Apple iPhone 12 Pro Review: A Step Towards The Future

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Apple might have delayed the iPhone launch this year but it pretty much made up for it by this year's lineup. The company introduced four new iPhone 12 models which are now available for purchase in India, powered by the latest A14 Bionic chipset with 5G networking capabilities.

Rating:
4.5/5

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Review: A Step Towards The Future

 

For those who want the most compact iPhone, there is the iPhone 12 mini, for those who are looking for the most value-for-money iPhone, there is the iPhone 12. For those who want the best of everything, there is the iPhone 12 Pro Max. And for those, who want a little bit of everything, there is the iPhone 12 Pro.

The iPhone 12 Pro is similar in size to the iPhone 12. However, it has few attributes that gives it an extra edge. Unlike the iPhone 12, the base model of the iPhone 12 Pro offers 128GB internal storage and retails for Rs. 1,19,900, and the price goes up to Rs. 1,49,900 for the top-end version with 512GB internal storage.

I have been testing the Pacific Blue iPhone 12 Pro with 512GB internal storage for the last few weeks, and here is my take on the newest flagship smartphone from Apple that offers a bit of everything.

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Design: Retro Is Back In Style

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Design: Retro Is Back In Style

The design of the iPhone 12 series is a bit reminiscent of the iPhone 4. Just like the iPhone 4, the iPhone 12 Pro has a flat front, flat back (except for the camera bump), and flat sides, made out of surgical grade stainless steel.

In fact, the iPhone 12 Pro can stand on a flat surface without any support. The device weighs 187 grams, which makes it moderately heavy (thanks to the stainless steel) with 7.4mm thickness, making it thinner than the iPhone 11 Pro. Though the iPhone 12 Pro is just a few grams lighter than the iPhone 11, it feels much lighter to hold in hand, especially without a case.

If you are coming from the iPhone 11 or even the iPhone XR, or iPhone X, the iPhone 12 Pro will take time for getting used to the flat sides. I also liked the fact that the iPhone 12 Pro has a matte glass back, which doesn't attract fingerprints as much as the iPhone 12 or the iPhone 12 mini with a glossy back panel.

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Design: Retro Is Back In Style
 

However, the sides of the iPhone 12 Pro are highly polished to obtain that mirror finish, which also makes it a fingerprint magnet. Without a case or a bumper, it is hard to maintain the pristine condition of the frame. As per the in-hand feel, though the iPhone 12 Pro is not quite a one-hand phone (at least for me) it is easy to use when compared to the Android flagships like the Oppo Find X2 or even the OnePlus 8 Pro.

The back of the iPhone 12 Pro is protected by the dual ion-exchange tempered glass, which offers a good amount of protection against scratches and accidental damages. As it is glass, it is best to dress-up the iPhone 12 Pro in a secure case to prevent worries.

The iPhone 12 Pro is also IP68 water and dust resistant certified, making it water-resistant to a maximum depth of 6 metres up to 30 minutes. The smartphone can handle water-splashes, rains, and can even survive if it accidentally gets dunked inside a pool. However, do note that the company does not cover water damage under warranty, and it's just another layer of accidental protection on the iPhone 12 Pro.

In one way, Apple has gone back the iPhone 4 era to bring back flat design, definitely looks distinctive in 2020 where most smartphones have a curved frame and a curved display. Not just visually, the flat design also helps the iPhone 12 Pro when it comes to accidental protection.

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Display: Thinner Bezels, Great Sunlight Legibility

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Display: Thinner Bezels, Great Sunlight Legibility

The Apple iPhone 12 Pro has a 6.1-inch OLED or Super Retina XDR display with FHD+ resolution. The screen is protected by the proprietory Ceramic Shield, which offers four times damage protection when compared to a typical glass on a smartphone.

Just like the Corning Gorilla Glass 5 or the Gorilla Glass 6, the glass on the iPhone 12 Pro scratches at level 6 on Mohs scale of hardness, so it is best to use a tempered glass screen protector to prevent the display from the accidental scratches from items like keys and coins. I have been using the iPhone 12 Pro without a screen protector, and I haven't noticed any sort of scratches as of now.

Though the display on the iPhone 12 Pro might seem identical to the iPhone 12, the iPhone 12 Pro has a typical max (typical) screen brightness of 800nits, higher than the iPhone 12. As this is an OLED display, the black looks black and pictures/videos look vivid.

The colour tone on the iPhone 12 Pro is similar to natural. Unlike most of the android smartphones, there is no option to change the colour-science of the screen. The device does offer a built-in blue-light filter and the true-tone option changes the display output to match the ambient lighting to offer more natural-looking screen at all the times.

