iPhone 12 and 12 Pro first impressions: Apple does it again

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iPhone 12 Pro in Pacific blue
Coming soon to a pocket near you.
Photo: Apple

The first reviews of iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro landed online Tuesday, and the devices’ marquee feature — 5G wireless connectivity — largely went unnoticed.

Most reviewers said they could not properly take advantage of the next-gen networking, which Apple heavily promoted during last week’s iPhone 12 launch event. This makes 5G more of a hypothetical selling point than something the reviewers could personally recommend. (That’s not surprising, considering the current state of 5G in the United States.)

That said, the first impressions focus on both phones’ impressive new designs — and pay special attention to the premium feel of the iPhone 12 Pro. The reviewers also highlight MagSafe, the new magnetic connection system for cases, chargers and other accessories that Apple added to this year’s iPhones.

Here’s a look at the first iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 reviews.

iPhone 12 reviews

A great new default

Here’s Dieter Bohn at The Verge:

“The iPhone 12 is the first iPhone in several years that really does feel like something new. But I can’t point to any specific single feature that makes it feel that way. The 5G is fine. MagSafe is convenient, but we’ll have to see if there’s a real ecosystem there. The OLED screen is lovely but also kind of table stakes for smartphones these days. The new design is elegant and modern, but it’s hard to tell you to buy a phone because it’s pretty.”

And here’s Chris Velazco at Engadget:

“[The] iPhone 12 is every bit as sleek as the 12 Pro. In fact, some of Apple’s new cases can be used on both phones interchangeably. The only thing keeping the 12 from feeling as nice as the 12 Pro are the materials: Apple went with aluminum on the 12, while the Pro’s body is made of stainless steel.”

MagSafe

The overall consensus of MagSafe is that it’s a pretty neat new innovation for Apple to build on. Engadget‘s review observes that wireless charging is still “too finicky and inefficient to be worth my time.” However, MagSafe “fixes enough of the pain points that I’m starting to change my mind.” Many reviews comment on the promise of the third party market for MagSafe.

iPhone 12 Pro reviews

Premium feeling

Here’s Matthew Panzarino from TechCrunch:

“The 12 Pro is likely the most premium feeling piece of consumer electronics I’ve ever touched. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of handling or wearing an insanely high-end timepiece you’ll know that there’s a particular blend of sensations that tells you you’re touching something special. The hundreds or thousands of person hours that went into its design and construction, the sheer density of its high quality materials and the finishes that defy the eye to differentiate it from something grown, rather than synthesized.”

And CNET‘s Patrick Holland:

“During my time with both phones, I found myself picking the 12 Pro more. Not because it had a telephoto camera or lidar, which the 12 lacks: I preferred the matte textured back, the shiny stainless steel band around the sides and the fact that the 12 Pro, despite weighing nearly an ounce (25 grams) more, felt solid and premium in my hand.”

All about the camera

Stuart Miles from Pocket Lint:

“The iPhone 12 Pro has continued to evolve with new features added and new software enhancements made. This year’s model doubles down on photography further, bringing tech we’ve already been playing with to all the cameras on the iPhone 12 Pro rather than just a select few.”

More from TechCrunch:

“If the telephoto lens is something you use a significant amount on your current phone, it’s a simple call, upgrade. If it’s not, do yourself a favor and think about putting a bit of color in your life, you’re not going to miss much by choosing the ‘regular’ iPhone 12.”

Not-so-pro display

While this is not a representative comment of what is an overall very positive review, Nilay Patel of The Verge writes that:

“There are excuses to be made about Apple’s sales volumes and available display panel supply, but in the end, a 60Hz display is simply not very… pro. Indeed, Apple’s own iPad Pro has a ProMotion high refresh rate display. If you’ve only ever had iPhones, you will not really notice this because it is the same as ever. But if you have used a 120Hz display, the difference in smoothness when scrolling is certainly noticeable.”

The TL;DR version

Both iPhones knock it out of the park for another year running. The impression you might have gotten from watching the recent keynote is that there is less than ever separating the iPhone 12 from the 12 Pro — unless you’re really keen on the new photography features and LiDAR Scanner in the high-end model.

The early “hands on” reviews bear out that conclusion. If you’re a photography enthusiast with a love of AR and the desire to have a phone that feels a bit more premium? Get the iPhone 12 Pro. For everyone else? The regular iPhone 12 is great.

Of course, we still need to wait for the in-depth reviews once a bit of time has passed. And, of course, for the iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 Pro Max reviews to drop.