iPhone 12 Pro

I’m a total Apple geek, and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

As soon as I had a chance, I pre-ordered the iPhone 12 Pro with the goal of receiving it on launch day.

The unbelievable strength of Apple’s marketing prowess dawned on me – I didn’t make a rational decision, I didn’t think too much – I decided and I purchased.

My previous iPhone has been the iPhone X – and it’s been a fantastic companion for three years.

To Pro or not to Pro

This was the primary area where I was surprised at how little I thought about the purchase. The iPhone 12 and 12 Pro are both incredibly good devices. And there is hardly any trade off by choosing the 12 vs the 12 Pro. It’s primarily about cameras and “look and feel”.

There are some software features that Apple holds back for the Pro only – primarily, one could argue the reason for some software features only being availble on the Pro is the extra 2GB of RAM. But it feels like there’s increasingly a decision from Apple to use software to distinguish between models, rather than just hardware.

What I realised in this process of choosing the iPhone 12 Pro is that Apple has made me classify myself. I knew I wanted the Pro instinctively. I mentally tuned out of what the 12 could do and jumped straight to the Pro. Why? I don’t know – it feels like it’s hard wired into me.

This is crazy, because in many ways I love the look of the iPhone 12 – with aluminium band, and the fact it’s a little lighter.

Pre-order day came and I made my purchase. Launch day came, and I eagerly anticipated the delivery.

Packaging

iPhone 12 Pro unboxing
iPhone 12 Pro unboxing

There’s been some fuss around the new iPhones coming in a tiny box and Apple choosing to not include a power adaptor or headphones.

Initially my reaction was: “come on, Apple!” With regards to the lack of a charger – especially given the cable that ships in the box is a new USB-C cable rather than a traditional USB 2.0 cable. For those unaware, USB 2 ports are the kind that people started wiring into their wall sockets in the UK several years ago, somewhat shortsightedly.

In reality, the decision to remove these accessories makes a ton of sense – and I am finding it hard to complain. Smaller boxes (considerably smaller boxes – to the point where I thought the delivery driver had given me a SIM card and some O2 packaging, and not my iPhone) are good for the planet, and therefore everyone.

I have enough old Apple Lightning cables and adaptors around my house to keep me going for some time. In actual use, the lack of adaptor in the box is nowhere near as big of a deal as the now ancient switch from Dock Connector to Lightning. Everyone will be fine.

I am not sure if this is a first, but I always remember unboxing my iPhone and seeing it face up when I opened the box – that “wow” moment where you slide the top of the box off, and the screen is just facing you.

Now, the iPhone is sitting face down – almost like it’s protecting itself, or having a nap. In addition, the screen is no longer covered with a clear plastic sticker. It’s still got a rewarding-to-peel sticker – don’t worry! – but this one is matte (I assume this one is recyclable?) and it conveniently points out the features of each of the non-descript buttons that line the edges of the device.

Shape and size

iPhone 12 Pro shape and size
iPhone 12 Pro shape and size

The iPhone 12 Pro feels great to hold.

I actually wasn't expecting to like it so much – having been used to the smooth and rounded sides of the iPhone X for years. I was worried the flat edges would feel uncomfortable and sharp on my hands in comparison. But it feels great.

I must admit – and having read other reviews – there could be a case of “this is different! It feels good!” In that every time Apple changes the shape and size of the iPhone, there’s a reason to like it. Sometimes “different” can feel “better” just because it’s a change.

I guess no one can categorically, definitively confirm that one shape or size is better than the other, but the iPhone 12 Pro looks fantastic, and feels great to hold in my hands.

Cameras

I took a little trip around London as the sun was setting on Saturday, and captured some very quick snaps.

The camera system on iPhone 12 Pro feels like a giant leap over that on the X. Snapping away in the evening, with minimal effort – the Pro made me feel like a pro.

LiDAR

The iPhone 12 Pro includes a LiDAR system that was first present on the iPad Pro earlier this year.

While I doubt many reading this will have an immediate need for “better AR experiences”, I am keen to see how this helps with improving the speed and performance of photography – Apple touts LiDAR as helping improve autofocus in low light. Lasers for the win.

I’m also excited to have a wide angle lens for the first time on my iPhone. I’ve been fortunate to have had the new iPad Pro for a few months now, but I haven’t exactly used it for photography.

A few samples

At the National Theatre:

Getting darker at the National Theatre
Getting darker at the National Theatre

Looking for patterns:

Angles and patterns at the National Theatre
Angles and patterns at the National Theatre

Switching between standard and wide angle lenses:

Standard Lens
Standard Lens
Wide Angle Lens – more building, less quality
Wide Angle Lens – more building, less quality

Bright lights and reflections:

This camera is designed for neon lights and reflections
This camera is designed for neon lights and reflections

Ghost lights – spot the faint lights reflected in the sky above the bright fairy lights in this next shot. From other reviews, it appears this is due to internal reflections within the lens of the iPhone itself. Surely Apple's magical machine learning abilities can address this? This feels like it needs some attention:

Light reflection on iPhone 12 Pro lenses
Light reflection on iPhone 12 Pro lenses

Automatic long exposure at night. This shot caught me by surprise – I simply snapped it, and the iPhone told me to wait a few seconds while it worked its magic. My first experience of Night Mode:

Night Mode shot
Night Mode shot

Transitioning between iPhones

Transfer from iPhone X to iPhone 12 Pro
Transfer from iPhone X to iPhone 12 Pro

The process for switching from one iPhone to another feels smoother than ever.

I’m thrilled they have sorted the Apple Watch “unpair” and “repair” shenanigans that used to catch people out.

When switching over, I chose the option to transfer directly from my old iPhone to the new. I am not sure if this was the right choice for me – it put both iPhones out of action for several hours. It also caused me to lose some data (not a lot, not so much that I’ll lose sleep) but a few WhatsApp messages and an SMS or two were lost in the patch while both iPhones were transferring – they went to my iPhone X, but never made it over to my iPhone 12 Pro.

5G

In case it wasn’t clear in the Apple Keynote, the new iPhones all support 5G. I live in London, and so far I haven’t noticed anything different about my internet speeds. I do, however, get excited whenever I see “5G” appear in the top right of my iPhone.

Given we’re all spending a lot of time at home right now, though, the excitement about 5G is a little dampened for me.

Overall

iPhone 12 Pro has the look and feel of a beautiful device. It’s mind-bendingly powerful (even compared to a top of the line MacBook Pro on some metrics), and you carry it around all day in your pocket. It’s the best camera I own, by a long way.

Did I need a new iPhone? Hell no.

Is it an extravagant purchase a time where most of the world is in chaos? Perhaps.

But for the computer I use for hours every single day, for the camera I capture life’s moments on, and to be completely satisfied by the single most critical gadget in my life?

It’s worth every penny to me.