Is iPhone 12 worth buying in 2021?

As you may know, iPhones are one of the best-selling phones out there. iPhone 13 mini, iPhone 13, 13 pro, and 13 pro max are the latest entrant to the market. They can be a terrific upgrade for the phone users like iPhone 6s, iPhone 7, etc. On the other hand, iPhone 12 is also available to purchase alongside iPhone 13. The price is cheaper too. But, Is the iPhone 12 still worth buying in 2021? Let’s do a case study in detail.

Image by Lukas Gehrer from Pixabay

iPhone 12 was released on 13th October 2020. Ever since then it was selling like hot cake. Even today, it is selling well alongside iPhone 13. As iPhone 13 was released, the iPhone 12 has seen a price drop, making it even more affordable. 

With this price drop, iPhone 12 is worth it over the iPhone 11. There are many crazy sales happening that makes iPhone 12 worth buying. The USA has seen the prices drop after the launch of the iPhone 13 and likely, the prices will further drop during the festival season or during another sale period.

Let’s do a comparison.

The ideal candidate to compare iPhone 12 is iPhone 13 from 2021. I would have compared it against the likes of Samsung, one plus etc. But, I really like to do an ‘apples to apples’ comparison. Hence, my choice is the iPhone 13 itself. Priced just $100 more, it is the right comparison. 

related post: is iphone 8 worth buying?

Performance:

Image of iPhone 12
Courtesy: Pixels.com

Iphones and performance always go hand in hand. Even a 5-year-old iPhone works butter smooth. A14 Bionic chip in iPhone 12 is very very powerful. Everyday tasks are done with ease. A 14 is a 5nm chip and it is less power-hungry. The processor is Hexa-core (2×3.1 GHz Firestorm + 4×1.8 GHz Icestorm). All the operations in the phone are dismissed in seconds. Apple GPU is great for gaming. Very powerful and snappy. It does make iPhone 12 worth buying.

However, the A15 chipset is a monster of its own. It has great performance and notably, it is much more efficient. The CPU has Hexa-core (2×3.22 GHz Avalanche + 4xX.X GHz Blizzard) configuration. The 4 core GPU is more powerful than the one in iPhone 12.

Honestly, even though the performance of the iPhone 13 is fantastic, You will be satisfied with the performance of the iPhone 12 itself. So, if you have an iPhone 12, you don’t need to upgrade to iPhone 13 for a performance boost. iPhone 12 is worth it.

However, the tale takes a U-turn for gaming. Gamers will appreciate the performance difference between iPhone 12 and 13. The performance of the new GPU will be noticeable. Hence, buying an iPhone 13 for $100 more than iPhone is totally justified for gaming.

Camera

iPhone camera
Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

The camera is one part where the iPhone wins most of the competition. The iPhone camera is too good that you don’t actually need a secondary camera while touring, youTube making, etc. The video camera is fantastic and no other camera phone can match it. Let’s look at the specifications from gsmarena.

Apple iPhone 12 has a 12 MP, f/1.6, 26mm (wide), 1.4µm, OIS as the primary camera, and 12 MP, f/2.4, 120˚, 13mm (ultrawide) as a secondary camera. The video specification is [email protected]/30/60fps, [email protected]/60/120/240fps, HDR, Dolby Vision HDR, stereo sound rec. 

There is a dual-tone flash that takes care of night duties. The selfie camera is great too at 12 MP, f/2.2, 23mm (wide), 1/3.6”. Also, iPhone 12 has a night mode. The phone supports Dolby Vision too.

For normal photographic needs, iPhone 12 is worth buying.

But is it worth the difference of $100 to buy an iPhone 13?

It is especially if you like to take videos. Why?

I will explain you. Before that, let us see the specs of the iPhone 13 camera.

The main camera is 12 MP, f/1.6 shooter at 26mm (wide). The pixel size is 1.7µm, Autofocus is dual pixel PDAF, sensor-shift OIS.  The secondary camera is a 12 MP sensor with an aperture of f/2.4 and the lens is 120˚, 13mm (ultrawide).

Image of an iPhone 12
Image: Pixels.com

It has Dual-LED dual-tone flash for accurate colours, HDR in photos and can take panorama as well. 

As far as the video goes, it can take [email protected]/30/60fps videos and [email protected]/60/120/240fps videos. It can take HDR Videos and Dolby Vision HDR video up to 60 fps. It can also record stereo sound.

