Tuesday, October 13, 2020

iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro

iPhone 12 (MacRumors, event, Hacker News):

Apple today unveiled iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini with 5G technology, ushering in a new era for the world’s best smartphone. The newly designed iPhone 12 models feature expansive edge-to-edge Super Retina XDR displays for a brighter, more immersive viewing experience, and a new Ceramic Shield front cover, providing the biggest jump in durability ever on iPhone. The Apple-designed A14 Bionic, the fastest chip in a smartphone, powers every experience on iPhone 12, and coupled with an advanced dual-camera system, delivers meaningful new computational photography features and the highest quality video in a smartphone. iPhone 12 models also introduce MagSafe, offering high-powered wireless charging and an all-new ecosystem of accessories that easily attach to iPhone.

iPhone 12 Pro (MacRumors):

The Apple-designed A14 Bionic chip, the fastest chip in a smartphone, powers impressive computational photography features including the all-new Apple ProRAW for more creative control in photos, and enables the first end-to-end Dolby Vision video experience, up to 60 fps. The reimagined pro camera systems include an expansive Ultra Wide camera, a Telephoto camera with an even longer focal length on iPhone 12 Pro Max, and new Wide cameras to capture beautiful professional-quality images and video in bright and low-light environments. iPhone 12 Pro models also introduce a new LiDAR Scanner for immersive augmented reality (AR) experiences[…]

First, I love the return of the flat sides, last available on a flagship phone in 2013. This should make it more comfortable to hold without a case.

I’m happy to see the mini, although I have doubts about the battery life and adjusting to a smaller screen. These days, all the software is designed for larger screens. I wish it were available with the Pro camera. Compared with the iPhone 5s, the iPhone 12 mini is 0.31 inches taller, 0.22 inches wider, 0.01 inches thinner, and 0.81 ounces heavier.

I’m disappointed with the display resolutions of the new phones. The iPhone 12 Pro Max is way too big for me to carry, and all the other models display less on screen than the iPhone XR that I currently use. This reduction is larger than the increase that Apple touted between the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro. I would much rather have the higher resolution than OLED.

iPhone ModelWidthHeight
5s/SE320 pts568 pts
8/SE 2375 pts667 pts
11 Pro/12 mini (scaled)375 pts812 pts
12/12 Pro390 pts844 pts
XR/11/11 Pro Max414 pts896 pts
12 Pro Max428 pts926 pts

Other thoughts:

Sebastiaan de With:

The iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro have seemingly the same sensor as the iPhone 11 and 11 Pro.

For the 12 (and 12 Pro): The main ("Wide") camera lets in 27% more light thanks to a new lens with a f/1.6 aperture.

For the 12 Pro Max, though, you now get a new sensor that is significantly larger with a faster (better) lens.


Smart HDR 3 now takes scenes apart to prevent its teething issue of over-smoothing faces vs. preventing noise in dark areas. Deep Fusion and Night Mode are coming to all the lenses; likely because of the extra processing power of the A14 chip.

Steve Troughton-Smith:

Apparently the iPhone 12 mini uses the same screen resolution as the 5.8” iPhones, according to the iOS Simulator, which makes this a 495ppi iPhone UI. The actual device screen resolution is 476ppi, which suggests everything will run scaled


6.1" iPhone models this year don’t get a ‘Plus-style’ layout, despite the 6.1" model last year doing so.


Update (2020-10-14): Sebastiaan de With:

As we said before, we really expect to see the greatest leaps in photographic improvement on phone cameras to come in software.

Brian Barrett:

How far has phone-size creep gone? Look no further than the iPhone 12 Mini’s introduction. “With its amazing size, it fits in the palm of your hand,” said Apple vice-president of marketing Kaiann Drance in Tuesday’s promotional video. Imagine that: A phone. That fits. In your hand.

Kate Matthews (via Rahul Gaitonde):

Here’s a version of my iPhone sizes sketch with the ghost of the original SE, if anyone wants that size comparison.

Jason Snell (Hacker News):

It’s embarrassing that Apple is hiding the real price of the iPhone 12. More troubling is the suggestion that Apple is now happy to join forces with its carrier partners to play marketing games—not just with the price of the iPhone 12 and 12 mini, but with the embarrassing amount of screen time Apple gave to Verizon’s CEO on Tuesday so he could flog his company’s 5G network.


