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iPhone 12 vs iPhone 12 Pro review: Which is best?

They’re the two medium-sized phones of the iPhone 12 batch – but which is best? Let’s take a close look at the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro, and see exactly what the differences are.

Overall winner in snapshot: iPhone 12 Pro

The Pro version is our winner, though not by a huge margin.

It has better cameras, a slightly longer-lasting battery, and feels just a touch more premium to hold in your hand.

Whether that’s worth the £200-ish difference in overall price, of course, is up to you.

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iPhone 12 vs iPhone 12 Pro: What are the key differences?

They may look almost identical, but the iPhone 12 Pro has just a little more going on under the hood.

Most notably, the camera is a level up on the Pro. You get an extra telephoto lens, a LiDAR sensor, and more in-depth options for editing your pics – along with better video recording.

Performance isn’t much different on either phone, but the 12 Pro impresses ever so slightly more in tests. It has more RAM, and battery life is an hour or so longer.

Internal storage options are higher for the Pro model too.

And finally, the design feels just a touch more premium on the Pro, with a stainless steel trim and a more luxe array of colours to choose from.

iPhone 12 vs iPhone 12 Pro: Design

Looks-wise, the two phones are just about the same. They’re both sized at 146.7 x 71.5 x 7.4mm, with the same sleek Gorilla Glass back and squared-off edges, reminiscent of the old iPhone 4.

One difference here is that the regular iPhone 12 is made with a stylish aluminium frame, while the Pro model uses stainless steel. It gives the Pro a touch of extra strength, as well as extra-shiny edges.

The two phones are available in different, exclusive colours too, as a little bonus.

Verdict: There isn’t a whole lot of difference, besides the choice of metal and colour options for each phone. The iPhone 12 Pro does take the crown just for that slightly better build quality, but we wouldn’t let that sway your decision.

iPhone 12 vs iPhone 12 Pro: Camera

When comparing these two handsets, the camera is where the Pro model shines. Both phones come sporting a 12MP wide lens with f/1.6 aperture and a 12MP ultrawide lens – but the Pro adds a third.

It’s a 12MP, 52mm telephoto lens, capable of 2x optical zoom. Not only that, you get an advanced LiDAR sensor too, for greater depth sensing (especially in low light) and better augmented reality.

It’s supported by extra photography features, including Apple ProRAW for editing your pictures. This combines Apple’s smart photography software with the ability to edit RAW photos. Again, you won’t get that with the standard iPhone 12.

As for recording video, the iPhone 12 Pro cameras are best for that too. All iPhone 12 models can shoot in 4K-resolution Dolby Vision HDR, but the Pro takes it a step further – going up to 10-bit HDR and 60fps.

You won’t be lacking for camera quality with the basic iPhone 12 – especially if most of your snaps are for recording happy memories, sending to friends and family, and sharing on social media. They’ll give you an Instagram grid you can be proud of.

‘Pro’ is the word to take notice of here. The cameras on the iPhone 12 Pro are indeed pro-level, with more features for those who know their way around a camera.

If that’s you, you’ll really appreciate the extra control and quality you get with the Pro model.

That said, if you want the best mobile phone camera you can get, you may not be satisfied with the iPhone 12 Pro at all. The best iPhone cameras right now are on the iPhone 13 Pro Max.

Verdict: Of the two, the iPhone 12 Pro is the clear winner. But both phones will take great quality shots.

iPhone 12 vs iPhone 12 Pro: Screen and display

Both phones have the same display. It’s a 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR OLED screen, with a Full HD+ resolution of 1170 x 2532.

The only difference worth noting is the brightness. The regular iPhone 12 reaches 625 nits in normal conditions, while the Pro reaches 800 nits.

There isn’t much real need for that difference – and most of us won’t notice it. You can still use either phone in bright sunlight and see the screen clearly. It just feels that little bit better on the Pro model.

Verdict: The iPhone 12 Pro is technically slightly better – if you even notice it.

iPhone 12 vs iPhone 12 Pro: Battery life and performance

The same battery is present in both phones – a Li-ion 2815mAh pack. Interestingly, testers do report the Pro model lasting slightly longer on one charge, though not life-changingly better.

As for performance, both phones run on the same platform with the same processors (both have an Apple A14 Bionic chipset running the show) – so unsurprisingly they perform almost identically in tests.

You get extra RAM with the iPhone 12 Pro – 6GB compared to the standard model’s 4GB – so it can multi-task between apps better and handle complex apps with more ease. But, again, it’s not life-changingly better.

The only spec that might actually make a difference is the internal storage. The 12 Pro comes with up to 512GB storage – double what the standard iPhone can offer.

Verdict: The iPhone 12 Pro is the winner – though again, not by a big margin.

iPhone 12 vs iPhone 12 Pro: Software

There isn’t a lot to comment on in terms of software. Both phones run on iOS, currently upgradeable to the latest version.

The only real difference in software is in the camera technology, as we’ve covered above.

iPhone 12 vs iPhone 12 Pro: Our verdict

The iPhone 12 Pro is of course the better phone. Where its specs are higher or its hardware is upgraded, it shows.

Of the two, we’d definitely recommend it if you appreciate a boost to your photography. However, for those are serious about smartphone photography and need the best iPhone camera they can get, you’re better off with a Pro Max model – whether that’s the iPhone 12 Pro Max or the more recent 13 Pro Max. (That said, if you’d like a phone you can still hold in your hand, the Pro is the one.)

There’s one clear place where the basic, flagship iPhone 12 wins, however: price.

If you aren’t too fussed about getting the best phone camera you can find, you’ll be more than happy with the lenses and tech on the regular 12… so you may as well save yourself £200.

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