The iPhone 12 from Apple is here. And it has the potential to develop into the most popular smartphone in the new line-up – mainly due to its comparatively low price. Our test reveals how well Apple’s first 5G mobile phone performs in practice.
Anyone holding the new iPhone 12 in its packaging will quickly realize: something is different. Because: For the first time, Apple no longer includes a power supply unit with its iPhone, which has reduced the packaging size considerably and it felt like it was halved. But more on that later.
iPhone 12 Review: Design, display & performance:
In terms of design, Apple relies on the tried and tested mix of glass and aluminum. However, Apple uses design elements from earlier iPhones for the iPhone 12. The frame is no longer rounded on the sides, but flat, which makes the iPhone 12 look much more angular and visually reminds of the iPhone 4. In addition, it lies very comfortably in the hand, weighs around 30 grams less than the iPhone 11, which is definitely noticeable. It is also a bit more compact in terms of dimensions.
As is typical for Apple, the processing is of very high quality. Unfortunately, the glass on the back magically attracts fingerprints. Here the Pro models with their matt glass surface have a clear advantage. If you use a case anyway, which is recommended, you don’t have to worry about it.
For better protection against damage, this year the Californian company introduced the so-called Ceramic Shield, a particularly break- and scratch-resistant glass. First attempts by relevant YouTubers paint a mixed picture, better resistance compared to the previous model could not be confirmed in all cases. The motto therefore still applies: Better to be safe than sorry. If you want to be on the safe side, you prefer to use a case or take out Apple’s Apple Care + insurance.
Apart from the flat edges, not too much has changed in terms of design: The edge-to-edge design introduced with the iPhone X 2017 is still used, and the comparatively bulky notch is still part of the look, the hopes for one slightly smaller display notches have therefore not been fulfilled. Maybe next year.
If you buy a new iPhone apart from the SE models, you can be sure that you are buying one of the fastest smartphones currently available and the iPhone 12 is no exception in this regard. Apple has installed the A14 Bionic inside, making it the most powerful smartphone chip currently available.
And you can tell: everything happens very quickly without any delay, movements literally slide across the brilliant screen. In the current line-up, Apple has said goodbye to LCD, instead installing only the high-contrast OLED panels. That’s a good thing – thanks to pixel-perfect lighting, content appears even more lively and lifelike.
iPhone 12 5G: Apple ignites data turbo
The iPhone 12 is also Apple’s first cell phone with fast 5G cellular communications – after other competitors jumped on the 5G bandwagon some time ago. In contrast to the USA, the iPhone 12 does not come with support for the faster mmWave technology in Germany, which is not used by mobile network operators in Europe anyway. In an international comparison, 5G only works with the handbrake on the iPhone 12, and the expansion of 5G is by no means yet nationwide.
After all, the iPhone 12 is compatible with all important cellular frequencies. In order to be able to surf the web quickly with the new mobile phone on the go, you need a location where 5G is available in addition to the corresponding tariff. Theoretically, bandwidths of 3.5 gigabits per second are possible, in practice the value is significantly lower.
In the speed test, I was able to achieve a speed of just 130 Mbit per second in the 5G network and no more than in the LTE network. And not exactly the hoped-for rush of speed. This is less due to the iPhone, but rather to the still low 5G expansion. However, this situation is likely to improve significantly in the coming years.
iPhone 12 Cameras: strong day and night
For the iPhone 12, Apple relies on the proven dual camera with 12 megapixels each – a third lens is therefore reserved for the Pro models. So there is only one ultra-wide-angle lens in addition to the main camera. But even without a telephoto lens, the camera of the iPhone 12 knows how to impress: the pictures are brilliant and crisp, and even taking pictures in portrait mode is effortless – the depth of field is very successful in many cases. Both the image sensor and the integrated artificial intelligence do a great job here.
As usual, Apple makes it very easy for beginners to snap impressive photos without having to deal with a lot of settings. The f / 1.6 aperture, which is larger than its predecessor, is particularly noticeable in terms of quality, as the camera sensor captures more light.