First, Apple’s come a long way from calling carriers “orifices”. Without checking, Verizon probably got more stage time than the lidar in the iPhone 12 Pro, where it assists autofocus and plays a big role in magically making photos work out even for people who have never knowingly 3D scanned something in their life. But more importantly, the sense I’ve got is that 5G isn’t a dud technology but that it really only provides its advantages in areas where it’s really well built out.

Nick Heer:

As I have written for years now, the way 5G is being sold to the public is wildly disproportionate to the actual day-to-day impact it will have on most of us most of the time. At the moment, 5G is largely a useful buzzword for when you want billions of dollars in tax breaks, a shortcut for newspapers to seem more technologically advanced, and a way to eat up phone batteries at speeds slower than LTE.

Mark Sullivan:

I thought Apple, with its marketing prowess, would finally make me understand the importance of having 5G on my phone. But after watching its press event for the first 5G iPhones on Tuesday, I remain unconvinced and unlikely to upgrade from my iPhone 11.

Dieter Bohn:

The problem with 5G is that it’s not good yet. In a comprehensive, US-wide test of 5G speeds, PC Mag found them seriously lacking. In many cases 5G speeds were actually slower than 4G speeds. And the study also found that the other hyped-up reason for 5G, low latency, also isn’t here yet.

See also: Ryan Jones.

Update (2020-10-15): Riccardo Mori:

After watching the Apple event from yesterday, my impression is that Everything is a Remix would have been a more fitting title than Hi, Speed.

MacRumors (via Michael Love):

A spokesperson for T-Mobile has informed MacRumors that the carrier will also have iPhone 12 offers that will go live on Apple’s website on Friday, the day that pre-orders of the devices begin.

Joe Rossignol:

Benchmark results for the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max are beginning to surface on Geekbench, and based on the scores available so far, the new A14 Bionic chip is over 20 percent faster than its A13 predecessor in iPhone 11 Pro models.

Joe Cieplinski:

I don’t want a small phone that is also a “budget” phone, in other words. I want a top-of-the-line phone that happens to be small.


For at least a few hours, I was truly torn about which phone to get.

But in the end, how could I not get the mini?

I would love to have a better camera in a hypothetical Pro mini. But, given the available choices, I’ve come to the same conclusion..

Update (2020-10-19): Thomas Brand:

Apple is removing the charger and headphones from all iPhones, even models released years ago, and the price remains the same.

John Gruber:

Herewith, I believe, is the full accounting of the differences between the 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max, camera by camera[…]


Apple’s upcoming ProRAW features — which will enable shooting RAW images using the built-in Camera app and a bunch of new APIs for third-party camera and photo-editing apps — are exclusive to the 12 Pro models.

When you consider the camera specs alone, that seems like pure marketing spite. All iPhone 12 models have the A14 SoC with the same CPU, GPU, and Neural Engine. But there might be a technical reason ProRAW is limited to the iPhone 12 Pro models: according to the latest version of Xcode, the 12 Pro models have 50 percent more RAM than the iPhone 12 and 12 Mini (6 GB vs. 4 GB). It seems reasonable to assume that ProRAW and 60 FPS Dolby Vision encoding are RAM-hungry features. But because Apple never ever talks about RAM in iOS devices, even in the small print of their advertised tech specs, this comes across as purely marketing-driven differentiation.


But I think a non-Pro iPhone Max model, in particular, would be really popular, because I think a lot of people desire big-ass phones solely for the display size. And I think Apple doesn’t make it because a lot of people who really care that much about having the largest possible display will just pay the premium for the Pro Max. This product strategy is true for the iPad and MacBook lineups, too — Apple’s biggest displays are only in its “Pro” models.

13 Comments RSS · Twitter

I've never broken a screen by dropping an iPhone (going back to the original iPhone), but I do have dropped my iPhone occasionally and being saved by my case or just pure luck. Anyway, a broken screen costs *a lot* of money to fix while a scratch is something I can live with, so I prefer if Apple prioritise preventing broken screens, if nothing else for the peace of mind.

