Apple announces iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini with new designs, better cameras, 5G

iPhone 12 header

Today during its online event, Apple unveiled the new iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini. They’re the entry-level models in the company’s lineup of iPhones for 2020, with the iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max taking up the high-end. The new iPhone 12s sport all-new designs, updated screens, better cameras, magnetic charging, and iOS 14.

But what Apple wants to focus on is the fact the devices ship with 5G. Right now, 5G isn’t in a place where it’s life changing, and it likely won’t be that way for a while. Apple did invite Verizon on stage to announce it was deploying its nationwide 5G network, so at least if you’re on Big Red’s network you should get some coverage. Still, buying a phone because it has 5G is a dumb idea, so make your purchasing decision based on one of the features I go over below.

The iPhone 12 and 12 mini opt for Apple’s new smartphone design which consist of flat sides everywhere. The rails are made of aluminum while the back plate is glass. The screen is covered in Apple’s new Ceramic Shield glass it developed with Corning that infuses nano-ceramic crystals which make your screen four times stronger so it doesn’t shatter when you drop it.

Around the rest of the phones, you’ll find your usual volume/power buttons, mute switch, stereo speakers, and SIM tray. The notch at the top of both phones has been reduced in size ever so slightly, while the larger iPhone 12 is physically smaller than its iPhone 11 predecessor thanks to Apple shaving off some excess material. Each device also ships with IP68 certification.

The iPhone 12 ships with a 6.1-inch 2532×1170 Super Retina XDR display. That means it has an OLED panel which is really nice to see since the last two 6.1-inch iPhones have used LCD. The iPhone 12 mini, meanwhile, uses a much smaller 5.4-inch 2340×1080 Super Retina XDR OLED display. Because of the small screen, Apple was able to make the phone physically smaller than the iPhone SE. Both models support HDR, True Tone, and up to 1200 nits of brightness.

Much like the iPhone 12 Pro and iPad Air, Apple includes the A14 Bionic processor in the iPhone 12 and 12 mini. You also get iOS 14 out of the box in addition to the company’s 16-core Neural Engine which helps with machine learning.

On the back of both phones, you get a main 12MP f/1.6 camera and an ultra-wide 12MP f/2.4 shooter. Apple is touting its improved computational photography features like Smart HDR 3 that enhance each photo you take. You also get the company’s Deep Fusion technology across all the cameras on the devices, including the 12MP selfie shooter. Night mode is also making it to all of the cameras and has been improved.

For video, Apple lets you shoot in up to 4K at 60 frames per second with support for Dolby Vision HDR.

On both the iPhone 12 and 12 mini, Apple includes wireless charging. But now, instead of using a typical wireless charging pad, Apple gives you an alternative way to juice up your device without having to plug in a cable: MagSafe.

That’s right, folks. Apple has revived its MagSafe brand from the MacBook and brought it over to the iPhone. Now, you can purchase a magnetic puck which connects to the back of your phone and wirelessly charges at up to 15W. It’s definitely a better solution than trying to guess where the coils line up inside the phone and on top your wireless charging pad.

Using the same magnetic connection, Apple is also introducing a lineup of new magnetic accessories like cases and detachable wallets. Third parties can also create new accessories for the feature. I can definitely see MagSafe being a popular feature for these new iPhones, especially since it seems so convenient.

Much like the situation with the new MagSafe charger, you’ll have to buy a power brick separately. That’s because Apple no longer includes a wall adapter in the box with the iPhone 12 series. All you get is the phone, some instructions, and a USB-C to Lightning cable. It’s aimed at reducing e-waste since a) it won’t have to ship power bricks that might not get used in the first place and b) it can ship up to 70 percent more phones since less volume is taken up thanks to the slimmer packaging.

While we’re talking about charging batteries, I have to admit that I’m a little worried about the battery life on the iPhone 12 mini. I’m pretty sure the iPhone 12 will be fine since the iPhone 11 and XR were both able to last a full day, but all of Apple’s small phones have historically had terrible endurance. Even now, the iPhone SE is shipping with battery life that’s an embarrassment for this day and age. I don’t know the exact size of the battery in the mini, but I have to assume it’s tiny, and that’s never a good thing.

The iPhone 12 mini starts at $699 while the iPhone 12 is $799. They’ll ship in blue, green, black, white, and PRODUCT(RED). The iPhone 12 will go up for preorder on October 16th and launch October 23rd. Meanwhile, the iPhone 12 mini goes up for preorder November 6th and launches November 13th.

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