Apple iPhone 12 review: Not a Pro but the 2020 iPhone you should spend on
Apple iPhone 12 review: Priced at Rs 79,990 for the 64GB model, the iPhone 12 comes with the same 6.1-inch screen used on its predecessor but is powered by the powerful A14 Bionic chipset, also used on this year’s Pro models. I have been using the iPhone 12 for a week now and here is our review of the same.
Apple iPhone 12 review: Apple has made our lives difficult in what has otherwise been a challenging year, leading to complex choices. The Cupertino-based tech giant has launched as many as four iPhone 12 models this year – ranging between Rs 69,990 and Rs 1,59,990 –leaving even the biggest Apple enthusiasts perplexed. The iPhone 12 mini seems too tiny for the present-day scenario where mobile screen is not only required to type messages or dial numbers but also to stream content and play games. And, the question of the season is – Should I buy the iPhone 12 or go for any of the Pro models.
The latter have been subjected to enough lame ‘Kidney’ jokes already. Honestly, they remain out of reach for most smartphone users, especially in India with the price going in the excess of Rs 1.5 lakh.
This leaves us with the iPhone 12 – the true heir to the iPhone kingdom – if the tech giant hadn’t joined the Android madness and stuck to smartphone launches instead of line ups. As it turns out, here we are. The iPhone 12 is probably the only model in the new line up that sticks to basics and tries to offer genuinely useful features without creating a fuss around those that will hardly come to use in everyday life. It comes with a similar all-screen design that made the iPhone X popular among smartphone users.
Priced at Rs 79,990 for the 64GB model, the iPhone 12 comes with the same 6.1-inch screen used on its predecessor but is powered by the powerful A14 Bionic chipset, also used on this year’s Pro models. Been an Android user most my life, I was really looking forward to see if the new iPhone makes any difference or not. I have been using the iPhone 12 for a week now and here is our review of the same.
Apple iPhone 12 review: Design
The Apple iPhone 12 would remind some of the iPhone X and others of the iPhone 4. For any other brand, a close resemblance to previous-gen smartphone would draw alarming criticism. Some are even attacked for re-branding the existing phones in other markets with new names. Apple isn’t any other brand. It’s only the Tim Cook-led company that can pick an old design, give it some modernized touches and earn the kind of applause that the iPhone 12 has.
The latest phone uses a metal frame with flat edges which makes it a rare smartphone that can stand straight on most surfaces without any support. In fact, trying to accomplish this on different surfaces was one of my ways to kill boredom in the past week. The flattening of curves also ensures that the phone remains compact. Compared to the iPhone 11, this one is 4.2mm shorter and narrower, 1.3mm thinner and 32g lighter.
The iPhone 12 is extremely lightweight at just 162 grams. The weight and compact size of the iPhone 12 should make it ideal for one hand use? We are in 2020 and things are not happening as they should. The iOS layout means that you still have to reach out to the top-left corner of the screen to navigate through windows which still makes the iPhone 12 tough to use with just one hand.
The smartphone comes in five colour options - Black, Blue, Green, Red, and White. We had the Green colour variant of the review purposes.
The design is likely to be a point of debate as always. After seeing all kinds of rear panels, I crave for simplicity and was impressed with the iPhone 12. On the contrary, it took my brother less than a minute to call the same phone – BORING! But, even he couldn’t complain much about the build quality and premium-ness of the phone.
At the back, you get two camera lenses with an LED flash and the Apple logo. On the left, is the power button and the right side houses the volume controls as well as a slider which can be used to put the phone in silent mode. Thankfully, all the buttons are easily reachable.
Moving to the front, you get very thin bezels which truly enhance your smartphone experience, not only while play videos but also during general tasks. The only complaint is the wide notch on top of the display which houses the selfie shooter and takes up a lot of space.
Apple iPhone 12 review: Display
The overall viewing experience is where you get the first major upgrade against last year’s iPhone 11 series. Apple has replaced the LCD panels on the previous smartphones with OLED screens on the iPhone 12 series. For those unaware, OLED stands for organic light-emitting diode which is expected to offer better blacks and contrast ratio. The iPhone 12 also uses the Super Retina XDR display with True Tone technology—same as the iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max.
