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- Sebastian Ujica
SITE - Review iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro Max
Apple released more phones than ever this year. Including the iPhone SE (2020) and storage variants, there's an iPhone starting at $399 and going up to $1,399. I tested two models from iStyle last week: iPhone 12 64GB version and iPhone 12 Pro Max 128GB version.As many things are similar for the two phones, this review will cover both devices, pointing out the different things along the way.
Design and displayFor the first time in a few years, Apple has changed the design of the iPhone, returning somewhat to the one with which it impressed when the iPhone 5 was released. The curved edges of the phones disappear, both phones have straight edges. This helps when you hold the phone in your hand, reducing the risk of dropping it. But if you don't want straight edges, a cover reduces the sensation and the sensation is similar to that of the previous generation. The iPhone 12 has a 6.1-inch display and weighs only 164 grams. It is very easy to handle with one hand. On the other hand, the iPhone 12 Pro Max has a 6.7-inch screen, the largest ever put by Apple on an iPhone, and the weight of the phone is 228 grams. Coming from an Android phone with a 6.67-inch display, I had no problems handling it. It's a little wider than that, but it's comfortable to use. But if you thought the iPhone 11 Pro Max, which has 6.5 inches, was too big, it will seem difficult to handle. Both displays are Super Retina XDR OLED, come with HDR10 and Dolby Vision. The image on the display is flawless regardless of the displayed content. The display on the 12 Pro Max is slightly brighter, but this is only noticeable in bright outdoor conditions. For films with Dolby Vision support, the experience is fantastic. The same is the case with the clips filmed with the phone, which easily lose their impression when viewed on another screen. More about this in the camera chapter. Another detail related to the screen: Apple boasted that the display is 4 times more resistant to impact. I wasn't able to test this, but I noticed that this ceramic shield used by Apple makes the display more vulnerable to minor scratches. It is enough to touch with your fingernail and a mark may remain. The ideal option is to use a protective glass when you start using the device. Both devices are water resistant, with IP68 certification (up to 6 meters for 30 minutes), do not have a 3.5 mm jack and have stereo sound. Although the grille on the 12 Pro Max is slightly larger, the difference is almost imperceptible. Both have strong and clear sound, the larger device offering a bit more bass. The Romanian version comes without that small side window for 5G technology. On the right side is the button for Siri, and on the left you have the volume keys and the one with which you switch to silent/sound mode. The phone only has a Lightning port and a Lightning - USB Type C cable comes in the box. Which is a disadvantage if you want to transfer files to a laptop that does not have a USB Type C port. And you also need a charger that has such a exit. The version of iPhone 12 tested was Project Red, one of the most attractive variants of iPhone 12 from my point of view. Even if it is not bright red, not being a flashy color, the phone gives the impression of a premium device. For iPhone 12 Pro Max I had the gold version. On the back it is light, almost white, the yellow on the side being elegant, not ostentatious. But that surface on the 12 Pro Max attracts many fingerprints and the use of a transparent cover cancels the effect given by that gold. Another novelty is MagSafe technology, which we will talk about in the battery chapter.
Software and performanceBoth devices come with iOS 14.1 from the start, being able to update to 14.2. The next version of iOS, 14.3, will also include a technology used for the first time for the iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max series, and certain ProRaw. I will talk about this in the next chapter. Although the displays on the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro Max have a refresh rate of 60Hz, this is felt very little or not at all. Although the device used before had a refresh rate of 120Hz, I did not feel any difference due to the way the operating system is optimized. Every application loads very quickly, there is no lag. The only problem I encountered was when on certain pages there was a small button or text you could press in the corner of the screen. It took a few tries to get it right. An example is WhatsApp where you go to the top of the conversation instead of leaving it. Having 2GB of RAM in addition to the classic version, the iPhone 12 Pro Max manages to keep applications open in the background without problems. Thus, you can enter an application again after some time and the response will be instantaneous. On the iPhone 12, the application was loaded again. Benchmark tests have not been so important for several years. The phones have reached such a high level that the differences are imperceptible.iPhone 12 Pro Max is one of the most powerful phones on the market and even if it has a difference from the classic version in the AnTuTu benchmark of 70,000, you will only feel a difference in terms of RAM management. Both devices can run a game like Asphalt 9 at the maximum graphics level, they don't heat up excessively during gaming. There is no lag when you press the shutter button for a picture even if you had an intense gaming session beforehand. Regarding the operating system, it requires an adaptation period if you come from Android. There are some limitations, but it is built elegantly and intuitively. Widgets have also appeared that work great, giving you the information you want. I chose to keep the menu in Romanian on one phone and in English on the other to be able to compare. The optimal variant seems to be English for one reason: when you want to know how to do something, it's easier to find the steps. When it comes to applications, everything is next-level. I had no bugs and every application worked exactly as it should. Applications available on Android are improved on iOS even if it is the ones used by most users such as Facebook, Whatsapp or Instagram, and those created especially for the iPhone operating system are spectacular, especially those for augmented reality. The iPhone 12 Pro Max has an extra sensor called LiDAR that measures distances to existing objects and can help scan a camera in seconds. Although you can also see a T-Rex in augmented reality on the iPhone 12 by searching for the option on Google, the difference is noticeable: on the 12 Pro Max the object gives the impression that it exists in that space. And the LiDAR sensor is also useful when it comes to photography, the next chapter.
