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The 10 most exciting new iPhone 12 features

Published Oct 13th, 2020 3:08PM EDT
iPhone 12 vs. iPhone 12 Mini vs. iPhone 12 Pro
Image: Apple Inc.

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  • On Monday, Apple told us everything there is to know about the iPhone 12 series, including the release dates, prices, and specs for the four phones included in the series.
  • The iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, and iPhone 12 Pro Max will feature the same design and main specs. The handsets will all feature OLED displays, 5G connectivity, wireless charging, and will be powered by the same formidable A14 Bionic processor.
  • Other highlights include new camera features, better battery life, durable glass, and brand new wireless charging accessories.

Apple has finally unveiled its 2020 iPhone handsets on Tuesday, although the event came about a month later than expected. The novel coronavirus is to blame, of course, which Apple confirmed would be the case over the summer. Now that the four iPhone 12 models are official, we know that most of the rumors preceding the event were accurate. Two models will launch this month, with preorders kicking off on Friday, and two will arrive in November.

Choosing a new iPhone might be more difficult than ever now that Apple has four new models to choose from for the first time ever. And the iPhone 12 series brings many “firsts” for the company. In what follows, we’ll look at some of the best iPhone 12 features, as announced on stage during the event.

1. The compact iPhone 12 mini

iPhone 12 Mini vs. iPhone 12
Apple’s 5.4-inch iPhone 12 mini next to the 6.1-inch iPhone 12. Image source: Apple Inc.

For the first time in Apple’s history, buyers can purchase a compact iPhone with an all-screen design, complete with notch and Face ID support. At 5.4 inches, the iPhone 12 mini’s display is smaller than that of the iPhone X/XS/11, but the phones should be popular with a certain segment of the population. Its affordable entry price will also make it a great alternative to mid-range Android phones that can’t deliver the same power.

2. The new OLED displays

iPhone 12 Ceramic Shield glass.
iPhone 12 phones feature a new Ceramic Shield glass made in collaboration with Corning.

All four iPhone 12 models feature OLED Super Retina XDR displays. This directly affects the screen-to-body ratio, as the bezels are thinner than the iPhone 11 and iPhone XR, which featured LCD panels. On top of that, the screens are covered by a more durable glass, which has a Ceramic Shield layer from Corning in it.

3. The flat-edged design

iPhone 12
iPhone 12 seen here in a new green color option.

The notch might still be present, but the phone has received a design makeover for the chassis. With its flat edges and curved corners, the iPhone 12 resemble the iPhone 4 and the latest iPad Pros. The design should make more internal real estate available for components and could help address durability concerns.

4. 5G connectivity

iPhone 12 5G
iPhone 12 presentation slide from Verizon’s segment tells the audience that “5G just got real.” Image source: Apple Inc.

Speaking of internal components, every iPhone 12 unit comes with a 5G modem and 5G antenna inside. They will support both sub-6GHz and mmWave technology where available.

5. A14 Bionic chip

iPhone 12
Slide from Apple’s iPhone 12 event recaps the main features of the new A14 Bionic processor. Image source: Apple Inc.

The “Hi, Speed” title of Apple’s iPhone 12 event wasn’t just referring to 5G connectivity. The iPhone 12 will also rock a brand new 5nm A14 Bionic chip that’s faster and more efficient than the iPhone 11’s 7nm A13 Bionic. The same chip powers the 2020 iPad Air, and versions of it will be found inside the rumored iPad Pro upgrade and the first ARM-based MacBooks.

6. Wireless charging

iPhone 12 MagSafe
Diagram shows all the components inside the wireless charging coil on the back of the iPhone 12. Image source: Apple Inc.

All four iPhone 12 models will support wireless charging, which is true of any iPhone that has launched since the iPhone X. But the iPhone 12 comes with magnetic MagSafe charging and support for speeds of up to 15W. It’s not exactly AirPower, but it will get the job done and serves as a nice upgrade.

7. The camera systems

iPhone 12
Apple’s new sensor-shift optical image stabilization system for iPhone 12. Image source: Apple Inc.

All four iPhone 12 models have received several major camera upgrades. All the cameras support Night Mode photography, and Apple created a new sensor-shift optical image stabilization system for each camera. The cameras shoot in Apple ProRAW mode, which will come in handy for photographers. Plus, the iPhone 12 is the first phone to support Dolby Vision HDR video recording and on-device editing. The iPhone 12 will also record 10-bit HDR clips.

8. LiDAR Scanner

iPhone 12 LiDAR
Slide from Apple’s iPhone 12 presentation shows various AR applications for the LiDAR camera system. Image source: Apple Inc.

This is a feature reserved for the Pro phones, both of which feature a LiDAR sensor. This is the same type of technology found on the iPad Pro, allowing Apple to map the depth of an environment and deliver AR content using the spatial information it has gathered. The feature needs great augmented reality features to really shine. The LiDAR sensor will also assist with autofocus features in lowlight photography.

9. More storage

iPhone 12
The cheapest iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro Max models come with 128GB of flash storage. Image source: Apple Inc.

The Pro models also come with more base storage than their cheaper counterparts. 128GB of base storage will definitely come in handy in the age of 5G, matching what’s available on Android.

10. Affordable prices

iPhone 12
Apple’s 2020 iPhone lineup includes iPhone SE, iPhone XR, iPhone 11, iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, and iPhone 12 Pro. Image source: Apple Inc.

Apple is in a position where it can actually offer an affordable high-end 5G phone. Android handset makers are struggling to hit the same price points. Just look at Samsung’s disastrous Galaxy S20 launch or Google’s compromise with the Pixel 5. Starting at $699 and $799, the iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 are simply better deals than the Pixel 5, Galaxy S20, and even the OnePlus 8. The iPhone 12 is expected to sell tremendously well, just like the iPhone XR and iPhone 11 did in previous years. Apple is also keeping the iPhone XR and iPhone 11 in its lineup, which will retail for $499 and $599, respectively. Meanwhile, the iPhone 11 Pro is being retired.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.