Apple recently launched four new iPhones, the iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12 Pro Max and the iPhone 12 mini. One might think there's an iPhone for everyone, and even be right to an extent. But in terms of sizes, the iPhone 12 mini is too small and the iPhone 12 Pro Max too big. In that sense, iPhone 12 and 12 Pro hit the sweet spot. But the iPhone 12 not only gets the sizing right, but the price is also not too "pro."
Priced starting at Rs 79,900, the iPhone 12 brings new (read: perfect) design, massive upgrades in terms of performance, and above all, it puts "I, the user" first in the iPhone quite literally. The iPhone 12 had some tough shoes to fill in after the unparalleled success of the best-selling smartphone of 2020 - the iPhone 11. Did it justify the succession? Let's find out.
Design and display
In a world where smartphones are all about going big or going home, Apple has hit the sweet spot here with the iPhone 12. It has a 6.1-inch display that's flat and bezel-less, fits perfectly in the palm without ever (EVER) demanding the other hand to intervene for any (ANY) kind of operations. We cannot stress this enough, but the iPhone 12 has the perfect screen size, width and height that guarantees single-hand use with ease.
Undeniably, the iPhone 12 takes us down the memory lane back to the good-old-days of iPhone 5 and 5s. For anyone who challenged Apple on the innovation, factor must really hold both the phones in hand to realise they are generations apart - as they should be. Apple shipped us the iPhone 12 in the blue shade along with a MagSafe case. Since we had no immediate use for the wireless charging, we were comfortable using the iPhone 12 naked, and boy did it feel good.
This is probably the first iPhone in years we were comfortable using without a case. In full disclosure, we reviewed the iPhone 11 with the case on and removed it only during product shots. There was a different level of confidence while using the iPhone 12 without a case. It wasn't slippery, it's super light, it fits right into the palms, sliding in and out of the pocket was seamless - and above all, (at the risk of repeating) the single-hand use is simply great.
iPhone 12's design is complemented by that beautiful display, which Apple calls Super Retina XDR. The upgrade is significant coming from iPhone 11 as the LCD is traded for OLED and those colours do come to life on the iPhone 12. Also, one tiny thing consistent in all iPhones is a flat display and I, for one, couldn't have been happier with this decision. Try typing out a message using a single hand on a Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, you'll know.
iPhone 12's flat sides, premium glass back, power and volume controls on adjacent sides with nice click acknowledgement every time you press them and well within reach, a lightning port between mic and the speaker grille at the bottom - is consistent with the entire lineup. But my only complaint is the glossy back panel, which picked up a lot of fingerprint smudges. Perhaps the only reason why you would need to slap a silicone case.
The Face ID still takes a sizeable portion of the notch, but the accuracy with which it works, you won't mind its existence. In fact, after using an iPhone 12 Pro Max for almost a year, the notch no longer feels bothersome.
All of this is protected with a layer of Ceramic Shield, which is bound to keep those minor scratches at bay without a screen guard - also something we didn't have but plan to get one anyway. The display glass is 4 times drop-resistant - thanks to the nano-ceramic crystals and it's well socketed into the chassis, so we are guessing (yes, strictly) it won't break as easily as its predecessors.
But what we did test is the IP68 dust and water resistance, so you can spill or splash water on the iPhone 12 without skipping a heartbeat.
We have been spending a considerable amount of time with the iPhone 12 in this short duration leading up to this write-up and found it to be exceptionally powerful. It's fast, snappy, launches apps faster and it's smooth. So anyone thinking the 60Hz display is a letdown, scrolling through social media feeds and playing some Apple Arcade games will tell you otherwise. The A14 Bionic chip based on 5nm architecture, paired with 4GB RAM, which is just 2GB short of higher-end Pro models, and a whole lot of iOS 14.1 goodness is going to just make everything look like a breeze.
We used the iPhone 12 as a primary device for day-to-day tasks and found it to be capable of handling them pretty well. Taking advantage of the 3-month free Apple Arcade, we tried out the game called Sky, which renders high graphics. We didn't notice any frames drop at any given time, nor there were any lags or screen freezes. But we did feel the phone to heat up after playing the game for about an hour. Similarly, the iPhone 12 handled Call of Duty and Asphalt 9 with ease.
Even our day-to-day tasks are pretty intense. Constantly running multiple apps and switching back and forth between them did not cause any issue. It is at this point that we can safely say the iOS is leaps ahead of Android, the level of synchronisation it has with the hardware is inspired.
From using the camera at any given chance, constantly checking Twitter feeds, accessing emails, responding to WhatsApp chats, a plethora of calls on a busy Monday, to call it a day with some binge-watching (finally finished the finale season of House of Lies), the iPhone 12 can blindly take on your performance tests and pass with flying colours.
