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Apple iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro review: A tale of two iPhones

By Kenny Yeo - 24 Oct 2020

Q&A and conclusion

How much are these phones?

Brace your wallets, prices all start above S$1,000. =(

They are not cheap so let's talk a bit about prices.

These are four-figure phones with the most affordable being the iPhone 12 Mini starting at S$1,149. The iPhone 12 Mini follows the prices of last year's iPhone 11 while the iPhone 12 is S$150 more regardless of the capacity you pick – presumably due to its pricier OLED display.

A case could be made for the Pro models offering more value because these phones now come with at least 128GB of storage – double last year's Pro models. Prices have also been reduced for the 256GB and 512GB variants.

iPhone 12 prices
Model iPhone 12 mini iPhone 12 iPhone 12 Pro iPhone 12 Pro Max
64GB S$1,149 S$1,299 - -
128GB S$1,219 S$1,369 S$1,649 S$1,799
256GB S$1,389 S$1,539 S$1,819 S$1,969
512GB S$2,149 S$2,299

iPhone 11 prices

Model iPhone 11 iPhone 11 Pro iPhone 11 Pro Max
64GB S$1,149 S$1,649 S$1,799
128GB S$1,219 - -
256GB S$1,389 S$1,889 S$2,039
512GB S$2,199 S$2,349

 

So do I upgrade from last year’s phones?

Last year's iPhones were one of the best.

This is a question I get asked often when new iPhones come along and I don’t see an urgent need to this year unless there are certain features that you have to have like Dolby Vision recording or support for the upcoming Apple ProRAW.

The iPhone 12 and 12 Pro are better phones than last year’s models, but the difference isn’t tremendous, unlike the jump from 2018’s iPhones to last year’s. But if money is of no concern, then by all means. You’ll be very happy with this year’s iPhones.

 

What if I have something older?

If you have an iPhone XS, XS Max, or XR, this year's new phones are worth upgrading to.

If you have an iPhone from 2018 or older, the answer is a resounding yes. These year’s models are worthy upgrades. Support for 5G aside, compared to the iPhone XS and XS Max, the new phones take much better photos, have better displays, loads of new features, support Wi-Fi 6, and batteries that last longer.

 

iPhone 12 or iPhone 12 Pro?

Decision, decisions...

This year the standard iPhone is even closer to the Pro model. The only things that it misses out on are:

  • Telephoto camera
  • Lidar scanner
  • Dolby Vision record at 4K 60fps
  • Support for upcoming Apple ProRAW
  • 512GB option

You have to ask yourself just how much do you need the above features, because an iPhone 12 Pro with similar amount of storage is a S$280 premium – not what you'd call chump change.

Additionally, another problem, I think, is that unlike last year’s Pro models which were identical to each other, this year’s Pro models are not entirely the same. Unlike the larger iPhone 12 Pro Max, iPhone 12 Pro doesn’t have a larger sensor or sensor-shift image stabilisation, which are big headline features. Consequently, it feels like you’re missing out if you went with the iPhone 12 Pro.

 

Should I wait for the iPhone 12 Mini and iPhone 12 Pro Max?

The iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max in gold.

If you prefer a more compact phone that'll slide into pockets easily, then the iPhone 12 Mini looks like it could be a great choice. It's said to be even smaller than the iPhone SE and I think it's a real breath of fresh air, especially now when everyone seems to be obsessed with larger screen sizes.

For photography enthusiasts, I think the iPhone 12 Pro Max could be worth holding out for. The larger sensor and better image stabilisation technology could lead to better photos especially in the dark. And even if it isn't a dark, a larger sensor is likely to give better images anyway.

At any rate, the wait isn't terribly long. The iPhone 12 Mini and iPhone 12 Pro Max will be available for pre-order soon on 6 November 2020, 9pm SGT, and will go on sale on 13 November 2020.

For more buying and selecting tips, check out our iPhone 12 buying guide.

 

Final thoughts

So, some 5,000 words later, how do I feel about these two phones?

They are undeniably solid phones. Performance is class-leading, build is first-rate, 5G is good if you live in an area with coverage, it takes nice photos and videos, and battery life is decent too. I also like the way it looks.

They cost a lot but they are also supremely competent phones. You get what you pay for.

Cynics will say they aren’t that much different from last year’s models and they would be mostly right. But then, the same could be said for just about any phone released this year. Fact is, phones have come to a point where you are just not going to see huge leaps in performance and features year-on-year. What I will concede, however, is that they are very expensive. If I looked at the price chart above without model names, I would have thought I was looking at the prices of notebooks.

Prices of flagship phones are pretty nuts these days but such is the world we live in. But the way to think about it is that for a device that is such a huge part of our lives, it makes sense to get the best you can afford and then use it for as long as you can. Yup, these are great phones and I think owners will be very happy with their purchases.

iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro final ratings

iPhone 12

Click to see the score breakdown

iPhone 12 Pro

Click to see the score breakdown

 

***Read next***

1) iPhone 12 telco price plan comparison
2) iPhone 12 buying guide
3) 12 cases to consider for your new iPhone 12

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