Apple’s iPhone lineup has exploded with the announcement of four new iPhone 12 devices. There is a lot to love about the iPhone 12, but with so many options to choose from it’s easy to feel a little lost.
We’ll compare all the differences between the iPhone 12, iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12 Pro, and iPhone 12 Pro Max.
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If you’re completely new to the iPhone 12 lineup, the first change you’re going to notice is the design.
Every iPhone 12 model features a new square-edge design, reminiscent of the iPhone 4.
Apple also introduced a smaller size to the lineup with the iPhone 12 mini.
The iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro are the exact same dimensions as one another, with the iPhone 12 Pro Max available for people who like a larger device.
Due to its size, the iPhone 12 mini is an ounce lighter than the iPhone 12 and over three ounces lighter than the iPhone 12 Pro Max.
One of the reasons the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max are heavier is because they’re made from surgical-grade stainless steel, instead of the aerospace-grade aluminum found on the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini. This also means the Pro range is available in glossy metallic colors.
- iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini colors:
- Blue, Green, (Product) Red, White, Black
- iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max colors:
- Pacific Blue, Gold, Graphite, Silver
Each of Apple’s new iPhones is rated as IP68 dust and water resistant. That means any iPhone 12 can dive six meters underwater for up to 30 minutes without suffering liquid damage.
Bottom Line: The iPhone 12 mini is the smallest, the iPhone 12 Pro Max is the largest. The Pro range features a glossy metal finish.
Comparing the iPhone 12 Displays
Since there are three different size iPhone 12 devices, that also means there are three different display sizes:
- iPhone 12 mini: 5.4 inches
- iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro: 6.1 inches
- iPhone 12 Pro Max: 6.7 inches
Except for the size differences, the display is the same across each iPhone 12 device. They all feature Apple’s new Super Retina XDR display, which uses OLED to deliver 2,000,000:1 contrast ratio.
That essentially means deeper blacks and more vivid colors.
The only minor differences between each display are in the pixel density, for which the iPhone 12 mini has a slightly higher pixel density and the iPhone 12 Pro Max has a slightly lower pixel density. This difference is negligible though.
The Pro range also features slightly higher peak brightness, at 800 nits compared to 625 nits peak brightness for the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini.
For every screen, Apple reinforced the glass using a ceramic shield, giving the entire lineup four times better drop protection than previous generations. It still suffers from a notch on the screen, but Apple did manage to reduce the bezels.
Bottom Line: Each iPhone features a Super Retina XDR display, with the main difference being the size.
Comparing the iPhone 12 Cameras
Apple introduced a larger camera sensor for the iPhone 12, which means it can take in 27 percent more light than was possible with the iPhone 11. This should result in clearer photos across every iPhone 12 device, but there are still finer details to look at between them.
The cameras on the iPhone 12 and the iPhone 12 mini are exactly the same.
Both devices feature a 12MP wide and a 12MP ultra-wide lens, with f/1.6 and f/2.4 aperture respectively. You also benefit from Night Mode for better low-light photography and Smart HDR 3, which intelligently exposes darker and brighter spots in your pictures.
The iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max have the exact same cameras with the addition of a 12MP telephoto lens capable of f/2.0 aperture. This telephoto lens is perfect for portrait photography, especially on the iPhone 12 Pro Max, which offers an even greater optical zoom.
The iPhone 12 Pro Max has space for an even larger sensor with the benefit of sensor-shift optical image stabilization. This makes for even crisper images that capture finer details.
Both Pro models benefit from Apple ProRAW, a new file format Apple introduced that allows professional photographers to benefit from the iPhone’s smart photography processing without losing the flexibility of RAW file formats.
Since the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max also have a LiDAR sensor, they can also autofocus faster and more effectively in low-light settings.
Bottom Line: The Pro range have an additional telephoto camera with ProRAW file formats. The Pro Max has a larger sensor and even better image stabilization.
Comparing the iPhone 12 Video Quality
For the first time ever, you can record Dolby Vision HDR video using a smartphone. Although Apple mentioned this feature while revealing the iPhone 12 Pro, it’s actually available for every iPhone 12 model, including the iPhone 12 mini.
