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Apple iPhone 12 Pro review: Back to the future

New iPhone 12 takes inspiration from the decade-old iPhone 4, but have to say, Apple has done a fine job of refining the design language.
Last Updated : 10 November 2020, 20:15 IST

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Recently, Apple released the company's latest premium mobile iPhone 12 Pro in India.

The new iPhone 12 Pro comes with a new design, powerful Apple 14 Bionic chipset and better camera hardware compared to the predecessor iPhone 11 Pro series.

I have been using the iPhone 12 Pro for a week and here are my thoughts.

Design, build quality and display:

The iPhone 12 Pro comes with a new but familiar design and long-time iPhone users will instantly notice it. The new iPhone is reminiscent of the old iPhone 4 but better.

It has smooth flat edges with curved corners, while the surgical grade stainless steel frame and the glass display, stay flush front and back. Our Pacific Blue review model looks gorgeous in the sunlight. It also comes in three other colours-- gold, silver and graphite.

On the back, it has a dual-tone shell with glossy camera module bump and the rest is covered by frosted glass with a matte finish and is said to be protected by sturdy glass custom built by Apple-Corning collaboration. It is same as seen in the iPhone 11 Pro but still better than any other branded mobiles in the market.

On the front, both the companies have gone a notch higher by building stronger Ceramic Shield for the display. It has undergone high-temperature crystallisation step that grows nano-ceramic crystals within the glass matrix, increases drop performance by four times compared to the predecessor.

The iPhone 12 Pro will be able to resist scratches from keys or coins in the pocket and even survive a fall from normal pant pocket height of around three and a half feet.

Apple iPhone 12 Pro.  Credit: DH Photo/KVN Rohit​​​​​​
Apple iPhone 12 Pro. Credit: DH Photo/KVN Rohit​​​​​​

Add to that, the new Apple mobile comes with 1P68 certification and survive for up to 6 metres (more than 19 feet) underwater close to 30 minutes.

Having said that, It's still made of metal and glass; one crash on a rough concrete surface can ruin the visual appeal of the phone, even though it can function. So, I urge users to buy a good cover for the back and a display guard. One good option is Apple's MagSafe compatible shell guard, which doesn't need to be removed while wireless charging.

MagSafe compatible Apple shell-cover with iPhone 12 Pro. Credit: DH Photo/KVN Rohit
MagSafe compatible Apple shell-cover with iPhone 12 Pro. Credit: DH Photo/KVN Rohit

Speaking of MagSafe, Apple has incorporated an array of magnets just under the shell around the Apple logo. They come handy for hassle-free wireless charging via MagSafe charger and attach accessories such card wallet and others.

Apple iPhone 12 Pro is slightly bigger than the 5.8-inch iPhone 11 Pro (review). The former flaunts 6.1-inch OLED Super Retina XDR (2532x1170p) screen with pixel density 460 ppi (pixels per inch), True Tone display technology, wide colour display (P3), haptic touch, offer peak brightness up to 1,200 nits and 2,000,000: 1 contrast ratio.

Apple iPhone 12 Pro. Credit: DH Photo/KVN Rohit
Apple iPhone 12 Pro. Credit: DH Photo/KVN Rohit

The display is really bright, offers rich colour, show true black, support higher peak brightness for HDR content. I had a wonderful time playing graphics-rich games and TV series on OTT apps.

Performance:

The iPhone 12 Pro comes with industry-first 5nm class processor chip-- Apple A14 Bionic (6-core CPU + 4-core GPU). It comes equipped with 11.8 billion transistors, which promises 40% more speeds while increasing efficiency for great battery life compared to the previous generation. Also, it is said to be 50% faster and offer better performance compared to any other chipsets seen on Android mobiles in the market.

It comes paired with a 16-core Neural Engine and promises 11 trillion operations per second, 80% faster in-phone neural performance and up to 70% faster machine learning accelerators.

Apple iPhone 12 Pro. Credit: DH Photo/KVN Rohit
Apple iPhone 12 Pro. Credit: DH Photo/KVN Rohit

Add to that, it comes with a new ISP (Image Signal Processor) that enables the iPhone 12 Pro to record 4K HDR recording with Dolby Vision standard.

During the testing period, the iPhone 12 Pro performed buttery smooth without any slightest sign of lag-ness while doing any tasks including playing the graphics-rich game such as Samurai Jack.

Samurai Jack game on Apple iPhone 12 Pro. Credit: DH Photo/KVN Rohit
Samurai Jack game on Apple iPhone 12 Pro. Credit: DH Photo/KVN Rohit

Apple is offering iPhone 12 Pro with a base storage of 128GB, a first for an iPhone to date. Previously, it used to start with 64GB and even now, the standard iPhone 12 comes with same memory space (64GB along with 128GB and 256GB variants).

