What Apple told us about its iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max
Apple today announced iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max, confusing millions who kind of wanted one of the rather brilliant but much smaller iPhone 12’s with a vision of larger devices which also happen to be slightly more brilliant, particularly for photos and video. And all with 5G.
The iPhone 12 Pro models have a new design and edge-to-edge Super Retina XDR displays, protected by the new Ceramic Shield front cover, which makes these things a whole lot tougher.
- Tougher display thanks to Ceramic Shield.
- A14 Bionic Chip.
- 5G (yay)
- Impressive new ProRAW feature.
- Ultra Wide and Telephoto cameras and longer focal length.
- LiDAR Scanner.
- New MagSafe
- Available in graphite, silver, gold, and pacific blue.
- Pre-orders for iPhone 12 Pro begin Friday, October 16, with availability beginning Friday, October 23.
- iPhone 12 Pro Max will be available for pre-order Friday, November 6, and in stores beginning Friday, November 13.
- For a limited time, eligible customers who purchase a new iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple TV, or Mac get one year of Apple TV+ for free and three months of free access to Apple Arcade.
- The cameras seem to be amazing, this really is the camera you want with you.
What you get
You get the remarkable industry-leading A14 Bionic chip, the fastest chip in a smartphone. This drives what appear to be impressive computational photography features such as the newly-introduced Apple ProRAW for more creative control in photos, and enables the first end-to-end Dolby Vision video experience, up to 60 fps.
You also get an Ultra Wide camera, a Telephoto camera with an even longer focal length on iPhone 12 Pro Max, and new Wide cameras that capture images and video in bright and low-light environments.
There’s a new LiDAR Scanner for immersive augmented reality (AR) experiences and MagSafe, which offers high-powered wireless charging and supports third-party accessories.
iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max will be available in four stainless steel finishes, including graphite, silver, gold, and pacific blue.
What Apple said
“This is a huge leap for iPhone, bringing the best 5G experience in the market and delivering our most advanced technologies to users who want the absolute most from their iPhone,” said Greg Joswiak, Apple’s SVP Worldwide Marketing.
“Each generation of iPhone has changed what we expect from a smartphone, and now with 5G, iPhone 12 Pro provides a new generation of performance. Our tight integration of hardware and software enables incredible computational photography features like the expansion of Night mode to more cameras and introduces support for HDR video with Dolby Vision.
“A state-of-the-art LiDAR Scanner means users can experience AR like never before, and also offers benefits to the camera with faster autofocus in low light and the introduction of Night mode portraits. These experiences and so much more make this the best iPhone line-up ever.”
What about the 5G?
The company claims to support the most 5G bands on any smartphone. U.S. models support millimetre wave, the higher frequency version of 5G which can reach speeds up to 4Gbps, even in densely populated areas.
iPhone 12 Pro models also feature a Smart Data mode, which extends battery life by assessing 5G needs and balancing data usage, speed, and power in real time.
What about the chip?
The A14 Bionic is the first chip in the smartphone industry built on 5-nanometer process.
It’s faster than anything else, boosts CPU and GPU by up to 50 percent compared to the fastest competing smartphone chips, which means it supports console-quality gaming experiences, powerful computational photography, and more, while delivering great battery life.
The chip features a 16-core Neural Engine, promises an 80% better performance and can deliver 11 trillion operations per second, enabling improved performance on even the most intense ML models. And putting more than one Xserve in your pocket.
What’s new in the design?
Apple calls the design a “New, sophisticated flat-edge design that features a gorgeous surgical-grade stainless steel band paired with a precision-milled matte glass back, and introduces the incredibly durable Ceramic Shield.”
What about the screen?
The Ceramic Shield should increase drop performance by 4x. You get larger, edge-to-edge displays with reduced borders in devices that are about the same size as the priors, but both boast a Super Retina XDR display with system-wide colour management.
The Max model provides 3.5 million pixels, and for video you can anticipate 1,200 nits peak brightness.
The smartphones can handle a little water, too, and will withstand water submersion up to 6 meters for up to 30 minutes, and are protected against everyday spills, including coffee and soda.
