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Hands-On Comparison: iPhone 12 vs. iPhone 12 Pro

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For those still trying to make a decision between an iPhone 12 or an iPhone 12 Pro, we picked up both models and in our latest YouTube video, did a hands-on comparison between them. Our video highlights the similarities and the differences so you can which one is the best fit for you and whether the iPhone 12 Pro is worth an extra $200.


When it comes to design, the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro are the exact same size with the same OLED display, but the iPhone 12 Pro has a higher-quality stainless steel frame and matte glass back while the iPhone 12 uses an aluminum frame and a glossy glass back.


The iPhone 12 Pro's stainless steel is heavier and prone to fingerprints, but it looks higher-end, while the iPhone 12 is noticeably lighter and comes in a wider variety of colors (blue, red, green, white, and black vs. graphite, silver, blue, and gold for the Pro).


There are also three cameras and a LiDAR Scanner on the iPhone 12 Pro, while the iPhone 12 features a dual-lens camera setup. The iPhone 12 has the exact same Wide and Ultra Wide lenses available on the 12 Pro, but it lacks a telephoto lens and of course, the LiDAR Scanner.

The loss of the telephoto lens isn't a huge deal unless you frequently used it for zoomed in 2x photos, but most people probably stick primarily to the Wide lens. The LiDAR Scanner is a bit more of a loss because it does bring improvements to low light photography, enabling Night Mode portraits and speeding up autofocus when lighting is poor, but that's not going to matter to people who primarily take daytime photos.


The LiDAR Scanner has uses for augmented reality apps because it can provide an accurate depth scan of the area around you, plus it can do things like measure a person, but these are somewhat niche uses that most people can likely do without.

If you don't care about AR apps and just want a camera that's going to take great photos in standard lighting conditions, the iPhone 12 Pro probably isn't worth the upgrade.

Both iPhones use the same A14 chip, but the iPhone 12 Pro has 6GB RAM while the iPhone 12 has 4GB RAM. You're not going to notice a huge difference in 6GB vs. 4GB RAM in everyday use, but it's something to keep in mind and could be a reason for those who want the maximum performance and device longevity to upgrade.


Storage is a consideration when choosing which iPhone to buy. The $799 iPhone 12 only has 64GB storage, which may not meet some people's needs. Upgrading to 128GB costs another $50, putting you at $850, which narrows the gap a bit between the iPhone 12 and the iPhone 12 Pro, which has 128GB at the entry-level $999 price point.

We're still talking about an extra $150 for the upgrade, but for those who pay monthly through a carrier or through Apple, it's less of a hit to the wallet and equates to somewhere around $6 per month, so it could be worth it to some to get the extra features by shelling out just a bit more money.

OLED displays with Ceramic Shield, TrueDepth camera with Face ID and notch, 5G, battery life, water resistance, and A14 chip are available on both models, so there's less than ever before separating the standard iPhone 12 from the Pro model. Most people will be more than happy with the iPhone 12, but those who want maximum performance and better camera hardware in a 6.1-inch package should choose the iPhone 12 Pro.


There is, of course, the iPhone 12 Pro Max coming with even better camera equipment so those who are interested in the Pro for the camera upgrade will need to decide if the further Pro Max upgrade is worthwhile, which is something we'll explore in a future video when the entire iPhone 12 lineup is available.


We have a buyer's guide that goes into even more detail on the differences between the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro if you want to supplement the video, plus we have detailed iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro roundups with everything you need to know about each phone, both of which are worth checking out if you're still undecided.

Did you choose an iPhone 12 Pro over an iPhone 12? Let us know why in the comments.

Article Link: Hands-On Comparison: iPhone 12 vs. iPhone 12 Pro
 
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katbel

macrumors 6502a
Aug 19, 2009
677
440
I went for a 12 Pro ..still waiting to getting it though, hopefully soon
Because I was coming from an 8 plus I wanted to get a good triple lens camera, lidar and the extra just mentioned in your article. I was not sure about the colour pacific blue but looking at several pictures in different posts of lucky ones who got it already, I hope is a good pick, not only for the colour....
 