CameraFor several years, it is the chapter that makes the difference between a flagship and a mid-range phone. If in terms of performance what a flagship can do is almost overkill, being more powerful than necessary, for the best camera performance you have to pay more. And this is also true for the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro Max. iPhone 12 offers very good results in optimal conditions. If the light is good, the differences to the "big brother", the Pro Max, are subtle. And for the ultrawide camera they are non-existent, as well as for the selfie one. Having a larger sensor, the iPhone 12 Pro Max produces a more natural and accurate bokeh. In portrait mode, with Max you can get closer to the subject because you also have the telephoto camera with 2.5x zoom, the equivalent of 65mm focal length. The differences appear when the light is not the best. The sensor on the 12 Pro Max is 47% larger and it shows. Night mode is activated later. And when activated, the time for a photo is half that of the iPhone 12. In addition to the size of the sensor, the iPhone 12 Pro Max is the first to have a sensor that moves and this is also visible in night photography, and in the case of filming when you move the phone quickly from one direction to another. The LiDAR sensor makes autofocus on the iPhone 12 Pro Max the fastest on a phone. And this is at the highest level regardless of the light. Regarding the video part, what you see on your phone and what appears on social networks or on your PC after the transfer is different. The HDR and Dolby Vision screen on the iPhone 12 makes it ideal for consuming multimedia content. Conversely, the conversion applied by social networks leads to a loss of image quality. Below you can see some photos and videos of the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro Max.
BatteryAlthough we are talking about a new generation of iPhone, in this department there has been a slight regression compared to the iPhone 11 series. And this without using the 5G network which would affect the battery even more. The iPhone 12 has a 2,815 mAh battery that lasts a day under average usage conditions. Gaming and photography sessions can deplete it faster, however. In contrast, the iPhone 12 Pro Max after a day of intensive use remains with 30-35% battery in the evening. Both phones charge quickly with 20W, but Apple optimizes the way in which it charges the phone. From 0% to 80% it charges quickly in an hour, but the last percentages still take almost 50 minutes. The same happens with regard to the phone's discharge: the phone can remain at 100% even after half an hour of use, and then the decrease accelerates. Also, the last 10 percent are more difficult to exhaust. Both phones come with magnets on the back and the main benefit is for wireless charging. MagSafe attaches easily to the phone and is strong enough. It even works through a clear case that wasn't made specifically for MagSafe. Charging is not as fast, with 15W,but it offers convenience if you use the phone while it is charging. Also, other accessories can be used with the help of the magnet, such as a wallet. And there will certainly be other accessories that use this magnet.
ConclusionsiPhone 12 and 12 Pro Max are a step in the right direction for Apple. The return to an acclaimed design is auspicious, the cameras are the best you can have on a phone, especially the one on the iPhone 12 Pro Max. The display is excellent especially for multimedia content and, although it lacks a refresh rate higher than 60Hz, this lack is not felt in use. Sacrificing such a function so that the phone's battery is not more affected was the right decision on Apple's part. Because battery life is the only aspect where the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro Max are not a step forward compared to the old generation. Why would you choose the iPhone 12 over the 12 Pro Max version? If you prefer a smaller phone and the camera is not the main reason why you choose a flagship, then the classic version is an excellent choice for those who prefer iOS to Android. If you want the biggest screen, the best battery, the best camera and you see the usefulness of the LiDAR sensor for augmented reality, then the iPhone 12 Pro Max is the right choice.
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