The iPhone 12 Pro has been heavily criticized after its presentation on social networks. Too little innovative for some, it would even be the iPhone to avoid. But after several weeks spent in his company, it occurred to me that this is not the case at all.
Design, screen, power, autonomy, camera, the time has come to take a full look at this new iPhone.
This test is sponsored by Rhinoshield, whom we warmly thank for its support and which offers a 10% discount on your orders with the code wu-jing.promo .
Our partner, however, had no control over its content.
Design & Ergonomics
IPhones have always been the target of heavy attacks. Too expensive for some, too closed for others, they tend to unleash passions on social networks. The iPhone 12 Pro is no exception to the rule and if there is one point on which it has been attacked a lot, it is ultimately on its design.
The fundamentals don't change. Glass, metal, a notch, the iPhone 12 Pro does not mark a real break in the range and this is undoubtedly what disappointed the most.
However, and as often, the devil tends to hide in the details and this iPhone 12 Pro still has the right to two or three little things more than its predecessor.
Starting with the borders. Exit in fact the rounded edges of the iPhone 11, iPhone XS and iPhone X, the iPhone 12 Pro and its comrades opt for flat edges quite close to what the iPhone 4 and iPhone 5 offered.
I had a few preconceptions initially, but these borders turned out to be a good surprise. Not content with giving the device a certain charm, they make it very comfortable in the hand.
I said it in my grip, but these borders are made of stainless steel and they therefore also contribute to the resistance of the phone.
On the other hand, Apple has opted for a shiny effect and if it is very pretty to the eye, it unfortunately tends to be very messy in use.
It's a shame, especially since the back plate, for its part, is entitled to a very successful matt effect and which is particularly resistant to fingerprints. And even very resistant. After a week of mistreating the iPhone 12 Pro, it does indeed show any scratches.
And be careful, because this year it's not just the back of the phone that's more resistant. The screen does indeed play the Ceramic Shield card and is therefore supposed to withstand both scratches and shocks.
This treatment is provided by Corning, the box behind Gorilla Glass, and it consists of blowing ceramic nanocrystals into the glass that protects the panel in order to make it more resistant.
Still on the screen, it should also be noted that the notch is still present, and that it is generally the same size as the previous generation.
So of course, that disappoints a bit, but given the profusion of sensors placed there, it seemed complicated to do otherwise. At least not without giving up Face ID, which is still one of the strengths of the iPhone.
Not much to say in terms of ergonomics. The buttons are distributed over the edges of the phone and they fall naturally under the fingers. The switch that allows you to switch to silent mode is still there too and of course there is a Lightning connector on the lower edge.
And yes, more Lightning. Apple still hasn't switched to USB Type-C and it makes you wonder if it ever will.
The headphone jack is of course for absent subscribers and the slot dedicated to cards can only accept a Nano SIM. To make two lines coexist on the phone, it will therefore be necessary to turn to the e-SIM integrated into the latter.
Before moving on, I also want to talk to you about getting started.
Last year, I made the choice to turn to an iPhone 11 Pro Max. I wanted maximum endurance and a big screen to make it easier to work on the go.
But now, after having tested the iPhone 12 Pro for a big week, I admit that I am not sure to make the same choice this year. The format appealed to me quite a bit so I'm looking forward to testing the iPhone 12 Mini and iPhone 12 Pro Max.
Protect your iPhone 12 Pro with Rhinoshield
The iPhone 12 Pro, as we just saw, is built to last. However, he is not invulnerable either, so it can be useful in some cases to protect him.
There are many different references on the market, but Rhinoshield's hulls are among the strongest.
Here everything will depend on your needs. If you are looking for lightweight protection that does not distort the lines of your iPhone 12 Pro, then the NX Mod is probably the most suitable.
Concretely, this protection consists of two elements: a bumper and a transparent plastic plate.
If these two elements can be used together to protect your phone, it will also be possible to use only the bumper. Thanks to its raised edges, the latter can indeed protect the two glass plates of the iPhone 12 Pro in the event of a shock or fall. Good point also, the bumper comes with a border that you can change. Rhinoshield offers many different colors, so you can add an extra touch of color to your phone.
The SolidSuit is the other option to consider. More conventional, the latter comes in the form of a protective shell that will protect the back and sides of your smartphone. Once again, it comes in several different models.
