There were the flamboyant years and the S-years, iterative, sometimes brilliant, sometimes almost sluggish, where iPhones were nothing but hints of enthusiasm. And then last year, with the iPhone 11s, was a year of big steps forward, big slaps, clever catching up, solid promises, smart consolidations. However, 2020 is not a year in hollow, but a full year, where Apple smartphones are full of new features: a new design, a new mobile network, a new screen, a new chip … and some new features on the side of the photo. The iPhone 12 on the doorstep of this premium range does not have all the gold of the Pro models, yet it does have something to do with the base it shares with these big brothers … and for its price. After testing it, what to think?

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In the connected alcoves where operators whisper their secret hopes, it has long been said that 5G for the general public will only take off with the arrival of compatible iPhones. That is to say the weight of these smartphones on the market …
This was the case in the United States, with a remarked passage from the boss of Verizon during the “recorded conference” of Apple, but it will be necessary to wait until next December (a priori) so that 5G and iPhone can meet in France. . And again, it will only be for 5G carried by frequencies below 60 GHz. The famous millimeter waves will not reach us for several years.

The iPhone 12 are therefore indeed 5G, but it was impossible for us to rub them with these dizzying speeds and these tiny response times. So we can’t tell you that the iPhone 12 downloads quickly, or that it gives, like no one else, access to the game in the cloud. Neither can we tell you if 5G is taking a heavy toll on its autonomy …

Autonomy, Year II

On this point, 2019 was a revolution for iPhones in terms of battery life. Where, until XS and XS Max, it was necessary to deal with recharging during the day or a mobile battery for those who use their smartphone the most assiduously, the “11” generation had hit hard, very hard. A kind of new beginning, An I. There is a before and an after.
The iPhone 11 was, however, the worst off of this new iPhone 11 era, with results increasing sharply but below what the iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max.

In this Year II, has Apple stayed the course and corrected these treatment injustices? For the specific case of iPhone 12, which concerns us. Yes. During our versatile battery life tests, which simulate a succession of everyday uses until the device gives up the ghost, the iPhone 12 shows 17:04, or 42 minutes less than the iPhone 12 Pro, but 2h50 more than the iPhone 11 last year. That’s a hell of a leap forward for the iPhone 12, where the 12 Pro is lagging behind its predecessor.

In video autonomy, where a video is streamed by the iPhone until it is turned off, the iPhone 12 is also progressing. More quietly, only fourteen minutes, but the improvement is there.

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Talk time, one long endless phone call, which will remind some of long family meals on Sundays, has always been a weak point of iPhones. It is in fact the only one of our three autonomy tests which sees the iPhone 12 doing less well than the iPhone 11. But, we are allowed once again to ask who spends more than 16 hours on the phone without to hang up ?

If we also want to compare the iPhone 12 to what could well be its direct competitor from Samsung, namely the hooly-news.comxy S20 FE (in 5G), we see that the Apple smartphone does much better in versatile autonomy and video, and is quite logically trampled without flinching in communication autonomy.

The iPhone 12 is therefore better in battery life than the iPhone 11, which also remains in Apple’s catalog. And then it offers, for those who like ease, the support of MagSafe technology, which makes sure that the Qi induction charger is in the right place. In addition to the practical side, this allows you to go from 7.5 to 15 W in wireless charging. A significant gain, even if it takes time. A point for the rising generation!

Power, here we know each other

As with all other iPhones introduced on October 13, the heart of the iPhone 12 beats the A14 chip. We then find the six cores of the processor part (two high performance, four high energy efficiency) and four cores for the graphics chip part. Of course, the part neural engine is there, too, and has seen the number of compute cores doubling since the previous generation with 16 cores now.

However, Apple has introduced some technical specification differences between models this year. Thus, the 12 Pro carry 6 GB of RAM, while the “short” 12 only have four.

This in no way detracts from the fluidity of the interface, the speed at which applications launch, or anything that is at the heart of the iPhone 12 experience.

Another point of configuration, where the iPhone 12 does less well, the default storage capacity on the first model. Apple continues to opt for 64 GB, it’s really too little especially if you want to be able to use your smartphone without paying attention all the time to the applications you install, the photos and videos you take or the music you want. keep on your iPhone for times when you are off the network. Not to mention that it can also cause problems for updates if you run out of free storage space. We therefore recommend, if you can, opt for the model with 128 GB of storage which costs 50 euros more, at 959 euros. On a daily basis, it will be more pleasant and will ensure better longevity for your iPhone 12.

But back to the A14. Apple once again produced a brute of power, the 5nm engraving aiding in this. To keep it simple and quick, let’s compare the performance of the iPhone 12 to the iPhone 11 and the hooly-news.comxy S20 FE, which is one of those designated opponents.

Let’s start with the results obtained with GeekBench 5. As a reminder, the iPhone 11 carried the A13 and 4 GB of RAM, while the hooly-news.comxy S20 FE is powered by the flagship of Qualcomm chips, the Snapdragon 865 (with the Adreno 650 for the GPU) and 6 GB of RAM.

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We note that the iPhone 12 obviously shows better results than its predecessor. In fact, on the multi-core part, the new iPhone is around 39% more powerful than the iPhone 11 and almost 29% more powerful than the Snapdragon 865 of the S20 FE, which dominated the iPhone 11 in this respect.

For the graphics, the iPhone 12 still crushes its predecessor, achieving a higher result of more than 34% and 184% higher than that of the smartphone from Samsung. In other words, on the GPU partition, the iPhone 12 largely dominates the iPhone 11 and proves, via Geekbench 5, almost three times more efficient than its opponent on Android.

