Apple has just officially unveiled four new iPhones, the most ever at a single event, and among them we have two premium models, the iPhone 12 Pro and the extra large iPhone 12 Pro Max.
This year's Pro models feature a brand new design with flat sides, a modern take on the iconic look of the iPhone 4, and they also introduce improved camera systems with better zoom and are equipped with a fancy LiDAR sensor to better handle augmented reality apps and games. And yes, you have support for the new and faster 5G networks on board as well!
If you want to learn more about the two other iPhones that Apple unveiled, look here:
The iPhone 12 Pro features a 6.1-inch display (a bit bigger than the 5.8" on the iPhone 11 Pro) and starts at a price of $1,000, and arrives in Apple's three signature colors: silver, graphite, and gold, as well as a fourth, brand new color option, a blue model. Storage for the base model is 128GB, and you can also buy a 256GB and a 512GB versions.
The iPhone 12 Pro Max has a 6.7-inch screen (slightly larger than the 6.5" on the iPhone 11 Pro Max), and its base price is set at $1,100. It arrives in the same choice of colors: silver, graphite, gold and the new blue option, and it is also offered in the same storage capacities: 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB.
iPhone 12 Pro vs 12 Pro Max specs and differences:
Dimensions: 146.7 x 71.6 x 7.4 vs 160.8 x 78.1 x 7.4mm Screens: 6.1" OLED screen vs 6.7" OLED screen Chips: Apple A14 on both
Cameras: Quad camera systems with LiDAR, longer 2.5X zoom lens on Max, larger main camera sensor on Max
Connectivity: 5G support on both
Battery Life: 17 hours video playback on 12 Pro, 20 hours video playback on 12 Pro Max
Apple A14 Bionic: the fastest chip on any smartphone
One of the most exciting news on that spec sheet is the new A14 chip. Apple lifted the veil off its 5nm A14 chip last month when it announced that the same processor will power the iPad Air 4 , and it also mentioned that the processor is more power-effect and better performing than the already industry-leading performance of the 7nm A13 Bionic used in the iPhone 11 series.
A summary of new features in the iPhone 12 Pro series
Now, Apple has revealed the A14 has 11.8 billion transistors, an increase of nearly 40% over the A13. Its CPU performance is up to 50% faster than any other smartphone, GPU is also 50% faster, and Apple has also bumped ML performance increasing the number of cores in the Neural Engine from 8 to 16.
iPhone 12 Pro Colors
The iPhone 12 Pro series don't come quite in as many colors as the more affordable iPhone 12 mini and 12 models, but you do get some classic Apple colorways -- silver, space gray graphite, and gold -- as well as a brand new "pacific blue" option. The blue version is a type of a navy blue that looks nice, but also classic and slightly subdued, while the gold is particularly interesting as it goes for a different effect: it looks downright gaudy and Apple mentioned how it has changed the finish to be brighter and shinier. By the way, the Pro series iPhones use surgical-grade stainless steel for the frame and not aluminum like the more affordable iPhone 12 models.
Ceramic Shield is the toughest glass ever used on a phone
The back is made out of glass with a matte finish and it looks really nice. But the big story is about the front cover glass, which is brand new. Apple co-developed this with Corning and calls it "Ceramic Shield", while claiming this is the toughest glass ever used in a smartphone. As usual, Apple mentioned a few fancy terms about the process and how this glass is toughened with a new high-temperature step, but the end result is that you get up to 4X better drop performance.
As for the colors, it would have been nice to have the gorgeous black or red versions that we have seen from Apple in other models on the Pros as well, but alas, these are the four official colors you can choose from.
iPhone 12 Size Comparison
Since we have two new sizes here, let's take a look at how the iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max sizes compare against last year's iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max:
Both new phones are a bit bigger than before, but the modest increase in physical size brings a quite noticeable improvement in screen area.
iPhone 12 Pro cameras
Pricing on the iPhone 12 Pro series hasn't changed from last year
Apple is making some significant upgrades to the cameras on the iPhone 12 Pro series. It is also still including telephoto zoom lenses only on the Pro series iPhones as the cheaper models don't have a dedicated telephoto camera.
Here is the cameras that you are getting on the iPhone 12 Pro family:
12MP main camera with faster, f1/.6 aperture, Apple's first 7-element lens on both. Pro Max, however, uses a larger sensor than the Pro (1.7-micron pixel size on Pro Max vs 1.4-micron size on Pro), and has new sensor shift stabilization.
12MP ultra-wide camera
12MP 2X telephoto zoom on 12 Pro (52mm), 2.5X zoom 12 Pro Max (65mm)
Smart HDR 3 produces richer depth
The 65mm lens on the Max allows to see detail without getting closer
There is now a reason to go for the larger Pro Max except for just the size: the main camera on it has a larger sensor and a completely new system for OIS, called sensor shift, which applies stabilization to the sensor instead of the heavier lens. This cancels both low and high disturbances, like hand movement or the movement in a car.
For all else, the cameras on the Pro and Pro Max are identical: you have the new Smart HDR 3 on both, which brings out detail in faces when the sun is bright behind the person and captures better HDR shots overall. Night Mode on both also gets better: it is now available on all cameras, including the ultra-wide and front cameras.
The new LiDAR sensor can see in the dark and comes in handy for faster AF in low light, and this works for both photos and videos. Autofocus in low light scenes is improved by up to 6X times. LiDAR also improves depth for night mode, for blooming bokeh.