In either case, note that Rhinoshield's protections are MIL-STD 810G certified and therefore meet military standards. In addition, our partner's shells are made of a special polymer capable of absorbing the impacts of falls from 3.5 meters.
If the adventure tempts you, then know that Rhinoshield has set up a discount code for my subscribers. If you type FREDZONE in the field that looks good when validating your cart, then you will be entitled to a 10% reduction.
Screen, Processor & Autonomy
The time has now come to tackle the more technical part of this test, with some good surprises in store.
And we start with the screen, which is clearly one of the most beautiful on the market. Here, we therefore find a 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR room. We are therefore on an OLED screen with a resolution of 2532 x 1170 and a pixel density of 460 ppi.
This screen naturally supports HDR, but also True Tone, with a maximum brightness of 800 nits as standard… or 1200 nits in HDR. It also covers the entire P3 color space and will therefore be able to render a wide range of colors.
This detail is important, and not just for multimedia enthusiasts.
This screen is also particularly suitable for creation, thanks to a faithful reproduction of colors. An argument to which photographers or videographers should be very sensitive, of course.
On the other hand, the refresh rate remains stuck at 60 Hz and that may disappoint a lot of people. Apple has not spoken publicly on the subject, but observers believe that the firm has made this choice to preserve the autonomy of its smartphone as much as possible, an autonomy already undermined by 5G.
Afterwards, for standard use, we won't see much difference. iOS has always had a very fluid look, especially thanks to the care taken in the animations of the platform.
Now, for fast-paced gamers, this might stall a bit.
The iPhone 12 Pro is powered by an A14 Bionic chip coupled with a new generation Neural Engine, for a significant gain in power. At least if we refer to Apple's comparisons.
In fact, I did not notice any obvious difference with my iPhone 11 Pro Max, which was already extremely fluid and responsive. The iPhone 12 Pro is therefore capable of running any title with disconcerting ease and without the slightest slowing down or lag.
But the time has come to address a crucial point, autonomy.
Very concretely, with my uses, namely photos, video, games and a touch of social networks and multimedia on top, the iPhone 12 Pro easily takes the day, even a little more.
It's quite honorable, but it's still worse than in the days of the iPhone 11 Pro. Nothing very surprising about that, moreover. The battery is indeed of lower capacity and we suspected that this would result in a reduced autonomy.
But in the end, it wasn't the autonomy that disappointed me the most. This might surprise you, but what really left me hungry for more was the fast charging.
Because in the end, the iPhone 12 Pro will not be able to exceed 20 W, and on condition that you invest in a charger compatible with this power. On its site, Apple announces the 50% in 30 minutes, but it will take almost an hour and a half for the battery of the device to reach 100%.
And inevitably, when you have Oppo's fast charge next to it, which hits 65 W and which allows a smartphone to be charged to 100% in 35 or 36 minutes, it hurts.
I really hope Apple will focus on this point for the next generations, although I doubt it a bit. In reality, the MagSafe gives the impression that the brand will increasingly focus on wireless charging, to the detriment of the rest.
And besides, know that I will not talk about the MagSafe in this video since I have not yet received the accessory. We will therefore have to wait for my video of the iPhone 12 Mini or the iPhone 12 Pro Max to find out what the latter has in the belly.
Photo & Video
The time has come to turn our attention to an essential chapter, namely the photo and the video. Because when you spend 1200 € on a smartphone, you have the right to expect the best from this side.
Technically, we find at the rear a module composed of three main sensors.
The first sensor offers a definition of 12 million pixels and it comes with an optics opening at f / 1.6, the largest aperture reached by an iPhone. The optic also consists of 7 parts and it benefits from a double stabilization.
The second sensor also reaches 12 million pixels, this time with an ultra wide angle opening at f / 2.4 and offering a field of view of 120 °.
The third sensor achieves the same definition, with a telephoto lens offering a 2x optical zoom, for a total amplitude of 4x when starting from the ultra wide angle.
But the iPhone 12 Pro doesn't stop there. Just like the iPad Pro (2020), it is also equipped with a LiDAR used for both augmented reality and focusing.
And before going any further, it seems important to me to point out that the iPhone 12 Pro and the iPhone 12 Pro Max are not on an equal footing in the field of photography.
The Pro Max model indeed goes further. The wide-angle sensor is larger and therefore consists of larger pixels. Better yet, it's even stabilized, which is a first for Apple.
