Excerpts from the reviews I’ve seen. More when I get a moment.
Joanna Stern, WSJ: iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro Review: The Best iPhones—but Not for the 5G. Let’s start with the good news: The iPhone 12, the first with 5G, is indeed the fastest 5G smartphone. The speeds will knock your masks off, as we say in 2020. Now the bad news: To see those speeds, you need to move really, really slowly. After locating your carrier’s high-speed tower, stand right next to it, tap download, then freeze. Despite being marketed as our technological savior, 5G—the next generation of cellular connectivity—is not a killer feature for the new iPhone 12 models. At least not in the U.S., not yet… It’s best to think of 5G as an invisible feature—something that might one day come in handy. What makes this the best iPhone upgrade in years are a fabulous-to-hold design and substantial camera improvements.
Dieter Bohn, The Verge: Apple iPhone 12 Review: Raising the bar. More than most years, there are a lot of things that are new in the iPhone 12. Apple has loaded in the usual upgrades like a faster processor and improved camera, but that’s something we’ve come to expect. In addition to all of that, there’s a new design, a new OLED screen, an entirely new charging and accessory ecosystem with MagSafe, and, of course, 5G. It seems obvious that both Apple and its carrier partners are trying to align to make this a supercycle for upgrades. All of that new stuff is also paired with both a higher price ($829 for the base 64GB model) and discounts and heavily marketed carrier trade-in and installment plans. In the midst of a pandemic-induced economic downturn, it could be a hard sell. It’s easy to recommend the default iPhone for the times when you need a new phone anyway, but it’s much more difficult to say whether all of this new stuff adds up to something that could compel you to upgrade earlier than you’d planned. Nilay Patel is reviewing the iPhone 12 Pro separately, here. Both the smaller iPhone 12 mini and the iPhone 12 Pro Max with its better cameras won’t arrive for a little while. There’s reason to consider all of them, but the standard iPhone 12 is the one I think most people who need a new iPhone will want to get.
Nilay Patel, The Verge: Apple iPhone 12 Pro Review: Ahead of its Time. It’s obvious what sets the mini and Max iPhone 12s apart, but the two 6.1-inch models in the middle of the line are remarkably similar. The iPhone 12 and the iPhone 12 Pro have the same basic design, very similar OLED displays, and the same processors and 5G capabilities. The Pro adds an extra telephoto camera lens, a LIDAR sensor, a little more RAM, twice the base storage, and a shiny stainless steel frame. All that will cost you $999, around $200 more than a base iPhone 12 at the carrier-subsidized price of $799. Now, there are some of you who are going to spend the extra money because this is the shiny one. In most cases, I would make the same choice because I have come to accept my weaknesses. But it’s worth diving in to see if the extra money is worth it, especially since the iPhone 12 now has an OLED display, which means the differences between the regular iPhone and the Pro are fundamentally much smaller than last year, when the regular model had a lower-resolution LCD. That leaves the 12 Pro in a weird spot, and really, I think it comes down to how much you might use the telephoto lens or shoot portrait photos at night. Then again, it’s shiny.
Brian X. Chen, The New York Times: Apple iPhone 12 Review: Superfast Speed, if You Can Find It. That’s all to say that despite the hype around 5G, the network underwhelmed. At this point, it should not be the primary reason to splurge on an expensive handset in a pandemic-induced recession. The iPhone 12, with bright screens and a more robust design, is still a solid upgrade from past iPhones. But you will pay a premium.
Matthew Panzarino, TechCrunch: iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro, two gems, one jewel. There’s an odd tension in only being able to review half of the new iPhone lineup. Though this review is focused on breaking down the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro, we all know that the iPhone mini and the iPhone 12 Pro Max are sitting out there in the wings. Fortunately, we can extrapolate a lot about those devices from these, especially as the iPhone 12 mini is a direct mini-turization of the iPhone 12. Because of the way that Apple has bifurcated the line into ‘Pro’ and ‘non-Pro’ options, these two represent the meaty center of this particular rack of ribs. I think it’s safe to say that for the broad majority, one of these devices is going to be the de-facto option this season.
My take: I’m getting the iPhone 12 Pro. It’s shiny.