iPhone 12 Pro Quick Review

I’ve had my iPhone 12 Pro for a few weeks now so it’s time to share my experience. I have a 12 Pro in Pacific Blue with 256 GB storage, which is the middle tier. I’m upgrading from a 256 GB iPhone X. As there are plenty of awesome reviews out there if you want something comprehensive, I’ll be focusing on my own experiences. I’ve got an entire section on the camera, since it is the largest upgrade for me, and a section with general notes.

General Notes

  • It feels very similar to my X but the flat sides make it feel more substantial in my hand, in a good way. I feel like I can grip it confidently without it slipping away.
  • Pacific Blue is fine but isn’t as nice as the regular blue of the non-pro iPhone. That said, I have a case on it that covers it, the frosted glass, and super fingerprinty stainless steel edges so it doesn’t really matter. My case is from Totallee, is super-thin, and is working very well so far.
  • Speaking of protection I put a Belkin UltraGlass screen protector on it and it’s great. Thinner than what I had on my X, very smooth, and uses an amazing Easy Align tray. Place the phone into a perfectly molded tray, peel off the plastic on the underside of the screen protector, and fold it over like you’re closing a legal pad. It goes exactly in place with no issues. Awesome!
  • The screen is a bit bigger. There really isn’t any more screen space but things are a tiny bit larger which is pretty nice for my aging eyes. It has better contrast than my X that I find more noticeable than I expected. The X was already good. While it doesn’t have a high refresh rate like the iPad Pro it does feel smoother. Maybe part of my next bullet.
  • Is it fast? Absolutely! Is it noticeably faster than my X? No. That isn’t because the A14 isn’t faster than the A11 (it’s about 60% faster, in fact) it’s because the A11 is so fast as it is. Perhaps the feeling of a better refresh rate is due to super snappy graphics processing.
  • 5G is… well nothing for me. I’m not near any 5G, so I’ll reserve that for the next time I travel (if) to a place that has 5G.

Camera

So overall the design is awesome again and the phone is a great package, but the major thing I expected to get out of it was a set of upgraded cameras and the addition of computational photography to make every shot better. I must say, the iPhone 12 delivers!

In general all of the photos are significantly better than my X. The lenses are better, the image sensors are better, and the post-processing is much better. Colors pop, details are sharp, and photos are optimized to look generally great. Just look at these comparisons.

X on the left and 12 Pro on the right. WAY better sharpness and detail from the 12.
X on the left and 12 Pro on the right. The 12 Pro has much better color rendition and sharper details.
X on the left and 12 Pro on the right. The 12 Pro allows control of background blur in Portrait mode, providing better subject isolation in this shot. I must say that I prefer the color and details from the X in this shot though.

The wide angle lens, while not very sharp, does add a lot of really great options to my shooting choices. It does pretty well in well-lit scenes so I’ve used it a lot outside. It is distorted but that’s partially the point of super wide angle lenses. I’ve used it to grab full shots of tall trees and areas of my neighborhood; things I’d usually use panorama for. I like it far more than I expected and will continue using it frequently. I do like that Apple shows you what is “outside the frame” by using the wider lenses in conjunction with the narrower ones. It has actually reminded me to zoom out for a few shots.

Some examples of my wide-angle adventures so far.

Night Mode is truly exceptional. It requires you to hold still so it can take a number of images and stitch them together; it works pretty well as far as I’ve seen. It’s customizable from 1 to 10 seconds and results in very smooth images with a lot of detail and color, even in extremely dark situations where my iPhone X is just a murky disaster. The iPhone 12 Pro returns usable images and often almost great images.

X on the left and 12 Pro on the right. The difference here is stunning. The Pro turns in better sharpness and more light across the image. Much closer to how I saw it.
X on the left and 12 Pro on the right. This is simply stunning – taking the X’s murky blotchy graveyard and making it actually visible.

Overall I’m really impressed with the image quality of my 12 Pro. Will it replace my SLR? Hell no! But it does provide many more photographic opportunities that I’d otherwise miss (see the top image of this post). Apple’s HDR, Deep Fusion, and Night Mode look really fantastic, even if they occasionally go overboard and border on over-sharpened and saturated HDTV sample images.

As for the phone, it’s great! I still hate cases and I’m still looking for a clear film that can go on the back even though I know it will peel off within a year. Otherwise my phone is pretty awesome and will do me justice over the next year. If you have an iPhone X and want significantly better photos, the 12 Pro is your ticket. If you don’t use the telephoto lens that much and don’t care about ProRAW, save some money and get a regular iPhone 12 with better case colors.

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