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Friday, November 27, 2020

Apple iPhone 12 hands-on: 48 hours with the new flagship smartphone

I have spent 48 hours with the iPhone 12. Here's what it's like using Apple's flagship iPhone.

Written by Anuj Bhatia | New Delhi | Updated: November 6, 2020 6:03:25 pm
iPhone 12, iphone 12 review, iPhone 12 price in India, iPhone 12 features, iPhone 12 specs, iPhone 12 vs iPhone 12 ProFrom an ergonomic point of view, I think the new design makes it easier to hold the iPhone 12 in both landscape and portrait. (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)

Ever since the iPhone 12 hit retail stores, I have been bombarded with messages from friends and cousins asking me about my take on Apple’s new flagship. I got calls from friends who had been using iPhone 5s, but are now looking to upgrade to a new iPhone. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t surprised by this.

My conversations with close ones revealed that they want a familiar-looking iPhone but expect it to have a bigger screen and better cameras and faster performance. I feel the iPhone 12 is closer to what consumers want in their next iPhone, like flat edges that immediately reminds them of the iPhone 4s/5s era, an improved screen, dual cameras that are better at taking low-light shots and fast performance.

My thoughts after the first 48 hours with the iPhone 12 could be of help to those. Expect a full review later this week.

Read our full review: Apple iPhone 12 Pro: Is this the right flagship for you?

The retail box

The slimmer box of the iPhone 12 itself indicates some changes inside, like the missing headphones and charger. I think Apple has done the right thing by removing the charger and headphones from the product box. I really don’t care about the power brick or Lightning EarPod headphones anymore. Since I use the same charger that came with the iPad, I don’t think I would even bother taking out the charging adapter from the iPhone’s packaging. Speaking of earbuds, I have been using AirPods for quite some time and I don’t feel the need for going back to wired Lightning EarPod.

iPhone 12, iphone 12 review, iPhone 12 price in India, iPhone 12 features, iPhone 12 specs, iPhone 12 vs iPhone 12 Pro Phone 12 comes in a slimmer box because there’s no power adapter or headphones in there. (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)

iPhone 4-inspired design

The iPhone 12 has a new design, and the look is inspired by the iPhone 4. For someone who is obsessed with vintage fashion and retro designs, the iPhone 12 brings back memories of the iPhone 4. The recurrence of retro styles in design is nothing new, but it becomes a lot more difficult to create a new product that has the elements and aesthetics of an iconic device. What I really like about the iPhone 12’s design is how Apple mixes old and new together.

Phone 12 comes in a slimmer box because there’s no power adapter or headphones in there. (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express) The iPhone 12 feels much lighter than the iPhone 11. (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)

While the return of the flat edge design brings back nostalgia, the iPhone 12 still very much a modern-day smartphone. I would say, the iPhone 12 is a refined version of the iPhone 11. The display occupies almost the entire front face, and there’s the notch at the top. There is no Touch ID or a home button; instead, you will find Face ID, which is Apple’s face-recognition system. The back of the phone is made of glass, just like the iPhone 11. My review unit is navy blue in colour, and it’s pretty exciting.

At 6.1-inches, it’s larger than the iPhone 6 screen size but isn’t a plus-sized phone. In fact, the iPhone 12 is a perfect sized phone — not too small, not too large. I have a feeling that iPhone 5s/6 owners will take some time to get used to the screen size and shape of the phone.

Phone 12 comes in a slimmer box because there’s no power adapter or headphones in there. (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express) Flat edges are back, curved edges are gone. (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)

That OLED screen

The iPhone 12 uses an OLED display, which is a nice upgrade over the iPhone 11’s LCD display. If you’re upgrading to the iPhone 12 from the iPhone 5s or iPhone 6 with an LCD display, you will notice much of a difference. OLED screens showcase vibrant colours and offer better contrast and deeper black tones. You will start noticing the change when opening certain apps and reading news articles. But the display on the iPhone 12 has also something called Ceramic Shield that Apple says offers 4x better drop performance. I have no plans to intentionally drop the review unit, but the hardened glass is supposed to make the phone more durable in the long run.

