Why choose the iPhone 12?
Apple launched its iPhone 12 in October 2020. At first sight it's not much of a step up from the iPhone 12 but as we know, first looks don't tell you everything. The iPhone 12 is the first Apple smartphone to handle superfast 5G. It is also the lightest and thinnest smartphone on the market that currently supports 5G. What else does it have to offer? Find out in our guide.
- 5G speed and iPhone 12 compatibility
- Size, colours and weight
- A14 Bionic Chip
- Dual-camera system
- Super Retina XDR OLED display
- Turbo chargeable, with Magsafe accessories
5G speed and iPhone 12 compatibility
In terms of the Apple's iPhone range the most obvious new feature of the iPhone 12 is that it is capable of stepping up from 4G to make use of the 5G mobile data network. Because this hasn't rolled out nationwide yet, you'd be wise to check and see if your area is currently on a 5G network.
The main feature of 5G is obviously the additional speed that it offers. In order to benefit from 5G you will have to ensure that the deal you take out with your SIM provider covers that signal. You will need to upgrade your nano-SIM if it only supports up to 4G. You can check this with your supplier. With 5G you can, of course, still use 4G and 3G if those are required.
Size, colours and weight
Apple has decided to downsize with the iPhone 12 compared to the iPhone 11. The base iPhone 12 is 146.7mm (5.78 inches) tall, 71.5mm (2.82 inches) wide, 7.4mm (0.29 inches) thick, and it weighs in at 162 grams (5.73 ounces). This makes the iPhone 12 substantially smaller in all dimensions than the heavier 194g iPhone 11. This reduction hasn't been achieved by a change to the aerospace-grade aluminium casing, which it retains, nor the size of the new rear-facing camera array, however. Among other changes, Apple has improved its Bionic A14, downsides the battery, got rid of the glass front in favour of its new ceramic material.
Yes, the iPhone 12's battery has certainly diminished. Its 2815mAh battery is a drop in power from the iPhone 11's 3110mAh battery. According to several tests, however, this doesn't appeared to have dramatically decreased battery life.
Apple has also made changes to the look and feel of the iPhone 12 in comparison to previous iPhones including the iPhone 11. The iPhone 12 has a less rounded look, with slightly flatter sides giving an almost retro look that may remind you of 2013's iPhone 5S. It comes in five colours: black, white, Product Red, blue and green.
A14 Bionic Chip
In order to cope with the addition of 5G to the iPhone range with the iPhone 12, Apple has also produced a brand new central processor unit (CPU) – the brain of your smartphone. The 16-core, A14 Bionic chip is the most cutting edge and also the fastest processor yet for any of the iPhone range.
The A4 Bionic chip doesn't just handle the maths that powers the phone, it is also responsible for handling the way the camera operates, enabling it to provide ultra high definition Dolby Vision, more on this later in this guide.
Aside from very high resolution images and video, the A14 Bionic chip also uses what Apple calls its Neural Engine, which was introduced with the iPhone 11. The Neural Engine can perform billions of operations per second (tech speak that you can think of as miles-per-hour and then 0-60mph). This is useful for things like Face ID, Animoji and other tasks that see your phone 'learning' from what you do or what you tell it to do. In short, it's impressive technology to have in your hand.
The iPhone 12 has two cameras with the biggest change coming in the form of the single rear-facing camera. As with previous iPhones this one offers 12 megapixels but its lens now has a larger f/1.6 aperture. For the non-tech, this allows for much better day and, importantly, night shots because it allows 27 percent more light to reach its sensor compared with the iPhone 11. This sharpens up images even those taken in dark conditions using Night mode.
Apple has combined this 12 megapixel, f1/6 (which is faster than the iPhone 11'a f1/8) lens with a seven-element ultra-wide f2/4 lens that provides a 120-degree field of view, which is the same as the iPhones 11 and 11 Plus. The HDR 3 technology that the iPhone 12 uses to produce its Night mode, however, is a step up from the iPhone 11's Smart HDR
In terms of the rear (selfie or FaceTime camera) not a great deal has changed from the iPhone 11 except it can now use the Apple's Deep Fusion photography system that was previously only available on the main, rear-facing camera. For the first time, both Night and Portrait modes are now available to use with all the camera formations on the iPhone 12, including the front-facing selfie camera.
Apple has also upped its video game with the iPhone 12. It has partnered with Dolby, a company most usually associated with audio tech, for Dolby Vision. This was previously only available, according to Apple, for use by Hollywood studios for TV and movie making. The system enables the iPhone 12 to capture 700million colours for ultra-high definition 4K video shooting at 30 frames-per-second. Usefully, the iPhone 12 also provides you with the tools to edit that footage on the phone itself before uploading it to iCloud or your favourite social media platform.
