Apple iPhone 12 Pro review: almost perfect

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Aina Martin
@ainamartin
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After a first run called "Pro" last year, Apple is doing it again this year. The iPhone 12 Pro does not come to upset the formula but refines it by offering a new design, more versatile photo modules as well as 5G.

Presentation

Each new school year, his new iPhone. The end of 2020 will therefore be marked by the iPhone 12, available in 4 distinct models. The iPhone 12 and 12 Pro are the first to arrive on the market, while the iPhone 12 Mini and Pro Max will arrive in early November. Here we open the test ball for new Apple smartphones with the iPhone 12 Pro.



It comes in three capacities: 128 GB for €1159, 256 GB for €1279 and 512 GB for €1509. Prices identical to those of the iPhone 11 Pro, this time with doubled storage capacity.

Ergonomics and design

Impossible to miss the new design of this iPhone 12. Apple has finally abandoned the curves initiated on the iPone 6 to return to something flatter, but still deja vu. Indeed, like the entire iPhone 12 series, this 12 Pro offers straight, flat and clean edges. An aesthetic feature that we have already found on the iPad Pro since 2018 and on the new iPad Air 4. It is also a reminder of what was done on the iPhone 4 to 5 SE.




The "new" design of the iPhone 12 pro facing the old one, here an iPhone 11 Pro Max

The iPhone 12 Pro is made of stainless steel, like the 2019 model. The back finish is still matte frosted glass. Only the island of the photo modules is in glossy glass. A finish that is the exact opposite of what we find on the iPhone 12 and 12 Mini. In its catalog, Apple offers a very beautiful new Pacific Blue color, which replaces the Night Green of the iPhone 11 Pro – it is also the one in our test. Still on the back, it is worth noting that the company now only displays its logo. The CE and crossed-out dustbin logos have been moved to the right edge. A clever way to present an almost immaculate rear.

It is on the back that we also find the MagSafe technology, invisible. It allows you to magnetically attach various accessories. Apple sells a MagSafe charger separately, which offers wireless charging at 15 W. New shells incorporating the technology are also available, as is a leather card holder. Many other various accessories should take advantage of this technology.

At the front, it is a 6,1-inch panel that is available to us, in a 19,5: 9 ratio, for a display area that occupies 88% of the front face. The Ceramic Shield display incorporates "nano-ceramic crystals" into its glass. According to Apple, this allows the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro to offer 4 times more drop resistance than the iPhone 11 Pro. The notch housing Face ID still remains and hasn't been shrunk an inch. The facial unlocking system still works as well and is easier to use since you just have to register your face. It's just a pity that this facial recognition solution still stumbles on the new fashion accessory that is the mask.



A few small changes are made to the edges. The right no longer hosts the Power button. The slot for placing a SIM card has been moved to the opposite side and is located just below the volume controls and the silent mode switch. At the bottom we find a speaker, microphones and the Lightning port. This iPhone 12 Pro is compatible with the IP68 standard which gives it protection against immersion up to 6 meters deep for a maximum of 30 minutes.

Audio

Since the iPhone 7, Apple got rid of the 3,5 mm mini-jack socket, and since the iPhone 11, the Lighting to mini-jack adapter has also disappeared. A gap that prevents him from grabbing a fifth star in Ergonomics and design.

Other than improved stereo sound from the iPhone 11 Pro, quality hasn't changed on this model; what we said a year ago still applies today for this iPhone 12 Pro. The spatialization is always excellent, allowing you to be comfortable in front of videos, films or series, but also during music listening.

Screen

This year 2020 sees the Oled screen of the iPhone 12 Pro go from 5,8 inches to 6,1 inches. It thus joins the iPhone 12. And who says larger display also says greater definition, the latter going to 2532 x 1170 pixels – for a resolution of 460 dpi.



As always with Apple smartphones, it is not possible to change the screen settings. It's not a big deal, the latter is once again very well calibrated by default. We noted a Delta E of 1,4, which translates into perfectly faithful colors. The color temperature is just as controlled, measured at 6648 kelvins, which is practically the value of the video standard (6500 K).

Peak brightness clocks in at an impressive 831 cd/m², the highest metric we've measured on an iPhone screen. Its reflectance is 48%, in line with previous models. In practice, the display of the iPhone 12 Pro is very good for reading under the sun. The minimum brightness has been raised to 0,1 cd / m² and is not likely to disturb the night reader.

