Add a design refresh with flat sides, the 5G connectivity, and the new A14 processor node, as well as major camera improvements, and the "should I upgrade to iPhone 12" question will be on many an iPhone 11 owner's minds. Here are the main iPhone 12 Pro and Max vs iPhone 11 Pro/Max differences to help you decide.
*By the way, these prices are the regular ones, but on big shopping events, iPhones could be discounted: for example, we often see iPhone offers among Prime Day deals.
iPhone 12 Pro/Max vs iPhone 11 Pro/Max colors
Pacific Blue vs Midnight Green
Graphite vs Space Gray
Just like when it released the Watch 6 in blue for the first time, Apple added a new color option for the iPhone 12 Pro series, and that is Pacific Blue. Unfortunately, it will be replacing Midnight Green which turned out to be a hit among iPhone 11 Pro buyers, but to each their own.
Out with the Midnight Green and Space Grey, in with the Pacific Blue and Graphite
iPhone 12 Pro Max vs iPhone 11 Pro Max display
6.7 inches vs 6.5 inches
Ceramic Shield vs Gorilla Glass
2778 x 1284 vs 2688 x 1242 pixels
Hey, the iPhone 5 called from 2012, it wants its flat sides back! On the surface, the iPhone 11 Pro Max and 12 Pro Max differ more than the previous generational jump, what with the 12 series' flat sides, and extra 5G antenna notches.
They also sport display diagonal differences, as Apple is bumping things up a notch to 6.7 inches from 6.5 inches on the 11 Pro Max. Will that also increase the overall size of the iPhone 12 Pro Max in comparison? Thankfully, not that much, as the iPhone 11 Pro Max is already one big device.
The Ceramic Shield display, however, which is an Apple-enhanced version of Corning's latest Gorilla Glass Victus, is doing an amazing job at protecting the iPhone 12 Pro Max from drops that are at a much higher level than what the iPhone 11 Pro Max screen is able to withstand.
iPhone 12 Pro vs iPhone 11 Pro display
6.1 inches vs 5.8 inches
Tougher Ceramic Shield vs Gorilla Glass
2436 x 1125 vs 2532 x 1170 pixels
458 PPI vs 460 PPI
The 5.8" iPhone 11 Pro to 6.1" iPhone 12 Pro will not even be the biggest jump in display sizes this year, as we also have the 5.4" iPhone 12 that sports a screen that is half an inch shorter than the 6.1" iPhone 12 Max. Still, the smaller iPhone 12 Pro model gets a significant bump in display size, and is now becoming more akin to a Pro version.
Other than that, the two displays are almost identical (read: excellent) when it comes to brightness, contrast, outdoor visibility, and color presentation, as you can see from our screen benchmark measurements below. The larger display on the 12 Pro doesn't seem to take a bigger toll on battery life, too, so it is the easy choice here.
The CIE 1931 xy color gamut chart represents the set (area) of colors that a display can reproduce, with the sRGB colorspace (the highlighted triangle) serving as reference. The chart also provides a visual representation of a display's color accuracy. The small squares across the boundaries of the triangle are the reference points for the various colors, while the small dots are the actual measurements. Ideally, each dot should be positioned on top of its respective square. The 'x: CIE31' and 'y: CIE31' values in the table below the chart indicate the position of each measurement on the chart. 'Y' shows the luminance (in nits) of each measured color, while 'Target Y' is the desired luminance level for that color. Finally, 'ΔE 2000' is the Delta E value of the measured color. Delta E values of below 2 are ideal.
The Color accuracy chart gives an idea of how close a display's measured colors are to their referential values. The first line holds the measured (actual) colors, while the second line holds the reference (target) colors. The closer the actual colors are to the target ones, the better.
The Grayscale accuracy chart shows whether a display has a correct white balance (balance between red, green and blue) across different levels of grey (from dark to bright). The closer the Actual colors are to the Target ones, the better.
It also offers Apple's new Ceramic Shield cover glass that proved to be tougher than what's on the iPhone 11 Pro when both phones hit the pavement in drop tests.
iPhone 12 Pro/Max vs iPhone 11 Pro/Max specs
Apple A14 5nm vs Apple A13 7nm chipset
128GB vs 64GB base storage
5G vs 4G LTE connectivity
6GB vs 4GB RAM
Smaller batteries on the 12 Pro/Max
6 vs 4 meters water-resistance depth
All four of Apple's new iPhone 12 2020 models are powered by the A14 Bionic chipset announced with the iPad Air 4. It's the first 5nm chip found inside a smartphone. With 15 billion transistors inside (compared to the 8.5 billion in the A13 Bionic), the A14 Bionic delivers not so much a nice jump in performance but improved energy consumption.