Simply in terms of quality and colour reproduction, the iPhone 12 is as good as the game goes. The vibrant OLED screen delivers consistent performance – be it for gaming, streaming content or any other thing. The touch is very responsive and the screen gets really bright.
It’s up to you to decide if a 6.1-inch display is enough for you or not! I have always had a soft corner for compact smartphones but had tough time adjusting to the smaller screen after switching from the gigantic Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. Lately, I had struggled with some Android smartphone that had a very reflective display. The iPhone 12 gave some relief in that regard as well.
Another thing that disappointed Apple enthusiasts is that the tech giant stuck with the 60Hz display. The decision is of high importance, coming at a time when Android makers are making a lot of noise around how smooth their displays are. While I believe that having a faster refresh rate makes a difference in your overall experience, a 60Hz panel isn’t a huge issue, but only for now. If you purchase the iPhone 12 now, 12 to 18 months later, you may seek faster refresh rate.
One of the pain points of Apple users have been smashed screens, often a subject of internet memes. The smartphone maker has tried to address that by using what it calls a “Ceramic Shield”. Apple claims that it has four times the drop resistance of previous glass on iPhones. Now, while we can’t really do a drop test, I did end up dropping the phone once for the table. And, it is still breathing. Phew!!
Apple iPhone 12 review: Performance
One of the reasons why I believe that buying an iPhone 12 makes lot more sense than spending almost double on the Pro Max model is that both the devices are powered by the same A14 Bionic chipset which is also Apple’s fastest chip till now. It has powered the new iPad Air and is more than capable of handling almost everything you want.
The A14 is built on a 5-nanometer process, an improvement over the 7-nanometer process of the A13 Bionic. Some of you may have seen only 4GB RAM on the spec sheet and had your doubts about the iPhone 12. And, why not? Most Android smartphones can offer that for around Rs 10,000. However, that’s not how things work.
Apple’s chipsets optimize the performance differently than Android. So, what an iPhone can do with 4GB of RAM, usually takes an Android smartphone 6GB to 8GB. You can expect the iPhone 12 to deliver as good a performance as any top-end Android phone. The apps load really fast, transition between them is smooth and gaming is super fun.
In fact, it’s funny how iPhones don’t make it to discussions around best gaming smartphones despite their consistent performance.
The smartphone comes in three storage options - Rs 79,900 for the 64GB storage variant, Rs 84,990 for the 128GB option and Rs 94,900 for the 256GB variant.
This is also the first iPhone line up which is 5G ready. Sadly, we are yet to get the support in India and until that happens, 4G it is. The Wi-Fi reception is also stable. I managed to stay over 140mbps speed consistently, with my router offering a maximum of 150mbps download and upload speeds.
One very underrated yet important feature of the iPhone 12 that really impressed me was its audio output. The smartphone’s stereo speakers deliver clear and loud sound. I will go on to say that this is probably the second-best smartphone when it comes to audio, only after Asus ROG Phone III. I am highlighting this fact also because the new iPhones don’t come with Apple’s EarPods inside the box. So, you will need good speakers until you spend on a pair of earphones.
Apple iPhone 12 review: Battery
The Apple iPhone 12 offers a decent battery at max. As always, there is no official word on the battery capacity from Apple’s side but you can consider yourself lucky if the iPhone 12 lasts full 24 hours. During my usage, I had the Wi-Fi turned on throughout, continuously checked and replied to my mails, used Apple Music and clicked a lot of pictures. After all of this, I had to plug in the charger by evening. Oh, wait a minute! Let’s say the charging cable.
If you have put in the effort to search and read this review, chances are that you are already aware that Apple is not shipping charging adaptors with the phones anymore. And, this is a move I am not a fan of. You only get the Type-C to Lightning Cable inside the box which can be used with any adaptor.
Alternatively, you can buy company’s new MagSafe charger, which magnetically attaches to the back of your phone. It will cost you an additional Rs 4500 and offers 15-watt speeds when wirelessly charging. I didn’t get my hands on the MagSafe charger but you can expect to hear more about it in our iPhone 12 Pro review.
