The iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini are part of Apple’s latest generation of smartphones, offering OLED displays, 5G connectivity, the A14 chip for better performance, improved cameras, and MagSafe, all in a new, squared-off design.
Announced in October of 2020, the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini are still among the newest iPhones in Apple’s lineup, but they are approaching the middle of their product cycle. Apple tends to release new iPhone models every September, and despite the iPhone 12 and 12 mini launching a month later than usual in 2020, it looks as though new iPhone 13 models are going to launch as normal in September.
There are clear signs of an iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini arriving later this year with a number of upgrades and improvements, but the launch of these devices is believed to be around half a year away. This means that it is still a good time to buy the iPhone 12 or the iPhone 12 mini for the vast majority of people, but some customers may now prefer to wait until new models arrive in the fall.
While the iPhone 12 seems to be the best all-round iPhone option currently available, users who need pro-level camera features or want a more premium design should opt for the $999 iPhone 12 Pro. Similarly, for the largest and most fully-featured iPhone, there is the 6.7-inch iPhone 12 Pro Max, which dwarfs the iPhone 12 by over half an inch and starts at $1,099.
On the other hand, if price is your main concern, the iPhone 11 or iPhone XR may be more appropriate than the $799 iPhone 12, featuring the same 6.1-inch display size for as little as $499. There are some tradeoffs with the iPhone 11 or iPhone XR however, such as the LCD display and use of an older chipset.
Likewise, if you are looking for a more inexpensive alternative to the $699 iPhone 12 mini that still prioritizes one-handed use and pocketability, then the $399 iPhone SE may the best option.
iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Mini Overview
Apple on October 13, 2020 introduced its newest flagship iPhones, the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini, which offer powerful features at an affordable price tag. Sold alongside the more expensive iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max, the iPhone 12 and 12 mini are ideal for anyone who doesn’t need pro-level camera features.
The 6.1-inch iPhone 12 is a successor to the iPhone 11, while the 5.4-inch iPhone 12 is an all-new size and marks the smallest iPhone Apple has introduced since the 2016 iPhone SE. Aside from screen size and battery size, the two phones are technically identical. With its small size, the iPhone 12 mini is ideal for those who prefer an iPhone that can be used one-handed.
All iPhone models this year feature Super Retina XDR OLED displays for the first time, with an edge-to-edge design with the exception of the Face ID notch and small bezels around the edge. There’s no difference in display quality between the standard iPhone 12 models and the Pro models.
The 5.4-inch iPhone 12 mini has a resolution of 2430 x 1080 with 476 pixels per inch and the 6.1-inch iPhone 12 has a resolution of 2532 x 1170 with 460 pixels per inch. The displays offer HDR support with 1200 nits peak brightness, Wide Color for vivid, true-to-life colors, Haptic Touch for feedback, and True Tone to match the color temperature of the display to the ambient lighting for a more natural viewing experience.
Apple overhauled the design of the iPhone 12 lineup this year, introducing flat edges that are a departure from the rounded edges of prior models and are similar in design to the iPad Pro. The front of the iPhone is protected by a new Ceramic Shield cover that replaces the standard cover glass. Apple says the Ceramic Shield is infused with nano-ceramic crystals and offers 4x better drop performance.
The back of the iPhone continues to be made from glass, with the two halves of the device sandwiching an aerospace-grade aluminum enclosure that comes in six colors: blue, green, black, white, (PRODUCT)RED, and purple, a new color added in April 2021.. Like the iPhone 12 Pro models, the iPhone 12 models offer IP68 water and dust resistance and can hold up to submersion in 6 meters of water for up to 30 minutes.
All of the iPhone 12 models in this year’s lineup support 5G connectivity for faster downloads and uploads, better quality video streaming, improved gaming, and higher-definition 1080p FaceTime calls. 5G coverage is available worldwide, but only iPhone 12 devices sold in the United States support mmWave 5G, which is the fastest 5G technology available.
iPhone 12 models sold in other countries are limited to the slower but more widely available Sub-6GHz 5G connectivity. In the U.S., 5G speeds can be as high as 4Gbps, even in highly populated areas.