What can the camera do?
iPhone 12 Pro provides a seven-element lens Wide camera with an ƒ/1.6 aperture which brings a 27 percent improvement in low-light performance in photo and video; the Ultra Wide camera with a 120-degree field of view; and a 52 mm focal length Telephoto camera. The optical zoom range is 4x. (You get 5x with Pro Max).
The camera exploits a new image signal processor (ISP) which sits aboard the A14 Bionic chip. For users, this makes for great image quality and powerful computational photography capabilities you just don’t get on a standard camera.
iPhone 12 Pro Max takes this further. The device delivers a new ƒ/1.6 aperture Wide camera with a 47 percent larger sensor with 1.7μm pixels for a massive 87 percent improvement in low-light conditions. It also includes the expansive Ultra Wide camera and a 65 mm focal length Telephoto camera for increased flexibility with closer shots and tighter crops. Combined, this system offers 5x optical zoom range.
What is ProRaw?
Later this year, iPhone 12 Pro gains support for the new Apple ProRAW, which combines Apple’s multiframe image processing and computational photography with the versatility of a RAW format. You get full creative control over colour, detail, and dynamic range natively on iPhone or with other professional photo editing apps.
Night mode is auto-magical!
Improvements to Night mode, now expanded to the TrueDepth and Ultra Wide cameras, allow for an even brighter picture, while Night mode Time-Lapse deliver longer exposure times for sharper videos, better light trails, and smoother exposure in low-light scenarios.
Deep Fusion and Smart HDR 3 means users can expect true-to-life images, even in complex scenes.
The video isn’t bad either.
Modestly, Apple says this is the “highest quality video in a smartphone”, and the range delivers support for HDR video with Dolby Vision, up to 60 fps, and even better video stabilisation for cinema-grade productions.
Dolby Vision grading is processed live and sustained during editing, whether in the Photos app or iMovie, and coming to Final Cut Pro X later this year.
What’s the fuss about LiDAR?
An all-new LiDAR Scanner comes to the Pro line, offering the ability to measure light distance and use pixel depth information of a scene.
It delivers faster, more realistic AR experiences and improves autofocus by 6x in low-light scenes for more accuracy and reduced capture time in photos and videos. The most impressive manifestation of this thing is in Night Mode. Those pictures are lit, Even though it’s night.
A new connection: MagSafe
Apple has also introduced a new standard aimed at third party developers it calls MagSafe, which it says improves wireless charging for a better, more efficient experience, and supports an ecosystem of easy-to-attach accessories.
MagSafe, the company says, delivers a “unique experience” to iPhone, featuring an array of magnets around the wireless charging coil, optimised for alignment and efficiency, that connects easily to the iPhone. The chargers efficiently provide up to 15W of power, while still accommodating existing Qi-enabled devices.
The company introduced its own solutions based on this (MagSafe Charger and MagSafe Duo Charger for use with iPhone and Apple Watch, as well as new silicone, leather, and clear cases that snap onto the back of iPhone, and a leather wallet), but expects third-party manufacturers to introduce their own.
What about the environment?
Apple VP Lisa Jackson climbed onto the roof of Apple HQ to declare once again Apple’s total commitment to the environment.
This year’s big news is that all iPhone 12 models are made with 100 percent recycled rare earth elements in all magnets, including the new camera, Taptic Engine, and MagSafe, as well as Apple’s MagSafe accessories.
That’s significant given the trade in conflict minerals.
Apple is already carbon neutral for global corporate operations, and by 2030, plans to have net zero climate impact across the entire business, which includes manufacturing supply chains and all product life cycles, so every device it sells will be 100 percent carbon neutral.
No power adapter or headphones
Apple is removing the power adapter and EarPods from iPhone packaging. You’ll have to use one of the old ones you have around…
How much do these things cost?
iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max will be available in 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB models in graphite, silver, gold, and pacific blue starting at $999 and $1,099, respectively. (Note that the 64GB entry-level model has been replaced by a 128GB model at an equivalent price).