The iPhone 12 series marks the moment when Apple jumped on the 5G bandwagon, as until now, Apple was a little behind the curve.
Although 5G promises to bring uncompromised speed and connectivity, only some areas have deployed 5G masts. However, it’s still one way to futureproof your phone as more cities join.
Along with 5G, Apple debuted MagSafe, a connection that paves the way for an entire ecosystem of magnetic accessories, many of which will enable speedier charging. There are MagSafe chargers, cases and wallets both from Apple and other third-party accessory manufacturers.
Performance has been upgraded from the iPhone 11 series, with the introduction of the A14 Bionic chipset, which boldly claims to outperform all smartphone competition across the board.
Strangely, Apple harks back to the excellent iPhone 4 and 5 with its more box-like design and flat edges, but for the first time ever, it won’t ship with a power adapter or headphones. Why? It’s part of Apple’s sustainability efforts to reduce its carbon footprint.
It’s built from recycled parts, too, and Apple uses renewable energy sources during the assembly process.
Along with most of the hardware, the camera remains much the same as its forebearer, though there have been some improvements.
The iPhone 12 sits alongside the iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12 Pro, and iPhone 12 Pro Max and might just hit the sweet spot.
If you’re still not sure after reading our review, compare the iPhone 12 vs mini vs Pro vs Pro Max in our guide.
- Apple iPhone 12 review: summary
- What is the Apple iPhone 12?
- How much is the Apple iPhone 12?
- Apple iPhone 12 features and performance
- Apple iPhone 12 camera
- Apple iPhone 12 battery
- Apple iPhone 12 design and set-up
- Our verdict
- Where to buy
The iPhone 12 is the most up-to-date iPhone with 5G and, unlike the iPhone 11, it’s graced with a stunning OLED screen, or what Apple calls ‘super Retina XDR’. It might omit a third telephoto camera, no optical zoom, but with the latest hardware and solid battery life, it’s the crowd-pleaser of the iPhone 12 series. There’s nothing about the iPhone 12 that’s so compelling to upgrade if you already have an iPhone 11. It scores highly in all areas: 5G is good to have, MagSafe is pretty convenient too, but if you need an upgrade, you won’t be disappointed.
Price: £799 (64GB)
- SuperRetina XDR display
- 6.1-inch OLED screen
- IP68 (waterproof up to 6 metres)
- Apple A14 Bionic Chip
- Dual 12MP camera, plus 12MP selfie camera
- Waterproof, IP68
- iOS 14
- MagSafe compatible
- Stunning OLED screen
- Enhanced camera
- Excellent battery life
- More sustainable design
- 5G ready
- Cool MagSafe addition
- Pricier than iPhone 11
- No USB-C port
- No power cable in the box
- No third telephoto camera
The iPhone 12 is the base level from Apple’s 2020 smartphone line-up. It comes loaded with the new A14 Bionic chip, 5G, and a stunning OLED screen, which is an upgrade from the LCD screen found on the iPhone 11. The camera sees a slight improvement, but it’s much the same as iPhone 11, and there’s no telephoto third camera. The iPhone 12 will be the top choice for most people looking to have Apple’s latest technology in their hands. It’s got a decent battery life, is a good size for most, and the boxy design is charming, giving a fresh feel from recent models.
What does the Apple iPhone 12 do?
- Takes stunning photography employing software skills and image stacking
- Shoots 4K video with Dolby Atmos
- Fast unlocks and optimum security with FaceID
- Allows for gaming and heavy usage with Bionic A14 chip at its core
- Lasts a full day off a charge
- MagSafe offers peak power wireless charging
- Attaches to a number of MagSafe accessories
- Makes use of 5G as and when it’s available
Is the Apple iPhone 12 good value for money?
The iPhone 12 sees about a £70 price hike from the iPhone 11, and there’s an argument to say there’s not a whole lot that makes it compelling enough to upgrade.
For instance, 5G is great, but it’s not of much use if it’s not available in your area. MagSafe is cool but by no means life-affirming. The camera is marginally better, but there’s little in it if you’re coming from an iPhone 11.
The screen, however, is a big step up. It’s really about time that an OLED screen was found on the base level iPhone; whether or not that’s worth the extra depends on what matters to you. It’s not unreasonable, and to future-proof your phone, it’s probably worth it.
The iPhone 12 is the default iPhone that benefits from a boost in performance, design, camera, plus 5G and MagSafe.
This is going to be the utilitarian iPhone to please the majority of Apple fans. The 12 Mini might be too small for some, the iPhone 12 Pro — too expensive, and the 12 Pro Max — totally excessive.
The A14 Bionic Chip is a beast, and the 4GB RAM (which iOS does an excellent job of managing) will allow for long gaming sessions, plus hopping between work tasks and social apps without a hiccup.
