Apple iPhone 12 Pro review
Find out how the iPhone 12 Pro scores in our review.
The Apple iPhone 12 Pro is a show-stopper of a smartphone, but for most people, the standard iPhone 12 will do the job. The extra camera capabilities will only interest serious content creators.
- Brilliant photography
- Great for AR
- On the heavier side
In the iPhone pecking order, the iPhone 12 Pro sits above iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Mini, but sits below the £1,099 iPhone 12 Pro Max.
Just like the iPhone 12 and 12 Mini, the Pro is 5G ready and offers Apple’s new MagSafe technology, plus the lauded A14 Bionic chip, which does a tremendous job of managing multiple tasks, assisting with computational photography and battery optimisation. So when the base models offer just about everything we need and want from a smartphone, it does make us wonder; what are the extras we’re getting from the Pro?
Those extras culminate in: a third telephoto camera, polished stainless steel around the edges (rather than aluminium found on the iPhone 12 and 12 Mini), and an ever so slightly brighter screen.
There’s no denying that the additional telephoto camera is a mighty asset, but it’s also the same one that graced the back of the iPhone 11 Pro. More interestingly, the Pro has a LiDAR scanner that measures the distance to an object, a boon for portraits and low light shots.
The new hardware gets an emphatic nod of approval, but whether it’s worth stumping up an extra £200 over the standard well-specced iPhone 12 is the question worth asking.
Read on for our full review of the iPhone 12 Pro. To see how it compares to its chief flagship rival, don't miss our iPhone 12 vs Samsung Galaxy S21 article. And if you're unsure about picking up the higher-spec Pro or the pint-sized Mini, check out our iPhone 12 vs Mini vs Pro vs Pro Max explainer. Or if the cheaper prices of the 12's predecessor are looking mighty tempting, read our iPhone 11 vs 12 article.
- Apple iPhone 12 Pro review: summary
- What is the Apple iPhone 12 Pro?
- How much is the Apple iPhone 12 Pro?
- Apple iPhone 12 Pro features and performance
- Apple iPhone 12 Pro camera
- Apple iPhone 12 Pro battery
- Apple iPhone 12 Pro design and set-up
- Our verdict
- Where to buy
The Apple iPhone 12 Pro is a tad heavier than the standard iPhone 12, as Apple has swapped aluminium for stainless steel in the build, but it shares the same dimensions. There’s a third telephoto lens and LiDAR sensor on the iPhone 12 Pro, which makes for superb portraits and low light photography.
Everything else remains the same as the standard iPhone 12, and even its smaller sibling, the iPhone 12 Mini, with 5G capabilities, a fantastic processor, and a stunning OLED screen. The iPhone 12 Pro is also £200 more expensive than the standard iPhone 12, so many will forgo the extra camera to save a buck.
Comparing all models? Read our iPhone 12 vs mini vs Pro vs Pro Max comparison.
- SuperRetina XDR display
- 6.1-inch OLED screen
- IP68 (waterproof up to 6 metres)
- Apple A14 Bionic chip
- Three 12MP sensors: wide, ultrawide, and a 2X telephoto lens and a LiDAR sensor
- Waterproof, IP68
- iOS 14
- MagSafe compatible
- Brilliant photography
- Great for AR
- On the heavier side
The iPhone 12 Pro is Apple’s premium offering from the 2020 iPhone line-up. £200 more expensive than the standard iPhone 12, it sports a third telephoto camera and LiDAR sensor, which is great for AR, portraits and Night Mode. However, with so much of the excellent imaging down to the A14 Bionic chip and its HDR tricks, which do an incredible job of distinguishing detail within shadows, the improvements are small compared to the standard iPhone 12. Still, the iPhone 12 Pro comes with 50% more RAM than the standard iPhone 12 and is a beautiful thing to behold, with shiny stainless steel edging, available in silver, graphite, gold and blue.
What does the Apple iPhone 12 Pro do?
- Takes superb photographs, including 2x zoomed-in shots at night, and can shoot in ProRaw
- Shoots 4K video with Dolby Atmos at 60fps
- Fast unlocks with Apple’s FaceID
- Allows for gaming and heavy usage with Bionic A14 chip
- Lasts a full day off a charge
- MagSafe offers top power wireless charging
- Works with MagSafe accessories
- Able to use lock onto 5G internet as and when it’s available
Is the Apple iPhone 12 Pro good value for money?
The iPhone 12 Pro didn't entirely justify the extra spend - in our opinion - set against the original £799 asking price of the iPhone 12. Now, that the standard handset has fallen to £699, the price difference is all the more apparent.
Let's assess the differences. The Pro's extra camera hardware is great for zooming in shots, and the LiDAR sensor is going to be marginally better at locking onto subjects at night, but the night mode algorithms are so competent on all iPhone 12 models, we suspect lots of consumers will struggle to justify picking the Pro over the standard 12.
The iPhone 12 Pro is blessed with the A14 Bionic chip, Apple’s most powerful chipset, which is 20% faster than the one before it.
With 50% more RAM than the standard iPhone 12, which on paper sounds significant, proved to make very little difference during our testing.