As for the telephoto lens, it is not left out and it offers a 2.5x optical zoom and an aperture of f / 2.2.
Another important point to note, the ProRAW, the new photo format launched by Apple, is not yet available at the time of this test. I hope we can talk about it again in the iPhone 12 Pro Max test.
But let's leave the technical part aside and focus on the photos instead.
Let's be honest, by day the iPhone 12 Pro impresses. It is indeed capable of obtaining images with a high level of detail. The sharpness is indeed omnipresent.
The same goes for the dynamics. The phone is able to recover a lot of details in shadows and highlights and it is not afraid of backlighting, which is truly remarkable for a smartphone.
The colorimetry surprises. It tends in fact quite a bit towards warm colors, at least when the light is present. In cloudy weather, there is a neutrality that will facilitate the editing process.
The iPhone 12 Pro also does very well in the evening. It retains a good level of detail with very correct dynamics.
Correct, but not crazy either. If the camera is very comfortable in highlights, it will be more difficult to recover details in the shadows. Even more in a backlight situation, where we will most often find ourselves with completely blocked shadows.
The iPhone 12 Pro does not offer a dedicated night mode. On the other hand, in low light conditions, it will be possible to benefit from a long exposure function. Here, the duration will mainly depend on the context. In my garden, in town, I was able to reach 45 seconds in the middle of the night and without public lighting.
It's a bit tight, of course, but it's still enough to get great shots, even on an overcast day. We keep a nice sharpness and a nice dynamic. Nothing to say either about the white balance which hits the nail on the head.
The iPhone 12 Pro offers three different focal lengths: a wide angle, an ultra wide angle and a 2x optical zoom. The focal range, in optics, therefore extends from 0.5x to 2x.
Image quality responds present every time. The ultra wide angle of course tends to lengthen the shapes a bit, but it allows suddenly to produce images with an interesting effect.
In all three cases, we keep in any case an interesting sharpness and a beautiful dynamic, with the added bonus of a homogeneity in the colors. Be careful, however, because if you exceed 2x in magnification, then you will automatically switch to a digital zoom, this time with large losses in the sharpness.
In portrait, the iPhone 12 Pro is doing very well, but be careful because the result is not perfect either.
Nothing to say about the dive. The images are very detailed and very pleasant to watch. The dynamics are not bad either, even if we lose a little detail in the shadows. Fortunately, we can always correct the thing in post production.
The real problem, for me, comes from the blurring and clipping.
The cut is a little too straightforward and we must admit that this sometimes disturbs the eye a little. Now, we can correct the shot afterwards by editing the photo and manually reducing the blur in the Photos application.
The iPhone 12 Pro does well in selfies and it also offers a lot of different modes, including a portrait mode which gives fairly uneven results.
The best is probably to start from this example. The portrait mode was active and if it captured the contours of my face well, it completely tangled the brushes with the rim of my glasses. One part of the glass is indeed blurry, but not the other.
An error which disappoints a little.
Another feature specific to the iPhone 12 Pro, the integration of a night mode on the front camera, a mode that will automatically activate the bulb exposure in difficult light conditions. On its site, Apple of course promises wonders, but the reality is a little different.
Without light, one cannot hope for a miracle. Selfies will be crude, with runny outlines. On the other hand, with an auxiliary light source, even diffuse, it will be possible to obtain images of much better quality. Be careful, however, because it is imperative to stay still. The exposure time will rise, depending on the case, to one, two or three seconds and the slightest movement will therefore result in blur effects which are necessarily very graceful.
I talked about it above, but the iPhone 12 Pro also has the particularity of carrying a LiDAR, a LiDAR used for augmented reality and focusing.
And indeed, in low light, we keep a fast and precise autofocus.
In video and on paper, the iPhone 12 Pro does not lack strengths. Not content with being able to shoot in 4K at 60 frames per second, it also supports Dolby Vision.
And we must recognize that in fact, he is doing quite well. Once again, we keep a good dive and a beautiful dynamic, with a rich colorimetry. Be careful, however, because to take full advantage of it, you will also need a compatible TV or screen.
And then, of course, there's stabilization. Apple has always been one step ahead of its competitors in this field and we must admit that the iPhone 12 Pro commands respect. It is thus possible to shoot hand-held shots without difficulty.