Benchmark scores obliterate anything you’ll find from top Android alternatives, and we found things to run extremely smoothly.
Apple iPhone 12 is packed full of 5G bands (more than many of its rivals), so when a signal is available, you’ll be able to take advantage of that, including the seriously fast millimetre wave spectrum, which has rolled out in some US cities.
Apple iPhone 12 ships with iOS 14, which brings many worthy additions that work like a dream on this model. There’s a new translate app, picture-in-picture, plus Apple’s new storage solution, the App Library. Many apps also offer widgets that you can customise the size and placement of on the screen, giving you more control over screen layout.
The iPhone 12 dual-camera set up consists of a main 12MP f/1.6 wide-angle camera, which is a step up from its predecessor. The smaller aperture will allow more light to reach the sensor. The other 12MP camera is an ultra-wide lens ideal for sweeping landscapes and group shots.
The biggest improvements are via Apple’s incredibly capable camera software thanks to the A14 Bionic Chip.
Night Mode on the iPhone 12 is something to behold, and it even works with the selfie camera, something we’re yet to see on any previous iPhone series.
Apple combines multiple frames together in what it calls Smart HDR 3, which optimises photographs by processing data, recognising faces and objects, and merging multiple takes into the best single shot.
Both cameras take advantage of these new software features, so even ultra-wide photos look decent at night, though they are still a tad grainy on closer inspection, but it’s still a huge leap forward than what we’ve had previously.
Record up to 4K at 60fps video in 10-bit HDR and Dolby Vision which results in really punchy colours and can be viewed on HDR displays, but it’s capped at 4K 30fps, so you’ll need the iPhone 12 Pro if that’s too slow for you, but it’ll do just fine for most.
On paper, the iPhone 12 houses a 2,815mAh battery, smaller than the iPhone 11’s 3,110mAh cell, but it’s not quite as simple as that because the A14 Bionic chip does a better job at optimizing battery life. That said, it’s still a slight step down in terms of longevity.
The good news is that it’s not really a deal-breaker, as the iPhone 12 gives plenty before it’s exhausted. A day is easily doable without having to reach for the charger. However, it does fall short when considering cheaper Android competition, but it’s an improvement from iPhones of yonder.
In terms of charging, as we mentioned earlier, there’s no power adapter in the box. All you get is a USB-C to Lightning cable, so you’re going to have to purchase the correct adapter if you don’t already own one. Yours for £19 from Apple, but you can also purchase one from third-party suppliers.
If you really want to splash out, the rather neat disc-shaped MagSafe charger (£39) provides fast wireless charging at 15W, but any Qi charger will do the trick.
The iPhone 12 series is built from aluminium and glass with the screen coated in what Apple has named ‘Ceramic Shield’, a material that is a glass-ceramic hybrid. This new material is more robust, so dropping it shouldn’t be the catastrophe it once was.
The whole design has been upgraded with flatter edges, and it’s really attractive and reasonably comfortable to hold, too.
It’s smaller, narrower and 32g lighter than its forerunner and is really a beautifully designed device, even if it does lack the all-screen wow factor we’ve seen from Android flagships.
With an IP68 rating, it can be submerged 6 metres for 30 minutes and is less likely to be water-damaged.
The notch continues to blight the 6.1-inch display, which is graced with a high-contrast OLED display which is a big improvement from iPhone 11’s LCD screen and a feature usually reserved for ‘Pro’ models. HDR content really packs a punch, and it makes viewing regular photos and videos a pleasure too.
Apple omits the fingerprint sensor, which would’ve been handy, not least for the fact our faces are often half-covered.
The Lightning port remains at the bottom of the device as opposed to the newer and more widely-used USB-C port.
Within the back of the handset lies the new MagSage technology, which comprises a ring of magnets that helps accessories, such as the MagSafe charger, to seamlessly align to the phone. It opens up a whole host of other MagSafe accessories.
The iPhone 11 was the one-size-fits-all iPhone of last year, and the iPhone 12, in some ways, offers a touch of ‘Pro’ style, owing to that glorious OLED display.
It’s future-proofed with 5G compatibility and Apple fastest A14 Bionic chip, and MagSafe is a funky addition too, but this might not be a compelling enough case to upgrade. For a small chunk less cash, there’s every possibility that the iPhone 11 will satisfy your needs and maybe even last a bit longer on a charge.
The new design is a welcome change from the smooth curves, which have become somewhat homogeneous on iPhone and many smartphone rivals. It’s smaller than the iPhone 11 with a larger screen too, which is another win for the iPhone 12.
If you need the latest and greatest and aren’t fussed about the extra camera powers of the iPhone 12 Pro, then the iPhone 12 is a crowd-pleaser, which performs on just about every level.
Overall star rating: 4.5
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