Gigabit LTE is supported when 5G isn’t available, and to preserve battery life when using 5G, a Smart Data Mode reverts to an LTE connection when 5G speeds aren’t necessary.
The iPhone 12 and 12 mini support WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0, plus they include a U1 Ultra Wideband chip for spatial awareness and interactivity with other devices that include the U1 feature such as the HomePod mini.
There’s a new A14 chip inside the iPhone 12 models, and it is the first chip in the smartphone industry built on a 5-nanometer process for performance and efficiency improvements. Apple says the 6-core CPU and 4-core GPU in the A14 are 50 percent faster than the fastest competing smartphone chips. The A14 chip includes a 16-core Neural Engine that offers an 80 percent increase in performance for machine learning tasks.
The iPhone 12 and 12 mini are similar to the Pro models in most respects, but the camera is a major differentiating factor. While the Pro models include a triple-lens camera setup with a LiDAR Scanner and other bells and whistles, the iPhone 12 and 12 mini have a simpler and less advanced dual-lens camera setup.play
That said, there are still significant camera improvements in the new iPhone 12 models compared to the iPhone 11. There’s an f/2.4 Ultra Wide camera and a Wide camera that has a new f/1.6 aperture that lets in 27 percent more light for better performance in low-light conditions along with 2x optical zoom and 5x digital zoom.
The A14 chip powers new computational photography features with better than ever Deep Fusion for improved photos with more texture and less noise, and improved Night mode with better contrast in images. There’s a Smart HDR 3 feature that adjusts the white balance, contrast, texture, and saturation in photos for more natural-looking images.
Like the iPhone 12 Pro models, the iPhone 12 models can capture 30fps HDR video with Dolby Vision, enabling cinema-grade videos to be captured, edited, and shared right on the iPhone. It also supports 4K video recording at up to 60fps. There’s improved cinematic video stabilization and a Night mode Time-Lapse feature, along with Dolby Vision selfie videos using the TrueDepth camera.
Speaking of the TrueDepth camera, it continues to enable the Face ID facial recognition biometric authentication feature in the iPhone, and it offers a 12-megapixel selfie camera. The selfie camera now supports Smart HDR 3, Deep Fusion, Night mode, and Night mode Portrait shots.
When it comes to battery life, the iPhone 12 offers up to 17 hours of video playback, 11 hours of streaming video playback, or 65 hours of audio playback. The iPhone 12 mini offers up to 15 hours of video playback, 10 hours of streaming video playback, or 50 hours of audio playback.
Both of the new iPhones offer fast charging, which provides a 50 percent charge in 30 minutes using a 20W power adapter.
Alongside the iPhone 12 models, Apple introduced MagSafe accessories designed to work with a ring of magnets built into the back of the iPhones. There’s a MagSafe charger, MagSafe iPhone cases, sleeves, and wallet accessories. MagSafe supports 15W wireless charging, an upgrade over the 7.5W charging available through standard Qi-based wireless chargers. The iPhone 12 models can also be charged using the Lightning port, which is unchanged.
Apple eliminated the power adapter and EarPods from the iPhone 12 box, and these accessories must be purchased separately. All iPhone models now ship with a USB-C to Lightning cable by default, with Apple doing away with the USB-A version.play
Apple is selling the iPhone 12 and 12 mini alongside the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max, more expensive iPhone models that have stainless steel bodies and more advanced camera technology. More info on the iPhone 12 Pro lineup can be found in our iPhone 12 Pro roundup.
