Become a MacRumors Supporter for $25/year with no ads, private forums, and more!

iPhone 12 Pro vs. iPhone 12 Pro Max Buyer's Guide

840quadra

Moderator
Staff member
Feb 1, 2005
8,204
3,492
Twin Cities Minnesota
I'm no hardware engineer, but it seems like sensor shift requires more width and height of the module, not thickness.

Here's the Pro's camera over the Pro Max phone.
View attachment 967602
Fair point, like I said if the issue was more to do with thickness than make the depth of the phones slightly thicker. The other option could be to move the camera pod more inboard (yes it will look less pretty) to allow for the width of the camera module. More stuff would need to move inside, but Apple should be able to handle some minor packaging / arrangement of items.
 
Comment

darkslide29

macrumors 68000
Oct 5, 2011
1,722
603
San Francisco, California
Did Apple really make an idiotic claim like low-light photos being „87% better“?

I’m not a photographer. Can your or anyone explain what you mean by this? The low light pictures is the only important thing that has me torn between the Pro and Pro Max models. And I’m coming off an XS Max which is still good, but terrible low light (compared to the iPhone Pro 11).

Is it because comparing pictures can be opinion, to say exactly 87% is silly?

Or because low light pictures between the 12 pro and max won’t be that different to begin with?
 
Comment

darkslide29

macrumors 68000
Oct 5, 2011
1,722
603
San Francisco, California
I doubt one will see noticable differences between the cameras to be honest. The iPhone 12 line has a 12 MP front camera now and night mode on all the cameras. If you really need the RAW editing capability, get the 12 pro. If you do a lot of video where extra stabilization and slightly reduced noise is paramount, get the Pro Max. If you want an unobtrusive camera to take everywhere, get the mini, a powerbank and a selfie stick.

The sensors themselves are not where the magic is happening nowadays, it's mostly in the processing and Apple has a pretty big lead in that department. Other phones may have far superior optics and sensors but the overall result usually isn't consistently as good overall.

Big lenses, big sensors and OIS require lots of space and weight, it just ain't gonna happen on a small phone. Just pick a phone size that works for you and trust the engineers to get the best out of the tiny hardware. And learn how to use that camera; people I travel with are often pissed that the pictures from my 2016 iPhone SE look better than what they shot on their new flagship phones because they don't even bother with framing or adjusting settings.

I appreciate your comment. I am trying to decide between the Pro and Pro Max, where low light pictures is my main concern. I’m not a professional by any means. I ordered the Pro on Friday because I thought both phones were equal except for screen size. But when Apple says a sensor is 40% larger and 87% better at low light pictures on the Pro Max, it does make me pause. Your post provided great insight. Am I thinking and putting too much weight on those low light picture stats? Thanks.
 
  • Like
Reactions: nordique
Comment

Menneisyys2

macrumors 603
Jun 7, 2011
5,433
218
It's been six years since the iPhone 7 came out and the iPhone 12 is only marginally better. At this rate, (of diminishing returns) the iPhone 19 looks like the next iPhone to wait for.. Seven more years

1, only 4 years, not 6

2, both the UW lens, the stabilization in the Tele lens (the 7plus' tele lens was not stabilized) and Night mode are HUGE steps ahead. OK, if you only compare daylight shooting or 4k30 only (not 60p) with the wide lens, there indeed aren't that big differences.

UNLESS the AppleRAW turns out to be indeed delivering results offering true advantages of raw files; for example, not applied noise reduction. Then, the 12 Pros will indeed be capable of significantly higher image quality even in, for the iPhone 7, ideal circumstances (daylight) because you can fine-tune the level of smearing (noise reduction) yourself and don't have to rely on Apple's very heavy-handed, detail-destructing noise reduction.
 
Last edited:
Comment

Menneisyys2

macrumors 603
Jun 7, 2011
5,433
218
Those prices are INSANE. How much would it cost to buy digital camera of equal performance to the Max?

