The iPhone 12 is delivering plenty of upgrades over the iPhone 11. For starters, there are four iPhone 12 models, compared to three for the iPhone 11. And Apple has embraced 5G connectivity across the board (and you don’t have to pay more for it) and every iPhone 12 packs an OLED screen, too.
But the differences don’t stop there: the iPhone 12 also benefits from a new design, plus a powerful LiDAR sensor on the Pro variants. And the prices for the new iPhones are surprisingly reasonable, too, though we’ve already found iPhone 12 pre-order deals to help those folks who are looking to buy an iPhone 12 now, as Apple just started accepting orders.
Here’s our iPhone 12 vs iPhone 11 preview comparison that breaks down all the biggest changes.
iPhone 12 vs iPhone 11: Models and sizes
The entry-level iPhone 12 is the 5.4-inch iPhone 12 mini, which represents a new size for Apple. There’s also a 6.1-inch iPhone 12, sized similarly to the regular iPhone 11.
As you step up to the Pro phones, the iPhone 12 Pro also comes in two sizes: 6.1 inches for the iPhone 12 Pro and 6.7 inches for the iPhone 12 Pro Max. The iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max are 5.8 inches and 6.7 inches, respectively. Overall, Apple’s new iPhone 12 lineup offers more choice than the iPhone 11 roster did.
iPhone 12 vs iPhone 11: Prices
The iPhone 12 mini is the cheapest of the line, starting at $699. The regular iPhone 12 costs $799. Both come with 64GB of storage standard; 128GB costs an extra $50, while 256GB costs an additional $150.
The iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max start with 128GB of storage and cost exactly what the iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max do: $999 for the smaller model, and $1,099 for the larger one.
In keeping with tradition, Apple is retiring the 11 Pro range while preserving the standard iPhone 11 on the market. That device used to cost $699; it now starts at $599.
iPhone 12 vs iPhone 11: Design
The iPhone 12 line has gotten quite the makeover, thanks to flatter sides instead of the iPhone 11’s rounded design. This makes Apple’s latest handsets draw a familial resemblance to the iPad Pro 2020.
The iPhone 12 and 12 mini come in five colors (black, white, Product Red, blue and green), while the iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max come in four (graphite, silver, gold and Pacific Blue).
iPhone 12 vs iPhone 11: Display
Interestingly, Apple wasn’t able to deliver 120Hz refresh rates on its Pro-series models with the iPhone 12, as it had been rumored to do in the months leading up to launch. Battery concerns were reportedly the culprit for the omission, which certainly makes sense given that all iPhone 12 models support millimeter-wave 5G, which can be pretty power hungry.
iPhone 12 vs iPhone 11: Specs and performance
Apple never lists the RAM of its phones, but the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro reportedly feature 4GB of RAM. A report from UBS analysts picked up by MacRumors says that the iPhone 12 will have 4GB of RAM while the iPhone 12 Pro lineup will get 6GB, though of course we won’t know for sure until tear downs are published.
iPhone 12 vs iPhone 11: Cameras and LiDAR scanner
As for the other cameras, Apple is utilizing a wider ƒ/1.6 aperture for the primary camera in every iPhone 12, as well as a new seven-element lens design that is said to markedly increase the quality of photos, particularly in medium- and low-light scenarios. The iPhone 12 Pro Max in particular sports a larger image sensor with Sensor Shift image stabilization technology, and its telephoto lens achieves 2.5x optical zoom. That’s a step up from the 2x zoom of the iPhone 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max and 12 Pro models.
iPhone 12 vs iPhone 11: 5G vs 4G
While the iPhone 11 series was strictly 4G only, all four iPhone 12 models employ 5G connectivity. And that’s not only for the nationwide, sub-6GHz 5G networks AT&T and T-Mobile have launched; all iPhone 12 variants are also equipped for millimeter-wave (mmWave) 5G, too, which will grant you exceptionally fast data speed in urban areas, up to 3.5Gbps in optimal conditions, according to Apple.
iPhone 12 vs iPhone 11: Battery life and charging
On our battery testing, the iPhone 11 (11 hours and 16 minutes) and iPhone 11 Pro Max (11:54) both provided enough endurance to land on best phone battery life list.
The iPhone 12 and 12 Pro, on the other hand, both come with a 2,815mAh battery. Apple may not be all about the biggest batteries, but seeing a drop in capacity is rather disappointing.
According to Apple, the iPhone 12 has a similar battery life to the iPhone 11, despite the smaller battery, testing showed this wasn’t the case. The iPhone 12 only lasted 10 hours and 23 minutes, while the iPhone 12 Pro lasted 11 hours and 24 minutes.
That’s on 4G, whereas switching on 5G reduced those times to 8:25 and 9:06 respectively. It seems not even the efficiency of the A14 Bionic chipset can make up for 5G’s infamous power drain.
Fortunately Apple has made it easier than ever to recharge your iPhone – despite making you pay extra for a charging brick. MagSafe means the iPhone 12 snaps into place on any compatible wireless charge, but not to the point where it’s awkward to pick it up again.
MagSafe also offers 15W wireless charging, which is double that of the 7.5W speeds in older iPhone models. That said it’s not particularly fast, with our testing figures confirming that the battery level was at just 39% after 30 minutes of charging. The Wall Street Journal also found that MagSafe charging to 50% took an hour.
iPhone 12 vs iPhone 11: Outlook
The iPhone 12’s upgrades are plenty, from 5G and a faster A14 Bionic processor to new display sizes for both the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro Max. And, if you’re into augmented reality, the iPhone 12 Pro Max’s LiDAR scanner should take AR apps to the next level while also offering better low-light camera performance.
Will all of these differences be enough to get shoppers excited? So far the figures seem to suggest that it has, and it helps Apple has been able to keep prices consistent with its outgoing flagships. It certainly doesn’t hurt that Apple’s made its new iPhones thinner and sleeker, despite all those additions.