Should you get the iPhone 12 or iPhone 12 Pro?

Apple released the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro last Friday. Those who want the iPhone 12 mini and the iPhone 12 Pro Max have to wait till Nov 13.

Here is how the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro stack up against each other.Do note that iPhone 12 models no longer come with EarPods (Apple’s wired earphones with Lightning connector) and a power adaptor – only a USB-C-to-Lightning cable and a SIM card ejector.

DESIGN AND DISPLAY

The iPhone 12 and 12 Pro share the same design and dimensions. Unlike the curved sides of their predecessors, both phones have flat sides reminiscent of the iPhone 5.

The biggest visual difference is in the 12 Pro’s squarish rear camera module, which accommodates its extra camera – it has three cameras, while the iPhone 12 has two. The 12 Pro is also 25g heavier.

The iPhone 12 features an aluminium band and glass chassis and comes in five new colours: green (version tested), white, black, blue and red. The 12 Pro comes in silver, graphite, gold and a new pacific blue (version tested). Its chassis is a stainless-steel band with a rear glass back with a textured matt finish.

I like the pacific blue as it is cool to have a phone that “changes” colour. At certain angles, it looks space grey and even black. I also prefer its matt finish, which makes it less slippery and less of a smudge magnet. On the flip side, I find the 12 Pro’s stainless-steel band to be a fingerprint magnet, while the iPhone 12’s aluminium band does not seem to attract any prints.

Both models boast the same 6.1-inch Oled display with a ceramic shield front said to offer four times better drop protection.

The display is gorgeous. Icons look unbelievably sharp. With a peak brightness of 1,200 nits, the display is visible under bright sunlight. The only downside is it does not have a refresh rate of 120Hz, which is found in many Android flagship phones and allows visibly smoother animations and transitions.

The screen notch of both iPhones – which houses the TrueDepth camera – is also prominent, compared with the tiny hole-punch camera in some flagship Android phones.

But none has the sophisticated Face ID technology of the TrueDepth camera. Still, in this age of mask-wearing, I was hoping Apple would add an on-display fingerprint sensor.

Both the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro hit the sweet spot between screen size and handling. They are even easier to hold and use than the iPhone 11 as they are slightly smaller.

Apple iPhone 12

FOR

• Superb performance 

• Gorgeous display 

• Great camera performance 

• Night mode in all cameras

AGAINST

• Lack of on-display fingerprint sensor 

• Display lacks 120Hz refresh rate 

• Slightly poorer battery life than its predecessor

SPECS

PRICE: $1,299 (64GB), $1,369 (128GB), $1,539 (256GB, version tested)

PROCESSOR: A14 Bionic six-core chip with embedded neural engine

DISPLAY: 6.1-inch Oled Super Retina XDR (2,532 x 1,170 pixels), 460 pixels per inch

CAMERAS: 12-megapixel rear dual cameras (ultra wide-angle f/2.4, wide-angle f/1.6); TrueDepth camera (12-megapixel front-facing camera, f/2.2)

WEIGHT: 164g

RATING

FEATURES: 4/5

DESIGN: 4.5/5

PERFORMANCE: 5/5

BATTERY LIFE: 4/5

VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

OVERALL: 4/5

CAMERA

Like the iPhone 11, the iPhone 12 has a rear dual-camera system consisting of a 12-megapixel (MP) ultra-wide-angle and a 12MP wide-angle cameras.