Then there is an awesome selfie camera. The camera is a 12 MP sensor at an aperture of f/2.2. The lens is 23mm (wide). It can also take HDR images. As far as the videos go it can take [email protected]/25/30/60fps and [email protected]/60/120fps. The stabilisation is done by Gyro powered EIS. It is not as good as an OIS but nice to have it.

The new camera has sensor-shift optical image stabilization technology. That means, instead of the lens moving on the iPhone 12, iPhone 13 has the sensor moves to produce a stable image. This increases the stabilization performance.

The sensor in iPhone 13 is a bigger sensor compared to iPhone 12. Hence, nighttime photography will be excellent. With night mode on, You will get a better picture with iPhone 13 than 12. 

Having a bigger sensor has one more benefit. Bokeh. 

Bokeh shot

What is Bokeh?

Bokeh is the background blur on photos which gives photos a nice depth. It can also help with focusing on the needed part more than other parts. It’s all about emotions.

As the aperture increases and camera sensor size increases the bokeh gets beautiful and creamier.

iPhones now have not only a bigger sensor but also a large aperture which lets in more light. This gives a better bokeh effect compared to that of the iPhone 12 with similar aperture and small sensor. It is an important parameter for image quality.

With the new iPhone, Apple introduced new profiles for cameras. It is called photographic Styles. 

What is ‘Photographic Styles?’

Photographic styles are kinds of presets that can take different styles of pictures. The photographic styles of iPhone 13 are as follows

  • Standard
  • Rich contrast
  • Vibrant
  • Warm
  • Cool

Tone and warmth can be customized for each style. This gives you a great picture every time.

Standard

Standard is the normal default style. It takes pictures like typical Apple fashion. The picture will be accurate to reality. 

Rich Contrast

Rich contrast is my favourite. It takes images like Samsung phones. It makes the shadows a little darker. It slightly saturates the colour and increases the contrast of the image. The output is a beautiful colourful image.

Vibrant

Vibrant style takes a step above and improves the vibrancy of the images. This style increases brightness yet keeping the colours accurate. The presentation is vivid in nature.

Warm

A warm preset adds warmth to the picture. It achieves it by increasing the yellowish content of the image. It is also eye-pleasing for me.

Cool

This mode increases the blue values of the picture and this gives a cool picture.

The only caveat of Photographic Styles is that it cannot be undone or changed once the picture is taken. That means, it is permanent. 

How are photographic styles different from the filters?

This idea is that use the photographic style first and take the photo so that the filters need not be used after taking it. Also, The filter adjusts the tweek to everything in the photo while the Photographic styles do a whole lot of image processing step by step right from capturing the image to saving it on the phone.

Videos

One of the places where androids cannot compete with iPhones is videos. iPhones take excellent videos. With the Optical image stabilization in action, the images that come out are stable and nothing short of excellent. They are rich in contrast, the shadow details are retained and the colours are accurate. 

And in 2021, apple added one more future, cinematic video, for iPhone 13.

Cinematic mode

Cinematic mode is simply the portrait mode for videos. The iPhone can take videos with a shallow depth of field. Thanks to AI and machine learning, they can do much more than bokeh.

When the Cinematic mode is on, the phone focuses on the subject. And, if the subject turns back to see another person, the focus shift to the second person leaving the image of the first-person blurred. You can manually override the automatic focusing and can do manual focusing. This way, one can become very much creative.

With iPhone 13 you are getting a host of features. Basically, you will get 

  • Bigger sensor
  • Better bokeh
  • 4k HDR at 60fps
  • Sensor shift stabilization
  • Photographic styles
  • Cinematic mode

You’re getting all these compared to iPhone 12 for a difference of just $100. It is in fact a sweet deal.

Battery life

iPhone battery
Photo by Tyler Lastovich from Pexels

The battery life of the new iPhones is incredible. iPhone 12 sports a Li-Ion 2815 mAh battery. It was enough for most tasks. It supports fast charging at 20 watts with an optional adapter. That means the phone can be charged up to 50% within 30 minutes as advertised. It also supports MagSafe wireless charging at 15 watts.

With Qi magnetic fast wireless charging, it can go up to 7.5W which is slow, IMO. The battery life is excellent and more than enough. It can clock Up to 17 h (multimedia) with a full charge. The music playback time is up to 65 h. The battery life is good that iPhone 12 is worth buying.

