Each annual iPhone announcement is usually one of the most-hyped events of the year, even though there’s very little that’s actually revolutionary or even surprising about smartphones anymore. The iPhone 12 is one of four models announced by Apple this year, and is in many ways the least remarkable. It doesn’t have top-end flagship cameras or a brand-new LiDAR sensor like the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max, and it doesn’t introduce a new size category that defies industry trends, which is where the iPhone 12 mini comes in.
The plain, middle-of-the-road iPhone 12 is however set to be Apple’s bread-and-butter model for the next year and could be extremely popular. Here are my first impressions.
First of all, pricing. Storage options are 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB, and you’ll pay Rs. 79,900, Rs. 84,900, or Rs. 94,900 for them respectively. That’s quite a bit more than the iPhone 11 (Review) cost at launch time – Apple has moved the iPhone 12 up a tier, and you’ll have to settle for the smaller iPhone 12 mini if you were expecting the same prices. Launching soon, the iPhone 12 mini variants each cost Rs. 10,000 less for the same features and same amounts of storage.
The iPhone 12 series introduces a significantly different (and heavily leaked) design style for the first time since the iPhone X. We now have a flat band running around the periphery of the phone rather than a curved frame. The corners are rounded but the front and back of the iPhone 12 meet its frame at 90-degree angles. There’s no curved-edge glass that flows into the metal and no chamfered or bevelled edges. It’s almost like the iPhone 5 generation, except even more minimalist.
The look is pretty stark, and frankly even though it isn’t a huge change, the iPhone line did need a bit of freshness, and this serves the purpose. The sides don’t bulge outwards, which helps reduce bulk. The iPhone 12 is noticeably smaller in every dimension than the iPhone 11 and iPhone XR (Review), and also quite a lot lighter. It weighs 162g and is 7.4mm thick, compared to 194g and 8.3mm.
If you’re worried that the flat sides make the iPhone 12 uncomfortable to hold, think again. The shape is a bit less organic, but the reduced bulk makes up for that. Owners of older iPhones will remember that corners like this are very easy to dent if the phone is dropped. Apple does promise reinforced glass on the rear and its new toughened Ceramic Shield material on the front, but you’re definitely going to want to buy a case. It also looks as though the edges of the aluminium frame could get chipped and scuffed over time.
There’s still a very noticeable border running around the screen and Apple is sticking to a huge notch. Android companies that copied this years ago have surpassed Apple’s design with smaller notches and now even tinier front cameras embedded within screens. Of course none of them offer Apple’s secure Face ID hardware, but then again many people prefer a fingerprint sensor, which you don’t get here.
On the rear, the dual-camera module looks identical to that of the iPhone 11, but the hardware has been upgraded. You get the same 12-megapixel primary and ultra-wide cameras as on the iPhone 12 Pro, and both support Night Mode as well as Deep Fusion. Apple promises 27 percent better light gathering with the primary camera thanks to a f/1.6 aperture. 4K Dolby Vision HDR video recording also comes to this model which should make for some very crisp and vibrant clips.
While more expensive than most people were hoping for, the iPhone 12 does deliver nearly all the features of the iPhone 12 Pro for two-thirds the starting price. You don’t get the flagship model’s higher amounts of storage, optical zoom camera, 60fps Dolby Vision video recording, LiDAR sensor, and stainless steel body, but those seem like things that are easy to live without considering the price difference.
You get the same Apple A14 Bionic SoC that the iPhone 12 Pro has, and also the same 6.1-inch 1170×2532-pixel OLED Super Retina XDR screen (but no 120Hz refresh rate), 12-megapixel front camera, IP68 rating, 17 hour claimed battery life, magnetic MagSafe wireless charging compatibility (though you’ll need to buy Apple’s own power adapter), and 5G (sub-6GHz) network support.
Of course there are several highly capable Android devices that cost half as much and promise all the features you could possibly want. The Apple advantage will come down to iOS 14 integration, cameras, overall usability, and of course flaunt value.
Do stay tuned to Gadgets 360 for a detailed review, coming up soon, in which we’ll dive into the iPhone 12’s features, build quality, software, performance, cameras, battery life, and much more.