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iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini — first impressions

Faster! Edgier! Smaller! (Well, one of them.) And now with magnetic attraction…

Never a company to do things by halves, Apple revealed four new iPhones at its October event. We’ll delve into the Pro line soon. Here, we outline six things that caught our eye about Apple’s new iPhone 12 — and its smaller sibling, iPhone 12 mini.

These phones have a need for speed

Apple embraced 5G connectivity across its entire line, rather than limiting it to more expensive phones. When on 5G networks, you unlock potential for blazingly fast internet connections, opening up all kinds of scope for work and play.

The new A14 Bionic chip gives the iPhones 12 a speed boost in another way. Apple reckons this “fastest chip ever in a smartphone” is up to 50% faster than the competition, giving you console-quality gaming performance. Even if you’re not a gamer, this is good news, because the performance boost will enhance apps too and ensure the phone has enough grunt to still be competitive years from now.

The screens are sharper

The iPhone 11 was a great phone with a good screen. The pixel density lagged behind what you got on comparable Android displays, though, and was noticeably inferior to Apple’s iPhone 11 Pro models. That’s all changed with these new models, because the iPhone 12 has a brand-new custom OLED display.

Dubbed the Super Retina XDR, this screen packs twice as many pixels into the same space as the iPhone 11’s display, increasing the sharpness of text and detail in photos. The iPhone 12 Pro display remains marginally better, due to a higher typical brightness value — but it no longer feels like non-Pro models are coming off a distant second best.

The iPhone 12 mini’s a marvel

People have for long clamored for a smaller iPhone with all the bells and whistles. If that’s you, iPhone 12 mini lets you put your money where your mouth is — assuming you’ve 700 bucks to spend.

This palm-sized device is smaller than the iPhone 8 and yet has the same feature set as the iPhone 12. Apple calls it the “smallest, thinnest, lightest 5G phone in the world”. If you want a smaller phone, it’s a big improvement to no longer feeling forced to step back in time with an iPhone SE and its home button, chunky bezels and lack of Face ID.

You can shoot time-lapses at night

Although iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini don’t get all the snazzy camera smarts of the Pro models, there are big improvements to low light performance. A faster aperture captures more light in all cameras on the new iPhones, and makes for marked improvement in video. Set your phone on a tripod and you can capture dazzling night sky shots, beautiful neon cityscapes, and portraits in rooms that could perhaps do with an extra lamp or two.

These iPhones want you to get snappy

If you’ve ever snapped an Apple Pencil to an iPad Pro, you’ll love magnets almost as much as Apple. The new iPhones fuel Apple’s obsession, and have given rise to a new iteration of the much-loved MagSafe.

Instead of being part of a laptop charging cable, though, this new MagSafe comprises an array of magnets around an iPhone charging coil. The system allows you to snap on cases — and accessories like card wallets. When it comes to charging, MagSafe ensures these iPhones will always sit in the perfect spot on compatible chargers.

Apple’s going green(er)

Apple aims to cause net zero climate impact by 2030 across its entire business. This target will in part be met through Apple utilizing recyclable materials and powering its operation with renewable energy. But the company’s also no longer bundling accessories many people don’t use.

That means iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini don’t come with power adapters and headphones — only a charging cable. The combination of fewer materials and smaller packaging will cut a whopping two million metric tons of carbon emissions annually. That’s like removing 450,000 cars from the road — some consolation if you’re miffed at what Apple’s removed from the box.