Super Retina HD OLED screen display
There's no point in taking amazing, ultra-high definition, 4K Dolby Vision movies and videos, and super-detailed HDR, Ultra-wide angle, photos with Night mode, if your phone's screen can't display them. So, Apple has upgraded the display for the iPhone 12 from the Liquid Retina HD LCD display of the iPhone 11 to a Super Retina XDR OLED display.
Where LCD displays use a backlight to illuminate all the pixels at once, OLED pixels each emit their own light. This means that they can be turned off to produce true blacks, or they can be turned on to provide the kind of HDR content you can currently experience with your television. For the maths and physics lovers out there, this means that you get a 2,000,000:1 contrast ratio, which really is quite something to see.
The display has rounded corners that follow the curved design of a rectangle. When measured as a standard rectangular shape, the screen 6.06 inches (15.39ckm) although the actual viewable area is less.
The iPhone 12 comes with a brand type of screen for its Super Retina HD OLED screen display. Apple is now using what it calls Ceramic Shield instead of good old glass. This all-new material uses nano-scale (really tiny) crystals packed together to provide clear vision and extra toughness. In fact, Apple claims that this new material is four times less likely to shatter than its previous iPhone displays.
Not only is the iPhone 12's screen less prone to breaking if you drop it, the technical process Apple uses to make the back of the phone scratch-resistant has been adopted for the front display.
Turbo chargeable, with Magsafe accessories
For the first time in its iPhone range, Apple has adopted MagSafe wireless technology as well as Lightning cable for charging the iPhone 12. MagSafe charging requires you to plug a MagSafe charger (sold separately) into a power supply using a USB-C cable, then placing it face-up on a flat surface. You then place the iPhone 12's backside-down on it. The iPhone 12's MagSafe element is a small, ring-shaped magnetic coil on the back of the phone.
To get better performance it’s usually recommended to remove any casing during charging. The one drawback, though, is the necessity to leave your handset alone during wireless charging. You can’t pick your phone up and use it, unlike when it is charging through the Lightning/MagSafe cable, because, obviously, it will stop charging. It is also a good idea to keep anything with a magnetic strip, such as a credit card, out of the way when charging.
This MagSafe technology isn't all about charging though. It is also used to connect accessories. At the time of writing there are a few MagSafe-compatible accessories available. These are mostly cases and even credit card holders that snap on. It is widely expected, however, that as Apple moves forward with plans for completely cable-free iPhones, more and more MagSafe add-ons will become available.
Frequently asked questions
Is the Apple iPhone 12 phone any good?
If you're already tied into Apple's product-range, yes, the Apple iPhone 12 is certainly worth considering especially if you're in need of that 5G super-speed and that speed is available in your area – or where you're intending to travel. If you're not bothered about 5G at the moment, then the price of this high-end phone might lead you towards the iPhone 11 family. If price is an issue and you still want 5G, then the iPhone 12 mini might be more in your range.
What colours does the iPhone 12 come in?
The Apple iPhone 12 has ceramic shield front and all-round aerospace-grade aluminium casing. It is available in four colours: blue, green, Product Red, white and black.
Is the iPhone 12 5G capable?
Yes, the iPhone 12 certainly is 5G capable. You'd be well advised to check if the area you live in is currently using the 5G data network. However, even if it isn't, the iPhone 12 is still capable of both 3G and 4G. You will need to ensure that your SIM is also 5G compatible too.
Can I still use my Lightning-compatible accessories with the iPhone 12?
Yes indeed you can. The addition of the MagSafe system doesn't mean that the Lightning port itself has changed or been deleted. This means that any accessories you already own that use the Lightning port will still plug into the iPhone 12.
Do I get a charging block with the iPhone 12?
The iPhone 12 box contains the phone itself, some get-started documentation, a SIM-changing tool, a USB-C-to-Lightning cable and that's it. If you want to charge your iPhone 12, you'll either need to buy a MagSafe charger, or find a charging box that takes a USB-C make cable, and plugs into a UK three-pin plug socket.
Can I connect Apple iPhone 12 to my TV?
Yes, you can. There are a number of ways of achieving this depending on your TV's connections. You can buy a separate Lightning to HDMI connector. If you own an Apple TV box you can also stream directly to that from your phone. There is also the option to use Apple's Home app to link with TVs via Bluetooth.
Can I get Apple iPhone 12 SIM-free?
Yes. Most providers will sell you an Apple iPhone 12 handset without demanding you take out a contract. At the time of writing, you can now get refurbished Apple iPhone 11s from many providers, which can save you a lot of money off the asking price, and still come with a full warranty.
Can I buy refurbished Apple iPhone 12 phones?
At the time of writing, the Apple iPhone 12 is the very latest iPhone to hit the market. Therefore it's unlikely that you'll find refurbished units quite yet. As ever, it's worth keep your eye out though.
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