OLED panel obliges, the contrast rate is almost infinite and its persistence time is zero. The touch delay is 45ms.

performances

The iPhone 12 Pro is equipped with the new A14 Bionic chip. Apple does not specify it, but this new model has 6 GB of RAM.

It is once again impossible for us to pass our usual battery of tests – like all iPhones. Still, we know the A14 Bionic is among the most powerful processors on the market, able to effortlessly compete with a Snapdragon 865+, for example.

What makes Apple strong, and by extension this iPhone 12 Pro, is its software optimization. At no time did we encounter a problem with slowing down, opening an application or a drop in performance in even the most resource-intensive games. The Californian firm masters its chip from the study to its creation – which is also engraved for the first time in 5 nm. However, if you're expecting a huge performance boost over an iPhone 11 Pro, you might be disappointed. On the other hand, if you have a slightly older model, then you will see a nice difference. The other strength of the A14 Bionic is its longevity. The chip is the most powerful today, and may also be in a year or two. And in 4 to 5 years, it will still be able to compete with competitors that we can find under Android.

Photo

On this model, we find the 3 modules that were already present on the iPhone 11 Pro. Apple has however made some changes, in particular to the wide-angle lens which has a larger aperture (f / 1,6). This main lens is made up of 7 lenses, for much sharper photos. The ultra wide-angle (UGA) module does not change, as does the telephoto lens which still offers a 2x zoom.

New this year, a LiDAR sensor is appearing. It improves augmented reality, offers more efficient autofocus, but above all, allows better shots in night mode... according to Apple.

Big angle Ultra wide angle Telephoto
12 Megapixel 12 Megapixel 12 Megapixel
f / 1,6 f / 2,0 f / 2,4
eq. 26 mm eq. 13 mm eq. 50 mm

Module principal : 12 mégapixels, f/1,6, eq. 26 mm

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra (eq. 26 mm, f/1,8, ISO 80, 1/100 s)

iPhone 12 Pro (eq. 26 mm, f/1,6, ISO 64, 1/121 s)
enlarge

By day, the main module of the iPhone 12 Pro offers good results. The shots are well detailed, the colorimetry is good, as is the exposure. Apple's software processing gives a very natural result and stands up to the 108 megapixels of the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra.

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra (eq. 26 mm, f/1,8, ISO 640, 1/14 s)

iPhone 12 Pro (eq. 26 mm, f/1,6, ISO 1250, 1/15 s)
enlarge

In low light, Apple has chosen to limit the pause time as much as possible, even if it means increasing the sensitivity. The result is a natural shot, but underexposed.

Night mode

iPhone 12 Pro (night mode)

iPhone 12 Pro
enlarge

To obtain a better result and enjoy a better exposed shot, the night mode of the iPhone 12 Pro is essential. Activated by default, it enhances the brightness and readability of the shot, without betraying its realism or the white balance. But to achieve such a result, you will have to be careful not to shake too much for a maximum of 10 seconds.

Ultra wide-angle module: 12 megapixels, f/2,4, eq. 14mm

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra (eq. 13 mm, f/2,2, ISO 64, 1/50 s)

iPhone 12 Pro (eq. 14 mm, f/2,4, ISO 160, 1/198 s)
enlarge

If the results of the main module of the iPhone 12 Pro and the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra are quite close, the gap begins to widen when switching to ultra wide-angle. The Apple smartphone is able to offer a detailed shot and not so far from the result that we can have with the wide-angle module. There is very little smoothing and the exposure is quite correct. It is the result of software processing from Apple, helped by the A14 Bionic chip. Note, however, the appearance of digital noise on the black background.

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra (eq. 13 mm, f/2,2, ISO 2 000, 1/25 s)

iPhone 12 Pro (eq. 14 mm, f/2,4, ISO 2500, 1/15 s)
enlarge

At night, it's exactly like on the first module. The iPhone 12 Pro seems to prioritize sharpness over exposure. A point that we already raised when the ultra wide-angle module appeared on the iPhone 11 Pro.

Night mode

iPhone 12 Pro UGA (night mode)

iPhone 12 Pro UGA
enlarge

The iPhone 12 Pro brings night mode to the ultra-wide-angle module, and honestly, it saves it a bit. If night shots in UGA are difficult to use, activating night mode fixes things a bit. The image appears much better exposed, although noisy, and more flattering than in "classic" mode. A certain lack of sharpness remains visible, however.

