Apple iPhone 12 review

GSMArena team, 28 October 2020.

A new 6.1" Super Retina XDR OLED screen

Apple has put OLED panels on all iPhones this year. Even the cheapest iPhone 12 mini is getting proper OLED treatment. The iPhone 12 display is of the same size as the iPhone 11's - a 6.1" diagonal, with rounded corners and a large notch at the top.

The new panel is called Super Retina XDR OLED and it has 1,170 x 2,532 pixels or 460ppi. It is protected by the new Ceramic Shield glass by Corning and is completely flat.

Apple iPhone 12 review

So, this new Super Retina XDR OLED screen supports HDR10 and Dolby Vision content. Like the iPhones before the 12, this one also comes with True Tone adjustments, Wide Color support, and it has the Haptic Touch feature provided by the Taptic Engine beneath the screen.

This year, Apple was rumored to introduce 120Hz screens called ProMotion, but that did not happen. All four iPhone 12 screens are working at a 60Hz refresh rate. And just like before, they all feature 120Hz touch input.

The high-refresh rates screens are coming to the iPhones for sure, but obviously, we will have to wait at least another year for that.

Apple iPhone 12 review

Apple promises 600 nits of typical brightness on the iPhone 12 screen and 800 nits for the iPhone 12 Pro's. Both phones should offer peak brightness of up to 1,200 nits.

We did our usual display measurements, and we measured 639nits of maximum brightness on the iPhone 12. The minimum brightness is impressively low at 1.9 nits.

There is no maximum auto boost on any of the iPhones, not that we ever felt the need for such a thing.

Display test 100% brightness
Black,cd/m2 White,cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Apple iPhone 12 0 639
Apple iPhone 12 Pro 0 802
Apple iPhone 11 0.428 644 1505:1
Apple iPhone 11 Pro 0 805
Apple iPhone X 0 679
Apple iPhone XR 0.425 700 1647:1
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 0 404
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE (Max Auto) 0 823
OnePlus 8T 0 497
OnePlus 8T (Max Auto) 0 802
OnePlus 8 Pro 0 538
OnePlus 8 Pro (Max Auto) 0 888
Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra 5G 0 504
Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra 5G (Max Auto) 0 1024

The iPhone 12 display offers excellent color accuracy - we measured an average deltaE of 1.6 and a maximum deviation of 2.9 against sRGB targets. The iPhone 12 fully supports DCI-P3, and it automatically switches to this gamma when DCI-P3 content is sent to the screen.

We also want to praise the consistency of the screen's accuracy - it is maintained the same across all brightness levels, even at the lowest point of 1.9 nits.

Battery life

The Apple iPhone 12 packs a 2,815mAh battery - that's about 10% smaller capacity than the unit inside the iPhone 11. Still, Apple promises the same battery life as on the iPhone 11 boosted by the new power-efficient A14 Bionic chip. Well, it's not the same.

The iPhone 12 posted good numbers on our battery life test - it can last nearly 20 hours on calls and 13 hours on web browsing or video playback. Last year iPhone 11 did better on the screen-on tests by scoring north of 15 hours on web browsing time and nearly 19 hours on video playback.

Interestingly, both the iPhone 11 and iPhone 12 have identical standby performance.

Apple iPhone 12 review

Our battery tests were automated thanks to SmartViser, using its viSer App. The endurance rating above denotes how long a single battery charge will last you if you use the Apple iPhone 12 for an hour each of telephony, web browsing, and video playback daily. We've established this usage pattern so that our battery results are comparable across devices in the most common day-to-day tasks. The battery testing procedure is described in detail in case you're interested in the nitty-gritty. You can check out our complete battery test table, where you can see how all of the smartphones we've tested will compare under your own typical use.

Battery charging

The Apple iPhone 12 supports fast battery charging via USB Power Delivery. Apple ships the phone without a charger, but you can opt for Apple's 20W PD charger or another USB-PD compatible adapter.