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Display: Thinner Bezels, Great Sunlight Legibility

One major caveat of the iPhone 12 Pro's display is the refresh rate. The phone comes with a 60Hz refresh rate screen, similar to the iPhone 11. Whereas most of the flagship Android smartphones have opted for either 90Hz or 120Hz refresh rate display. In fact, phones like the ROG Phone 3 offer a 144Hz display.

Refresh rate won't be an issue if you are coming from an iPhone. However, if you have used a recent Android flagship smartphone like the Oppo Find X2 with 120Hz refresh rate screen, the iPhone 12 Pro might seem a bit slow while scrolling through social media platforms. Prior to testing the iPhone 12 Pro, I was using the Oppo Find X2 as my daily-driver, I and was clearly able to notice the difference between the two phones, especially on apps like Instagram and Twitter.

If you are a movie buff like me, then you will enjoy binging content on platforms like Netflix, Prime Video, and Apple TV+. The phone supports HDR streaming on major platforms and it also supports Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos, enhancing the overall multi-media consumption experience. Though it offers an almost full-screen experience, that notch does take some screen real-estate for sure.

The display on the iPhone 12 Pro has almost everything that one expects from high-end flagship smartphones of 2020, except for the higher refresh rate. For day-to-day usage, the iPhone 12 Pro's display feels great and features like Ceramic Shield also makes it less prone to damages.

Apple iPhone 12 Pro MagSafe: Wireless Charging Made Convenient

Apple iPhone 12 Pro MagSafe: Wireless Charging Made Convenient

With the iPhone 12 series, Apple introduced the MagSafe accessories, which was present on older MacBooks. MagSafe technology was originally introduced by Apple in 2006 for MacBooks to securely attach (using magnets) the charging connector. However, when Apple transitioned into USB Type-C MacBooks, the company got rid of this feature in 2015, which was re-introduced on the iPhone 12 series in 2020.

MagSafe on the iPhone 12 Pro works as advertised. However, to get MagSafe accessories, one has to make an additional investment to get a MagSafe Charger (Rs. 4,500) and a 20W USB Type-C fast charging adapter (Rs. 1,900).

To incorporate this technology, the iPhone 12 Pro comes with a series of magnets located at the back of the iPhone 12 Pro, which helps to align and stick with the MagSafe certified products.

If you have ever used a wireless charger to charge your phone, then you might have faced a situation, where the phone has not aligned with the charging coil and the phone has not charged even after hours. With the MagSafe charger, this is no longer an issue, as the phone automatically connects to the MagSafe charger as soon as you take it near an iPhone 12 series smartphone.

Apple iPhone 12 Pro MagSafe: Wireless Charging Made Convenient

Not just that, there is a satisfying click sound that further confirms that the charger has been connected to the iPhone. The MagSafe charger can also be used with older iPhones or any other smartphone with Qi wireless charging. However, with the iPhone 12 Pro (when used with the 20W adapter), the MagSafe charger can offer 15W fast wireless charging.

In my usage, the MagSafe charger does get warm with continuous usage. And the charging times also take a hit if you use the iPhone while charging. Even with 15W charging speed, it takes almost 3 hours to fully charge the iPhone 12 Pro using the MagSafe charger.

This time around, MagSafe is not only meant for chargers. The company has also launched a series of accessories that are MagSafe compatible, including cases and leather wallets. More third-party MagSafe accessories are expected to hit the market in the coming days.

As the iPhone 12 Pro does not come with a charging adapter in the box, it is best to invest on a 20W charger and a MagSafe charger as well. In the coming days, Apple might completely ditch the lighting port and might just offer MagSafe compatibility.

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Camera Performance: Big Sensors With LiDAR

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Camera Performance: Big Sensors With LiDAR

The iPhone 12 Pro has a triple primary-camera setup at the back with a LiDAR sensor and a 12MP front-facing selfie camera. Unlike most of Android smartphones, there are no fancy 64/108MP sensor cameras on the iPhone 12 Pro. However, with just 12MP cameras, the iPhone 12 Pro is definitely one of the best cameras smartphone of 2020.

The primary 12MP sensor with an f/1.6 aperture and a 12MP ultra-wide angle sensor with an f/2.4 aperture are identical to the iPhone 12. There is an additional 12MP 2x telephoto lens with an f/2.0 aperture and LiDAR sensor that helps with AR and low-light portrait photos.

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Camera Performance: Big Sensors With LiDAR

The iPhone 12 Pro can shoot native 4K videos with up to 60fps ad 4K Dolby Vision videos with up to 60fps. On top of that, the iPhone 12 Pro also supports Apple ProRAW, ability to shoot RAW photos and process them directly on the iPhone.

With the iPhone 12 Pro, you get better video recording capability. On top of that, the LiDAR sensor is another feature that helps the iPhone 12 Pro to quickly focus on the subject even in challenging lighting situations. Lastly, all four cameras on the iPhone 12 Pro now supports night mode, which was limited to the primary sensor on the iPhone 11 series.