When it comes to storage, iPhone 12 Pro sees a boost to 128GB, compared to the rather disappointing 64GB found on the iPhone 12, plus you can opt for 256GB and 512GB models if you’re a media hoarder.
Gaming, editing, videoing, and just about everything in between was handled with utmost smoothness, speed and responsiveness.
Apple has a habit of being late when it comes to adopting new technology, but when it does, it tends to do a terrific job, and that’s the case here with 5G. Although 5G is still patchy, the faster speeds could open up unbeknown opportunities in the future.
MagSafe comes to the iPhone 12 Pro, marking a new piece of tech by Apple that accessories can snap onto, which allow features like speedy charging.
iPhone 12 Pro ships with iOS 14 and allows for maximum widget customisation, picture-in-picture and more Memoji options, of course.
With IP68 waterproofing paired with the ‘Ceramic Shield’ glass screen, the iPhone 12 Pro is protected from minor accidents and won't be defeated from a six-metre dunking in water for a maximum of 30 minutes.
Considering the iPhone Pro makes a big deal about its additional 12MP telephoto camera and LiDAR sensor, hardware that isn't included on the standard iPhone 12, it’s worth delving into how meaningful that all is.
With a 12MP main camera, a 12MP ultra-wide, 12 telephoto camera, plus a LiDAR depth sensor, the iPhone 12 Pro’s camera is a tour de force.
However, it’s the computational photography that is responsible for the majority of photography improvements. Smart HDR 3, which is new to the iPhone 12 series, uses machine learning to understand scenes and adjust accordingly for best results. Meanwhile, Deep Fusion fuses multiple images before you even press the shutter button.
The iPhone 12 Pro has that extra telephoto lens which allows you to zoom in on a subject with more precision than the iPhone 12, plus the LiDAR sensor has a 6X faster autofocus in low light, which does give the iPhone 12 Pro the edge.
HDR video with Dolby Vision goes up to 60fps, whereas it’s capped at 30fps on the iPhone 12, which could tempt those looking to shoot plenty of video.
In daylight, photographs are stunning, balancing both clarity and naturalness, but there’s precious little difference compared to the standard iPhone 12.
Yes, there are tangible advantages to the iPhone Pro 12 camera, like Apple ProRAW for additional flexibility when editing photos, 4K video at 60fps, the 2x telephoto lens to get closer to subjects, and finally, the LiDAR sensor to assist with night time shots. Yet, when compared to the standard iPhone 12, the differences are so incremental.
A smartphone should be able to see you through an entire day without needing a recharge, and on that criteria, the iPhone 12 Pro does the job.
There’s a ton of Android alternatives that’ll annihilate the iPhone 12 Pro if it comes to the battery alone, but there’s more to battery life than a spec-sheet, and we’ve found that the A14 Bionic chip does a tremendous job of conserving battery in standby mode.
Like all iPhone 12 series phones, there’s a Lightning to USB-C cable in the box, but no power adapter, in Apple's efforts to be more eco-conscious.
Apple’s MagSafe offers port-free charging via its ring of magnets, and you can get 15w wireless charging, which is with an Apple-approved accessory, of course.
Be mindful that 5G will cause a real drain on the battery life, but that’s something that our future-self will have to deal with; plus, there’s always the option not to join 5G networks, which is one way of negating that problem.
From the front, the iPhone 12 Pro is indistinguishable from the standard iPhone 12, as they share the same dimensions. However, the build is slightly different, with Apple opting to stainless-steel for the edges of the iPhone 12 Pro, which is shinier and, paired with the additional camera and RAM, makes the phone 25g heavier.
The ‘Ceramic Shield’ is a type of glass covering the glorious 6.1 OLED screen and should give some added protection against scratches.
Inky blacks and vibrant colours can be enjoyed on the iPhone 12 Pro display, as well as HDR content. Resolution is the same as the iPhone 12’s, and the screen is bright and easy to view at all angles and even in bright sunlight.
It’s a touch dispiriting to see the refresh rate frozen at 60Hz, considering most other flagship smartphones offer the faster 120Hz, and Apple’s capable of this as such is the case with the iPad Pro. In reality, though, there’s no noticeable lag, and everything is buttery-smooth when it comes to the screen.
There’s no headphones or power adapter in the box, and to benefit from the speedier charging on offer, you’ll need to source a 20W USB-C Power Adapter.
Setting up a new iPhone is intuitive as ever, with step-by-step instructions on-screen. The most you'll need to do is enter your Apple ID, or create one if you’re new to Apple.
The Apple iPhone 12 Pro is a show-stopper of a smartphone, offering stunning design and powerful internals. With Apple’s latest smartphone features, like 5G, MagSafe and a newly designed neural engine coming to all four models, the iPhone 12 Pro doesn’t stand out in the series as anything particularly special.
The extra camera prowess will interest serious content creators, especially those interested in video, but the standard iPhone will bring as much joy for most people. The shiny edges and colour options might tempt some folk, as well as that telephoto lens and LiDAR sensor, but we don't feel it's quite compelling enough to justify spending the extra.
Overall rating: 4.8/5
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