iPhone 12 review – Apple’s first 5G mobile is the biggest upgrade in YEARS
APPLE’S first 5G iPhone is here – and it’s as fast and furious as you’d expect.
I’ve been testing the nippy blower for about a week, and it’s clear this is the biggest upgrade in years
What is the iPhone 12?
The iPhone 12 is one of four new models launched in October 2020.
You’ve also got the cheaper iPhone 12 Mini, and the pricier iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max.
All four models are the first to support super-fast 5G internet, though you’ll need a 5G SIM too.
And the iPhone 12 is in stores on Friday, October 23 for £799.
iPhone 12 design
The iPhone 12 has a brand new design that will feel familiar.
That’s because the curved edges are gone – in favour of a squared-off look first introduced back with the iPhone 4.
It feels nice and easy to hold, and somehow manages to be thinner and lighter too.
There are five colours available: white, black, blue, green and red.
And there’s a new Ceramic Shield coating on the front to reduce breakages.
Apple reckons you’re 4x less likely to break the screen, though you should probably avoid putting that to the test.
There’s a huge 6.1-inch screen that squeezes into every corner of the iPhone – so it’s not too big to hold.
And it’s the first time the regular iPhone has an OLED Super Retina XDR screen, usually only available on “Pro” phones.
It looks great, and lets you watch telly in HDR10 and Dolby Vision.
The display is also plenty bright (1,200 nits if you care), so you’ll be able to watch Netflix at the beach on a sunny day with no bother.
iPhone 12 box
Much of Apple’s gadget handiwork has been overshadowed by the fact that the charging plug is missing from the box.
In fact, the box is roughly half the size of before – which is probably a good thing, given that excessive packaging is one of the great evils of our time.
Apple’s move away from chargers has been rumoured for months, so geeks have had plenty of time to chew over the move.
I was initially sceptical: it seems like a total money-grab at first.
But when you really think about it, the environmental argument is convincing.
Around 1.5billion smartphones shipped last year, and with other gadgets, you’re probably looking at many more times that – all with chargers in the box.
This happens year in, year out, and doesn’t even count for third-party chargers being bought and sold.
Our drawers and houses fill up with chargers, and many are simply chucked away. All of this e-waste is seriously unsustainable.
You’ll probably have an old iPhone Lightning cable and plug lying around.
And new plugs are discounted to £19, which will work with the cable in the iPhone 12 box.
Besides, your iPhone also supports wireless charging, so it’s probably time to invest one of the many cheap charger-pads anyway.
iPhone 12 specs, features and battery life
First up, the iPhone 12 is 5G-ready – though you’ll need a 5G SIM too.
It’s next-gen mobile internet that offers super-fast speeds, though coverage is still limited to large towns and cities for now.
But expect much wider reach (and even faster speeds) over the next few years.
With 4G, you’d expect something like 25-45Mbps.
With the iPhone 12, I was getting 200Mbps in a London suburb, although you’ll probably reach double that in some areas.
Apps, games and movies will download in an instant. Loading is a thing of the past.
The iPhone 12 is also powered by the extremely fast A14 Bionic chip.
It’s arguably one of the fastest processors in any smartphone: I experienced zero lag or janky apps during use.
Another big innovation this year is MagSafe.
It’s a new magnetic coil in the back of the iPhone that lets it line up perfectly with MagSafe wireless chargers.
Apple is flogging two at the moment: a single one, and a Duo that charges your Apple Watch too.
It’s a neat idea, and works well – I’ve found myself using MagSafe more than the charging cable, because it’s less faff. Who wants faff?
But it gets better: Apple is opening up MagSafe so people can make accessories for them.
There are already official Apple items, including a snap-on card holder, and quick-attach cases that also support wireless charging.
Battery life is good: I’m making it comfortably through a day of use so far, even off WiFi.
And the iPhone 12 runs on iOS 14, which includes a redesigned Home Screen that’s easier to keep tidy – as well as a much better version of Apple Maps.
iPhone 12 camera
The back of the iPhone 12 has two cameras like before, but with a redesigned system.
There’s a wide camera with a larger aperture to let more light in – as well as a new 7-element lens.
Simply put, you’ll be able to take better snaps when lighting is poor.
You should also get brighter photos with less noise, giving you the edge on Instagram.
Alongside this is an ultra-wide camera with a massive 120-degree field of view.
Basically every photo you take on ultra-wide looks amazing, simply because we’re not used to smartphones capturing so much of a scene.
Night Mode is back and even better, letting you take bright nighttime shots without flash.
And the iPhone 12 also gets Deep Fusion, which analyses and improves every pixel in your photos.
There’s a new Smart HDR3 feature that optimises your photos depending on what you’re snapping – like a person or a plate of food.
And Portrait Mode has had some tweaks to better capture glasses and hair.
Video is rarely mentioned, but TikTok and YouTube are unstoppable – so the iPhone 12 could help you become a star.
You can shoot in 4K Dolby Vision, which is mind-blowing for a phone camera.
iPhone 12 review verdict – should you buy it?
In technology, we always talk about “trickle down”.
Amazing features usually appear on the most expensive gadgets first, before making their way to budget-friendly gear.
And the iPhone 12 is benefitting from loads of trickle-down tech.
You’ve got a smashing OLED screen that has only ever appeared on “Pro” iPhones.
And the handset supports full 5G, a feature that’s only now appearing on cheaper mobiles.
The processor inside this phone is the same that powers the more expensive Pro model, and the camera borrows many of the same tricks.
With some bonus tricks like MagSafe accessories and a much tougher screen, this is the biggest iPhone upgrade in years.
At £799, it’s not a bad price too – as you’re getting most of the iPhone 12 Pro features, but for £200 less.
And you'll probably find the charger issue sounds worse than it is – as you've probably already got a bunch of chargers.
Normally I’d warn against upgrading an iPhone after just a year or two, but with the addition of 5G, this is very tempting.
Of course, you should check if you’ve got 5G coverage in your area using our handy guide here.
The Sun says: The iPhone 12 is a great all-rounder with amazing features for the price. If you’ve been waiting to upgrade, now’s the time. 5/5
- iPhone 12 at Amazon for £799 – buy here
- iPhone 12 at Best Buy from $799 – buy here
In other news, read our guide to 5G here.
Check out the best 5G SIM deals right now.
And find out if 5G is in your area.
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