A gentleman once told me that sometimes a new perspective becomes way more important than having a new idea. While reviewing the iPhone 12, I revisited the thought and realised how Apple’s new flagship iPhone becomes a talking point without being radically different. More than the allure of Apple, I would say it is the sheer simplicity and clever implementation that makes the iPhone 12 a desirable smartphone. What sets the iPhone 12 apart from the competition is that every feature tries to solve simple problems and that to me is the biggest win for Apple.
So should you upgrade to the iPhone 12? I have been using the iPhone 12 for a week now, and the answer is ‘yes’.
But who should really buy the iPhone 12? That’s the main question. To find out the answer, you have to read my review of Apple’s new iPhone from the start to finish.
Apple iPhone 12 price in India: Rs 79,900 onward
Apple iPhone 12 review: What’s new?
The moment you unbox the iPhone 12, you will realise the phone’s flat-edges remind you of 2010’s iPhone 4, one of Apple’s best-designed products. The return to square edges on the iPhone is a perfect time travel ride to the bygone Steve Jobs era. But the similarities end there.
To me, the iPhone 12 is a culmination of the iPhone X and iPhone 4. The result: a modern smartphone with a large screen, which at 6.1-inches stretches from edge to edge. There’s a ‘notch’ that houses the phone’s Face ID camera and yes, there is no Touch ID or home button.
The power and volume buttons are where you would expect them to be. On the bottom of the phone is a Lightning port alongside stereo speakers. The iPhone 12 has IP68 dust and waterproofing rating and there’s no 3.5mm headphone jack. You will still find a glass finish on the back and has Apple’s new MagSafe technology (more on which later). The iPhone 12 has two cameras on the back, laid out within a square.
Unlike many flagship smartphones that have a macho look and are targeted at gents, the iPhone 12 seems more “gender neutral”. The phone is available in black, white, red, green and a new navy blue colour shade. I found the new navy blue option more appealing; blue also happens to be my favourite colour.
I found subtle differences between the iPhone 12 and its predecessor in terms of design language. The new iPhone is smaller and lighter than the iPhone 11 but still keeps the 6.1-inch display. Apple also manages to make bezels slimmer on the iPhone 12. With the flatter edges and thinner and lighter profile, the iPhone 12 feels comfortable to hold in one-hand. The size of the iPhone 12 is just right and I did not face trouble while holding the phone for long hours.
Apple iPhone 12 review: What’s good?
The iPhone 12 has an OLED display, a jump from the iPhone 11’s LCD screen. This means the display on the iPhone 12 is identical to the iPhone 12 Pro, which also uses a Super Retina XDR display with True Tone technology. What makes OLED different from the LCD displays? OLED stands for organic light-emitting diode. Without getting into technical details, OLED screens produce a perfect black and better contrast ratio. An LCD display can’t match an OLED display.
If you are upgrading to the iPhone 12 from the iPhone 6, 7 or even the iPhone XR, you will notice a big difference. The iPhone 12’s 2532X1170 display is extremely sharp and vibrant, and it does look simply look stunning. Whether you are a movie buff, a content creator or someone who loves to play mobile games, you will appreciate the iPhone 12’s OLED screen.
The iPhone 12’s screen lacks a high-refresh-rate display, meaning the number of times a display refreshes itself per second. I don’t think it’s such a big deal to have a 90Hz or 120Hz screen on a smartphone. I am happy with the iPhone 12’s 60Hz display.
Another important thing to note about the screen has a special protective cover that Apple calls “Ceramic Shield”, which it says is four times more resistant to damage from drops. I also liked the stereo speakers. They get so loud and fill the room with sound.
iPhone 12 specifications
Screen: 6.1in Super Retina XDR OLED screen (460ppi) | Processor: Apple A14 Bionic | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64, 128 or 256GG | Operating system: iOS 14 | IP rating: IP68 (water resistance) | Camera: Dual 12MP rear-facing cameras with OIS, 12MP selfie camera | Connectivity: LTE, 5G, Wi-Fi 6, NFC, Ultra-wideband, GPS, Bluetooth 5 | Dimensions: 146.7mm x 71.5mm x 7.4mm | Weight: 162g
The iPhone 12 runs iOS 14, which brings plenty of improvements along with the first big interface haul for Apple’s mobile operating system. There’s a lot to like about iOS 14 like redesigned widgets, better app icon management, less obstructive notifications, new translation app and the ability to choose default browser and mail apps. But iOS 14 is also available on older iPhones such as iPhone 6s and 7, so getting the iPhone 12 for iOS 14 is not something you should consider.
