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iPhone 11 v iPhone 12: What’s the difference? Your buyer’s guide

Apple has finally announced the iPhone 12 - but is it the right model for you?

Apple

It’s finally happened – Apple has announced not one, not two, but four models of the iPhone 12 at their ‘Hi, Speed’ event.

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On Amazon Prime Day no less, the tech giant announced a new HomePod Mini and several mobile accessories, but the big draw was clearly Apple’s long-awaited and somewhat delayed iPhone 12 range.

It now means consumers and casual Apple fans will have to make a decision to make – buy now with iPhone 12 pre-order, or grab the still-impressive iPhone 11 now it will receive a discount.

There are arguments for both sides – and with both mobiles offering multiple models, it can often get confusing figuring out the exact difference between both generations.

We’ll highlight the key differences below, along with advice based on budget, features, and day-to-day use so you can make an informed decision in the upcoming Black Friday sales.

iPhone 12 vs iPhone 11

Design

iPhone 11 deals
Fone House

The iPhone 11 (above) looks awfully similar to the iPhone X range, with curved edges and a rounded design.

The iPhone 12, however, harkens back to the iPhone 4/5 with a squared-off design with a new aluminium frame. The new screen merges crystal and glass to create what Apple calls a ceramic shield which is four times more durable and splash resistant – with the Pro even able to be submerged in up to 6 metres of water for 30 minutes at a time.

Take a look at the iPhone 12 design below:

All new iPhone 12 colours
All new iPhone 12 colours
Apple

Price

The newly announced iPhone 12 Mini starts at £699, going all the way up to £1099 for the top-tier Pro Max model.

The iPhone 11 is currently going for around £599 upfront, up to £999 for the Pro Max model – though this could drop even further once the iPhone 12 actually hits the market.

Storage

The iPhone 12 doesn’t actually offer any improvements in storage – the base models of both the iPhone 11 and 12 offer a choice of 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB, with the Pro models offering an extra choice of 512GB.

Camera

The iPhone 11 has a dual-camera setup with both a wide and ultra-wide lens on the rear, while the Pro and Pro Max versions add an extra 2x telephoto lens.

The iPhone 12 and 12 Mini again have a dual-camera setup, but with a 27 per cent improvement in performance. The Pro models again have three rear cameras – but also add a LIDAR sensor for improved AR features and object detection.

Processor

The differences here are a bit clearer – all the iPhone 11 models used Apple’s own A13 chip, which was certainly no slouch.

However, Apple has been making quite a big deal about the performance of the new A14 chip found in the iPhone 12 – the launch event was even called ‘Hi, Speed’ – which is a whopping 20 per cent faster than the A13 chip, but is also incredibly efficient meaning the processor could see small gains in battery life too.

Screen Size

The iPhone 11 came in three screen sizes – the standard 11 was 6.1 inches, the Pro was 5.8 inches, and the Pro Max was 6.7 inches.

The iPhone 12 lineup is pretty much the same – the standard iPhone 12 is 6.1 inches, the Pro is now 6.1 inches also and the Pro Max is 6.7 inches. The big difference here is the introduction of the iPhone Mini with a 5.4inch screen – so for those complaining that modern smartphones are too big to fit in your pocket or use one-handed, this could be the mobile for you.

5G support

Another clear distinction here – none of the iPhone 11 models support 5G, whereas all iPhone 12 variants are 5G-ready.

In ideal conditions, download speeds can reach 4GB per second, with upload speeds of 200MB per second – though Apple noted that typical download speeds would be 1GB per second, not 4GB.

Connectivity

Both the iPhone 11 and iPhone 12 range support Apple’s lightning charger port.

However, the iPhone 12 has introduced Magsafe charging – a magnetic charging pad you can attach your iPhone to rather than plugging in a wire.

Colours

The iPhone 11 was available in black, green, yellow, purple, white, (product) red. The Pro models, however, were only available in Silver, Gold, Space Gray, Midnight Green.

The iPhone 12 introduces a new blue colour but removes yellow and purple – so the final line-up is: black, green, white, (product) red and blue. The Pro model colour choices also get an overhaul: you can choose between silver, gold, graphite and blue.

Key Differences

  • Faster processor – the iPhone 12 will see a bigger performance jump than usual with the much-hyped A14 bionic chip, which will make the iPhone 12 20 per cent faster than its predecessor.
  • 5G support – Apple is finally embracing 5G with the iPhone 12, claiming download speeds can reach 4GB per second, with upload speeds of 200MB per second.
  • New design – the iPhone 12 is the first design overhaul for a while, going back to the squared-off design of the iPhone 4/5, with a new ceramic shield with 4x durability.
  • LIDAR sensor – while all the camera lenses will see some minor improvements, the big change is a LIDAR sensor on the Pro models for better AR effects.
  • Mini option – to combat complaints of ever-growing and occasionally cumbersome big-screen phones, the iPhone 12 Mni will fit snugly into one hand with its 5.4inch screen.
  • MagSafe charging – Fret over frayed wires no more with the iPhone 12’s ability to charge on Apple’s magnetic pad.

Should you buy the iPhone 12?

Deciding which iPhone to buy may well come down to budget – with the iPhone 12 starting at least £100 more than the iPhone 11, you’ll have to weigh up whether you’ll use the new features enough to justify the price.

The decision whether to upgrade depends very much on what you intend your iPhone for – those constantly on the move will really appreciate the increased connection speeds that come with 5G, and those who use their iPhone for complex and professional tasks will benefit the most from the performance of the new processor. The iPhone 12 Mini will be an attractive option for those who find large screens a dealbreaker, and the ceramic shield may just prevent a cracked screen for the clumsiest among us.

However, it’s worth pointing out that many features are practically the same -–there’s barely any difference to storage options and screen sizes, and cameras and displays are only seeing incremental upgrades. As cool as a LIDAR sensor and MagSafe charging may sound, it’s worth questioning whether these features are worth a few hundred pounds more.

You can pre-order the iPhone 12 starting 16th October at 1pm, though you can already register your interest at a few stores:

O2

Mobiles.co.uk

Pre-order from 16th October at 1pm.

The iPhone 11, however, is available to purchase now:

iPhone 11 64GB, £38 per month (£19.99 upfront)

The 64GB device at no upfront cost and a charge of £47 per month, with which you get 100GB data, unlimited minutes and unlimited texts on Three. A one-year Apple TV+ subscription is also included.

Get the deal

iPhone 11 Pro 64GB, £44 per month (£249 upfront)

For £44 a month (and a reasonable £69 upfront), this Three contract offers unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and a sizable 100GB of data. Get free roaming and access to London Underground wi-fi too.

Get the deal

iPhone Pro 11 Max 64GB, £60 per month (£84.99 upfront)

For the larger screen version of the Pro, you are usually looking at a much higher monthly cost (24 month contract) – not with this deal. For £60 a month, you’ll get unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and a decent chunk (15GB) of data.

Get the deal

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Love an Apple product? Keep an eye on our AirPods 2 and AirTags release date pages for all the latest news, specs and prices.