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Portrait Mode Performance

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Portrait Mode Performance

The Apple iPhone 12 Pro comes with an improved portrait that smartly blurs the background of a subject to create depth of field. Portrait mode works well on the iPhone 12 Pro even in challenging lighting conditions, as the phone uses LiDAR sensor to measure distance and to calculate the depth-of-field.

In my use case, the portrait mode on the iPhone 12 Pro works well for both humans and non-human subjects. 99 percent of the time, a photo that was shot using the portrait mode has clear edges. At times, the iPhone 12 Pro does miss out the bokeh, which is only visible if you pixel-peep a picture.

In this picture, the colours are true to life and the iPhone 12 Pro has clearly blurred the background. Even when you zoom into the picture, there is a lot of clarity on the subject.

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Studio Lighting

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Studio Lighting

Studio Lighting on the iPhone 12 Pro offers a bunch of lighting effects which further enhance the smartphone photography. In this picture, I shot my dog in the stage light mono filter, which gives this image a more dramatic look.

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Ultra-Wide Angle

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Ultra-Wide Angle

The 12MP ultra-wide angle lens on the iPhone 12 Pro comes with an f/2.4 aperture. In most lighting conditions, photos taken on this sensor look sharp, and one can also utilise night mode to improve sharpness in the low-light mode.

As per the ultra-wide angle shots, the iPhone 12 Pro can capture wider shots, and this is a good sensor for capturing landscapes. Just like the primary sensor, the ultra-wide angle lens captures great dynamic range with lots of clarity in the photo.

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Zoom/Telephoto Lens

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Zoom/Telephoto Lens

The additional 12MP telephoto zoom lens on the iPhone 12 Pro offers 2x optical zoom and is a great lens for taking long-range shots. Here you can definitely see the difference between the ultra-wide angle and the telephoto lens on the iPhone 12 Pro.

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Wide Angle Camera Performance

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Wide Angle Camera Performance

The 12MP wide-angle lens with an f/1.6 aperture is probably the sensor that most people use to take photos. As it has a large aperture, it takes photos with great details even in challenging lighting conditions.

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Wide Angle Camera Performance

Using this camera, one can take macro shots, which automatically blurs the background to create natural-looking bokeh. The main camera sensor works well for human subjects, landscapes, and indoor lighting conditions, and photos from any of these situations look bright, vivid, and offers a great dynamic range.

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Wide Angle Camera Performance

Here is another photo shot using the primary 12MP camera. This low-light picture looks vibrant and retains a lot of details with excellent dynamic range.

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Selfie Camera

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Selfie Camera

The 12MP selfie camera on the iPhone 12 Pro can take selfies with or without portrait mode. This selfie was taken in indoor low-light mode and the phone still manages to capture natural skin tones with perfect edges. This portrait shot was taken outdoors with harsh lighting and the camera has clearly captured the selfie without any issue.

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Performance: Power Of A14 Bionic

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Performance: Power Of A14 Bionic

The Apple iPhone 12 Pro is powered by the A14 Bionic processor, which is one of the first smartphone SoCs based on 5nm fabrication, making it more power-efficient than the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+ and the A13 Bionic. This is a six CPU core processor with two high-performance cores and four efficiency cores.

The A14 Bionic also has a four-core CPU that offers over 30 percent improved graphics performance, offering excellent gaming and multi-tasking capabilities.

The iPhone 12 Pro also comes with 6GB RAM, which is more than the iPhone 12 and the iPhone 12 mini. Currently, the overall usage of the iPhone 12 Pro is similar to the iPhone 11 and the iPhone 12. However, the additional amount of RAM on the iPhone 12 Pro helps the device to keep more apps in the memory. Not just that, the iPhone 12 Pro will also work well in the coming years due to that additional amount of memory.

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Geekbench 5 Performance

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Geekbench 5 Performance

On Geebench 5, the iPhone 12 Pro posts 1584 points on single-core 3908 points on multi-core CPU performance, making it the fast mobile CPU ever. On the contrary, the ROG Phone 3 with the speed binned Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+ SoC scores 996 points on single-core and 3455 points on multi-core CPU performance on Geekbench.

The most powerful Android smartphone of 2020 is not just slower than the iPhone 12 Pro, but it is also slower than the last year's iPhone 11. The iPhone 12 Pro definitely has at least 20 percent faster CPU when compared to the iPhone 11 Pro.

Apple iPhone 12 Pro GPU Benchmark

Apple iPhone 12 Pro GPU Benchmark

We also ran the GFX Metal GPU benchmark tool on the iPhone 12 Pro, which consists of a range of graphics benchmark tool. Here is some analysis of the same in the form of a graph.