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iPhone 12 Price, Pre Orders, and Release Date
The 6.1-inch iPhone 12 officially launched on Friday, October 23. It is priced starting at $799 for 64GB of storage, with 128 and 256GB available for an extra fee. The 5.4-inch iPhone 12 mini launched on Friday, November 13. Pricing on the iPhone 12 mini starts at $699 for 64GB of storage, with 128 and 256GB storage options available.
The $699 and $799 starting price points for the iPhone 12 models are only for Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint customers in the United States. For SIM-free models, pricing on the iPhone 12 mini starts at $729 and pricing on the iPhone 12 starts at $829.
The iPhones can be purchased from the online Apple Store, Apple retail locations, and third-party retailers like Best Buy, Target, and Walmart.
Apple in April 2021 introduced a new purple color for the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini, which became available for order on Friday, April 23 ahead of a launch on Friday, April 30.
iPhone 12 Reviews
6.1-inch iPhone 12
Reviews of the iPhone 12 have been positive, with reviewers praising the refreshed design that’s similar to the iPad Pro and the display, which is OLED and a major improvement over the LCD display in the iPhone 11.
Engadget called the display an “enormous” leap forward in quality with a higher resolution and colors that “pop more dramatically.”play
TechCrunch said that the squared-off edges of the iPhone 12 make it easier to grip and pick up from a flat surface, and it’s comfortable to hold. Reviewers liked the bright colors, but several, including The Verge, mentioned that the glossy rear glass is susceptible to fingerprints and microabrasions.
Most reviewers found the camera improvements to be incremental compared to the iPhone 11, with Engadget claiming that photos don’t really look much different from photos taken with the 11 Pro. TechCrunch said there are “signs of improvement” with the biggest change being the f/1.6 aperture for the Wide camera that lets more light in.play
The Ultra Wide camera was also described as sharper and crisper with perspective correction to sort out any line distortion, plus there are improvements to Portrait Mode for things like sussing out fine detail.
Reviewers liked the MagSafe integration, which most found to be faster and less frustrating than dealing with a Qi-based charger, and the connection is strong enough that you can use the iPhone while it’s charging.play
When it comes to 5G connectivity, reviewers weren’t too impressed because 5G connectivity is still limited in many places in the United States and other countries. Wired said that 5G isn’t widespread enough for most people to “experience the benefit of faster wireless speeds,” while TechCrunch pointed out that the fastest mmWave networks are only available on a few blocks in a handful of major cities.
5.4-inch iPhone 12 mini
Reviewers also love the smaller iPhone 12 mini for its form factor that makes it easy to hold in one hand, but battery life has been a disappointment.play
At 5.4-inches, the iPhone 12 mini is the smallest of the iPhone models and thus it has the smallest battery of the bunch. Most reviewers found that it didn’t quite make it through a full day and evening without needing to be charged.play
Despite the smaller size of the display, iPhone 12 mini users won’t be missing out on much – one or two lines of text that are cut off compared to the iPhone 12. Using the mini has been described as “far superior” to smaller iPhones like the original iPhone SE and the 2020 iPhone SE 2 because there’s more available display space.play
Reviewers found the iPhone 12 mini to be a solid deal, with Apple providing all of the power of the iPhone 12 in smaller package at a $699 price, but some did point out that last year, the same $699 price got you a larger 6.1-inch device.
For more reviews on the iPhone 12, make sure to check out our iPhone 12 review guide and our iPhone 12 mini review guide, both of which are useful for those who are still deciding whether or not to purchase one of the new iPhones. Make sure to also check out our first impressions coverage with thoughts on the new devices from MacRumors readers.
Some iPhone 12 models are suffering from an issue that causes the color of the aluminum body to fade. This appears to be primarily affecting PRODUCT(RED) versions of the device, but other colors could be impacted as well.
Some iPhone 12 customers are experiencing an issue with the device’s display, which exhibits flickering, a green or gray glow, or other unintended lighting variations. Apple is telling repair shops to advise customers to wait for a software update, which suggests that a software fix is coming, and there are indeed signs of a fix in iOS 14.5.