Dolby Vision features the highest standards of HDR video, resulting in more vivid colors and perfectly exposed videos from frame to frame.
While the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini are limited to 30fps Dolby Vision HDR video, an iPhone 12 Pro or iPhone 12 Pro Max lets you record silky smooth 60fps instead.
Bottom Line: The Pro range can shoot 60fps Dolby Vision HDR video.
Comparing the iPhone 12 Internals
The iPhone 12 is Apple’s first 5G iPhone. That means faster streaming, downloading, or uploading from anywhere with a 5G connection. Since Verizon launched its 5G Nationwide network alongside the iPhone 12, there should be plenty of 5G locations available.
Apple also introduced the A14 Bionic chip with the iPhone 12. This is the fastest chip ever in a smartphone, built on 5nm technology with 11.8 billion transistors.
In short, it’s incredibly powerful.
The A14 chip has the capability of playing console-quality video games with 50 percent faster graphics than any other smartphone on the market. The Neural Engine inside the chip, used for machine learning on your iPhone, is also 80 percent faster than the chip inside the iPhone 11.
Bottom Line: All iPhones feature the same A14 processor and 5G capabilities.
Comparing the iPhone 12 Batteries
The iPhone 12 battery performance is exactly the same as the iPhone 11, where you can expect 17 hours of video playback for the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro.
Since the iPhone 12 Pro Max features a larger battery, it offers 20 hours of video playback instead.
In contrast, the smaller iPhone 12 mini only stretches to 15 hours of video playback, which is still enough to spend almost your entire waking day watching videos on your iPhone.
The biggest change Apple made around the battery is the introduction of MagSafe charging across the entire iPhone 12 lineup.
The new MagSafe chargers—which aren’t included in the box—snap to the perfect position on the back of your iPhone, for optimum wireless charging every time. You can also use them for fast charging to charge 50 percent of your battery in just 30 minutes.
Apple has introduced a range of MagSafe compatible cases and accessories, which neatly snap onto your iPhone using these magnets.
Bottom Line: The bigger the iPhone, the better the battery, resulting in a difference of 5 hours between the Pro Max and the mini.
Comparing the iPhone 12 Prices
With four different sizes available, the iPhone 12 covers a wide range of price points to suit most budgets.
The smallest iPhone is also the cheapest—excluding the budget-friendly iPhone SE—with the iPhone 12 mini starting a $699.
The regular iPhone 12 starts at $799.
Meanwhile, the iPhone 12 Pro starts at $999 with the Pro Max coming in at $1,099. That said, both of these devices start at 128GB of storage, compared to the 64GB you get with other models.
For comparison, to get the iPhone 12 in 128GB it costs $849, making it only $150 extra to upgrade to the iPhone 12 Pro.
It’s also worth noting that none of these iPhones come with a power adapter or EarPods in the box. Apple explains that it did this for environmental reasons, but we aren’t seeing a noticeable drop in price to compensate for the loss.
Even worse, the iPhone 12 now comes with a Lightning-to-USB-C cable. This means that if you don’t already have a USB-C power adapter or an existing Lightning-to-USB cable, you’ll need to buy a new adapter as well!
Bottom Line: There’s about $100 between each iPhone size, but the Pro range starts with more storage. None of them come with adapters or headphones.
Which iPhone Should I Buy?
Besides the difference in size, there aren’t too many considerations you need to make when choosing which iPhone 12 to get. Of course, if you want the largest or smallest screen possible, you only have one option: the iPhone 12 Pro Max or the iPhone 12 mini respectively.
When choosing between the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro, think about whether you want a telephoto camera or not. This, combined with the ability to shoot ProRAW photos, is the only notable difference between the Pro and the regular iPhone 12 range.
And if you want to take the best iPhone photos possible, shoot for the iPhone 12 Pro Max to get a bigger sensor, a tighter telephoto zoom, and sensor-shift optical image stabilization.
Dan is a freelance writer based in South West England.
He spent two years supervising repairs as a Genius Admin for Apple Retail and uses that knowledge to keep our troubleshooting guides up to date.
Long before that, Dan turned to Apple products from a musical background. Having owned iPods for years, he bought a MacBook to learn sound recording and production. It was using those skills that he gained a first-class Bachelor of Science in Sound Technology.