Phone 12 comes in a slimmer box because there’s no power adapter or headphones in there. (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express) iPhone 12 (left), iPhone 11 (right). (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)

Improved cameras

Even though the wide camera/ultra-wide camera on the iPhone 12 is exactly the same as the iPhone 11, taking photos has been a much better experience than previous-generation models.

I have taken over 20 images in different lighting conditions on the iPhone 12 and iPhone 11 in the last 48 hours. I can’t tell the difference, but taking photos in low light is usually better on the iPhone 12. I am also more impressed with the front-facing camera on the iPhone 12. Now, I can even snap a selfie during the night because the quality of the photo will look good, thanks to night mode.

Here are some shots from the iPhone 12 below.

Phone 12 comes in a slimmer box because there’s no power adapter or headphones in there. (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express) Photos are more natural and noticeably brighter. (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express) Phone 12 comes in a slimmer box because there’s no power adapter or headphones in there. (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express) The iPhone 12’s camera is able to focus sharply on the subject. (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express) Phone 12 comes in a slimmer box because there’s no power adapter or headphones in there. (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express) In outdoor conditions, no smartphone camera comes close to the iPhone 12. (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express) Phone 12 comes in a slimmer box because there’s no power adapter or headphones in there. (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express) Take a look at this photo, and you will notice that the colours look more realistic and accurate. (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express) iPhone 12 comes in a slimmer box because there’s no power adapter or headphones in there. (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express) This show was taken from the iPhone 12’s camera in low light. (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express) iPhone 12, iphone 12 review, iPhone 12 price in India, iPhone 12 features, iPhone 12 specs, iPhone 12 vs iPhone 12 Pro The iPhone 12’s camera has the ability to capture Night Mode photos on the selfie camera. (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)

Fast performer

The iPhone 12 is powered by Apple’s A14, the same chip that also powers the new iPad Air. I don’t want to get into the CPU and GPU, as average people are only interested in knowing how fast the phone is. All I say is that the iPhone 12 feels fast and zippy exactly like I hoped. Switching between apps is fast and loading of games is fast. In my short time spent with the phone, Face ID has worked well. It unlocks the phone quickly, and even in the dark room.

iPhone 12, iphone 12 review, iPhone 12 price in India, iPhone 12 features, iPhone 12 specs, iPhone 12 vs iPhone 12 Pro There is an array of magnets housed on the back of iPhone 12’s chassis. (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)

Battery life and MagSafe

With the iPhone 12, I am getting over a day of juice on a single charge. On the first day, I unplugged the iPhone 12 at 12 noon when it was fully charged. I call myself a heavy user; I get WhatsApp notifications all day, I watch a lot of YouTube videos, I stream music on Apple Music and I frequently check my Facebook feed. By the next afternoon, I still had 9 per cent battery life.

MagSafe is a nice add-on to the iPhone 12. For those of you who haven’t heard, Apple is bringing back the MagSafe charging system but this time on the iPhone. So basically, Apple has added an array of magnets on the back of the iPhone 12. Simply place the MagSafe charger onto the back of the phone and like the Apple Watch charger, it wirelessly charges your iPhone 12. My review unit kit didn’t include a Rs 4,500 MagSafe charger, so there is no way I can test it.

Phone 12 comes in a slimmer box because there’s no power adapter or headphones in there. (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express) iPhone 12 (left), iPhone 4s (right). (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)

Early impressions

Since I have had a limited time with the iPhone 12, I won’t be able to present a full picture as I am still exploring the phone. But I hope my early impressions will give you a little bit idea about the iPhone 12, which currently starts at Rs 79,900. I am happy to answer more questions you may have about the phone. For now, the iPhone 12 seems to be a pretty solid smartphone. It’s great to see Apple focusing on features that really matter to consumers.

Look out for our iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro reviews later this week.

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