Apple iPhone 12 review

If you recharge your dead iPhone 12 with Apple's 20W charger, it will refill 58% of its battery in 30 mins.

30min charging test (from 0%)

  • Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra
    100%
  • OnePlus 8T
    94%
  • Realme 7 Pro
    94%
  • Apple iPhone 11 Pro
    58%
  • Apple iPhone 12 (20W)
    58%
  • Realme 7
    58%
  • Galaxy S20 FE (25W)
    57%
  • Apple iPhone 11 (18W)
    55%
  • Galaxy S20 FE (15W bundled)
    37%
  • Apple iPhone 12 (15W MagSafe)
    30%
  • Apple iPhone 11 (5W)
    18%

In about 60 minutes we got 90%, while the last 10% required some extra 30 minutes (yes, we had the Optimized Charging disabled).

Time to full charge (from 0%)

  • Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra
    0:27h
  • OnePlus 8T
    0:36h
  • Realme 7 Pro
    0:37h
  • Realme 7
    1:05h
  • Galaxy S20 FE (25W)
    1:10h
  • Apple iPhone 12 (20W)
    1:30h
  • Galaxy S20 FE (15W bundled)
    1:35h
  • Apple iPhone 11 Pro
    1:50h
  • Apple iPhone 12 (15W MagSafe)
    3:00h
  • Apple iPhone 11 (5W)
    4:00h

The iPhone 12 supports 15W fast wireless charging but only when using MagSafe chargers. Otherwise, you'd be limited to 5W-8W or so.

Apple iPhone 12 review

We, of course, tried charging the iPhone 12 with Apple's own MagSafe wireless charger, and we are not happy with the results. First, it took 5 minutes to wake up our dead iPhone 12, and then it lifted the battery to 30% in 30 minutes. A full charge on that charger required 3 full hours!

We were curious about the charging speed, so we decided to do the MagSafe charging test again, but this time we also added a wattmeter into the mix. It turns out that the MagSafe wireless charger indeed provides 15W in the first 10 minutes or so. And then it drops to 10W and won't go higher. On the contrary, it drops to 5W upon reaching 80% charge (and yes, Optimized Charging was off).

Apple iPhone 12 review

The MagSafe charger gets hot when charging the new iPhones, and we are not sure if this affected the charging speed. Or maybe Apple is yet to improve this thing with a firmware update. Anyhow, we don't see the point of upgrading to this expensive MagSafe wireless charger just yet.

Speakers

The iPhone 12 has a pair of stereo speakers just like all recent iPhones. There is one speaker at the bottom and another one inside the screen notch, which also doubles as an earpiece. The output is quite balanced even if the top speaker is a bit bass-less.

Apple iPhone 12 review

The speakers support spatial audio, and subjectively the sound indeed seems less directional and more, well, spatial when compared to other phones we've tested so far.

The iPhone 12 scored a Very Good mark in our loudness test and it is on par with the iPhone 11 Pro. The audio quality is excellent - there is deep bass, the mid-tones are superb, and the high-notes are well presented, too. Overall, these are some of the best sounding speakers we've heard within a smartphone.

Use the Playback controls to listen to the phone sample recordings (best use headphones). We measure the average loudness of the speakers in LUFS. A lower absolute value means a louder sound. A look at the frequency response chart will tell you how far off the ideal "0db" flat line is the reproduction of the bass, treble, and mid frequencies. You can add more phones to compare how they differ. The scores and ratings are not comparable with our older loudspeaker test. Learn more about how we test here.

Reader comments

This Apple iphone 12 works outstandingly well.

  • Anonymous

How is not having official RAW support NOT a massive con? It really sickens me that a "tech / phone" site refuses to call out apple on this BS artificial restriction imposed on the two base models. On the android end you can take a $10...

  • Michael

Having iphone 6,7, 12 pro mac, huawei p30 p40 pro, samsung note 9,i feel that battery , camera and variety app of android are all fall better then iphone, the only thing I chose iphone 12 pro max now is only the security's and privacy provide b...