With the launch fo the iPhone 12, iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12 Pro, and iPhone 12 Pro Max, Apple has landed the idea that 5G is here around the world. Despite some opposition from uninformed objectors, 5G is safe, it’s fast, and it’s going to change the way we look at our mobile devices.
Let’s look at the hardware first, then we’ll talk about what 5G means for Canadians.
Apple’s introduction of the iPhone 12 gave me a twinge of nostalgia in the best way; while I’ve enjoyed using the rounded-edge iPhone family that launched with the iPhone 6, I have missed the squared-off edge I first became familiar with back when I bought my first iPhone: the iPhone 4. Despite some design challenges–“your holding it wrong” persists as a criticism of the iPhone to this day despite being a problem solely for that phone (and solved rather handily with those great rubber bumpers).
So we’re back with the squared off edge. The iPhone 12 comes in four colours: black, white, blue, green, and (PRODUCT)RED. It also comes in two sizes: the fantastically palm-able iPhone mini with a 5.4” Super Retina XDR OLED Display, while the iPhone 12 comes with a 6.1” display o the same time. They’re lighter, thinner, and smaller than last years iPhone 11 (the mini, especially, makes the 11 look massive)–and they’re both rocking great features like an HDR display with True Tone, Wide Colour (P3), and incredible contrast.
The screen itself features Apple’s new Ceramic Shield that offers 4x Drop Performance, which as someone who has gone through two Belkin glass screen protectors in four months, is a welcome change.
Under the hood is the expected A14 Bionic chip, similar to the chip found in the iPad Air; Apple’s work with Apple Silicon is really starting to show some muscle. While Intel, AMD, and others have struggled to hit the 5nm manufacturing process line, Apple has nailed it, and the advantages are pretty plain to see: it’s faster than the A13 Bionic, which is still the leader of the pack for mobile processors. The performance gap isn’t small, and it’s only widening. With Nvidia picking up ARM we may see some progress for non-iOS phones, but with a head start like this it’s difficult to see how the competition can catch up.
The Cameras in the iPhone 12 and 12 mini have been updated, with the wide-angle camera featuring an even faster lens, which means more detail in lower light. It’s bringing in 27% more light, which should mean better shots all around, especially at night. As someone who used to swear by my Motorola f/1.7 50mm and my Fujifilm XF-1 at f/2.4, I am so beyond impressed with this camera.
Video is equally good: with so much more light available for video, it makes a whole new type of content available to shoot. The iPhone 12 can shoot Dolby Vision 4K HDR video, making it the first of its kind to do so. The video we’re going to see out of the iPhone 12 line is going to be shockingly good.
Let’s get this over with: the iPhone 12 line doesn’t come with headphones or a charging bring. You can be angry about that, but in my desk next to me I have four bricks and lightning cables. Shifting to just including the higher speed (and more valuable) USB-C cable, paired with their new MagSafe approach to wireless charging and you’ve got phones that will charge faster and have less impact on the environment. You can be angry about this, but it seems a bit silly to me.
I’m happy that the new MagSafe stuff is fully backwards compatible to the iPhone 8; it looks like Apple has made some serious advances here that were originally scheduled for AirPower. I’m excited to get my hands on some of these accessories.
The iPhone 12 and 12 mini are going to be pretty massive hits. The iPhone 11 has been the best selling phone in the world for the last year and there’s no reason to think that’s going to slow down. For everyone who has lamenting the size of the 11, the mini is here to answer the call. With the same processor as the iPhone 12 Pro, Apple has high performance in mind across their entire lineup.
The iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max evolve the iPhone 12 even more. They’re taking devices of roughly the same size last year and giving them smaller bezels and bigger screens. The beautiful industrial square edges are there, as is Ceramic Shield, with four stunning colours–Silver, Gold, Graphite, and Pacific Blue.
Integrated LiDAR is a big boon for Augmented Reality, and feels like it’s paving the way for Apple’s smart glasses (whenever they show up). The cameras themselves are a whole additional level of jaw-dropping. That f/1.6 aperture wide camera is augmented with bigger pixels and sensor-shift optical image stabilization on the 12 Pro Max; this is a technology that Sony made famous about 20 years ago in their camcorders, calling it “SuperSteadyShot” – I had one of those camcorders and it really did make a difference. The low light performance on the iPhone 12 Max is going to put most of the competition to shame, and for good reason. Night Mode is even coming to the front selfie camera, ending the dance that many of us did where we’d flip the phone around and shoot with our Apple Watches for framing. It’s the end of an era!
Other features like Smart HDR 3, Deep Fusion, and other computational photography elements feed into Apple’s ProRAW file format; long story short: you’re getting real photo data to work with, and both Apple’s Camera app and third party apps will have a lot to work with going forwards.
5G in Canada is here and it’s ready… if you live in a big city. 5G requires an incredible amount of power to push that high speed data very short distances. That’s why Apple called out airports, stadiums, and transit hubs: with a range of 100-200m for most applications, you need more towers and more power.
Don’t get me right, it’s going to be absolutely thrilling to experience it when you do, but for the most part your phone–at least for the near future–is going to be on LTE most of the time.
So should you buy an iPhone 12 series phone? If you live in an area saturated by 5G and you want the speed? Absolutely. If you love your phone photography and videography? For sure. If you’re lagging behind with an older iPhone device (say an iPhone 7 or earlier) you’re going to get a ton of bang out of your buck.
And if you’re like me and you just can’t resist? Well, I’m fighting the urge to buy an iPhone 12 Pro. We’ll see if I’m successful.
The iPhone 12, 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max will be available for pre-order on October 16th and shipping on October 23. The Mini will be available for pre-order on November 6 and shipping on November 13.
Visit Apple.ca for more information.