Apple iPhone 12 review: Camera
Some are curious about battery, others want to know the performance. But, almost everyone wants a verdict around the cameras. Especially, when it’s an iPhone we are talking about. I strongly believe that gap between Android and iOS smartphones has reduced in the last few years when it comes to the camera performance. Apple has realised that and has upped its efforts to widen the gap, more on the video front though.
In terms of numbers, it continues to opt for the similar combination as on the previous iPhones. On the back, the phone features a 12MP wide lens with an improved ƒ/1.6 aperture against the ƒ/1.8 on the previous-generation iPhone 11. As little as this change may sound, Apple claims that it can improve the low-light performance by 27 per cent. In simple words, better Night shots. The wide-angle lens is assisted by a 12MP ultrawide lens.
On the front side, the smartphone houses a 12MP camera for selfies and video calls. This is the first time when Apple is offering the Night Mode on all the three lenses – even the front camera. Apart from the camera specs, the software also makes a major difference in the eventual images you get.
I have clicked over 200 images using the Apple iPhone 12 over the past week before writing this review. These images were captured under different light conditions and in various landscapes. There is no doubt that the new iPhone captures subjects as your eyes see them. It retains natural skin tones and captures good number of details. The contrast and sharpness are also on point.
The portrait mode impresses the most with great edge detection and adequate blur in the backdrop. You get several options within the portrait mode like Stage Light, Contour Light etc, which capture images with different backdrops. It’s the ultra-wide angle which had me slightly disappointed. I could see edges of the wide shots lacking sharpness and colours were also dull at times.
The low-light images take a major leap, especially if you are coming from a three- to four-year-old Apple iPhone. The camera now automatically detects if your surroundings our dark and slows down the shutter speed to allow more light. It makes photography easy even for those who are not so tech savvy.
It’s the video part where Apple now stands way ahead of its competitors, in a strange way though. The new iPhones continue to deliver better stabilization and video quality than any other device but the iPhone 12 line up is also world’s first to have Dolby Vision HDR recording in 4K. On the iPhone 12, you can only record this at 30 frames per second.
And, I say strange because while this addition makes the iPhone 12 one of the world’s best camera smartphone, the usage remains limited for various reasons. To begin with, not too many platforms support Dolby Vision video format yet. Then, in order to play these videos, you need screens that support the format. Again, still a rarity. So, while you can shoot 4K HDR10 videos on the iPhone 12, chances are you may not be able to play them beyond the same smartphone.
Apple iPhone 12 review: Software
The Apple iPhone runs iOS 14.1. I had a taste of Apple’s latest operating software on the iPhone SE (2020) and it continues to impress of the bigger model as well. The most handful features are ability to add widgets to home screen and App Library, which allows you to delete an app from your home screen and have it sit in an automatically organized list on the right-most page of the launcher to remove clutter. This allows users a chance to personalize their home screen experience and make the most use of it.
There are also new privacy tools around the sharing of location, activation of cameras and access of the clipboard. Then, there are other cool features like the double tap functionality which basically allows you to do select actions by double or triple tapping the back of your iPhone. These include capturing screenshots, switching between apps etc.
Apple iPhone 12 review: Final Verdict
This brings me back to the same question again - Should I buy the iPhone 12 or go for any of the Pro models? I follow this up with another question – Which smartphone are you using now? If the answer is any Android smartphone, any, I would advise you to stick to the ecosystem. If entering Apple’s world is the idea, then last year’s iPhone 11 and even the iPhone SE offer greater value for money than any of 2020’s models.
Now, if you have been on the iOS bandwagon for long and are already using the previous-gen model, then iPhone 12 is the flavour of the season and the 2020 iPhone is what you should spend on. It comes with excellent cameras, a clean iOS experience, compact form factor and good display. You will continue to get software updates for the next few years with a largely secure experience.
Well under Rs 1 lakh and still in reach of most smartphone users, the iPhone 12 gets all the necessary perks of the Pro models at almost half the price while staying away from the gimmicks. The decision is now yours to make!
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