The camera has become the defining feature of a modern smartphone, becoming the primary way most people take pictures. So, it comes to no surprise that many people are interested in DxOMark’s camera performance test on two of the hottest phones of 2020: the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max.
Recently, DxOMark published their full review of the iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max’s camera systems. The Cupertino company’s top two phones have an overall score of 128 and 130 respectively, which is within DxOMark’s top five smartphone cameras.
If you are curious how the two top-tier iPhone 12 models compare against the competition in DxOMark’s top ten ranking for smartphone cameras, here’s the list:
Huawei’s Mate 40 Pro takes the top spot with a score of 136, followed by the Xiaomi M10 Ultra at 133 and another Huawei model, the P40 Pro at 132 in third place. Then comes the iPhone 12 Pro Max at 130 and iPhone 12 Pro at 128, which ties with the Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro.
But the ranking only tells us part of the story, to get a better idea of how the iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max truly fared, let’s take a closer look at DxOMark’s full review.
iPhone 12 Pro
Let’s start with the iPhone 12 Pro, Apple’s second top model in 2020. It comes with three 12MP cameras made up of a 26mm-equivalent wide lens, a 13mm-equivalent ultra-wide lens and a 52mm telephoto lens, or a 2x zoom.
As mentioned before, it has an overall score of 128. DxOMark said it arrived at that overall score based on the iPhone’s Photo score of 135, Video Score of 112 and Zoom score of 66.
One of the notable findings in DxOMark’s testing process was the fact that the iPhone 12 Pro’s fast and accurate autofocus system performed well under most conditions. They also found exposure to be good but dynamic range wasn’t the best, with highlight and shadows being clipped when used in challenging lighting situations.
The review also noted that the iPhone 12 Pro’s telephoto lens offered good quality images at closer zoom distances but struggled with subjects at longer ranges. Conversely, the iPhone 12’s ultra-wide camera is said to capture good images but has room for improvement in areas like detail and corner softness.
DxOMark noted that video was still one area where the iPhone 12 Pro shines. They said the HDR-enabled clips were well exposed and dynamic range was wide, lending a cinematic appearance to scenes with strong contrasts. It was noted that the camera’s autofocus was good at keeping things in focus, even in dynamic scenes. In addition, its stabilisation system worked very well, too, keeping things steady and smooth when walking with the camera hand-held.
iPhone 12 Pro Max
The top device in the iPhone 12 range is not only bigger in terms of looks but it is also bigger on its camera features too. The iPhone 12 Pro Max retains the same 26mm-equivalent wide lens and 13mm-equivalent ultra-wide lens. Where it differs from the Pro model is it has a longer telephoto lens with a 65mm-equivalent lens, which in essence is a 2.5x zoom. Apart from that, the iPhone 12 Pro Max also comes with a larger main camera sensor compared with the other iPhone 12 models.
Apple’s top iPhone lands a score of 130 that is derived from a Photo sub-score of 138, zoom score of 68 and as for video DxOMark gave it a score of 113. Based on their findings, exposure was generally accurate especially with portraits and even in low light situations. However, like with the iPhone 12 Pro, the iPhone 12 Pro Max offers less impressive dynamic range.
It is worth noting that DxOMark pointed out that the much touted LiDAR sensor “isn’t the be-all and end-all of depth mapping”, they still found artifacts around difficult subjects like hair.
But when it came to zoom performance, DxOMark found that the iPhone 12 Pro Max couldn’t compete on the long end of the zoom range with the best of its competitors. It noted that phones from Xiaomi and Huawei have extended the reach of their telephoto lenses while the iPhone keeps to a modest 65mm-equivalent.
At least when it came to video, the iPhone 12 Pro Max ties with the Huawei P40 Pro, though Huawei’s Mate 40 Pro is at the top of the list. Apple’s addition of Dolby Vision HDR support delivers high dynamic range while video autofocus was generally accurate and fast. Stabilisation is also effective, including when walking or panning.