Apple iPhone 12 Pro AnTuTu Performance

Apple iPhone 12 Pro AnTuTu Performance

On AnTuTu, the iPhone 12 Pro scored 56,5388 points, whereas the iPhone 11 Pro scored 52,1797. In comparison, the Asus ROG Phone 3 logged 64,1773 on AnTuTu, which is a bit higher than the iPhone 12 Pro. This could be due to the different version of the AnTuTu used on different platforms.

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Gaming Performance

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Gaming Performance

I played numerous games such as Call of Duty: Mobile, Mortal Combat, Sniper 3D, Clash of Clans, Jonhy Trigger, and Smash Hit on the iPhone 12 Pro. Similarly, I also played Apple Arcade games like The Pathless, Agent Intercept, and Ballistic Baseball and I didn't face any issue on either of these games.

 

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Gaming Performance

Every game that I tried on the iPhone 12 Pro ran smoothly and I didn't notice any frame drops even with the continuous gaming. While playing games like COD: Mobile for more than 15 minutes at a stretch, the top right side of the phone did get warm, and the phone did come down to room temperature in just a matter of minutes.

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Software Experience

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Software Experience

The software experience on the iPhone 12 Pro is exactly identical to the iPhone 11, iPhone XS, or the iPhone X running on iOS 14. iOS 14 comes with a lot of new features, which allows users to customise the OS to an extent. You can check the full review of the iOS 14 here.

For a regular user, the iOS 14 offers easy-to-use UI and is also secure. As the phone uses the Face ID biometric system, I mostly ended up entering the password as the phone cannot recognise the face with a mask. This is where Android smartphones are slightly ahead, where most of them use a fingerprint sensor.

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Battery Life: Can Last For A Whole Day

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Battery Life: Can Last For A Whole Day

Even though the iPhone 12 Pro has a slightly smaller battery when compared to the iPhone 11, it can still last for an entire working day. For a regular user, the phone can easily offer over 6 to 7 hours of screen on time, and one can easily charge the iPhone using the 20W fast charger in less than two hours.

Though the iPhone 12 Pro charges faster than the iPhone 11 Pro, it is nowhere nearly as fast as the 30W Warp Charging on the OnePlus 8 or the 65W SuperVOOC charging on the Oppo Find X2, which can fully charge a 4,200 mAh battery in just 30 minutes.

Let us address the elephant in the room, the iPhone 12 Pro that costs over a lakh (even for the base model) doesn't come with a charging adapter. On top of that, it charging cable that comes in the box has a USB Type-C port and can only be used with an adapter with a USB Type-C port.

Apple has removed the charging adapter from the phone for the sake of decreasing global carbon emission. However, it does not make sense as one of the new features on the iPhone 12 Pro is fast charging, and to use the same the user has to invest in a charger.

It is good that Apple has removed the charging adapter from the retail package. However, the company should have given an option to buy a charging adapter at a discounted price, at least for the iPhone 12 series owners.

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Networking Capability

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Networking Capability

The Apple iPhone 12 Pro continues to support dual SIM cards (nano-SIM card slot and an e-SIM). The iPhone 12 Pro is also one of the first 5G smartphones from Apple, and one can only use a single SIM card if the iPhone 12 Pro is used with the 5G network.

I used the iPhone 12 Pro with the Jio 4G SIM card slot, where the network reception, download, and upload speeds were similar to the iPhone 11. The iPhone 12 Pro also supports Wi-Fi 6, offering faster download and upload speed if you have a gigabit-speed Wi-Fi network.

Unlike the US version, the Indian version of the iPhone 12 Pro does not have a mmWave cutout to offer better 5G network. Though the 5G network is currently not available in India, the iPhone 12 Pro is a 5G ready smartphone and can be used to access 5G in available markets.

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Verdict

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Verdict

Except for the 5G capabilities, the iPhone 12 Pro is not a huge upgrade over the iPhone 11 Pro and can be called as an incremental update. The slightly redesigned finish makes it look like a new phone. And this time around, Apple has narrowed the difference between the iPhone 12 and the iPhone 12 Pro, which positions the iPhone 12 Pro at the difficult spot, considering the price difference.

It has a faster processor based on 5nm fabrication, it now supports 5G network, it has an improved camera system that offers great low-light performance, and the video recording quality is exceptional like always. When it comes to pricing, the iPhone 12 Pro costs as much as the Galaxy Z Fold 2 in India, making it an expensive smartphone.

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Verdict

If you are in India and already own an iPhone 11 or an iPhone 11 Pro, then the iPhone 12 Pro might not be that much of an upgrade. However, if you have the iPhone XS or an older-generation iPhone, then the iPhone 12 Pro is an upgrade in almost every department.

Unlike Android counterparts, the iPhone 12 Pro might not have a folding display or a fancy higher refresh rate display. But the iPhone 12 Pro is likely to get much longer software support compared to any another flagship Android phone launched in 2020.

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