The Face ID, as usual, works at its best. Night or day, light or dark, you can count on the Face ID to unlock the phone in a jiffy. But if that face mask is on, don't expect the magic. However, the instant prompt to unlock using passcode is a blessing in disguise.
The iPhone 12, as we said, is our primary device and with running all the tasks mentioned above, it looks like you won't be disappointed with the battery. The A14 Bionic is not all-powerful, it's also power efficient and that shows on a daily basis.
At the end of 12 hours, with 4+ screen-on-time, the iPhone 12 still had 50 per cent juice left. Now, with streaming, gaming, and at the end of a busy workday, we managed to get through on a single charge, which was a bit surprising as it came close to iPhone 11 Pro Max. The iPhone 12 consistently gave us around 7 hours of screen-on-time, which translated to a full day's worth of use from a 100 per cent charged device.
But speaking of battery is going to hit a sensitive nerve among buyers. No adaptor, right? On the bright side, you get a USB Type-C to Lightning cable, which can be used with your older adaptors (not too old though). Or you need to spend extra for that precious adaptor from Apple.
Apple is really taking things up on the environmental front and we can already anticipate other OEMs to follow the suit. Apple has even replaced that plastic cover on the iPhone with a paper one for the sake of the environment. Like it or not, by buying the iPhone 12 and putting up with the lack of charger and the minimalistic packaging, you're doing your grandkids a huge favour.
In our testing, it took 90 minutes to fully charge the device using USB-PD charger. Wireless charging will naturally be slower.
The dual-camera setup on the back is the same as the one you see on the iPhone 11, but the sensor has a wider f/1.6 aperture and the ultra-wide sensor now gets Night mode. You might think it's not much, but it sure makes a difference.
From the shots we managed to get, the iPhone 12 is true to what it captures. Natural colours, excellent, in fact, the best, dynamic range, crisp and sharp photos in daylight will leave you wanting to capture more. The fact that Night Mode is now available in wide-angle lens makes shooting for the stars so much easy.
Now, we put the iPhone 12 through some tough challenges, like placing the light source right behind the subject and it did not disappoint. The camera managed to keep the subject in focus, no matter where the light source is and managed to give us impressive results.
The wider aperture means more lights can enter the sensor and you'll notice it in low-light settings. The wide-angle lens does edge correction like no other phone can and gave some dramatic shots and fresh perspectives. The portrait mode continues to remain our favourite. The subject's eyes really pop in portraits and work great both on the rear and on the front cameras.
If everything's so good, why go for Pro? Well, you are right. iPhone 12 is too good for a phone to be not chosen over iPhone 12 Pro, but we wouldn't be betting huge on if it can really convince those iPhone 12 Pro Max buyers. We do not have the iPhone 12 Pro to compare results side-by-side but stay tuned for our iPhone 12 vs iPhone 12 Pro Max camera comparison.
The night mode in the iPhone 12 does a decent job at capturing scenes and subjects with maximum details. The rear camera does a phenomenal job at restoring the low-light shot to its glory, but the front camera can struggle to match, where the details will feel lost and the dynamic range amiss. Low-light portraits are still impressive - a massive improvement from previous iPhones.
Another important aspect of the iPhone 12 is the video, which continues to remain Apple's strength. You can get a stable output, with natural colours, excellent details and contrast, and a remarkable dynamic range. But there's this problem when you zoom in and out and when the lens switches, there's this jerk. We'd love to see Apple work on this in a future update, make the transition smooth. But you probably won't notice the difference if you're just tapping the 1x, 0.5x options on the viewfinder.
Check out few camera samples below:
iPhone 12 is a great phone. It checks all the right boxes, hits the sweet spot in terms of design and offers unparalleled performance that will take at least six months for even Android flagships to catch up. The advantage of using an iPhone is that it will be just as fast three years down the line and with software updates up to 5 years, you'll really be satisfied with new features coming every year.
Even so, iPhone 12 misses out on higher refresh rate panel, be it 90Hz or 120Hz. But iPhone 12 has the best OLED display, combined with smooth iOS experience to make up for that loss. But the 20W charging over USB-PD and 15W wireless is a bit disappointing, especially at an age when rivals are offering 65W or at least 30W fast charging support. Moreover, there's no adaptor in the box - like it or not - it's something many buyers are going to be upset over after spending the top dollar.
But if you can live with that, you really aren't missing out on more. In fact, there's a lot of value in the iPhone 12 for users coming from an Android ecosystem and even for iPhone users who are upgrading from iPhone X series or older.