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wilee

macrumors newbie
Sep 23, 2014
20
7
I did choose Pro. For me it was, honestly, mostly look and feel (much better and expensive on Pro side) and more advanced camera, which I plan to use instead of my DSLR in corresponding focal ranges

I planned to buy 128Gb anyway, so $150 difference for 128gb is not so much for different minor perks you get with it besides 2 major points above

PS. coming for 7 which was European version without CDMA support, otherwise I would probably stay with 7 :)
 
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GeoffAlex

macrumors newbie
Sep 14, 2020
12
17
Being into photography and videography a lot I'll definitely be getting the 12 Pro (a massive boost from my 6s).

For those saying to get the Pro Max instead, I get the size constraint for the new sensor means its only in the Max but I find all the Plus/Max iPhones to be incredibly unwieldy and way too big for me. So definitely not an option.

Here's hoping for an iPhone 13 (or 14) Pro Mini..
 

sdreamer07

macrumors newbie
Sep 10, 2018
24
94
One point reviewers keep pointing out is the battery life being a tiny bit worse on the Pro than the regular. Methinks that slightly brighter screen might be the attribution to it. Makes me wonder though why Apple choose to have that screen brighter than the non-pro. Almost seems like someone made a mistake and forgot the non-Pros are OLED and forgot to change the value in the software.
 

Whathappened

macrumors regular
Mar 15, 2018
232
205
12 because of the weight. Coming from xr which I was happy with from day one, that little less weight of the 12 actually feels like more in reality.
Everything else is like the xr, just even faster (almost weirdly fast since even in direct comparison my xr still feels super fast), sharper, a little easier to hold (that slightly reduced width is great!).
 

GeeMillz22

macrumors 6502
Mar 12, 2011
418
306
New York
I chose a 256GB black iPhone 12 for a few reasons:

1a. Ideal body/screen size for me
1b. Wanted the lighter phone
2. T-Mobile discount was insane
3. “Just” $120 diff is still $120 saved
4. If 12S/13Pro has 120Hz...insta-buy
5. Ordered on 10/21; still got it 10/23

There is a part of me that wants the 12 Pro because I like the look and few extra features, but I know I’m highly (100% if 90/120Hz) likely to get the 2021 iPhone Pro. So, I’m content with saving a buck and enjoying 90% of the same experience.
 
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nutmac

macrumors 601
Mar 30, 2004
4,817
3,402
I picked iPhone 12 (upgrading from iPhone XS). My reasons from most significant to least significant.
  • I vastly prefer iPhone 12's matte aluminum side, as well as more vibrant color.
  • After holding both iPhone 12 and 12 Pro, I appreciate iPhone 12's lighter weight.
  • 2x digital zoom on 26mm wide (normal) angle looks better to my eyes than 52mm telephoto lens, most likely owing to 26mm's superior optics. On XS, I never shot beyond 2x.
  • $120-150 price difference (when configured to 128GB) pays for all the accessories I want (and then some), such as a case and wireless charger.
  • LiDAR sounds interesting on paper, but in reality, I would never use AR and low light auto focus is frankly excellent on iPhone 12.
  • I prefer videos shot in more cinematic 24-30 frames per second over soap opera like 60 frames per second. iPhone 12 supports Dolby Vision that frame rate.
  • I don't care about ProRAW.
  • To me, extra 2GB RAM is a theoretical benefit. I never craved for more RAM on iPhone XS.
 

Return Zero

macrumors 6502a
Oct 2, 2013
899
2,290
Kentucky
What exactly does “the ‌iPhone 12 Pro‌ has a higher-quality stainless steel frame” mean?

How is stainless steel “higher quality” than aluminium?
It’s obviously a bit subjective, but stainless has superior physical characteristics like scratch/gouge resistance and flexibility (some say this helps protect the glass if the phone falls on its frame but I’m not so sure). Also, some people just prefer the heavier weight as a sign of quality (which is bogus to me but whatever).
 

edk99

macrumors 6502a
May 27, 2009
786
1,217
FL
I'm a photgrapher and went with the 12. $300 (including tax) extra for telephoto and LiDAR wasn't worth it for me.