AnTuTu is a multi-layered, comprehensive mobile benchmark app that assesses various aspects of a device, including CPU, GPU, RAM, I/O, and UX performance. A higher score means an overall faster device.
If the T-Rex HD component of GFXBench is demanding, then the Manhattan test is downright gruelling. It's a GPU-centric test that simulates an extremely graphically intensive gaming environment that is meant to push the GPU to the max. that simulates a graphically-intensive gaming environment on the screen. The results achieved are measured in frames per second, with more frames being better.
An upgrade of 6GB RAM is deployed on the Pro models, with 4GB on the other variants. All US models work with both high-band mmWave 5G signals and the low to mid-band Sub-6GHz 5G signals, which explains the small elliptical thingy on the side, that's the mmWave antenna.
iPhone 12 Pro/Max vs iPhone 11 Pro/Max camera
2.5x vs 2x telephoto optical zoom
Dual vs Single OIS
7P vs 6P lenses
F/1.6 vs F/1.8 wide angle lens aperture
Larger sensor and pixels for better low-light shots (12 Pro Max)
LiDAR camera for AR/VR apps and excellent Portrait shots
Dolby Vision video, Smart HDR 3, Deep Fusion 2, Night Mode Portraits
While the processor speed and memory upgrades are expected for each new iPhone generation, and 5G connectivity is long overdue for Apple's handsets, perhaps the biggest surprise are the 12 Pros' camera kit enhancements compared to the iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max generation.
Apart from being just a much larger size, the biggest difference that sets the iPhone 12 Pro Max apart from the other iPhones is the camera system. The cameras on the 12 Pro Max are more capable, and they are physically larger, with bigger sensors and the lenses protrude more out of the back of the phone. It seems that it would have been physically harder for Apple to include this camera system in the smaller iPhones, hence it’s only available on the Max.
So… what’s new? You have a 3-lens camera system: the main camera, the ultra-wide and now, a 2.5X zoom telephoto lens, slightly longer than the 2X zoom we have on the 12 Pro and earlier iPhones.
Let’s get the ultrawide one out of the way first: it is the same 12MP camera as on the other new iPhones, no difference. If you compare it against last year’s iPhone 11 series, however, you would notice that Apple has done some tune ups to the software so photos don’t distort that much towards the edges and images look better because of this. It now also supports Night Mode, in fact all cameras on the iPhone 12 series now support Night Mode, a welcome improvement.
< iPhone 11 Pro Max UW lens distortioniPhone 12 Pro Max UW lens >
The camera lenses on the 12 Pro/Max now consists of seven elements (7P lenses) vs the 6P on the 11 Pro models. The Pro Max also carries a 5mm larger in length and width sensor, and we would see improvements in low-light photography on the 2020 iPhones with 2 to 3 times faster autofocus.
Image stabilization is also improved as the iPhone 12 Pro/Max have dual OIS, and the Max has Sensor Shift image stabilization for the wide camera, too. This adjusts the sensor to remove the "shakes" instead of the lens. The Pro models add a stabilized telephoto as well, delivering 2.5x optical zoom, plus the LiDAR depth sensor introduced on the latest iPad Pro models. The LiDAR sensor uses time-of-flight technology to improve AR capabilities and could be used for enhanced Portraits on the iPhone 12 Pro units.
Apple was reportedly testing a 64MP camera for the upcoming series, but engineers were not happy with the outcome so it's your 12MP sensors this year as well, just a larger main one on the Pro Max, and 7P lenses all around. Check out the iPhone 12 Pro vs iPhone 11 Pro camera samples, quite a bit of a positive development, isn't it?
Sharper detail and more contrast
Smart HDR 3 makes for brighter yet without overexposed highlights pictures, especially at night
Warmer, more saturated colors
iPhone 11 Pro vs iPhone 12 Pro wide, portrait, zoom and selfie camera samples
iPhone 12 Pro Max vs iPhone 11 Pro Max battery life and charging speeds
3687mAh vs 3969mAh battery
20 hours of video playback
12 hours of streaming video
80 hours audio playback
Apple is packing the iPhone 12 Pro Max with a 3687mAh battery providing a capacity decrease from the 3969mAh battery inside the iPhone 11 Pro Max. The logic board on the iPhone 12 Pro Max as well as its battery pack are sprawling in an L-shaped manner to better fit the components inside the body.