So while the familiar 3-way camera system from last year's iPhones remains, what's new is a fourth sensor that appears on the back of the iPhone 12 Pro series: LiDAR! This stands for Light Detection and Ranging, and it is basically the same sensor that made its official debut earlier in the year with the iPad Pro 2020 edition. LiDAR determines distances by measuring how long it takes light to reach an object and reflect back, and works both indoors and out. It makes AR possible with far greater accuracy than on any other smartphone on the market right now.
With native support for RAW photos coming later to the iPhone 12 Pro series, the Pro in the name finally starts to make some sense.
The novelty here is that you will be able to shoot RAW photos with a new Apple ProRAW standard. Apple has worked hard to combine the depth of the RAW format with the computational advances in the camera, things like multi-frame image processing in Deep Fusion and Smart HDR. To achieve this, it has created a new pipeline, with CPU, GPU, ISP and other components working together, and Apple ProRAW will work on all four iPhone 12 Pro cameras, including the front one.
You will be able to edit RAW photos directly in the Photos app, or in 3rd party apps, and 3rd party apps can also capture Apple ProRAW.
iPhone 12 Pro Video Improvements
10-bit video arrives to iPhone 12 Pro!
Apple is also cementing its lead in smartphone video with a few welcome improvements.
The new iPhone Pro series are the first smartphones to record in Dolby Vision HDR, and to support 10-bit HDR video. That means they can capture over 700 million colors, up to 60X times more than before. You also get a live preview of HDR as you shoot it, and you can edit Dolby Vision videos right in the Photos app. This is truly impressive stuff, possible thanks to the powerful A14 chip.
On the video side, the new OIS sensor shift technology also makes a difference with smoother stabilization overall, and you have faster auto-focus in low light with the help of the LiDAR sensor.
The larger sensor of the iPhone 12 Pro Max also gives it an advantage in low-light as it captures a lot more light.
iPhone 12 Pro 5G connectivity
Both the iPhone 12 Pro and the 12 Pro Max support the new 5G connectivity standard, and they will also work with the high-speed, mmWave 5G network utilized by Verizon Wireless. If you live outside the United States, however, you will not get mmWave support.
5G comes in two main flavors: one is the so called sub6 networks, like the one widely rolled out by T-Mobile and based on the frequencies under the 6GHz range, and the other is mmWave, like the one Verizon has rolled out, based on higher frequencies that providing faster speeds, but at the cost of easily interrupted signal and availability limited to a few pockets in major downtown areas.
The iPhone 12 Pro series have the most 5G bands of any smartphone, an optimized antenna arrangement, and Apple being Apple, it introduced a new Smart Data Mode that makes sure you use 5G only when you need it, and the rest of the time, iPhones will automatically switch to LTE to preserve battery life.
While Apple is not disclosing the actual battery size inside these iPhones yet, it does provide battery life estimates. The short story here is that it seems that battery life remains the same, even a tiny bit worse on some models. The iPhone 12 Pro Max retains the exact same excellent battery life as last year's Max, but the iPhone 12 Pro will last a bit less for video playback than the 11 Pro.
Take a look at Apple's official battery life stats for the iPhone 12 series below:
iPhone 12 Pro Max (2020)
iPhone 12 Pro (2020)
iPhone 12 (2020)
iPhone 12 mini (2020)
iPhone SE (2020)
iPhone 11 Pro Max (2019)
iPhone 11 Pro (2019)
iPhone 11 (2019)
iPhone XS Max (2018)
iPhone XS (2018)
iPhone XR (2018)
iPhone X (2017)
Apple is also innovating with wireless charging. These iPhones introduce MagSafe, a series of magnets around the wireless charging coil, that allow wireless chargers to snap in the right place for a perfect alignment with the coil and best charging results. In terms of speed, the Pros now support wireless charging speeds of up to 15W, double than earlier, but only with MagSafe chargers, while standard Qi wireless chargers can still only charge up the phones at speeds of up to 7.5W.
With MagSafe, new iPhones have magnets inside them so they snap onto wireless chargers for a precise fit
Apple is also introducing a series of new cases that also snap tightly to the phone thanks to those magnets, which is nice.
Another new thing on the charging front is... AirPower a cool new wireless charger that juices up an iPhone and an Apple Watch at the same time, and it folds neatly in half for travels.
Price and release date
The coronavirus pandemic has been the reason why Apple postponed its iPhone announcement by nearly a month this year, and the pandemic has also delayed the actual launch of the new iPhones.
Pre-orders for the 6.1" iPhone 12 Pro model start almost immediately, on October 16th, with in-store availability scheduled for next week, on October 23th. To be exact, pre-orders for iPhone 12 Pro open at 5:00am Pacific time, or 8:00am Eastern time on October 16th.
However, the larger, 6.7" iPhone 12 Pro Max model is delayed and pre-orders for it only start on November 6th, while the release date is set for November 13th. The exact time pre-orders open for the Pro Max is at 5:00am Pacific time, or 8:00am Eastern time on November 6th.
And here is how prices break down for each version of the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max:
iPhone 12 Pro 128GB: $1,000
iPhone 12 Pro 256GB: $1,100 (+$100)
iPhone 12 Pro 512GB: $1,300 (+$200)
iPhone 12 Pro Max 128GB: $1,100
iPhone 12 Pro Max 256GB: $1,200 (+$100)
iPhone 12 Pro Max 512GB: $1,400 (+$200)
Overall, this seems like a big upgrade for the Pro series with welcome improvements to cameras, charging, the tougher glass, 5G, a faster processor and an iconic new design. Are you getting one of them yourself? And how do they look against the competition? Let us know your thoughts about the new iPhone 12 Pro duo in the comments below!