooting on the ultra-wide lens. It’s the same with the videos. Night mode time-lapse videos could become a thing on Instagram with the 12 Pro. The 12 Pro features the LiDAR sensor that we saw on the iPad Pro. While you can mark some of its AR potential into the ‘future’ box, this sensor has a visible impact on lowlight photography where the iPhone 12 Pro might well be the mobile shooter to beat.
Apple’s A14 Bionic chip is at the heart of this device; it’s crazy fast. It’s the same thing we said about last year’s A13 chip in the 11 Pro that has the edge over some of 2020’s powerful new smartphones. Apple has upped the entry level device to 128GB (from 64GB for the 11 Pro); about time too. Apple doesn’t share battery specs, but the 12 Pro is in the same ballpark as the 11 Pro in our initial tests. We will add a caveat – with WFH in 2020, it’s tougher to pinpoint battery performance even with extensive camera and video usage.
During Apple’s iPhone 12 launch keynote, the company announced that it was going to omit the power adapter and headphones from the iPhone 12 boxes. It’s part of the company’s environment initiative – according to Apple’s estimates, these changes will cut over 2 million metric tons of carbon emissions annually, which is equivalent to removing nearly 450,000 cars from the road every year. While we believe more companies should take a cue, this is a decision that may not please many users. You will need to find a plug for a USB-C to Lightning cable or go wireless. Apple’s new MagSafe charger could come into the mix; we’ll dive into MagSafe in a detailed explainer soon.
The premium build and the pro-grade camera (which we’re still playing around with, especially the video capabilities) also represent a step up from last year’s 11 Pro.This year, the differences between the 12 and 12 Pro seem less pronounced than the 11 vs the 11 Pro. The 12 also features an OLED display and gets a terrific dual cam. And then there’s the iPhone 12 Pro Max that arrives in mid-November with a larger screen, better battery life and a camera system with a few more enhancements. The iPhone 12 Pro remains our pick if you don’t mind the asking price; this middle child in the 2020 iPhone 12 line-up represents the best of both worlds. It has an outstanding camera, looks every inch premium and hits a sweet-spot in terms of screen size and heft.
The iPhone 12 Pro comes in silver, graphite, gold and pacific blue and starts at Rs 1,19,900.