iPhone 12 and 12 mini: This is how you make a small flagship smartphone

Apple has just revealed its latest iPhone 12 series, although it is slightly delayed than usual, it is still one of the most anticipated phones of the year. The iPhone 11 which is the base model of last year’s series has been a top seller. This time Apple has introduced two models, the iPhone 12 and a smaller variant that’s called the iPhone 12 mini.

On the previous iPhone XR and the iPhone 11, Apple had offered flagship specs but the biggest compromise is its LCD-based Liquid Retina HD display. Not only it isn’t as vibrant as an OLED screen but it pushes a low resolution of 1792×828 pixels. It just pales in comparison with the impressive OLED displays on the iPhone XS and the iPhone 11 Pro.

This time, the iPhone 12 series features a Super Retina XDR display that uses an OLED panel with HDR similar to the more expensive iPhone 12 Pro. The iPhone 12 mini gets a smaller 5.4″ screen that does 2340×1080 pixels resolution, while the bigger iPhone 12 has a 6.1″ that does 2532×1170 pixels resolution. Even in pixel density wise, the iPhone 12 mini packs 476 pixels per pinch (ppi) versus the iPhone 12 Pro Max’s 458ppi.

Unfortunately, there’s no high 90Hz or 120Hz screen refresh rate that’s getting very common among Android smartphones. For greater durability, Apple is now using a new glass called Ceramic Shield from Corning which claims to offer four times greater damage resistance when it’s dropped. It would be interesting to see how it compares with Gorilla Glass Victus that’s currently used on the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra.

Both 12 and 12 mini displays have a typical max brightness of 625 nits and it maxes out at 1,200 nits for HDR. You also get True Tone and Haptic Touch as standard. Apart from the display and battery, the rest of the key hardware for the iPhone 12 and 12 mini are identical.

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Under the hood, it runs on an Apple A14 chip which is said to be the fastest in a smartphone and it’s also the first commercial 5nm chip in the market. This is the same processor that’s used on the latest iPad Air 2020 featuring 6-core CPU, 4-core GPU and a 16-core Neural Engine.

While the front and back of the new iPhone looks unchanged, the new models ditch the curved aluminium frame for a flat design which reminds us of the iPhone 4 and iPhone 5 series. Compared to the iPhone 11, the 12 is 11% thinner (7.4mm), 15% smaller (71.5mm width x 146.7mm height) and 16% lighter (162g). During the event, Apple calls the 12 mini the world’s lightest, thinnest and smallest 5G phone and it only weighs 133g. The overall footprint is even smaller than the 4.7″ iPhone SE 2020.

In the camera department, both models get a dual-camera setup featuring a 12MP f/1.6 main camera with optical image stabilisation and a 12MP f/2.4 ultra-wide-angle shooter. The new main camera has a faster f/1.6 lens which greatly improves low light photography and it also supports Smart HDR 3. Upfront, the device still gets a front facing 12MP f/2.2 camera which supports portrait mode with its TrueDepth camera. On top of that, you also get Night Mode for every camera and even the front selfie shooter can take advantage of Apple’s Deep Fusion feature.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t support 8K video recording and it’s still capable of recording HDR 4K videos at 60fps. Another major upgrade is that it supports HDR video recording with Dolby Vision with up to 30fps. On top of that, it now supports Night mode time-lapse on a tripod.

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The iPhone 12 series still gets IP68 dust and water resistance but this time it can withstand being submerged up to 6 metres deep, versus 2 metres on the iPhone 11. You also get stereo speakers as standard and Qi wireless charging. As usual, there’s no 3.5mm headphone jack.

Another new nifty and convenient feature they introduced is MagSafe for iPhone. Using magnets, a wireless charger can effortless snap and aligned into place to ensure a perfect position similar to how you would charge an Apple Watch. Apart from charging, MagSafe can be used to attach additional accessories with special cases. Apple even introduced its official shielded wallet cases that can be attached to the back of your iPhone.

As speculated previously, Apple is also removing the charger and Earpods that usually come in the box. The move is aimed at minimising waste and to reduce the size of the packaging significantly. According to the Cupertino company, the effort can eliminate over 2 million metric tons of carbon emissions annually which is equivalent of taking away 450,000 cars on the road each year. The box still contains a USB-C to lightning cable, which supports fast charging with a compatible USB-C PD charger.

In terms of connectivity, the new iPhone models support 5G but for the Malaysian market, it is listed only with sub-6GHz without the higher mmWave. There’s also Bluetooth 5.0 and WiFi 6 (802.11ax) support.

In terms of battery, the iPhone 12 retains the same battery life as the iPhone 11 with a rated up to 17 hours of video playback and up to 11 hours on video streaming. Meanwhile, the iPhone 12 mini’s battery life is shorter with up to 15 hours of video playback and up to 10 hours of video streaming. Using a 20W USB-C charger, the devices are able to get a 50% charge in 30 minutes.

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Apple has already revealed the device’s official pricing for Malaysia. The iPhone 12 mini and the iPhone 12 are priced as follows:

5.4″ iPhone 12 mini
64GB – RM3,399
128GB – RM3,599
256GB – RM4,099

6.1″ iPhone 12
64GB – RM3,899
128GB – RM4,099
256GB – RM4,599

The devices come in 5 colours – blue, green, black, white and red.

So far there’s no availability details for Malaysia. In first wave countries such as the US, UK, Australia and Singapore, the 12 will be offered for pre-order from 16th October and will be available a week later on the 23rd October. Meanwhile, the 12 mini will be available for pre-order on 6th November with stocks available on the 13th November 2020.

Overall, this is a massive upgrade over the previous base models of the new iPhone lineup. You get a proper flagship class display, the top-of-the-line processor and a flagship class camera although it lacks a telephoto camera. It seems that Apple is giving less compromises to consumers and it closes the gap between the iPhone 12 and the iPhone 12 Pro. The starting price for the 5.4″ Mini is the same as the iPhone 11 at the time of launch but if you want a larger display and longer battery life, it will cost you an extra RM500 for the 6.1″ iPhone 12.

Alexander Wong