Apple iPhone 12 Pro review

GSMArena team, 3 November 2020.

LiDAR capabilities have arrived on the iPhone

Apple made a big deal of the new LiDAR scanner, and rightfully so. The miniaturization of the LiDAR (Light Radar, Light Detection and Ranging, and know also known as Laser Imaging, Detection and Ranging) technology is one of Apple's more prominent achievements, and after the iPad Pro, it now premieres on the iPhone 12 Pro.

Apple iPhone 12 Pro review

The LiDAR scanner measures distances by firing laser beams and measuring their reflections with a dedicated sensor. This way, the phone can make a super accurate 3D representation of an object and later place it virtually anywhere. Thinking of new furniture? This will be perfect. Want to compare the size of objects you can't put next to each other - LiDAR will help.

Apple iPhone 12 Pro review

The LiDAR scanner is also very accurate at measuring distances, and you can use it just for that - like a fancy digital tapeline. Or you can set a distance and see virtual walls in real-time at the predefined distance. Professionals such as interior designers may find the LiDAR scanner a handy tool.

Thanks to the powerful AR capabilities that also come as a bonus with LiDAR, you can also have an amazing AR experience with compatible apps and games.

Another benefit of this technology is the speedier (and more accurate) focus in low light. And because the sensor doesn't care about light conditions and can work even in pitch dark room, you can now shoot low-light portraits for the first time with great subject separation and blur.

Long story short - you can use LiDAR-compatible apps (such as 3D Scanner App) to scan and place objects wherever you like, export such objects to use in your projects, and even measure distances. Of course, you can also enjoy the boosted AR experience in various games.

3D Scanner App - Apple iPhone 12 Pro review 3D Scanner App - Apple iPhone 12 Pro review 3D Scanner App - Apple iPhone 12 Pro review 3D Scanner App - Apple iPhone 12 Pro review 3D Scanner App - Apple iPhone 12 Pro review 3D Scanner App - Apple iPhone 12 Pro review
3D Scanner App

Performance and benchmarks

The Apple A14 Bionic chip powers the entire iPhone 12 series. It is the first commercially available 5nm chipset in the world, packing a whopping 11.8 billion transistors - that's 40% more than the A13.

The A14 has a six-core processor, just like the last Apple chips. It has 2 big Firestorm cores clocked at 3.1GHz and 4 small Icestorm cores working at 1.8GHz with TurboBoost capability to go to 3.1GHz when necessary. The upgraded processor should deliver a 50% higher performance than the A13's.

There is a new 4-core Apple GPU, which should offer up to 50% increase over last year's iPhones.

Then there is the new 16-core NPU for machine learning that brings a 70% increase in AI performance.

The iPhone 12 Pro has 6GB of RAM, while the non-Pro models come with 4GB of RAM.

The Apple A14 Bionic also comes with Qualcomm's X55 5G modem, and that's why the entire iPhone 12 lineup supports 5G connectivity.

The new A14 Bionic chip and its ISP are also at the heart of the improved camera quality - the Smart HDR 3, Deep Fusion, Night Mode, Dolby Vision recording, and more - these new features are all possible thanks to the sheer power of the A14.

Apple iPhone 12 Pro review

The iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 are the fastest iPhones so far, but that's hardly a surprise. The Apple A14 has the most powerful processor to this very day, as usual.

GeekBench 5 (multi-core)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 12
    4067
  • Apple iPhone 12 Pro
    4056
  • Apple iPhone 11 Pro
    3466
  • Samsung Galaxy S20 FE
    3296
  • Apple iPhone SE (2020)
    3237
  • OnePlus 8T
    3126
  • Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra 5G
    2603

GeekBench 5 (single-core)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 12 Pro
    1611
  • Apple iPhone 12
    1605
  • Apple iPhone SE (2020)
    1334
  • Apple iPhone 11 Pro
    1333
  • Samsung Galaxy S20 FE
    906
  • OnePlus 8T
    893
  • Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra 5G
    880

The improved GPU does offer more raw power, though it's a marginal difference.

GFX Manhattan ES 3.1 (offscreen 1080p)

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 12
    132
  • Apple iPhone 12 Pro
    132
  • Apple iPhone 11
    121
  • Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max
    120
  • Apple iPhone 11 Pro
    118
  • Apple iPhone XS
    98
  • Apple iPhone XR
    97
  • Apple iPhone X
    65

Of course, the latest iPhones are the new AnTuTu champs.

AnTuTu 8

Higher is better

  • Apple iPhone 12 Pro
    596244
  • Apple iPhone 12
    579048
  • Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max
    536883
  • Apple iPhone SE (2020)
    462253
  • Apple iPhone XR
    422465

The Apple A14 Bionic chip, even if it makes the iPhone 12 Pro the fastest smartphone on the planet, will not be among the reasons to jump on Series 12. Performance has always been top-notch on the iPhones, even if it's a three-year-old model. It's the A14 chip's new features that matter - such as the improved machine learning and the new ISP, which take computational photography on the next level.

One thing we can definitely say is that judging by those high frame rates achieved on the offscreen benchmarks, the iPhones' 120Hz screens are already a few years overdue.

Gaming is great on the iPhones, though it turns out the iPhone 12 Pro provides a better cooling system and thus less throttling over long gaming sessions or benchmarks. While the iPhone 12 becomes very warm around its frame and rear glass, the Pro model gets moderately warm. And this shows.

The iPhone 12 Pro has a stability score of 90.9% on the 3D Mark Wild Life Stress Test, which runs 20 loops of the Wild Life graphic test.

The iPhone 12 achieve 84% stability on a newly configured phone, and then it dropped to 75% when we populated it with apps such as Facebook, Skype, Whatsapp, Messenger, Bluetooth accessories, etc.

For a comparison - a similarly crowded iPhone 11 Pro Max shows stability of 82%.

Apple iPhone 12 Pro review

These results come from a busy GPU benchmark, of course.

We tried running Call of Duty Mobile on the iPhone 12 Pro and 11 Pro and we found them both equally stable, didn't get hot at all, and we found no excessive battery drain. In fact, the iPhone 12 Pro can run that game for 9 hours and 39 minutes, while the 11 Pro lasted 8 hours and 36 minutes.

Gaming time

  • Apple iPhone 12 Pro
    9:39h
  • Apple iPhone 11 Pro
    8:36h

So, the iPhone 12 Pro is well-suited for gaming with better cooling and stability than the iPhone 12. It also offers 1 hour or so more gaming time when compared to the iPhone 11 Pro.

Reader comments

  • iAnonGuy

It's recommended because the only thing it this generation brings to the table are run of the mill spec bumps and an improved camera sensor, the latter of which being Pro Max exclusive. If you have an 11 Pro, there is literally no reason to get...

The iPhone 12Pro is the worst phone I have ever had. The damned buttons trigger things that I don’t want. Who the hell designs a phone that uses facial recognition in a pandemic where you wear a mask. The thumbprint reader was great. Since it was pop...

  • Anonymous

I don't see the point recommending the 12 Pro Max over the regular Pro, because many users don't like the increased form factor.