Apple has entered the 5G era – all four new models feature both the sub-6 flavor of 5G as well as mmWave. The latter doubles the peak download speeds (up to 4.0 Gbps), but those are limited to Verizon in the US for now.
This year the Pro models come in two sizes, 6.1” on the iPhone 12 Pro and 6.7” on the iPhone 12 Pro Max. That is up from 5.8” and 6.5” on the 11-series, Apple has embraced the large screen (while simultaneously going smaller than anyone else with the iPhone 12 mini). Slimmer bezels keep the new models from getting too huge.
As before, both models have OLED displays. And as before, they run at 60Hz – the high refresh rate update will have to wait for next year. Also, the notch lives on, Apple’s commitment to Face ID has not wavered in the wake of in-display fingerprint readers.
The new displays have slightly higher resolution than their predecessors – on the Pro that is 1,170 x 2,532 px, the Pro Max is up to 1,284 x 2,778 px. The peak brightness remains at the impressive 1,200 nits.
To keep the display safe, Apple once again partnered with Corning to create the Ceramic Shield material. This has 4x the drop resistance of the previous glass.
The company also updated the design language of its phones, bringing it closer to the iPad Pros. This means that the sides are squared off, echoing the glory days for the iPhone 4. As before, the chassis is made from stainless steel. Pacific Blue is the new hero color alongside classics such as Gold, Gray and Silver.
The new generation has best-in-class water resistance, being able to dive down to 6 meters underwater for an hour. The 2019 generation could only go down to 4 meters.
The two Pro models are not equal when it comes to the camera. The larger iPhone 12 Pro Max starts off with a larger 1/1.7” sensor (1.7 µm pixels) that is 47% larger than the 12 Pro and the older 11 Pro Max. Combined with the f/1.6 aperture, this allows 87% more light to reach the sensor. Also, Apple changed the image stabilization to use sensor shift instead of moving the optics lens to counteract movements. This allows it to react faster, making 5,000 adjustments per second.
The Pro Max also features a longer focal length on its zoom camera, allowing for 2.5x magnification. The OIS on this cam sticks with the usual lens-based approach.
The iPhone 12 Pro gets the brighter lens, f/1.6, but keeps the old sensor with lens rather than sensor stabilization. That sensor still gets 27% more light. The vanilla Pro also gets the old telephoto camera, with an f/2.0 lens with 52 mm focal length (meaning 2x magnification over the main cam) and, again, classic OIS.
All cameras, except the telephoto, support Night mode, including the selfie camera and ultra wide (the 11 Pro only had it on the main cam). This is in part thanks to the new chipset does have more number-crunching power, but we’ll get to that.
The ultra wide cam is unchanged with an f/2.4 lens with 120° field of view (13 mm focal length).
This year the iPhone Pros adopt the LiDAR system of the iPad Pros. This enables Night mode portraits. This also reduces the time to get an autofocus lock in the dark by the impressive 6 times.
The iPhone 12 Pro are the only phones on the market to record Dolby Vision video. The faster chipset color-grades every frame of 10-bit video for best quality. The new ProRAW feature records all the data you expect from a RAW format while also saving the image processing decisions that the phone made on the spot, making quick touch ups faster as you have a solid base to work from.
The new iPhones are smart about how they use their new 5G connectivity. When they don’t need the extra speed, the Smart Data mode switches to 4G automatically to preserve battery.
The big innovation in battery charging is an old one – the MagSafe that you loved on MacBooks is back. This time it’s used for wireless charging and it delivers 15W of power (up from 7.5W for regular Qi charge). Also, this uses magnets to grab onto a snap-on wireless charging. This also enables MagSafe accessories, which uses the magnetic holding power to keep them semi-permanently attached.
Wired charging got faster too, the new models support up to 20W. However, you’ll have to buy the charger separately as Apple removed the in-box charger and the headset. You only get a USB-C to Lightning cable that lets you connect the iPhone to your MacBook. Apple presented this as a move to reduce carbon emissions, a step on its path to become carbon neutral by 2030.
Apple A14 Bionic is at the heart of the iPhone 12 Pro duo – the first 5nm chipset in the world, featuring a whopping 11.8 billion transistors, 40% more than the A13. It features 2 big CPU cores and 4 small cores, which together deliver a 50% higher performance than its predecessor. Similarly, the 4-core GPU is good for a 50% increase over last year’s iPhone. Machine learning has seen a 70% increase in performance as well to handle the ever-growing applications of AI.
Besides the zoom cam, another reason to buy into the Pro models is more storage. Apple doubled the base storage to 128GB, with 256GB and 512GB upgrade options.
The iPhone 12 Pro starts at $1,000 and will be up on pre-order this Friday and available next week. The iPhone 12 Pro Max will start at $1,100 and will be available to book on November 6 with sales starting a week later – November 13.