Only the Pro series comes with double the storage for a base model and there are 256GB and 512GB models to choose for the customers.

Though the company don't publish the battery details of the iPhone 12 series, they do reveal that the latter can play a video for up to 17 hours on a stretch under lab condition.

Apple iPhone 12 Pro and MagSafe wireless charger. Credit: DH Photo/KVN Rohit
Apple iPhone 12 Pro and MagSafe wireless charger. Credit: DH Photo/KVN Rohit

But in real-world circumstances, the new Apple mobile was able to last more than 16 hours of my active hours. I usually at 7:00 am and be active at least till 11:00 pm. In between, I spent an average of five hours and forty-nine minutes on the iPhone to receiving phone calls, reply to messages on WhatsApp, play games, scroll through social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, and only for testing I indulge in playing games, take photos and watch a few trailers on YouTube on 1080p resolution. So, under normal usage, the iPhone 12 Pro will last all day.

From this year onwards, Apple in a bid to cut down on carbon footprint, the company will no longer offer power adaptor and earphones. The retail package is less than the half the size of the predecessor and comes with just lightning -to- USB-C cable and a user guide along with warranty papers. This applies to all the older iPhone models on sale too.

So, iPhone 12 Pro users have to make do with the older iPhone's charger or buy a new one for Rs 1,900 (20W USB-C).

I also tested the MagSafe charger. It comes with powerful magnets and instantly sticks to the iPhone 12 Pro's central part where the Apple logo is engraved. It is sleek like an Air Hockey puck but holds on to the phone tightly.

During the charging process, it does get warm but it never overheats to extreme levels. Also, it takes longer than wired charging to fully charge the iPhone from zero to 100% power.

MagSafe charger attached on the back of the Apple iPhone 12 Pro. Credit: DH Photo/KVN Rohit
MagSafe charger attached on the back of the Apple iPhone 12 Pro. Credit: DH Photo/KVN Rohit

For me, it is not a deal-breaker, as I usually keep the iPhone for charging overnight with Optimised Charging feature enabled on the mobile (Settings >> Battery >> Battery Health >> Optimised Battery Charging).

This mode will make the iPhone battery's chemical composition don't degrade faster and hold maximum power capacity for longer.

Camera:

Apple iPhone 12 Pro's camera sample. Credit: DH Photo/KVN Rohit
Apple iPhone 12 Pro's camera sample. Credit: DH Photo/KVN Rohit

Apple iPhone 12 Pro come with triple 12MP sensors-- Ultra Wide (f/2.4, 120-degree field of view) + Wide (f/1.6) + Telephoto (f/2.0) camera.

Apple iPhone 12 Pro's camera sample. Credit: DH Photo/KVN Rohit
Apple iPhone 12 Pro's camera sample. Credit: DH Photo/KVN Rohit

With improved OIS (Optical Image Stabilisation) and f/1.6 aperture on Wide lens, iPhone 12 Pro's camera now can absorb 27% more light and capture better Night mode photos compared to the predecessor (iPhone 11 Pro's Wide sensor as f/1.8).

Apple iPhone 12 Pro's camera sample. Credit: DH Photo/KVN Rohit
Apple iPhone 12 Pro's camera sample. Credit: DH Photo/KVN Rohit

The main 52mm Telephoto lens takes top quality portrait images with better edge detection around the subject and there is a clear distinction between the foreground and the background of the scene. Even the ultra-wide-angle snaps too, more detailed information are captured.

Apple iPhone 12 Pro's camera sample shot with ultra-wide-angle mode. while on the moving car. Credit: DH Photo/KVN Rohit
Apple iPhone 12 Pro's camera sample shot with ultra-wide-angle mode. while on the moving car. Credit: DH Photo/KVN Rohit

The iPhone 12 Pro can do 4K video recording at 24 fps, 30 fps or 60 fps, HDR video recording with Dolby Vision up to 60 fps, Optical Image stabilisation Audio Zoom, QuickTake video, slow-motion video support up to 1080p at 120fps/240fps/, Night Mode Time-Lapse, Stereo Recording and more.

Apple iPhone 12 Pro's camera sample. Credit: DH Photo/KVN Rohit
Apple iPhone 12 Pro's camera sample. Credit: DH Photo/KVN Rohit

With the new ISP and improved Deep Fusion technology, the computational photography capability of the iPhone 12 Pro has gone a notch up over the predecessor. It takes stunning pictures in all light conditions.

