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iPhone 12 Pro Review – For A Little Extra, Better By Design

Apple iPhone 12 pro Singapore review

This year’s 2020 iPhone models might be a radical shift in design language, but it marks a greater revolution in Apple’s pricing strategy. Eschewing charging adapters and introducing four variants in a generation, iPhone 12 Pro might seem eclipsed by the lower-tier iPhone 12 and top-tier iPhone 12 Pro Max, but in this review, we find it well-deserving of its own spot in the iPantheon of iDevices.

No charger – good for planet, bad for customers?

The object of constant mockery from reviewers and Apple antagonists alike, the iPhone 12’s move to eschew wall adapters has been a very controversial one. 

Though the more efficient logistics and reduced ewaste bodes well in terms of sustainability, it still has been the object of ire for many. The USB-C to Lightning cable (as opposed to USB-A to Lightning) means that upgrading iPhone users have to buy an extra charging adapter brick, which som believe undermines any environmental benefits.

My hot take: USB-C chargers are now ubiquitous enough for Apple to make that move. Whether you’re an owner of an Apple iPad or MacBook, or have on hand slew of other non-Apple devices, you’ll likely have a USB-C adapter.

Otherwise, there’s no shortage of third party options readily available from your neighbourhood retailer that offer much more utility like Power Delivery or multi-port charging – many at a lower price too. If anything, I’m glad Apple had opted to maintain prices despite the upgrades to the iPhone 12, opting instead to leave out something easily replaced or already owned by potential buyers.

New minimalist form factor

Without fail, everyone who has seen the iPhone 12 Pro has asked to touch it. Best described as mesmerising, the flat glossy frame allows for an immersive full-screen experience, and glistens like a mirror far more than the rounded frames of previous iPhones.

It does come with a few downsides: the new form factor does makes for sharper corners that will definitely be noticed especially when holding the landscape while gaming. The flat edges do help promote a more secure grip – although the matte satin rear, like with previous Pro models, can get slightly slippery.

Despite its compact build, the iPhone 12 is hefty in the hand. Image: Ian Ling

Camera performance

The iPhone 12 phones come with three headline photography features: a larger main camera sensor that allows for superior low-light performance, Night Mode on all four cameras (including selfie shooter) and Dolby Vision video capture.

Night Mode on the ultrawide camera on the iPhone 12 Pro. Image: Ian Ling

Megapixels aren’t the best measure of camera capability, and the iPhone 12’s upgrades the size of its sensor bodes well for image quality especially in low light despite hanging on to its 12-megapixel shooters.

The larger sensor means Night Mode only kicks in in lower-light conditions than previously, and Night Mode on the ultrawide angle has been a delight especially when capturing nightscapes.

The 2X telephoto lens has been slightly more finicky – often not actually using the alternate lens in lower-light conditions. This means a more limited set of scenarios where Night Mode is a practical addition for that camera.

Video on iPhone has always been stellar. The addition of Dolby Vision is a delight, although it might take a while before widespread Dolby Vision-capable displays are available and its true utility is fully realised. For now, HDR content captured on iPhone can be fully appreciated on its Super Retina XDR display.

Software performance

The flat frame of the iPhone 12 Pro. Image: Ian Ling

Performance on iPhone has never been a sticking issue, and with the improved A14 Bionic chipset on the iPhone 12 Pro, I’ve not noticed any force-closed apps or any performance issues even in demanding apps.

Performance has never been an issue, even in some of the most demanding applications on iPhone – including LumaFusion and the Adobe Aero augmented reality (AR) application.

Some nagging software issues have persisted throughout the last few weeks, though. Battery drain has been a sticking issue, with average screen-on time per charge averaging slightly over 5 hours.

Value

While the word on the street has been for the budget-conscious to consider the base iPhone 12 over the Pro models, there’s several caveats to that. Starting at SGD 1,649, the iPhone 12 Pro seems a full $500 more than the $1,149 iPhone 12 mini. Match the sizes, and it’s a $350 split against the iPhone 12.

For essentially the same phone in terms of display, form and processor, the iPhone 12 Pro model commands the premium for several reasons:

  • More premium and hefty stainless steel build
  • Twice the storage at 128GB vs 64GB ($280 difference between 128GB models)
  • Additional 2X telephoto lens

Conclusion

It’s hard to argue against the fact that top-tier iPhone models are luxury products, and the iPhone 12 Pro isn’t any different. While maintaining the price of its predecessors, it has managed to deliver 5G, camera and A14 Bionic performance improvements, along with some innovations like a new LiDAR sensor and MagSafe modular accessories.

For similar 128GB variants, the identically-sized iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro have been at the forefront of debates the last few weeks awaiting the iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 Pro Max.

The TL;DR for those on the cusp of deciding: for the S$280, you’ll get 2GB extra RAM, more premium materials and an extra telephoto camera– seems reasonable to me.

Ian Ling
http://uncommontragedy.com
Ian is the resident Tech Monkey and Head of Content at VR Zone. His training in Economics and Political Science is at the basis of his love for journalism and storytelling. A photographer by passion, and an audiophile by obsession, Ian is captivated by all forms of tech that makes enthusiasts tick.

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