2x telephoto: 12 megapixels, f/2, eq. 52mm

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra (12 Mpx, eq. 120 mm, f / 3, ISO 100, 1/50 s)

iPhone 12 Pro (eq. 52 mm, f/2, ISO 80, 1/121 s)
enlarge

Note right away that the 2x zoom of the iPhone 12 Pro is here compared to the 5x zoom of the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra.
Apple has upgraded its telephoto lens, once again delivering images with a little more detail, although these look quite forced.

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra (12 Mpx, eq. 120 mm, f / 3, ISO 800, 1/5 s)

iPhone 12 Pro (eq. 52 mm, f/2, ISO 1600, 1/16 s)
enlarge

At night, the result offered by the 2x zoom is very honorable. The exposure is controlled, with however a slight tendency to under-exposure. Objects in our scene are sharp. However, digital noise covers the entire photograph, along with a very slight veil that loses sharpness.

Front module, portrait and video mode

At the front, we find the TrueDepth camera present since the iPhone X. This 12 Mpx module unlocks the smartphone thanks to Face ID and also offers a portrait mode in Night mode since the arrival of the A14 Bionic. Low-light selfies are yours!

On the back, the portrait mode is also enriched. It takes advantage of the addition of the LiDAR sensor to offer an ever more natural bokeh. This new sensor also makes it possible to take brighter portraits at night. Apple uses machine learning to improve the bokeh of photos as photos are captured. The more shots you take, the more precise the software will be in its clipping.

For video, the iPhone 12 Pro can shoot up to 4K at 24, 30 or 60 fps. It is also the first smartphone capable of filming in Dolby Vision, offering HDR videos at 60 fps. Optical stabilization is present on the wide-angle module. Video recording with the front module is possible up to 4K at 24, 30 or 60 fps. The Dolby Vision HDR mode is also present, but only in 30 fps.

Autonomy

Apple has reduced the size of the battery of its iPhone 12 Pro, but promises the same autonomy as that of the iPhone 11 Pro. According to our specific test protocol on Netflix, this new iPhone lasts 15 h 04 min. That's just over 30 minutes longer than the previous model. Note that our protocol does not use the 5G network, currently unavailable in Spain. It goes without saying that by being on the mobile network all the time, the autonomy will not be as important.

As our regular readers know, we have been integrating charging time since June 2020 in our smartphone battery life rating. To do this, we use the charging pad and cable that comes in the box. Unfortunately, Apple chose not to ship a charger with its mobiles in 2020, only a cable. A strong choice, "for the planet", according to the company's communication. While the intention is laudable, the execution seems somewhat problematic. Indeed, the cable provided is a USB-C to Lightning cable. If it wanted to make its charging as universal as possible, Apple would have offered USB-A, which is much more widespread. Anyway, it is therefore necessary to have a block with a USB-C output at home or a USB-A to Lightning cable to charge your smartphone at home. Something to keep in mind before checking out.

Technically, the iPhone 12 Pro accepts a charge of up to 20 W. Wirelessly, it charges at 7,5 W in classic Qi charging and at 15 W with the MagSafe charger. Under the best possible conditions, using a 60 W MacBook Pro charging block (which uses USB-C), the iPhone 12 Pro regains 60% of its autonomy in just under 30 minutes. 100% is achieved in just over an hour. An average score considering the capacity of the battery (2815 mAh), which makes it lose a star in autonomy. Especially since if you only have the older 5W charging block (models over two years old), you'll take a lot longer to get back to 100.

Sustainability

Our sustainability score helps determine the sustainable aspect of the smartphone for both the consumer and the environment. It is based on the repairability index, durability criteria (protection index, standard connectors, warranty period and updates, etc.) and an assessment of CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) policies. . You will find all the details of the analysis in our article presenting the sustainability score.

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Highlights

  • Pleasant design and impeccable finishes.

  • Perfectly calibrated Oled panel.

  • Versatile camera.

  • Greatly improved night mode.

  • Solid performance.

  • MagSafe and the different uses that will result from it.

  • IP68.

Weak points

  • No charger delivered.

  • Longer charging time than the competition.

  • No mini-jack or adapter.

  • Blurry night shots at the periphery.

Conclusion

Note globale

The iPhone 12 Pro is a good evolution of the previous model. It's a complete smartphone, with a very good screen, solid and durable performance and versatile cameras. The addition of 5G, although still unavailable in Spain, ensures a certain longevity with consumers – even if autonomy may suffer. For now, the iPhone 12 is very autonomous and ticks almost all the boxes of the perfect smartphone.

Sub Notes
  • Ergonomics and design
  • Screen
  • performances
  • Photo
  • Autonomy
  • Sustainability
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