I've been using the new iPhone 12 - it's dramatically different from its predecessors
- Apple's iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro bring big changes like 5G support, a refreshed design, and cameras that are better at seeing in the dark.
- While 5G has been touted as the main attraction of Apple's new iPhones, the upgrade to 5G isn't a change most people will notice right away.
- Aside from 5G, the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro come with a bunch of small changes that together make for a noticeably different pair of iPhones that are a step up from their predecessors.
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Apple's new iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro are launching this Friday, bringing changes like 5G support, a refreshed design, improved cameras, and a new bigger screen size for the Pro model.
Apple pointed to 5G as being the biggest change coming to its new crop of iPhones during its launch event on October 13. Just before unveiling the new phones, Apple CEO Tim Cook called 5G "the most exciting step yet" for the iPhone in terms of leaps forward in cellular network technology.
Whether 5G will make a big difference in the way you use your phone each day is still up for debate. That's because next-generation 5G networks still aren't nearly as common and widespread as 4G LTE. And the type of 5G that is widely available is typically only moderately faster than 4G LTE.
But 5G aside, even after using Apple's new iPhones just for a few minutes, I can tell it feels like a much more substantial upgrade than we've seen in the past two years of iPhone releases. The updated design and refreshed screen sizes make Apple's iPhone lineup feel newer than it has in years.
After spending a few hours with the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro, here are some of my immediate first impressions.
The design is very different from the iPhone 11 and iPhone XS lineups'.
The first thing you'll notice when unboxing the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro is their new look. Both models feature smooth, flat edges that make them almost feel like a cross between last year's iPhone 11 and the iPhone 5 from 2013.
On the iPhone 12, these edges are made from aluminum, while the iPhone 12 Pro has surgical-grade stainless steel edges.
In addition to giving the iPhone 12 lineup a new look, the bigger edges also make it easier to securely grip the new phones compared to the rounded edges on the iPhone 11 and iPhone XS families.
The iPhone 12 is noticeably lighter than its predecessor, too.
Despite having thicker and more pronounced edges, Apple's iPhone 12 is actually lighter than its predecessor. The new model weighs 163g, while the iPhone 11 weighs 193g.
The iPhone 12 Pro, on the other hand, is just slightly heavier than the 188g iPhone 11 Pro at 189g.
This is more than just a difference on paper; the discrepancy is actually palpable when holding the two devices, making the iPhone 12 easier to use and hold in one hand compared to last year's model.
That goes for the packaging as well.
Apple is nixing its EarPod wired headphones and charging adapter from the iPhone's packaging for the first time, resulting in a much more compact box.
Take a look at the box for the iPhone 12 above alongside the packaging for the iPhone 11, and you'll notice its much slimmer.
The iPhone 12 Pro also has a bigger display compared to the iPhone 11 Pro.
Apple introduced its edge-to-edge screen design back in 2017 with the iPhone X, and the iPhone 12 family may represent the biggest improvement on this design yet.
The iPhone 12 Pro now has a more expansive 6.1-inch display compared to the iPhone 11 Pro's 5.8-inch screen since Apple was able to reduce the display's surrounding borders. Even though the iPhone 12 technically has the same-sized screen as the iPhone 11, its notch cutout for the selfie camera as well as the thin black border surrounding its display are also much slimmer.
This gives the iPhone 12 a more premium look, making it feel more like a high-end device than last year's iPhone 11, which seemed like a follow-up to the budget friendly iPhone XR.
The addition of Apple's OLED Super Retina XDR display on the iPhone 12 is an appreciated upgrade.
The iPhone 12 also got a major upgrade when it comes to its display. It has Apple's Super Retina XDR OLED display just like its pricier Pro sibling, and unlike the iPhone 11 which has an LCD display.
OLED screens typically offer better contrast, bolder colours, and deeper black tones than LCD screens. Even just after spending a brief period with the iPhone 12, I've begun to notice this change in certain apps, particularly on apps and websites with dark backgrounds.
When reading a story in Apple news that consisted of white text against a black backdrop, for example, I noticed the white text looked slightly bolder and more crisp on the iPhone 12 compared to the iPhone 11.
The iPhone 12 Pro is also better at taking photos in the dark compared to the iPhone 11 Pro.
Apple's Night Mode feature is getting a big update this year. Both the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro have an improved aperture that makes it possible to take in more light. The Pro model gets a bonus with a LiDAR sensor that can help it autofocus even more quickly in the dark.
Here's a photo in a dark room taken with the iPhone 11 Pro.
And here's the same photo taken on the new iPhone 12 Pro.
You'll notice that the photo taken with the iPhone 12 Pro is a bit brighter than that taken on the iPhone 11 Pro.
All told, the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro's updated design and refreshed screen sizes make Apple's iPhone lineup feel newer than it has in years.
The new designs are their most striking change, but the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro otherwise come with a bunch of small improvements that that make them an overall step up from their predecessors. The addition of 5G support likely won't matter much for now, but it'll ensure that your phone won't feel obsolete once 5G does become the norm.
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