In low light, everything will depend on the environment. Let's be clear, without fill light, the iPhone 12 Pro won't be able to output any actionable footage. Not without a big deal behind it anyway.
On the other hand, if you manage to find one or two light sources, then yes, we will be able to obtain good quality images. Enough in any case to be more easily exploitable.
There you might be thinking that the iPhone 12 Pro is a photo quiche. No, it is not and it is even a very good photophone.
Now, just because it's an iPhone doesn't necessarily mean it's perfect. Knowing your limits will also allow you to go beyond them and this is why it seemed important to me to point out the points that are wrong.
Platform & Functions
The iPhone 12 Pro comes, unsurprisingly, with the final version of iOS 14.
I had dedicated a video on the main innovations of the platform and I will not list them all here. On the other hand, since we're here, I might as well give you my opinion, right?
This is undoubtedly the big novelty of iOS 14. Widgets are no longer limited to the home screen which was located completely on the left and it is therefore possible to place them anywhere.
It works great, you keep the choice of size and you can even decide to use a smart stack of widgets, a stack whose content will vary depending on the time of day and various other conditions.
Since the beta, a lot of apps have taken the plunge and so we have a little more choice. Better yet, some publishers even offer tools to completely change the appearance of iOS by relying on these famous widgets.
A great novelty, then. Now this is not a revolution either, Android has been offering a similar solution for a while.
Then there is the app library. Located to the right of the home screens, it lists all the applications installed on the phone by arranging them in thematic folders generated by iOS, with the added bonus of a small search engine.
So clearly, this library is great and it eliminates the need to create 10,000 home screens to store all our applications, but it still suffers from a notable flaw: the folders cannot be modified and they are therefore imposed by iOS 14. With sometimes rather mixed results.
There are also two or three more odds and ends, like this nifty little LED that will light up above the signal icon when the microphone or front camera is used. A good way to make sure that no one is listening or watching us without our knowledge.
Note that the control center will also display the name of the last application that accessed our microphone or our cameras.
Always among the good ideas, we also have the recognition of sounds, located in the accessibility options. Once activated, our iPhone will be able to warn us if it picks up the sounds of flowing water, crackling flames or even the crying of a child. And of course, you can choose which sounds to watch.
And we could go on like this for a long time, of course. iOS 14 brings many new features and above all it is still just as pleasant to use. Even more when you have several products of the brand.
There is also augmented reality. I'm not going to lie to you, I'm lacking a bit of perspective and will probably talk more about it in my iPhone 12 Pro Max review.
And so we come to the conclusion of this test. I realize it's a bit long, but I really wanted to go into the details. We are still talking about a phone that costs 1159 € and for that price, it is better to know where you are going.
So clearly, the iPhone 12 Pro is a product with many strengths. Design level, there is nothing to throw away and the only criticism that we can do with it is to keep this famous notch. However, its presence remains justified. Face ID amply deserves this sacrifice.
The screen is simply beautiful. He even approaches reflection. The same goes for the loudspeakers, which surprised me very pleasantly, or even for the A14 chip, which in my opinion will not be fully exploited for several years.
Autonomy is average. It is not perfect, it is true, but it is not catastrophic either. However, I would have appreciated a quicker charge a little faster.
On the photo side, the iPhone 12 Pro is clearly one of the best cameras on the market. Be careful, however, because some very specific situations can give it a hard time, and you will need to make sure you always have at least one light source to maintain correct image quality. And that also goes for video.
And then there is iOS 14. The platform is formidable, even if it can sometimes seem a little too closed. Everything works as expected, there is no incompatibility, no lag, no bugs – at least not with me – and everything is well thought out. Especially when you have other brand products. The great Apple has always been its ecosystem.
After that, there is a question that remains unanswered: is the investment worth it when you have an iPhone 11 Pro. For me, it's going to come down to 5G. If you are going to spend there next year, then you have no choice. On the other hand, if you're not in a rush, I think you can survive an extra year with your iPhone 11 Pro.
iPhone 12 Pro
9.5 / 10
Design & Ergonomics
9.0 / 10
9.5 / 10
Autonomy & Charge
8.0 / 10
Photo & Video
9.0 / 10
- The screen, beautiful
- The A14, ultra powerful
- The photo module, very flexible
- iOS, still formidable
- 120 Hz, largely absent
- Autonomy, down compared to the iPhone 11 Pro
- Charging, not fast enough