Apple's computational photography software Deep Fusion at work on iPhone 12 Pro. You can see the minute details including hairs (stellate) Brinjal leaf.                         Credit: DH Photo/KVN Rohit
Apple's computational photography software Deep Fusion at work on iPhone 12 Pro. You can see the minute details including hairs (stellate) Brinjal leaf. Credit: DH Photo/KVN Rohit

I can safely bet that iPhone 12 Pro has the best camera on a phone in the market. It can only be beaten by its bigger sibling 12 Pro Max, which happens to come with 65mm Telephoto lens (1.7 μm pixels).

The iPhone 12 Pro also boasts LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) scanner. It sits just below the ultra-wide sensor and this enables the mobile in understanding the depth of the space and also improves the auto-focus by six times in the low-light condition.

Apple iPhone 12 Pro's camera sample with Night Mode on. Credit: DH Photo/KVN Rohit
Apple iPhone 12 Pro's camera sample with Night Mode on. Credit: DH Photo/KVN Rohit

Furthermore, it comes handy in playing Augmented Reality (AR) games and also enhance e-commerce shopping. For instance, it can help the phone to develop 3D depth map of a living room and place a furniture model, and give a real sense of space the latter can occupy in a particular part of the house. Also, the popular utility measure app will be able to give out results of the height of a person, or length of a wall more accurately than before.

Apple iPhone 12 Pro's camera sample. Credit: DH Photo/KVN Rohit
Apple iPhone 12 Pro's camera sample. Credit: DH Photo/KVN Rohit

Another 'iPhone Pro' only feature is the Apple ProRAW. It combines Apple’s multi-frame image processing and computational photography with the versatility of a RAW format. Users can experience full creative control over colour, detail, and dynamic range natively on iPhone or with other professional photo editing apps, the company said. This feature is coming in a software update later this year.

Apple iPhone 12 Pro's camera sample. Credit: DH Photo/KVN Rohit
Apple iPhone 12 Pro's camera sample. Credit: DH Photo/KVN Rohit

On the front, it has 12MP TrueDepth camera with f/2,2 aperture, Retina flash, Smart HDR v3.0, Portrait mode with advanced bokeh and Depth Control, six lighting effects (Natural, Studio, Contour, Stage, Stage Mono, High-Key Mono), Cinematic video stabilisation (4K, 1080p and 720p), HDR video recording with Dolby Vision up to 30 fps, Slow-motion video support for 1080p at 120 fps, Night mode, Deep Fusion, QuickTake video, Animoji and Memoji.

Apple iPhone 12 Pro's camera sample. Credit: DH Photo/KVN Rohit
Apple iPhone 12 Pro's camera sample. Credit: DH Photo/KVN Rohit

The iPhone 12 Pro is the first iPhone to boast night mode on the front camera. It takes really good selfie pictures in the dark. Though it shows up some noise in the resultant picture, it is really less compared to other rival premium phones in the market.

Also, the FaceID continues to be the gold standard biometric security in the industry. It was able to recognise every single time at all light condition even in the pitch darkness in the night. Also, if I am wearing a mask, it automatically shows up the passcode tab on the phone for faster screen unlocking.

Final thoughts: Back to the future

As said earlier, the new iPhone 12 takes inspiration from the decade-old iPhone 4, but have to say, Apple has done a fine job of refining the design language. Add to that, it has incorporated sturdiest glass shield on the display, which sits flushed inside the strong stainless frame enclosure. Also, the camera hardware is just top-notch and undeniably the best in the market.

With 5G support, the iPhone 12 Pro is a future-ready phone for the Indian consumers. The powerful A14 Bionic chipset and long-term iOS software support will make sure the device perform smoothly for at least next four to five years.

Apple iPhone 12 Pro. Credit: DH Photo/KVN Rohit
Apple iPhone 12 Pro. Credit: DH Photo/KVN Rohit

So, whenever the 5G infrastructure gets ready in India, the iPhone 12 Pro owners need not have to buy a new mobile to experience the super-fast internet.

Bottom line is the iPhone 12 Pro is built to serve you for several years. Yes, it's expensive but if you are looking for the phone with the most powerful processor and best camera hardware, get this Pro model.

Apple iPhone 12 Pro is being offered in three storages--128GB, 256GB and 512GB --for Rs 1,19,900, Rs 1,29,900 and Rs 1,49,900, respectively.

Get the latest news on new launches, gadget reviews, apps, cybersecurity, and more on personal technology only on DH Tech.

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Published 08 November 2020, 16:23 IST

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