Apple introduced a new flat-edged design for the iPhone 12 and 12 mini, which is a departure from the rounded edges that have been used since the iPhone 6. The iPhone 12 models look similar to the iPad Pro models, and the flat edges also harken back to the iPhone 4 and 5.
The all-glass front and glass back panel are held together with an aluminum frame, which features a matte design and is slightly different in appearance from the stainless steel band used for the Pro models.
At the front of the iPhone 12 models, there’s a notch at the front to house the TrueDepth Camera, speaker, and microphone, and there’s a slim bezel all around the edges of the iPhone 12.
There are antenna bands at the top and sides of the phone, along with the standard power button on the right and volume buttons on the left. Underneath the power button, there’s a new 5G mmWave antenna, but this is a feature limited to the U.S. models that have mmWave support. iPhones in other countries do not have this antenna. iPhones purchased in European countries have regulatory information etched into the side.
The SIM slot that was on the right has been moved to the left side of the phone, and there are speaker holes and built-in microphones at the bottom of the iPhone 12 models. There’s also a Lightning port that can be used for charging.
At the back of the iPhone, there’s a square-shaped camera bump that with a dual-lens camera and flash. Below that, there’s an Apple logo that matches the color of the device.
With the exception of size (and battery life) there are no differences between the iPhone 12 and the iPhone 12 mini. The phones are identical in functionality with the same feature set and design.
The iPhone 12 is available in a 6.1-inch size that’s similar to the 6.1-inch size of the iPhone 11, while the iPhone 12 mini features a 5.4-inch display.
Compared to the iPhone 11, the 6.1-inch iPhone 12 is 11 percent thinner, 15 percent smaller, and 16 percent lighter, while the 5.4-inch iPhone 12 mini has no comparison because it is the smallest, lightest iPhone Apple has introduced since the 2016 iPhone SE.
iPhone 12 mini (left) is physically smaller than other recent “small” iPhones such as the second-generation iPhone SE and iPhone 8, despite its larger screen
The iPhone 12 mini is 5.18 inches tall (131.5mm), 2.53 inches wide (64.2mm) and 0.29 thick (7.4mm).
The iPhone 12 is 5.78 inches tall (146.7mm), 2.82 inches wide (71.5mm), and 0.29 inches thick (7.4mm).
The iPhone 12 and 12 mini come in white, black, blue, green, and (PRODUCT)RED. The black and white colors are similar to the iPhone 11 colors, but the other colors are new.
Apple in April 2021 introduced a new purple color option for the iPhone 12 and the iPhone 12 mini, which joins the other available colors. Apple previously offered a lavender version of the iPhone 11, and the new iPhone 12 purple color is a bit of a darker purple.
The iPhone 12 and 12 mini have a water resistance rating of IP68 and are able to withstand a depth of up to six meters (19.7 feet) for up to 30 minutes.
The iPhone 11 had the same IP68 water resistance rating but Apple said it could withstand water up to four meters deep for 30 minutes, so despite the similar water resistance rating, the new iPhones can hold up better to deeper submersion.
In the IP68 number, the 6 refers to dust resistance (and means the iPhone 12 Pro can hold up to dirt, dust, and other particulates), while the 8 pertains to water resistance. IP6x is the highest dust resistance rating that exists.
The iPhone 12 models can withstand rain, splashes, and accidental spills, but intentional water exposure should be avoided because water and dust resistance can degrade over time with standard device usage.
Apple’s iPhone warranty does not cover liquid damage, and while AppleCare+ does, it requires a deductible to be paid for the damage to be fixed.
For the first time, Apple has introduced OLED displays across the iPhone lineup. All of the iPhone 12 models feature a Super Retina XDR display.
There’s a 2,000,000:1 contrast radio for blacker blacks and brighter whites, and up to 1200 nits peak brightness for HDR photos, videos, TV shows, and movies. Typical max brightness is 625 nits on the iPhone 12 models.