KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 10 — The general advice, when it comes to the iPhones of the last couple of years is that the base model is considered “enough” for most people and the Pros are for, well, pros.
My friend in Australia was torn between getting a discounted Samsung S20 or the iPhone 12 and I told him that he’d probably be better off with the 11 Pro if he could get it on discount.
It’s not that there’s anything wrong with the iPhone 12 series. It’s great, if you like iPhones. If you’re upgrading from a series 7 or series 8, I’d definitely say the 12 makes sense.
My main problem with the iPhone 12 series is, apart from the iPhone 12 mini that I practically proposed to, is there just isn’t enough of a difference from the iPhone 11 series.
Also, I think the midnight green iPhone 11 Pro was prettier than this year’s pacific blue.
What I love about the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro
Every year Apple upgrades its processors and they’re always noticeably more powerful than the last — transferring my monstrously large app collection was faster than usual and the difference in speed was very obvious.
From the mini to the 12 to the Pro, you get that same power upgrade with the A14 Bionic chips. I wouldn’t be surprised if one day we’ll end up launching space probes powered by Apple processors.
While Apple didn’t make a fuss about its speakers this time around, there is a noted tweak to the sound quality. It’s something you notice if you, like me, let your phone play music as you do chores. The sound is louder and crisper, which I appreciate since I live right next to a noisy highway.
The design? Well, it’s notably a throwback but the oblong flat design is a lot easier to grip and out of a casing, it’s very nice to look at.
However the new more shatter-resistant display is not very scratch resistant. If you’re getting an iPhone 12, get a screen protector ASAP. I know someone who scratched the screen trying to apply a screen protector.
Otherwise they all also have the very lush Super Retina OLED screens though for some reason, they’re not super-viewable outside in the sun so I’d suggest a matte screen protector.
The camera is a big improvement. There’s a lot more detail in low light, skin colours remain vibrant and at least the front camera offers portrait mode on all the models, as well as night mode on all the rear cameras, making the iPhone 12 even better value.
As per usual, Apple seems to be allergic to the idea of more optical zoom but has added a smidgen more on the iPhone 12 Pro Max where you now get the equivalent of 2.5x zoom. It’s nice, yes, but arguably you could still live without it.
What I don’t like about the new iPhones
When I first tried to transfer data over to the new phones, I encountered overheating on the Pro Max, to the point I wasn’t allowed to use the phone until it cooled down.
The other phones, the iPhone mini included, also got very hot but in my case, an iOS update seemed to have fixed the issue.
As for the MagSafe charging, I have mixed feelings about it. I find it can work on non-MagSafe certified cases but only if you lie the charger flat and you have to keep adjusting it until the charger connects.
The added (high) costs but hard-to-demonstrate benefits on going the MagSafe route also makes me rather sceptical. It doesn’t charge much faster; I use an under-RM50 Taobao-purchased wireless charger with no issues and not much difference in speed.
To buy or not to buy
There’s no denying the iPhone 12 series comprises the best iPhones right now. For most people, I’d say the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini are probably the better choices, with the Pro models more suited for people who use the camera frequently.
With the Pro models, you also get an additional LIDAR (light detection and ranging) sensor on the camera that allows for better depth sensing, improved low light capability and improved augmentic reality capability.
However, if you’re on the 11 models, I don’t really see a need to upgrade unless you’ve wanted a small iPhone forever.
In the meantime, perhaps it’s worth waiting for next year’s to see if they can manage to make a cooler processor and perhaps finally embrace more zoom than 2x.
The new Apple iPhones are available online and at official resellers as well as telcos with the iPhone 12 starting from RM3,899 and the iPhone 12 Pro starting from RM4,899.