With iPhone 13, things have reached a different level. iPhone 13 now has Li-Ion 3240 mA battery which is a huge step up from iPhone 12’s battery. Combined with a bigger battery and energy-efficient processor, it returns a stellar battery life. The standby time is increased from 17 up to 19 h (multimedia). The music playback time is 75h. 

For a $100 more, you will get better battery life with iPhone 13 and it is highly recommended. 

Display

Picture of an iPhone X
courtesy: Pixels.com

The display of the iPhone 12 is very good. It used to be LCD displays until iPhone 11. After iPhone 12 we are getting AMOLED displays. The displays are made by Samsung and the quality is very good. The image is crisp and the sharpness is more than enough. 

The Resolution used in this display is 1170 x 2532 pixels. The aspect ratio of the screen is 19.5:9. It is indeed a tall display. The display measures 6.1 inches and the screen to body ratio is 86.0%.

The screen used is Super Retina XDR. 

It can decode and display HDR10, Dolby Vision videos. The typical brightness of the display is 625 nits while the peak brightness goes up to 1200 nits. It is good for HDR playback. It has a wide colour gamut and supports True Tone display. The display uses a hardened glass called ceramic coating and therefore, iPhone 12 display is tough to crack.

So, how much is the upgrade with iPhone 13?

Nothing much. In fact, the only difference from the iPhone 12 display is that it has 800 Nits of typical brightness. There is 28% more brightness in iPhone 13 compared to iPhone 12. If you spend most of your day under the sun, it is definitely helpful. Otherwise not. If the display is the only category you’re confused with, you can blindly go with iPhone 12. Else, iPhone 13 would do although there isn’t much of a difference.

Honestly, for display, iPhone 12 is worth it.

That notch

iPhone notch
Image: Pixels.com

iPhone 12 has a notch which was continued from the iPhone X era. Quite frankly, it is a bit ugly. Things changed with iPhone 13. Now, iPhone 13 sport a small notch. Apple managed to compress the Face Id components and moved the earpiece up a little bit for more room. This made the notch to be slightly taller than before. Overall, the notch is smaller by 20%. Although the notch is smaller, the real estate wasn’t used for any needs. So, there is no better use of the new notch other than the aesthetic purpose.

Sound

photography of woman listening to music
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Both the phones have stereo speakers. They sound incredible for a smartphone but the iPhone 13 is a tiny bit louder. Definitely, it doesn’t warrant a price tag of $100. iPhone 12 is worth buying as far as sound goes.

related post: Is iphone XR worth buying?

5G

5G internet
Image: Pixels.com

Like iPhone 12, iPhone 13 too has 5G. It is a plus point. But, currently, 5g isn’t established depending upon where you’re living. So, it doesn’t make sense to buy a phone with 5g now for most people. Although this is not really a deciding factor now, it is good to have 5G with a new phone purchase. You can’t go wrong with either iPhone 12 or iPhone 13 in this regard.

Storage

iPhone 12 starts with 64 Gb for a base model, 128 Gb on the mid-tier and 256 Gb on the topmost model. But, with iPhone 13 even the base variant starts with 128 Gb. Other than 128 Gb, it has 256 Gb and 512 Gb. It is worth buying iPhone 13 for $100 more because the base variant of the phone comes with 128 Gb space and it is quite a value for money.

Conclusion:

iPhone 12 is an incredible phone for many. Even today, it is a total value for the money. However, 13 comes with even more bells and whistles. The price difference is just $100 for a base variant. It is feature-rich and future proof. Compared to iPhone 12 you will get 

  • Better performance
  • Better camera
  • Better night shot and low light performance
  • Better bokeh
  • Photographic styles
  • Cinematic mode
  • 4k at 60 FPS
  • Sensor shift stabilization
  • Efficient processor
  • Better battery life
  • Bigger battery
  • Better display
  • Smaller notch
  • Bit louder sound
  • Higher storage

All these for a mere $100 difference in money compared to iPhone 12. Hence, iPhone 13 is a recommended good buy. However, iPhones are iPhones. It doesn’t matter what iPhones you choose. Be it iPhone 12 or iPhone 13, the performance will be incredible. You cannot go wrong with either of the two. However, my advice will be to get an iPhone 13 now and enjoy the phone for years to come.

Check the price of iPhone 12 for USA customers

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For UK customers

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For Indian customers

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Check the price of iPhone 13 for USA customers

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For UK customers

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For Indian Customers

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Thanks for reading.