How on earth do you get $300? It is $799 vs $999 is $200 if you get the base iPhone 12 and carrier locked. Are you not going to pay tax on the iPhone 12 Pro too. I guess technically you would pay tax on the $200 extra so $200 * 10% = $20. So $220. Still not close to $300.
 

GermanSuplex

macrumors 65816
Aug 26, 2009
1,157
24,786
Went with graphite pro, 256gb. As tempted for the mini, but news of the battery and the fact it isn’t that amazingly smaller means I went with the better camera or the pro. The pro max is too large for me, more like a phablet.
 

UnusedLoginID

macrumors regular
Feb 28, 2012
219
212
Still a lot of folks here fooled by Apple pricing advertising. The 12 is not $799, it’s $829 if you’re not activating. And it’s only 64GB. A 128GB will run $879.
Compared to the 128GB iPhone 12 Pro at $999 and you’ve got a price difference of $120 !!
To me that’s a no-brainer, with the 12 Pro 2x optical zoom, lidar scanner, night mode portrait, stainless steel body, brighter display (800 nits vs 600 nits), 6GB RAM (vs 4GB), ProRAW image format…
 

nordique

macrumors 68000
Oct 12, 2014
1,835
1,450
  • To me, extra 2GB RAM is a theoretical benefit. I never craved for more RAM on iPhone XS.

good point regarding the ram

I think most people who make a big deal about it are the type of consumer who will upgrade in a year or two anyway, and likely do not use that ram in practice. It’s more of justification.

if the iPad Pro 12.9 3rd gen with 4GB of ram can run 3 programs simultaneously with a 120hz display and much more pixels to push, people are really kidding themselves, or don’t quite understand how the ram will affect their usage. I suppose if they truly do hold on their phone for a long time, then it may be a moot point but these are the types of users who will upgrade next year or the year after anyways.

The extra ram is likely solely for the camera function, as has been the case since the 7 plus, as opposed to the lowest common denominator function, even though it does have verifiable benefits. Some YouTube users have noted it does hold back ground applications in memory more, which is good for those who keep their entire home screen apps open and ready to go, but once the camera is activated it gets cleared and all the apps or many of them refresh anyways. For fun I managed to replicate this with my 12 and 12 Pro when I had them.

I agree with pretty much all of the points you made in the post. I returned the 12 as well because for me, the mini might be where it’s at.

I also didn’t realize how much I preferred the matte sides of the aluminum this year. They’re fantastic. Apple has made a strong up sell case this year, but I imagine many people with Pro devices will convince themselves to upgrade again next year with the likely 120hz refresh screens
 
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QCassidy352

macrumors G4
Mar 20, 2003
11,359
4,284
Bay Area
Still a lot of folks here fooled by Apple pricing advertising. The 12 is not $799, it’s $829 if you’re not activating. And it’s only 64GB. A 128GB will run $879.
Compared to the 128GB iPhone 12 Pro at $999 and you’ve got a price difference of $120 !!
To me that’s a no-brainer, with the 12 Pro 2x optical zoom, lidar scanner, night mode portrait, stainless steel body, brighter display (800 nits vs 600 nits), 6GB RAM (vs 4GB), ProRAW image format…
I disagree. The only thing on that list that would mean anything to me in real world use is the optical zoom. And the stainless steel body is a negative IMO - I'll take the lighter weight of the aluminum body any day.
 

easterncanuck

macrumors newbie
Dec 3, 2006
19
1
I went for a 12 Pro ..still waiting to getting it though, hopefully soon
Because I was coming from an 8 plus I wanted to get a good triple lens camera, lidar and the extra just mentioned in your article. I was not sure about the colour pacific blue but looking at several pictures in different posts of lucky ones who got it already, I hope is a good pick, not only for the colour....
I picked up a blue pro on launch and really like the colour. I wasn’t sure about it either as I’ve always bought black/grey. Thinking now of getting the blue watch as well but will have to wait.
 
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