You can't compare the two. Decent digicams have MUCH larger sensors, which, in general (when paired with decent lens and used by a decent photographer), can deliver much better image quality. HOWEVER, current digicams lack computational photography like Apple's Night mode. The latter is a huge advantage of Apple's 11/12-series phones over even full frame cameras.

I now wish AppleRAW indeed offers the true advantages of raw files known on other platforms; for example, not applied noise reduction (aka detail smearing / watercoloring). Apple uses very heavy-handed, detail-destructing noise reduction currently in their JPG / HEIC files. Hope it will not be present in their raw files. Then, the Pro models can be even closer to digicams' image quality if you develop / fine tune your raw files yourself.
 
Last edited:
Comment

WBRacing

macrumors 65816
Nov 19, 2012
1,290
2,884
UK
For real? What’s there to be confused? If you don’t want small phone or pro phone get the 12. If small phone is your thing, get mini. If you’d like pro phone but not big phone get 12 pro. The rest 12 Pro Max. Piece of cake.


Those are not the only iPhone models available to buy.
 
Comment

MrCrowbar

macrumors 68020
Jan 12, 2006
2,041
208
Having learned about how horrifyingly easy the 11 Pros screen is to scratch and that Apple is advertising 4 x better at surviving drops (which means softer material), I really wonder how easy the screen is scratched on the 12 and 12 pro.

Ceramic shield sounds good since ceramics are known for being ultra hard (you can sharpen knives very well with the underside of a normal mug, it's just super awkward and you'll cut your thumb doing it). I really hope it's not marketing bull, since I really really don't wanna use a screen protector. My 2016 SE screen is flawless, never used a case or protector on it.
 
  • Like
Reactions: nordique
Comment

njek

macrumors regular
Mar 7, 2011
119
79
Warminster, UK
Those prices are INSANE. How much would it cost to buy digital camera of equal performance to the Max?

They’re not comparable...

Reverse the question - how much would it cost to kit a DSLR out with the kit to make calls, use WhatsApp, read emails, browse eBay, watch YouTube videos, record exercise etc etc etc?

Apples and pears...
 
Comment

nordique

macrumors 68000
Oct 12, 2014
1,827
1,447
150$ Canadian difference between the two

I think I may go Max this year. Its also the only phone with better battery than the 11 Pro, as the 12 Pro seems to have taken a step back in that department this year

I just fear I may not enjoy the size. Last year I found the 11 Pro Max to be too large and hefty.

That said, battery and additional camera features may be worth it this year
 
Comment

nordique

macrumors 68000
Oct 12, 2014
1,827
1,447
Having learned about how horrifyingly easy the 11 Pros screen is to scratch and that Apple is advertising 4 x better at surviving drops (which means softer material), I really wonder how easy the screen is scratched on the 12 and 12 pro.

Ceramic shield sounds good since ceramics are known for being ultra hard (you can sharpen knives very well with the underside of a normal mug, it's just super awkward and you'll cut your thumb doing it). I really hope it's not marketing bull, since I really really don't wanna use a screen protector. My 2016 SE screen is flawless, never used a case or protector on it.

Agreed. I think i dropped my 11 pro several times and never suffered a damaged display which was awesome. Fell on concrete too.

However the scratches were another issue entirely. Regular pocket lint would tear through the display like it was covered in butter haha
 
Comment

goobot

macrumors 603
Jun 26, 2009
5,834
2,650
long island NY
Does anyone know why the 12 and 12 mini don't have a telephoto camera but do have an ultrawide?
What's the logic or technical reason?
I use telephoto a lot since 7+, am I the only one?
The reasoning is that they know people would rather have the telephoto so they make it an up charge.
 
Comment

goobot

macrumors 603
Jun 26, 2009
5,834
2,650
long island NY
Having learned about how horrifyingly easy the 11 Pros screen is to scratch and that Apple is advertising 4 x better at surviving drops (which means softer material), I really wonder how easy the screen is scratched on the 12 and 12 pro.

