Oct 16, 2020 | iPhone

Is the iPhone 12 Worth Buying?



Each year, Apple releases new products.  Almost from the previous year’s release, rumors abound about what the specs of the new devices will be.  Will it have a larger screen?  What will the screen refresh rate be?  What will the new cameras be?  Will it be able to slice bread?  Wait, who slices bread anymore?

Recently, Apple unveiled their new line of phones, the Apple 12 line.  Will this be the iPhone model to have?  Will it be worth upgrading or hold on to what I’ve got?  Well, if you are rocking an iPhone 11 or 11 Pro, you might be able to sit this one out.  If you have an iPhone 10 or older, I’d look seriously at this year’s offerings.  If you are on an iPhone 7 or older, it’s time to upgrade.  There is a lot of new technology in these new phones.

New Technology

5G Network

The new iPhone 12 has the ability to use the new, super fast 5G networks rolling out now.  While the network coverage will be (and is) sparse, it is the new technology that we will all be using in the coming years.  There are no two ways around it, it is coming this year, next year and the next year.  

Most of us have grown used to LTE speeds, which average around 20 Mb/s.  5G is promising to average about 50x faster at a gigabit per second.  That would download an entire movie, in HD quality, in a matter of seconds.  It seems crazy fast now, but it will be ho-hum normal in a few years.

All of the iPhone 12 models will have 5G capability so they will all be ready for the future in that regard.

Super Retina XDR Display

All of the iPhone models this year will have the same Super Retina XDR technology displays, only the respective sizes of those displays will differ.  This is the first year that an OLED display will be present in each model of phone.  The display sports a 2 million to 1 contrast ratio for superior blacks and better HDR.  The display resolution is 460 dpi and 1200 nits of brightness.

Front Facing Camera

The front facing camera for all models is a 12 megapixel, F/2.2 lens.  Portrait mode is available on the front lens for blurring the background for amazing portraits with lighting effects.  The front camera is also capable of 4K and 1080P video recording.  The camera is also stabilized for cinematic quality video.

The New A14 Bionic Processor

The heart of each of the new iPhones is the A14 Bionic chip.  New for this year, the A14 is a custom Apple design made on the new 5 nanometer process.  Apple claims the new processor is up to 50% faster than other smartphone processors.  The Neural Engine in the A14 processor with its 16 cores is claimed to be up to 80% faster than the A13 processor.  The Neural Engine is responsible for all of the computational photography used in the iPhone Camera system.

The iPhone Models (The Quick Rundown)

IPhone 12 Mini

The first up is the iPhone 12 Mini, starting at $699 it is one of the cheapest premium 5G devices on the market.  It is also currently the smallest premium 5G phone on the market.  It features a 5.4 inch Super Retina XDR display and the base model has 64 GB of storage with 128 and 256 available.

IPhone 12

Next up is the iPhone 12, starting at $799 is the standard model iPhone this year.  It sports a 6.1 inch Super Retina XDR display and the base model sports 64 GB of storage, with 128 and 256 available.

IPhone 12 Pro

The first Pro model is the iPhone 12 Pro, starting at $999 is the smaller of the two Pro models.  It sports a 6.1 inch Super Retina XDR display and the base model starts at 128 GB of storage with 256 and 512 available.

IPhone 12 Pro Max

The big brother of the iPhone 12 Pro, the iPhone 12 Pro Max, starts at $1099.  It sports a 6.7 inch Super Retina XDR display and the base model starts at 128 GB of storage with 256 and 512 available.  The big bro Pro also has a larger sensor on the main wide angle camera (the 1x camera) which will allow for better performance in low light situations.


If you have an older model iPhone, prior to the iPhone 11, there is plenty here to be excited about as upgrades.  The 5G connectivity will have you future proofed for a couple of years while the camera and video system upgrades will be a welcome advancement over the systems onboard your phone now.  The display will be cleaner with better contrast and the glass itself will be tougher than any other iPhone.

If you have an iPhone 11 or 11 Pro currently, the situation is a little less cut and dried.  The cameras on the iPhone 12 Pro are largely unchanged from those on the 11 Pro, save for some enhancements in HDR processing and stabilization.  

The photographic areas that are interest to me and might cause me to upgrade from the iPhone 11 Pro are the Apple ProRAW files, the better image stabilization and the larger sensor on the iPhone 12 Pro Max.  There is no arguing that a larger sensor is a massive benefit, especially considering the minute size of all of the image sensors in these phones.  The almost 50% increase in sensor size is probably my biggest draw.  HDR3 is something I can’t wait to play with as well, since the current HDR in the iPhone works very well.

Video features and being able to shoot in HDR Dolby Vision at 10 bit is amazing.  Even more amazing is being able to edit that footage on the phone itself and post it up.  This may be an amazing upgrade for the video system on these devices.  The video I have captured from the iPhone 11 Pro has been amazing and, as long as sufficient light is present, almost indistinguishable from my DSLR video, at least to my eyes.  I can’t wait to see what the upgraded video looks like.

I use the cameras on my iPhone 11 Pro a LOT.  I’ve shot countless photos of family, things and just stuff.  While I don’t shoot as much video as I do photos, I have produced some very nice edited video from the iPhone 11 Pro.  With the addition of the FilmicPro app, one can capture flat video and color correct it in post for stunning color and dynamic range from a little cell phone lens.

Bottom Line (TL:DR)

If you are using an older iPhone model prior to the 11 series, I think it will be a worthwhile upgrade for all the extra speed and better cameras on the iPhone 12.  If you have an iPhone 11 or iPhone 11 Pro, the upgrade is less compelling UNLESS you lean heavily on the iPhone cameras for photos and video.  If you shoot a lot, the upgrades made to the cameras on the iPhone 12 should still be worthwhile, in my opinion.



Ralph is an avid photographer in his spare time. He spends a lot of his photography time shooting sports photos of his daughter, who plays softball and swims. He also has a keen interest in mobile photography.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This