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Apple iPhone 12 Pro review: Design, camera set it apart from other smartphones

Applie iPhone 12 Pro review: Depending on how you see it, the iPhone 12 Pro is a massive upgrade in videography with Dolby Vision HDR and photography department (especially low-light), complimented with great performance and a new design

twitter-logoNidhi Singal | November 4, 2020 | Updated 15:31 IST
Apple iPhone 12 Pro review: Design, camera set it apart from other smartphones
Apple iPhone 12 Pro review

Hello, iPhone 4! Oops! That's the new iPhone 12 Pro with a striking resemblance to the years-old iPhone 4. If you have ever held the iPhone 4, 4s, 5 or even the original SE, you will know what I am talking about. But even with a strong resemblance to the iPhone 4, the design sets it apart from every other smartphone in the market.

MODISH DESIGN

The glass at the front is flushed seamlessly into the smooth, flattened stainless steel frame on the sides with rounded corners, offering a superb hand-feel. This has helped Apple squeeze in a bigger display in almost the same size. A bigger 6.1-inch (instead of 5.8-inch) display in almost the same sized body, which doesn't feel too big or uncomfortable to hold. Instead, I was easily able to use this phone with just one hand. Also, because the back-tap feature came in handy. Activated from the 'touch' settings within 'accessibility', I assigned double-tap for accessing control centre and triple tap for notifications. This eliminated the need of reaching out to the top of the screen now and then.

The power key continues to be on the right panel, volume controls along with silent toggle on the left, lighting port and speaker at the bottom. The nano-SIM tray has been moved from the right panel to the left. The matte rear with glossy camera module on the top left and Apple logo in the middle completes the elegant design. Although not visible, Apple has added a new MagSafe magnetic wireless charging system to the rear. Complementing the classy design is the new 'Pacific Blue' that makes it look modish yet graceful.

Also read: Apple iPhone 12 series launched: What's new, how much will these devices cost in India

VIBRANT DISPLAY

Thanks to the new design, the iPhone 12 Pro offers a bigger screen estate. The 6.1-inch OLED display, which Apple refers to as Super Retina XDR, looks sharp and vibrant. There is also the notch housing True Depth camera system for secure Face ID and selfie.  The screen offers deep blacks, bright colours and better contrast. This makes everything - from streaming videos, playing games, reading text - delightful. However, at full brightness, the screen feels a little too bright for my eyes. My preferences - dark mode on and True Tone off.

STURDINESS

With glass being used extensively on the iPhone, Apple has engineered a new tech to prevent the front glass from damaging. Putting in a lot of technology, Apple has added Ceramic Shield to the glass, which makes it even more durable and scratch-resistant. My earrings often end up scratching the display while answering calls but even with the extensive usage since the last few days, the display continues to scratch-free. Also, since the last couple of iterations, iPhones have been dust and water resistance. This is the new standard in most of the flagship smartphones as it prevents the phone from accidental water damage. The iPhone 12 Pro can withstand a maximum depth of 6 meters up to 30 minutes.

SMOOTH AS EVER

Unlike Android smartphones where we often end up comparing processors (Qualcomm this and that), Apple adds its chipsets, which are optimised for that iOS to run smoothly. This year's A14 Bionic chip with the neural engine powers all the four iPhone 12 models. And just like previous years, the new chip is said to be the fastest. There wasn't any noticeable difference while using the iPhone 12 Pro for the regulars - emails, documentation, social networking, browsing, launching apps, and even switching between the apps. But there is a noticeable speed boost while playing heavy-graphics intensive games such as Call of Duty, Bright Memory, and even while processing videos. Addition of the LiDAR sensor helps the iPhone 12 Pro create a depth map of any space by measuring how long it takes light to reflect from the object. Through this, Apple is reiterating its AR strategy. I loved using the 3D-scanning Canvas app on the iPhone 12 Pro for measuring dimensions, with measurements accurate to a T. The overall performance of the 12 Pro is smooth, lag-free, without any heating issues. Also, just like many other Android smartphones, even the iPhone 12 Pro is 5G enabled. However, I could not experience 5G speeds. Although the mobile data setting only allowed me to switch between 4G and 3G, the 5G option will appear once the carrier supports the same. It's the same hardware as everywhere else in the world as Apple does not make any hardware changes unless there is a regulatory issue. Running iOS 14, I was able to add widgets to the home screen, and the App Library on the right most page automatically organized the apps in folders such as suggestions, recently added, productivity, utilities, social and more.

Also read: Apple online store now shipping Apple iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro; check out details

Switching to the iPhone 12 from an older iPhone would mean seamless switch (all apps placed at the right place, in right folders as being used on the older model) in just a few minutes. For those new to Apple ecosystem would take a little time - around 7-10 minutes to configure the device.

IMPRESSIVE CAMERA

Apple doesn't brag about the megapixel count. Instead, the iPhone 12 Pro has three 12MP sensors - ultra-wide, wide-angle and telephoto. And they continue to be the best. iPhone 12 Pro doesn't just click sharp, bright images but captures a great amount of details as well. While the images shot during daylight look stunning, there is a significant improvement in low-light photography as well. The addition of LiDAR sensor helps with low-light photography. So does the main camera featuring faster f/1.6 aperture, that captures more light. On the iPhone 12 Pro, night-mode is accessible ultra-wide lens as well. This mode automatically kicks in and suggests holding still (usually takes around 3 seconds to capture the shot). It does a pretty impressive job even in a pitch dark room. But the key is to hold still. If you can't, better mount it on a tripod for low-light shots. The photo options on iPhone continue to be minimal - photo (0.5x for ultrawide, 1x for wide-angle and 2x for telephoto), portrait mode (natural, studio, contour, stage, stage light mono and high-key light mono), and panorama.

However,  more than stills, it is the video capturing capability with Dolby Vision HDR video at 4k 60 fps that records smooth videos with nuances of bright and dark shades too. A minute of video captured at 4k 60 fps is over 400MB in size, whereas the 4k 30 fps half the size at 200MB. Apple is pushing the Pro as the creator's device as the Dolby Vision HDR grading is used for post-production in movies. But while the video plays seamlessly on Apple ecosystem products, not all TVs with AirPlay will be supporting this.

BATTERY THAT LASTS

In terms of battery life, I found it to be largely good - got around day's usage with emails, Whatsapp, calling, browsing, gaming, streaming, video calling and more. In the name of the environment, Apple has done away with the charging adapter. If you plan to buy one, it would cost you another Rs 1,900. The addition of MagSafe brings improved wireless charging experience (additional cost of Rs 4,500). With the 18W adapter, it took close to an hour and a half for a full charge. While the MagSafe charger is convenient (just place your phone and the rear magnetically attaches), the charging time is over two and a half hours.

Depending on how you see it, the iPhone 12 Pro is a massive upgrade in videography with Dolby Vision HDR and photography department (especially low-light), complimented with great performance and a new design. But if you capture images occasionally, and are for self-consumption and social media handles, you can easily consider the iPhone 12 with the dual camera module - 12MP ultrawide and 12 MP wide-angle (minus telephoto, LiDAR sensor).

The iPhone 12 Pro starts at Rs 1,19,900 for 128GB and you can avail a cashback of Rs 5,000 using an HDFC credit card. In India, you also end up paying 18 per cent GST, which is over Rs 18,000 (if you have a GSTIN, the same can be availed at most of the offline stores).

Also read: iPhone 12 way costlier in India than countries like US, Dubai, Singapore; here's why

Also read: Consumers to pay Rs 21,344 in taxes, duties for Rs 69,900 iPhone 12 mini

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