Apple iPhone 12 Pro

FOR

• Superb performance 

•Gorgeous display 

•Excellent rear triple-camera set-up 

•Night mode in all cameras 

•Rear matt finish reduces slippage

AGAINST

• Expensive 

•Lack of on-display fingerprint sensor 

•Display lacks 120Hz refresh rate

SPECS

PRICE: $1,649 (128GB), $1,819 (256GB), $2,149 (512GB, version tested)

PROCESSOR: A14 Bionic six-core chip with embedded neural engine

DISPLAY: 6.1-inch Oled Super Retina XDR (2,532 x 1,170 pixels), 460 pixels per inch

CAMERAS: 12-megapixel rear triple cameras (ultra wide-angle f/2.4, wide-angle f/1.6, telephoto f/2.0); Lidar scanner; TrueDepth camera (12-megapixel front-facing camera, f/2.2)

WEIGHT: 189g

RATING

FEATURES: 4/5

DESIGN: 4.5/5

PERFORMANCE: 5/5

BATTERY LIFE: 4/5

VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

OVERALL: 4.5/5

The 12 Pro has a rear triple-camera system with the same ultra-wide-angle and wide-angle cameras, but with an extra 12MP telephoto camera with 2x optical zoom. It also has an advanced Lidar (light detection and ranging) scanner for augmented reality use.

Both models’ wide-angle camera now has a bigger f/1.6 aperture, which allows more light into the image sensor. Plus, with the new seven-element lens, image quality should be better and sharper.

The best part about the iPhone 12 models is Night mode, now available in all the cameras. In its predecessors, Night mode was not available in the front-facing and ultra-wide-angle cameras.

You can now take long-exposure images with Night mode using the ultra-wide-angle camera. If you are into selfies, this is a huge plus. I use the Night mode of both models to snap a selfie in a dark spot at VivoCity. When I compare the images with the one taken by my iPhone 11 Pro Max, the ones shot on the iPhone 12 models are much brighter and sharper.

How do the rear cameras fare? All the night-scene photos taken by both iPhone 12 models offer very high dynamic range, with sharp details in the dark areas, while keeping highlights from being overexposed. Image noise is also reasonably low. That is about the same quality I get with my 11 Pro Max. I can hardly find any difference in sharpness and details, whether in day or night shots.

Only for ultra-wide-angle shots do I find photos taken on the new iPhones to be less distorted, with slightly more detail.

PERFORMANCE, 5G CONNECTIVITY

Both iPhones use Apple’s new six-core A14 Bionic chip, hailed by the company as the fastest chip in a smartphone and the first built on a 5nm process. This means it can pack more transistors for much better performance.

In the GeekBench 5 benchmark tests, both phones perform comparably. The iPhone 12 scores 1,607 points in the single-core test and 4,002 points in the multi-core test, while the 12 Pro comes close with 1,602 (single-core) and 4,088 (multi-core) points.

In comparison, my 11 Pro Max scores 1,326 (single-core) and 3,276 (multi-core) points. Samsung’s impressive Galaxy Note20 Ultra scores 909 (single-core) and 2,536 (multi-core) points.

In real life, all apps start instantly and run effortlessly on both iPhones. When playing top-notch racing games such as Asphalt 9: Legends, graphics look crisp with detailed textures on both phones.

Apple supplied a Singtel 5G SIM card to test the phones’ 5G performance. Using the Speedtest app on my 11 Pro Max on Singtel 4G and the 12 Pro on 5G at VivoCity, I find the download speed on the 12 Pro to be nine times faster, while its upload speed is 21/2 times faster.

BATTERY LIFE

In the video loopback battery stress test, the iPhone 12 lasts 10 hours and 55 minutes, while the 12 Pro lasts 11 hours and 10 minutes. In comparison, the iPhone 11 goes for 11 hours and 20 minutes, while my 11 Pro Max lasts 13 hours and 10 minutes.

With constant checking of social media and e-mails as well as using WhatsApp, the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro should easily get you through the whole day on a single charge.

IPHONE 12 OR IPHONE 12 PRO?

Both are excellent smartphones with great cameras and capabilities. You cannot go wrong with either. But if I have to choose, it would be the 12 Pro for the extra telephoto camera and the nice blue colour.

If you want something smaller, wait for the iPhone 12 mini. If you prefer a bigger display and a larger image sensor with a new stabiliser, wait for the iPhone 12 Pro Max.

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