I’m going to make this brief. Of the four models in the iPhone 12 lineup, the iPhone 12 Pro looks like the top value if you’re serious about photography and video. The 12 Pro’s LiDAR sensor, Night Portrait mode, and telephoto lens aren’t available on the lower-cost models, and will be worth the extra $150 (using the 128GB models’ pricing) for those whom their iPhone is a camera first and foremost.
There are four very similar models in the iPhone 12 lineup: the iPhone 12 mini (starts at $699 for 64GB), the iPhone 12 (starts at $799 for 64GB), the iPhone 12 Pro (starts at $999 for 128GB) and the iPhone 12 Pro Max (starts at $1,099 for 128GB). This short piece will give you a quick sketch of how the iPhone 12 Pro differs from the iPhone 12 and why we’ve designated it as our Editors’ Choice. We’ve wrapped a deeper discussion of all four models into our main iPhone 12 review because they have so much in common. That’s where you can read in depth about all the iPhone 12 features. The 12 mini and 12 Pro Max, available for pre-order on November 6th, are expected to arrive shortly and will also receive shorter reviews like this one.
Galaxy Note 20 Ultra has an even more intense true 5x optical zoom, which looks better when you’re shooting at 5x or 10x (which is 2x digital zoom on the 5x optical.) That can be a niche need, but it also can result in some dramatic street and distance photography from a greater range than the iPhone allows for.
The iPhone/Galaxy Note equation is complicated by the two phones’ different approaches to camera apps. The Galaxy Note has pro photo and video modes built into its camera app which more easily let casual users tweak aperture, shutter speed, and even which microphone the video camera uses.
Apple’s approach relies more heavily on add-on apps, but the iOS platform has a better set of third-party camera apps, and those camera app features come to iOS first. The pro camera apps on iOS tend to be more powerful, but also harder to use than Samsung’s simplified pro mode. That said, I think professional creatives have voted with their wallets, and most of them are on iOS.
The iPhone 12 Pro’s true photo chops shine in Night Mode, where the LiDAR scanner speeds up autofocus and enables Night Portrait Mode. While the iPhone 11 Pro can match the 12 Pro’s telephoto lens, the older phone still can’t really compete in low light. My iPhone 12 Pro Night Portrait shots had an entirely different texture than my standard Night mode shots—smoother, softer, dreamier. They’re gorgeous.
Which is the Best iPhone 12 for Photographers? written by our camera expert, Jim Fisher.
Beyond the camera, though, there aren’t too many differences between iPhone 12 and the 12 Pro. They benchmark the same, running the same software. They have the same-sized batteries, the same charging, the same (very good) networking capabilities and call quality. Take a look at the iPhone 12 review for all the details, especially the network comparisons.
iPad Air, so here’s goes: the best iPhones this year are going to be the iPhone 12 mini (for most people) and this one, the iPhone 12 Pro (for camera buffs). With so many common components, and a huge number of iPhone owners preferring the smaller size of the 6/7/8 phones, the $699 iPhone 12 mini really feels like the mainstream winner this year. Meanwhile, the 12 Pro’s 2x zoom does fall short of the 12 Pro Max’s 2.5x, but it still fits extreme camera power into a reasonably sized body at a slightly lower price, earning it our Editors’ Choice award.