• Bruce Burke

Here's What You Need To Know, About iPhone 12 Pro

Updated: Nov 2, 2020

Yesterday Apple announced their latest smartphones, they come in four sizes, all have 5G, and OLED displays, but what are the differences between them? What you need to know, to go Pro.

Phone 12 introduces powerful new innovations and a beautiful new retro design to the world’s best smartphone. It's available in four sizes: 5.4" mini, 6.1" iPhone, 6.1" iPhone Pro, and 7.1" Pro Max.


All 2020 iPhone models have the new OLED displays, Ceramic glass, 5G speeds, A14 Bionic, MagSafe charging, U1 sensor and the ability to shoot DolbyVision. But similarities stop there ...

According to Apple the newly designed iPhone 12 models feature expansive edge-to-edge Super Retina XDR displays for a brighter, more immersive viewing experience, and a new Ceramic Shield front cover, providing the biggest jump in durability ever on iPhone. But that's not all ...

The Apple-designed A14 Bionic, the fastest chip in a smartphone, powers every experience on iPhone 12, and coupled with an advanced camera system, delivers meaningful new computational photography features and the highest quality video in a smartphone. iPhone 12 models also introduce MagSafe, offering high-powered wireless charging, plus an all-new ecosystem of accessories that easily attach to iPhone.

I like to think it's the nuances that make the difference in technology. Apple sells millions of handsets and in this year's models distinctively have a good, better, best step change between the different models. I'll point out the differences I think make a difference, this will allow you to make a discrimination as to which iPhone is right for you. We've heard all the rumors, but now we have the facts - lets dig in ....

Camera System

To me this is where some of the extreme differences are. Apple's camera system is epic no matter which model you choose. But variations between the different models may be one of the most influential factors in your purchasing decision. I love the cameras in my iPhone 11, but Apple is raising the bar with the 2020 lineup. Here's the scoop -

Both the standard iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini models have the new dual-camera system. This advanced arrangement features the Ultra Wide camera, with 5 element lens, 13 mm focal length and 120 degree field of view. The new Wide camera has an ƒ/1.6 aperture, providing 27 percent more light - its the fastest shutter ever on an iPhone.

Computational photography assists Night mode with faster-performing Deep Fusion now on all cameras. This includes the front-facing TrueDepth camera, as well as the 12MP Wide, and Ultra Wide — for improved photos in any environment. Both Wide, and Ultra Wide cameras feature 2x optical zoom out, and up to 5x digital zoom.

Pro Mode

The Pro models have a similar 12MP camera system with: Ultra Wide, Wide, and Telephoto cameras. Ultra Wide has ƒ/2.4 aperture and 120° field of view, the Wide angle uses ƒ/1.6 aperture, while the Telephoto lens uses a ƒ/2.0 aperture on iPhone 12 Pro, with an ƒ/2.2 aperture on the Pro Max.

There is a 2x optical zoom in, 2x optical zoom out; 4x optical zoom range on the iPhone 12 Pro, and 2.5x optical zoom in, 2x optical zoom out; 5x optical zoom range on Pro Max.


Digital zoom also has a step change, with up to 10x digital zoom on Pro, and 12x digital on Pro Max. Video recording has exactly the same optical, and digital zoom settings. Allowing you to switch seamlessly between photo and video settings, with the same focal length and image in the frame.

New image signal processing of the A14 Bionic gives us the new version of Deep Fusion, which utilizes the Neural Engine for pixel-by-pixel processing to gain high detail, and reduce image noise. Deep Fusion will utilize A14's CPU, GPU and Neural Engine, to produce finely detailed images. Deep Fusion is available on all four iPhone models, but other Pro model capabilities take it further.

Sense More

The biggest step change between the Pro, and Pro Max models is the new Sensor-shift optical image stabilization found exclusively in the Pro Max wide angle lens. Instead of trying to move the lens around to compensate for camera motion, Apple thinks differently, they found it more effective to move the image sensor to reduce unstable images. Commonly found on full-size mirrorless cameras, this technology allows for 5000 micro adjustments a second on the sensors X, & Y axis.

As you may have guessed this sensor is 47% larger on the Pro Max. This larger sensor will provide better dynamic range, better performance in low light, and better image quality than any other iPhone. Apple reports the low light performance of the Pro Max sees an 87% improvement over former devices.

Pro models also feature 10-bit HDR and Dolby Vision recording while the mini and iPhone models have 8-bit recording. Apple says bigger pixels on the Wide camera help reveal intricate patterns, subtle textures, and incredible detail throughout the shot, even when shooting in available light.

Augmented Imagery

But, the main difference between these phones is that lower priced mini and iPhone models do not have the LiDAR Scanner that is found on the iPhone 12 Pro, and Pro Max models. This scanner offers the ability to measure light distance and use the pixel depth information of a scene.

LiDAR technology scans the surface of Mars, and now you're living room ... Sorry, too soon? -

Didn't mean to rub it in that your home all the time now. LiDAR can create a depth map of whatever kind of space you’re in. NASA is using LiDAR technology for its next Mars landing. And, because it’s ultrafast and accurate, AR apps can now transform your space into a realistic rainforest or show you how a new sneaker will look and fit.

LiDAR is a pulsed laser light that is emitted from the iPhone camera system. The sensor records the amount of time it takes, with nano-second precision, for that signal to return to the source. This enables it to generate a 3D image model of the scene with greater accuracy than camera sensors.

How It Works

LiDAR works similarly to how a bat navigates the skies, but using laser light instead of radar. The LiDAR sensor sends it's three-dimensional image to the A14 Bionic, while the camera sends its.

Deep Fusion kicks in, combining all the image data collected, rendering startling images with depth, color and clarity that no camera can produce. Taking computational photography to the next level. Deep Fusion is available on all all new iPhone cameras, and uses advanced machine learning to do pixel-by-pixel processing of photos, optimizing for detail, texture, and color.