But night shots are also no problem with the camera: the night mode introduced last year is also used in the iPhone 12. Depending on the light situation, you have to keep your mobile phone still for a few seconds in night mode, which is activated automatically. The image is then visibly brightened using artificial intelligence and sophisticated algorithms. In the past, atmospheric night shots were hardly possible with the iPhone, but with the iPhone 12 you can confidently move around in the evening hours and capture the special nighttime atmosphere very well.
The 12 MP front camera also scores with decent images, optionally also in portrait mode. The video recordings are very good, clear and for the first time also in HDR. This means that contrast gradations in videos can be distinguished even better, increasing the level of detail and making recordings even more brilliant. The difference may hardly be noticeable in everyday life, but in a direct comparison the higher dynamic range is quickly visible.
iPhone 12 Battery and MagSafe: It becomes magnetic
With a capacity of 2,815 mAh, the battery in the iPhone 12 is not particularly generous, but normal users should be comfortable during the day. However, if you use the 5G network a lot, the battery life is significantly worse than that of the iPhone 11, for example. When surfing, the value drops to less than 10 hours and increases when you deactivate 5G. Overall, as various battery tests have adequately proven, the iPhone 12 runs out of breath a little faster than the iPhone 11.
iPhone 12 with a focus on sustainability
Apple wants to produce completely climate-neutral by 2030 and also make this mandatory for its suppliers. The environmental aspect was already in focus during the development of the iPhone 12: 100 percent recycled rare earth elements are used in all magnets for all iPhone 12 models.
In order to further reduce carbon emissions, Apple has dispensed with a power supply unit and headphones in the packaging of the iPhone 12. The transport also benefits from this 70 percent more boxes are possible per pallet.
Incidentally, the iPhone 12 is Apple’s first smartphone that is delivered without a power supply unit which at least reduces the packaging size considerably and underlines Apple’s efforts to use resources more sustainably. Means at the same time: if you do not have a compatible power supply with a USB-C connection, you have to purchase it separately. An aspect that obviously not all buyers were aware of in advance, this is shown by the feedback on the Internet.
It is quite possible that Apple will once again trigger a new trend with this decision. We remember: Apple has not installed a headphone jack in its iPhones for years. Initially ridiculed by the competition, many manufacturers are now following the same approach.
What is new, however, is “MagSafe“: Both in the iPhone and in the MagSafe accessories, permanently installed magnets ensure a very secure hold which enables new options for accessories from third-party suppliers, such as gimbals or tripods. An iPhone with a MacSafe sleeve could be attached to it magnetically. With the MagSafe charger, Apple itself offers a compact and elegant wireless charger on which the iPhone 12 aligns itself correctly and automatically. Advantage: no slipping. Disadvantage: simply removing the iPhone 12 from the charger with just one hand is not possible.
The charging process itself takes place with an output of 15 watts. A decent value for Apple standards, at best mediocre compared to other manufacturers. However, high charging speeds reduce the life of the battery, which is why Apple has chosen this maximum power consumption with care. The accessory system definitely has the potential to easily expand the capabilities of the smartphone.
Conclusion: iPhone 12 has what it takes to be a bestseller
iPhone 12 Pros:
- + Chic design
- + First class display
- + 5G capability
- + Very good camera
- + Clever MagSafe accessory system
iPhone 12 Cons:
- – Battery life could be better
- – No power supply included
The iPhone 12 could sell one of the best of the new iPhones. There are several reasons for this: at 6.1 inches, it should be just the right size for many iPhone fans. Not too small, but not too bulky either. In addition, the starting price of less than 900 euros for a current top model from Apple is comparatively moderate. The performance is beyond any doubt, as is the display.
The camera takes very good pictures, while artificial intelligence exploits the camera’s full potential. In short: absolute purchase recommendation for the iPhone 12. Ambitious photographers keep an eye on the Pro models due to the triple camera. For the general public, however, the iPhone 12 probably offers the best overall package for the price.