To refine things, when we look at GFXBench, which will mainly solicit the GPU part, we note smaller differences between the two generations of iPhone, but which still oscillate between 10 and 20%. When it comes to comparing the iPhone 12 to the hooly-news.comxy S20 FE, there are performance deltas ranging from 22% to over 50%.

The case is over, the A14 largely dominates the A13 and logically the Snapdragon 865, which was already partially overtaken by the A13.

The A14 does not end there. As we said above, this SoC is accompanied by a neural engine and a new ISP which will go a long way in bringing more power to the entire photo and video part of the iPhone 12.

The photo, better but still frustrating

Before talking about the result of the contribution of the A14, let us take a brief look at the material basis of the photographic part. Like last year for the iPhone 11, it only features two rear camera modules, an ultra-wide-angle, 13mm equivalent, with an aperture at f / 2.4 and a wide angle. It’s still a 26mm equivalent, with optical stabilization and an aperture of f / 1.6 compared to f / 1.8 last year. In other words, the wide-angle of the iPhone 12 lets in more light, and it shows.

However, don’t look for lidar or telephoto lenses, they aren’t there, and that’s a shame. The iPhone 12 clearly does not play par for photo with the Pro models. Except, to quickly talk about it, for the TrueDepth camera on the front which is identical and allows for portraits in night mode and is now compatible with Deep Fusion, an algorithmic technology that ensures that every pixel in a shot is correctly exposed, contrasted, etc. thanks to the taking of several simultaneous photos.

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For the rear modules, Apple confirms that it masters calibration during production with colors that vary little or not at all when switching from wide-angle to ultra-wide-angle. Likewise, the exhibition remains another of these highlights.

In broad daylight, the shots retain that color fidelity that sets Apple so well. Sometimes they still lack a bit of sharpness, but the combined action of Deep Fusion and Smart HDR 3 technology allows for more detail and texture.

Day and night, we are very frustrated by the absence of the telephoto lens. In our opinion, it is sorely lacking for portraits in particular, which we liked so much on the iPhone 12 Pro. The iPhone 12 clearly lacks a photographic “leg”, although the ultra-wide angle opens up great compositional possibilities.

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This last point is all the more true as the Night mode provides its benefits on both focal lengths. A photo that would not have been successful or kept with the iPhone 11 becomes quite acceptable and even rather pretty with the iPhone 12. Certainly, as on the iPhone 12 Pro, the intervention of HDR sometimes tends to lighten certain tones too much, especially in skies, but it is always possible to correct this later.
On this point, we regret that the iPhone 12 (and the 12 mini) is not intended to be entitled to Apple ProRAW, which will allow real in-depth digital development work if all promises are kept.

At night, the ultra-wide angle is perfect for taking pictures of buildings, the distortions caused by such lenses are discreet enough not to spoil the party. While the wide-angle will be suitable for indoor shots, evenings with friends. However, you will need to get a little closer to restrict the frame of the portraits. But it seems that if a photo isn’t good enough, it’s because the photographer wasn’t close enough … We will console ourselves with Capa, while waiting for Apple to trivialize its telephoto lens.

To quickly talk about video, Apple always wows with the stabilization it offers. The fluidity and flexibility of the shots are quite incredible, day and night. On the other hand, when the light goes down, there will obviously be a little noise, even if the HDR rendering serves the cause.

In conclusion, the iPhone 12’s photo score is far superior to that of the iPhone 11, it’s day and night, sort of… especially at night. But, one thing is certain, if photography is very important to you and you can afford it, then the 12 Pro is for you.

One design and one slab, two dreams

Let’s finish with two essential points, which we have pushed back so far: the design and the screen. The iPhone 12 also sports the design inspired by iPhone 4 and later as well as the iPad Pro. The slices are vertical, more straightforward. Aesthetically, it is very pleasant. Ergonomically, even more. The grip seems more secure, firmer. We have less of the impression, perhaps psychological, that the iPhone is in danger of slipping away from us. Whether with or without a shell.

The aluminum border is very well finished and fitted. The iPhone 12 is also IP68 compatible and is an improvement over last year. Apple has taken this a step further since it’s rated to hold up to 6m deep for 30 minutes, although neither Apple nor we encourage you to use it as an underwater camera. Let’s say that this is more for the serenity of the user than for the guarantee that the smartphone will survive an extended stay at the bottom of a swimming pool.

The iPhone 12’s case feels rock solid – if you use it normally, that goes without saying. Our blue model is very pleasant to look at and use, although its glass back takes and shows much more fingerprints than that of the iPhone 12 Pro, treated and polished to a matte finish.

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This design is accompanied, it was said, by a new screen. It is still 6.1 inches but now OLED. This allows Apple to reduce the bezels – with a screen coverage rate of 85.8%, against 79.2% for the iPhone 11 – and to offer an iPhone 12 more compact than the iPhone 11. That’s it. which also contributes to the pleasure of handling.

The Super Retina XDR panel obviously ensures the “infinite” contrast of OLED panels, good brightness of 623 cd / m2 and color fidelity worthy of the best panels. It’s even better than many of those offered by high-end Android smartphones, at just 0.9. In the end, it only gives way to the iPhone 12 Pro. As a reminder, since this is a gap, a delta, the smaller the number, the better the panel.

Of course, the iPhone 12 is also entitled to True Tone technologies, to adjust the illumination of the screen to the ambient light; P3, for a wide range of colors; and HDR to enjoy movies or videos shot with your iPhone.

Finally, if it is not 120 Hz, it will at least resist drops better, since it too benefits from the Ceramic Shield treatment jointly developed by engineers from Apple and Corning Glass.