> Compared with the iPhone 5s, the iPhone 12 mini is 0.31 inches taller, 0.22 inches wider, 0.01 inches thinner

Those numbers look different to my research. I put down:
SE1: 123,8 mm × 58,6 mm × 7,6 mm
“Mini”: 131.5 x 64.2 x 7.44

The 11 Pro height in points doesn't look right in your table...


>These days, all the software is designed for larger screens.

I still use an original SE, as do several people I know, and I don't have a problem with software. It all seems to still be designed to work on the SE screen (both Apple & 3rd party), and the mini has a larger screen. So I don't see this being an issue. I've been waiting for a smaller phone, though would have liked something even closer to the original SE in size ;-)

Is it just me, or are these new iPhones not very impressive? Until now, every new iPhone gave me a bit of upgrade envy (I always wait 2 years) because they had much better screens, much better cameras, new tech like FaceID, etc. But I don't care about 5G at all since LTE is screaming fast already, the screen and cameras on my iPhone 11 are already incredible, and the processor is already faster than I could ever push it. Not to mention that the new iPhones are $100+ more at the same tiers (unless I'm reading the prices wrong...) -- seriously WTF, it's like Apple is trolling us with these crazy prices now since I guess people keep buying them anyway.

@Helge I’m using the dimensions from the iPhone 12 mini specs page (5.18×2.53×0.29) and the iPhone 5s Wikipedia (4.87×2.31×0.30)

@John I fixed the 11 Pro numbers. Thanks.

@Jolin The apps work, but what I mean is that they have lower information density than in the iPhone 5s days. They even feel cramped to me on the 8/SE 2. Hopefully the mini’s extra height will help.

@Ben G:

The 12 is more expensive than the 11 it replaces. That's the only price increase. The 2 pro models are the same prices as last year. The Mini is a new thing, so it has no prior year to compare to.

@Ben G

Um.... If you wait 2 years then you shouldn't be comparing it to iPhone 11 but to iPhone XR?

iPhone 12 is a big upgrade in every sense. I am suspired people said the same thing about iPhone 11 being worthless comparing to iPhone XR. When it was a decent upgrade as well.

Literally every single part of the phone was touched and improved. OLED, A14, Qualcomm Modem, smaller bezel with new design etc....

I don't think it's a particularly big upgrade. I also don't think it has to be, or anyone should have reasonably expected it to be. Most people upgrade after three years, and from the iPhone 8/8 Plus/X, it's quite an upgrade. I'm bummed about sleazy things like the Verizon infomercial and the "$30 instant rebate". I'm also happy with the iPhone 4-esque design, the use of LIDAR for Autofocus (which will no doubt trickle down to all iPhones a few years from now), a slightly smarter, Apple-like approach to inductive charging, etc. All in all, a fine upgrade, marred by a not-so-great keynote.

This seems like a strange decision. I wonder if they'll just make the "logical" resolution more finely configurable. Now that all phones are 3x, this seems possible and offers better accessibility than dynamic text sizes that apps have to explicitly support.

Maybe this is now just the default.

The 12 mini is a definite buy for me. I have some minor quibbles in line with a few of the points above, but they're just that — minor quibbles. Overall it looks like a great device, and thank goodness for a step back in the direction of smaller. I love the return to a flat-sided design that feels good to hold. Can't wait to upgrade, as I'm a 1st gen SE holdout.

I wouldn't be surprised if the mini forces more devs to do a better job of designing for smaller screens. As @Jolin said, most things still work with the old SE, but I've increasingly noticed areas in many apps where you can tell that devs just assume more screen space. Having a new flagship device with a smaller screen, not to mention that it's the cheapest flagship, will surely make it popular, and a screen resolution that needs to be considered by default.

Also: Magsafe seems like it has a lot of potential. Until now wireless charging seemed to me more inconvenient than plugging in a cable (for example: can't pick up the device to use while it continues charging, have to worry about placement & flat surfaces). Magsafe changes that equation. Not to mention the other handy accessories, like the magnetic Belkin car mount that you can use without a phone case. I do wonder what it means when I inevitably put my phone next to my credit card though.

> I do wonder what it means when I inevitably put my phone next to my credit card though.

Your phone IS your credit card :D

I had problems with my AirPods case wiping out the magnetic strips on train tickets: I’d hop on to an RER in Paris and then get stuck at the exit gates with a broken ticket when trying to depart the station.

Leave a Comment