Under the hood, the iPhone 12 uses Apple’s latest A14 Bionic chipset, the same processor that powers other phones in the iPhone 12 lineup. The A14 is built on a 5-nanometer process, an improvement over the 7-nanometer process of the A13 Bionic. The A14 feels extremely fast and during the course of the review, the phone didn’t stutter or freeze even once. While I did not find the iPhone 12 significantly faster than the last year’s iPhone 11, those coming from older iPhones will see a bigger jump. Though I did notice that games load faster on the iPhone 12 compared to that of the iPhone 11 but not many people will notice it.
In my battery tests, the iPhone 12 lasted almost a day on a single charge. I fully charged the iPhone 12 at around 7:00 am, and it still has some battery left at 11:15 pm. The battery is impressive for a phone as thin and light as the iPhone 12. But I want to make it clear that I am a heavy user and therefore my requirements are different. With Wi-Fi turned on, I use multiple apps in a day, check my Gmail innumerable times, stream music on Apple Music, chat with colleagues and friends on WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, watch YouTube videos and sometimes edit copies on the phone itself. It takes 30 minutes to get up to 50 per cent of juice using a 20-watt charger.
The iPhone 12 also supports Apple’s brand new MagSafe charger, which magnetically attaches to the back of your phone. It’s a bit pricey at Rs 4,500 but you get 15-watt speeds when wirelessly charging. Anyday, the new MagSafe charger is better because most Qi-enabled chargers are limited to 7.5 watts.
With the MagSafe charger, Apple is trying to solve common issues people have with commonly available Qi wireless chargers. Don’t worry, Apple is not forcing you to buy the MagSafe charger. The iPhone 12 still works with regular wireless charging pads. But I do think that MagSafe will be the default charging systems on future iPhones.
Is the camera any good on the iPhone 12?
A lot of readers have asked me about the camera performance of the iPhone 12. I bet the dual-camera system on the iPhone 12 is going to be better than a single shooter on the iPhone 7 and iPhone XR.
The iPhone 12 comes with a 12MP wide lens. The aperture is improved to ƒ/1.6 from ƒ/1.8 on the previous-generation iPhone 11, which Apple says improves low-light performance by 27 per cent. This means the iPhone 12’s camera will be much better at taking low light shots. The wide lens is paired with a 12MP ultrawide lens. The TrueDepth sensor on the front houses a 12MP camera for selfies and video calls. For the first time, Apple’s Night Mode can be used on all three cameras, including the front-facing camera.
So what about the image quality?
I took almost 50 images on the iPhone 12 in the past week and I have to say how much I loved the shots captured by this phone. The good thing about the iPhone 12’s camera is that it captures shots the way exactly my eyes see it. The images retain the natural colour of the subject and the surroundings, making the photos mostly-believable. There is no doubt about that, the photos look natural and to some extent, realistic. The iPhone 12 retains more detail and the sharpness and contrast of images are now better compared to the iPhone 11.
See some iPhone 12 camera samples below
In low-light, the iPhone 12 is able to capture images that are good to look at. The photos turned out to be a bit sharper and the iPhone 12 manages to retain more detail. Those jumping to the iPhone 12 from the iPhone 5s/6 will see a drastic improvement in low-light, given their phones lacked a dedicated night mode.
I can also see improvements made to the ultrawide camera. Portrait mode works as good as the one found on the iPhone 11. Night Mode selfies also impressed me. It is now possible to take self-portraits in extreme low light conditions, thanks to the new Night Mode selfie option. The phone will automatically detect when your surroundings are dark enough and it will then use the night mode feature to make selfies look bright.
Apple iPhone 12 review: What’s bad?
Apple’s fancy new flagship does not come with the EarPod headphones and the charging adapter. The company says it is removing those accessories to cut down its carbon footprint. However, the phone does come with a cable that has a USB-C connector. If you already have a USB-C plug in your home, there won’t an issue. But if you don’t have a charging adapter, then you have to shell out Rs 1900 on a brand new USB-C connector. This increases the cost of the iPhone 12 by another Rs 2000.
Apple iPhone 12 review: Verdict
If you are looking to upgrade your existing phone and have a spare Rs 79,900 for a new smartphone, I won’t stop you from buying the iPhone 12. You are getting a 6.1-inch OLED screen, the classic design of iPhone 4, super-fast A14 Bionic chipset, capable cameras, all-screen front, Face ID and long battery. What else you want in a phone?
Honestly, there are no alternatives to the iPhone 12 unless you want the iPhone 12 Mini, which has a smaller 5.4-inch screen size and a price tag of Rs 69,900. I personally love the iPhone 12 Mini but I wouldn’t buy it purely because it costs less than the iPhone 12. I have an affinity for small phones and I find them easier to use. That said, the iPhone 12 is NOT a big phone and there are enough reasons to buy Apple’s ‘most complete iPhone’ ever made.
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