Apple iPhone 12 mini (left) vs iPhone 12 Pro Max (right) battery, logic board, taptic engine
Unfortunately, the iPhone 12 Pro Max battery capacity got confirmed by a few teardowns already, but the repairmen from Kaputt mentioned to us that it is at least easier to crack open and replace the battery, than, say, the tiny iPhone 12 mini.
Thankfully, we only have a small bump in display size from the iPhone 11 Pro Max to the iPhone 12 Pro Max, so the smaller battery is offset by the more frugal 5nm A14 processor hence Apple cites the same 12 Pro Max battery life compared to the already excellent battery endurance on the iPhone 11 Pro Max. In fact, we found that the iPhone 12 Pro Max vs 11 Pro Max battery life is significantly improved in one key are - web browsing, and is commensurate in the other two popular pastimes - YouTube streaming or gaming.
iPhone 12 Pro Max vs iPhone 11 Pro Max battery life in a Web Browsing Test
Despite the smaller-sized battery compared to last year's iPhone 11 Pro Max, the new 12 Pro Max managed to outlast it by a small, but not insignificant margin. The new 12 Pro Max lasted an impressive 14 hours and 6 minutes on our web browsing test. This test is our lightest one yet is a very good representation of how your phone will hold up for just basic everyday tasks like browsing the web and scrolling around.
Interestingly, despite many Android phones having much larger batteries (the S20 Ultra features a 5,000mAh cell), the iPhone 12 Pro Max is well optimized for this kind of use and it actually lasts longer than all of those. Needless to say, it's because the display runs at 60Hz while the Note 20 Ultra dynamically switches to 120Hz when browsing, but still, if you read a lot on the web and do mostly lighter workloads, the 12 Pro Max will easily impress you with its longevity. It didn't fare bad on the YouTube streaming battery test, either.
Leave 5G on, even in its Smart Data mode, or indulge in 3D gaming sessions, however, and you'll quickly spot a 20-30% worse hit to battery life. If Apple had added 120Hz refresh rate, it would be a battery massacre indeed. Perhaps Apple added a Hail Mary fast charging speed to offset the 5G/graphics drain? Not really, as it simply took away the 18W charger that was present in the 11 Pro Max box, slimmed the box, yet didn't feel the need to grace the relatively large 12 Pro Max battery with charging speeds faster than what its new 20W brick can provide.
The iPhone 12 Pro Max charging speeds with the 20W/18W Apple adapters:
34% in 20 minutes
51% in 30 minutes
73% in 45 minutes
84% in 1 hour
100% in 1 hour 49 minutes
iPhone 12 Pro vs iPhone 11 Pro battery life and 20W vs 18W charging speeds
2815mAh vs 3046mAh
17 vs 18 hours of video playback
101 vs 102 minutes 20W vs 18W iPhone 12 charger speeds
The new iPhone models in fall 2020 ship without a charger in the box, and for the cheaper iPhone 12 and 12 mini models we are all the happier for it, as those would've otherwise probably shipped with Apple's pathetic 5W chargers that nobody wants anyway.
On the other hand, Apple is offering a brand new 20W charger that you will be able to buy separately if you want fast charging, or keep using your good ol' 5W or 18W bricks that are lurking somewhere in your drawer.
The 18W brick that came with your iPhone 11 Pro or 11 Pro Max, in particular, charges the iPhone 12 Pro as fast as the new 20W charger, so there's no point in shelling out for it.
The 18W, 20W and even 65W Apple chargers all take about an hour and forty minutes to charge the iPhone 12/Pro
On the other hand, the iPhone 12 Pro 5G connectivity hits these otherwise respectable battery life endurance numbers by at least 20% downwards, so you might want to use it sparingly asking yourself what was the reasoning behind the 10% capacity shrinkage in the process. Don't even get us started on 3D graphics rendering, as the powerful A14 will eat the smaller iPhone 12 Pro battery for breakfast while gaming.
iPhone 12 Pro/Max vs iPhone 11 Pro/Max prices
from $999 for the base iPhone 11/12 Pro
from $1099 for the base iPhone 11/12 Pro Max
Analysts didn't expect Apple to change the $999/$1099 starting price of the iPhone 11 Pro series when the 12 Pro models are released, despite the $100 bump in iPad Air 4's base price with the new design, and they were right.
Still, it bumped the base storage to 128GB from the abominable 64GB, would you upgrade because of that, 5G, the slightly (12 Pro) or much better (12 Pro Max) camera set, and the higher display durability/water-resistance ratings?