Apple has started taking pre-orders for the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro. And if you haven’t jumped on the chance to buy one of Apple’s new phones, chances are you’re still weighing the pros and cons. (Or, you’re waiting for the iPhone 12 mini or iPhone 12 Pro Max, two additional models that go on sale in November.)
We’re all for carefully considering whether or not to take the plunge on a new phone. After all, even with a starting price of $699 for the iPhone 12 mini, buying an iPhone requires you to put up hundreds of dollars. That’s not a purchase you want to experience buyers remorse over.
We’ve looked at the seven biggest upgrades to Apple’s iPhone 12 lineup, and that’s helped us come up with reasons you should buy one of the latest of iPhones, as well as reasons to skip — or at least hold off on — this particular round of updated phones from Apple.
iPhone 12: Reasons to Buy
All the iPhones have 5G
See if you can spot a popular topic of conversation during last week’s iPhone 12 launch.
Who did this.$AAPL $VZ #5G (via @OnlyTechAE)pic.twitter.com/Ak6xqvOiKgOctober 15, 2020
Yes, all four iPhone 12 models are able to connect with 5G network, just in case you missed that often-overlooked feature. Even better, Apple’s latest phones have extensive 5G support. The company says it’s run 5G tests using more than 100 carriers in more than 30 regions, so if there’s a flavor of 5G out there, the iPhone 12 likely connects with it. That’s certainly true in the U.S. where all four new models are compatible with the 5G networks launched by AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon.
Speaking of carriers, Verizon marked the arrival of the iPhone 12 by flipping the switch on its own nationwide 5G coverage, joining rival carriers in providing coast to cost service. If you’ve been wondering when 5G is coming, the launch of the iPhone 12 provides a pretty good indication that there’s no time like the present.
Better cameras in each iPhone
No matter which iPhone you buy, you’re likely to find better cameras than on any previous phone produced by Apple. That’s a big claim since previous iPhone models have been mainstays among the best camera phones.
But consider that the main lens on each iPhone 12 model now features an f/1.6 aperture, letting in more light than ever before. Go for the iPhone 12 Pro Max and the sensor is 47% larger than before, which Apple says translates to a massive improvement in low-light settings. Apple also upgrade the main cameras on its four phones to use 7-element lenses for improved photo quality.
It’s not just about the hardware. The computational photography Apple uses is smarter too, as now every lens on the different iPhone 12 models can support Night mode. A new version of Apple’s Smart HDR feature adjusts white balance, contrast, texture, and saturation automatically to improve the shots your iPhone produces.
All told, we’d be very surprised if one or more of these new iPhones don’t muscle aside top camera phones like the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra nd Pixel 5 once we have a chance to more thoroughly test Apple’s latest.
More durable screens
Regardless of the iPhone you opt for, you’re getting a handset that features a new Ceramic Shield feature developed by Apple and Corning. When making the displays for the new iPhones, there’s now a high-temperature crystallization step that helps nano-ceramic crystals form within the glass. The end result, Apple says, is a much more durable phone.
How durable? Apple says the iPhone 12 is four times more likely to survive a drop without damage than previous models. You’ll still want of the best iPhone 12 cases to add another layer of protection, but Apple clearly sees value in touting the increased durability for its new phones. (And that’s before we talk about the stepped-up water resistance rating that allows any iPhone 12 to emerge from 30 minutes in up to 6 meters of water without suffering lasting damage.)
The A14 arrives
Every new iPhone release brings with it some new Apple silicon, boasting improved performance over last year’s model (and by inference, over the top Android phones, which still struggle to match the iPhone’s benchmark scores.) We’ve almost become numbed to the performance gains Apple touts every fall.
That sounds like it would be a mistake with the A14 Bionic inside each and every iPhone 12 model, at least based on the numbers Apple was touting at its iPhone launch event. The 5-nanometer A14 — the first to use a 5nm process, Apple says — promises 50% improvements in both performance and graphics over other smartphone chips. The neural engine on the chip has also doubled the amount of cores to 16, which should translate to an 80% boost in performance.
We know even before we begin testing that the A14 was likely to help the iPhone maintain its edge over rival devices. It sounds like the only question now is how big the gap will be.
Phones in a variety of sizes — and prices
You want a big screen? The 6.7-inch iPhone 12 Pro Max sports the largest display ever offered on an iPhone. More of a fan of compact phones? The iPhone 12 mini offers a 5.4-inch screen in a form factor that’s actually smaller than the iPhone SE. And in between, you have the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro, both of which feature 6.1-inch displays. It’s a far cry from the days when Apple’s iPhones came in two sizes — small and not-as-small.
Along with the different sizes, you have different prices to consider, from the $699 iPhone 12 mini all the way up to the iPhone 12 Pro Max’s $1,099 cost. Yes, Apple’s phones command flagship prices, but you’re not forced to pay $999 or more if you don’t want to.
iPhone 12: Reasons to skip
There’s no charger in the iPhone 12 box
The iPhone 12 models won’t have a lot of company inside their box. You’ll find a USB-C to Lightning cable, but no wired headphones or charger like you got with previous Apple phones.
Apple’s touting this decision as motivated by environmental concerns. A smaller box means Apple can ship more iPhones at once, reducing the carbon footprint. And since you probably have a bunch of chargers and headphones lying around, not adding more to the pile helps make a dent in e-waste.
Still, Apple is shifting the burden of coming up with accessories for its phones to consumers — particularly if you want to enjoy the faster charging that the iPhone 12 is capable of supporting. That adds to the overall cost of upgrading. And we couldn’t help but notice that it probably gooses Apple’s revenue from accessories as well.
Don’t expect a fast refresh rate
Get your hands on a flagship phone in 2020, and there’s a good chance that its display supports a faster refresh rate that means smoother scrolling and more immersive experiences. All four Samsung Galaxy S20 models offer screens with 120Hz refresh rates, as does the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, which can dynamically adjust how fast its screen refreshes. The OnePlus 8 Pro matches that refresh rate, as does the newly unveiled OnePlus 8T. Even the Pixel 5, which trimmed back on features in the name of cost-cutting, has a 90Hz display that refreshes faster than a typical phone screen.
A typical phone screen like the ones on the iPhone 12 models, that is.
For some people, it won’t matter that the iPhone 12 screens refresh at a typical 60Hz. You can’t miss what you’ve never seen, after all. But if you were hoping that the iPhone 12 would match what some of the leading Android flagships can do, it sounds like that feature won’t reach the iPhone until next year. And that could be reason enough to sit out this round of upgrades.
5G is still emerging
It’s great that the iPhone 12 finally gives Apple a 5G device — four of them, actually. And 5G connectivity is available in more places than ever before. But if you’re expecting to fire up your new iPhone and enjoy the 1 Gbps download speeds that are being bandied about, better brace yourself for disappointment.
Super-fast 5G speeds are only available from mmWave-based towers, and those are only available in select parts of select cities. mmWave signals are largely outdoors at this point, and to connect, you’ve got to be in the line of sight of a 5G tower. In other words, you’re not going to see sustained speeds most of the time. The nationwide networks carriers have launched are only a little bit faster than LTE at this point — and in some cases, any speed gains won’t be noticeable.
5G will be a big deal one day. But it’s not in such an advanced state that you’ll find yourself at a big disadvantage if you hold onto that LTE-only phone for another year.