Ceramic shield sounds good since ceramics are known for being ultra hard (you can sharpen knives very well with the underside of a normal mug, it's just super awkward and you'll cut your thumb doing it). I really hope it's not marketing bull, since I really really don't wanna use a screen protector. My 2016 SE screen is flawless, never used a case or protector on it.
Making it more shatter proof doesn’t make it more scratch proof.
 
Comment

ian87w

macrumors 68000
Feb 22, 2020
1,742
1,910
Indonesia
To me:
- Pro Max is for pro photographers and those who want large phones. And for those who need the largest battery.
- Pro is for normal enthusiasts who want a flagship phone without the extra size
- 12 is for everybody else
- 12 mini is for specific segment who want a smaller phone.
- and imo the best deal might be the 11. $600 for last year's flagship performance and probably better battery life.
 
Comment

HylianKnight

macrumors 6502
Jul 18, 2017
327
319
would someone please help this camera noob understand something? What the heck is “optical zoom range”? Thanks in advance.
 
Comment

Yebubbleman

macrumors 68040
May 20, 2010
3,675
807
Los Angeles, CA
For iPhone Plus fans, the Max phones were the only way to get a no-compromise upgrade to every feature as the 5.8" iPhone X/XS/11 Pro didn't have some of the phablet software tweaks that Plus iPhones have (and to be fair, there are still some tweaks [albeit a diminishing amount of them] that still remain exclusive to the Plus iPhones in current iOS iterations). Now that the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro's 6.1" screen resolution beats out that of the Plus iPhones and is no longer on a non-Max model that is still technically smaller (and lacking in said phablet features), the Max is no longer the ONLY phone a soon-to-be-former Plus user could see as a no-compromise upgrade. For that reason, if I were considering this year's iPhones (I'm not because I'm wary of reliability issues typically associated with a whole new body style such as the ones introduced this year), I'd be fine going with the standard non-Max Pro. Certainly those that need the added zoom on the Max should get a Max.
 
Comment

Menneisyys2

macrumors 603
Jun 7, 2011
5,433
218
Does anyone know why the 12 and 12 mini don't have a telephoto camera but do have an ultrawide?
What's the logic or technical reason?
I use telephoto a lot since 7+, am I the only one?

Generally, for a lot of people, UW is more useful than telephoto. You can use the "foot zoom" in most cases if you don't have a telephoto lens; however, doing the opposite (going back) when you want to include as much as possible in the picture (for example, indoors when shooting a room) isn't possible in many cases.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Usernotmaker
Comment

Usernotmaker

macrumors newbie
Sep 26, 2020
11
7
Generally, for a lot of people, UW is more useful than telephoto. You can use the "foot zoom" in most cases if you don't have a telephoto lens; however, doing the opposite (going back) when you want to include as much as possible in the picture (for example, indoors when shooting a room) isn't possible in many cases.
Thanks for this.
Not had a phone yet with an ultrawide and don't know much about it. I occasionally use Pano mode to make a wide pic so ultrawide sounds like a much faster way to get the shot.
I use the zoom both indoors and outdoors to get closer up. Indoors, can be because of not being allowed any closer (in a museum, at a concert) or to avoid creating a shadow or to avoid bright lights.
Guess this means I need all three!
 
Comment

hifimacianer

macrumors member
Feb 5, 2015
92
40
Germany
I‘m not willing to buy the 12 pro Max, just to get the best camera. I prefer the better form factor of the 12 pro.
The 12pro is also a step forward compared to the 11pro.

Night Mode and Deep Fusion on all cameras. Better wide lens, 5 times better OIS, and better image processing. Better portrait mode even in dark environment is also a plus.
So I go for this, and wait until the bigger sensor will come to the 13pro next year.
 
Comment
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.