LiDAR works with both photo and video cameras to produce realism, unmatched in the industry. And this is just the beginning of how LiDAR will be used in conjunction with other hardware and software, in the future, to produce magical experiences, in the palm of your hand.

Apple says this technology delivers faster, more realistic Augmented Reality (AR) experiences and improves autofocus by six times in low-light scenes for more accuracy and reduced capture time in photos and videos. This advanced hardware, combined with the power of the Neural Engine of A14 Bionic, also unlocks Night mode portraits, rendering a beautiful low-light bokeh effect.

DolbyVision HDR

Now you can capture, playback, edit, and share videos in the ultravivid picture of Dolby Vision exclusively on iPhone 12. There’s nothing to enable, and no settings to adjust, all iPhones can start recording in Dolby Vision right out of the box. But the Pro, and Pro Max models have some upgrades for DolbyVision video capture that you don't have in the mini and iPhone models.

Pro, and Pro Max models can perform HDR video recording with Dolby Vision up to 60 fps. iPhone mini, and the standard iPhone can only perform HDR video with Dolby Vision up to 30 fps.

Shooting video in Dolby Vision is unlike any other technology. This color science allows you to capture, edit and share your stunning footage right from your iPhone 12. The ultra-vivid picture of Dolby Labs innovative visual technology, Dolby Vision, brings your story to life with darker darks, brighter brights, and a remarkable color range you can’t get anywhere else.

More, More, More

You see, most image processing software has focused only on increasing resolution. Dolby Vision concentrates on increasing contrast, brightness, and color. This makes viewing your screen more like looking out a window, then looking at a display. Increasing the range of contrast, (darkness) brightness, (light) and colors (tones) expands the graduations within the color spectrum.

This adds fantastic color details to your picture. This fully transports you into the story, experiencing colors you've never seen on a screen, along with brighter brights and darker darks. These videos will look fantastic on the new iPhone Super Retina XDR displays with its 2,000,000:1 contrast ratio - subtle details, you simply can’t capture elsewhere.

iPhone 12's ability to shoot, edit and share Dolby Vision video on the go, creates opportunities for a whole new cadre of cinematographers. Expect to see YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat and other video sharing apps to announce support for these new standards soon. They'll have to support it.

Next Level

Today was the launch of Google's Pixel 5, flagship smartphone. I almost felt sorry for Google having to follow Apple's iPhone announcement. The Pixel was famous for it's computational photography - it's brand name screamed "this phone is for photographers", and then Apple showed Google what computational photography is all about with the release of the iPhone 12 lineup.

Google's anemic new offerings show little if any effort in advancing the Android ecosystem. They show virtually no innovation, instead Google focused on being cost efficient. Is Google giving up on the Pixel line? Pixel laptops and tablets have already been discontinued, is the Pixel phone next?

According to Phone Arena, Google reportedly set a laughable sales target for the Pixel 5. Only 800,000 units of the Pixel 5 will be manufactured this year. The publication said that Google seems well aware of the unattractive value proposition, which is probably the reason why it has set low sales targets. Nikkei reports that Google plans to ship less than a million Pixel 5 units this year.


In all, Google is planning to manufacture a combined 3 million units, consisting of the Pixel 4a, Pixel 4a (5G), and Pixel 5 in 2020. The search giant is believed to have sold 7.2 million smartphones in 2019, and 4.7 million units in the year before that. Pixel 4 shipments, like the phone itself, were particularly disappointing. Which is, perhaps why it was discontinued before a customary one year run. Conversely, the noted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes that Apple will ship around 85 million units of all iPhone 12 models in Q4 2020 - 85M vs 800K - thats pathetic.

I think the Pixel's issue is exactly what Steve Jobs said many years ago. When you put management in front of product, you wind up with a meh product, not an industry leader. Decision are made, not on what makes a better product, but what the market forces indicate. Instead of pushing forward to attempting to lead, Google followed suit with their usual MO, and removed its Project Soli sensors, and made a cheaper phone, showing no ambition to lead in the Android market.

Products, Not Projects

Google doesn't produce products, it does projects. Thats a valuable lesson I learned when I was a member of the Android Army. I used many different Android phones from HTC, Samsung and LG, and I participated in the Google Glass Explorer program. Google disappointed me at every turn. Sub-par handsets with battery, display and build quality issues, and by abandoning the Glass project without any warning to those who had put forth time, effort and energy evangelizing their now defunct headset.

Year over year, Apple improves their hardware, software and technology components in their phone. The design language is consistent, the branding ongoing, with incremental improvements happening in system processors, battery life, display technology, camera system and operating systems.

The iPhone product is improved, reinforced and streamlined, while each year Pixel looks different from the rest, with no clear path as to where it's going, or who it's for. This year they just went with "let's make it cheaper", rather than trying to distill a product of quality with lasting value. This shows Google's short-sightedness in the face of the pandemic, rather than a long term strategy.


I've always bought quality in my life, in the long run it has more enduring value. Sure I've fallen for some bright shiny tech objects, we all have. But Apple's product timing, fantastic presentations and the amount of information they share about their products provides potential customers the data they need to make the right choice for them. And it's never been more obvious in this year's models.

If you haven't guessed already, I am using this article to collect the facts, and convince myself I need the iPhone 12 Pro Max. I am currently using the iPhone 11 as my daily driver and after a year of being envious of the photographs my niece takes with her 11 Pro, I want to level up to Pro mode. Which one? Well when you get up to that price range, the difference of $100 is heavily outweighed by all the additional tech thats present in the Pro Max model. What model are you going to shoot your pictures and videos with? The iPhone 12 Pro Max is the photographer' phone.

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