Oct. 16, 2020

iPhone 12 - Smaller, Bigger, More Professional, And 5G All Around


Apple unveiled the new iPhone 12 phones in their October event. With 5G support, a new chipset, and the most iPhone releases than ever before, there's an iPhone for everyone.

Transcript

Opener

Hello and welcome to another episode of the Words of Tim Podcast. My name is Tariq Monther, you can call me Tim, I hope you’re all doing well and you’re staying safe and staying sane. 

Intro

Apple made a few announcements a couple of days ago  where they introduced the new iPhone 12 lineup, as well as unveiling a couple of new products, with one product in particular fixing one their biggest failures in recent history by reviving an old and loved feature. Spoiler alert, it’s not the headphone jack. All in all, great new devices with some question marks here and there. Let me break it down for you.

5G for all

Let’s begin with 5G. All iPhones in this announcement will have 5G support. Finally. 

iPhone 12 will apparently have more antennas than any other phone, and the iOS operating system has been optimized to use it without consuming too much power. They said they’ve worked with over 100 carriers in 30 regions to ensure that the 5G performance in their networks would be top-notch, and they claim it will be the fastest and most reliable 5G experience on any smartphone, but we’ll have to wait for speed tests and real world testing to see if these claims are true.

iPhone 12

The very first iPhone of the day (and there are many) is the iPhone 12 which comes with a major display upgrade. If you’re not aware, the iPhone 12 is the newer version of the iPhone 11, which is the newer version of the iPhone XR, not the flagship $999 iPhone X. This is important because the iPhone XR was introduced as the cheaper slightly lower-specced iPhone. One major cutback they’ve made was in the display as the iPhone XR and iPhone 11 did not have high resolution OLED displays, instead they used LCD displays that were just a bit over 720p.

But the story is different with the iPhone 12. Not only is the iPhone 12 using Apple’s own OLED display which they’ve called the Super Retina XDR display, but the resolution is slightly higher than 1080p. The display is also super bright at 1,200 nits making it capable of playing HDR and Dolby Vision content. 

There’s a new material protecting these new displays which Apple has worked on with Corning, the company that practically makes all the protective glass on any of the smartphones you’ve owned. This new material is called Ceramic Shield, and they claim it has 4 times better drop performance, as in there’s 4 times the chance that if you drop your new iPhone, the glass will not shatter.

Finally, this is a beautiful looking 6.1-inch phone that has smooth and flat edges, reminiscent of the iPhone 4 design which many people have been wanting in the recent years. Even though the screen size is the same as the iPhone 11, the bezels have been reduced and the iPhone 12 is actually 11% thinner and 16% lighter. There’s also a blue color that they introduced which looks very nice, and I think it’ll be quite popular.

iPhone 12 Camera

There’s a new dual camera system consisting of a wide and ultra wide camera. The main wide camera has a wider f/1.6 aperture which gives it a 27% boost in low light performance from the previous generation. The iPhone 12 will also use computational photography to enhance your photos such as Smart HDR and Night Mode. What’s really cool is that Night Mode can be used on all of the iPhone 12 cameras, front and back, and you can also take Night Mode timelapse videos.

iPhone 12 Mini

The next iPhone is actually a brand new iPhone, and it’s the iPhone 12 Mini. Yup, the iPhone got a Mini Me. The iPhone 12 Mini has all the same features and capabilities of the regular iPhone 12, except for the size of the display which is a 1080p 5.4-inch display. This phone is smaller and lighter than the old iPhone 8, and they’re claiming it’s the smallest, thinnest, and lightest 5G phone.

iPhone 12 Pro

Next up are the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max. The former is a 6.1-inch phone while the latter is a 6.7-inch phone. Since the iPhone 12 and 12 Mini both have Apple’s Super Retina XDR displays, then the only major difference between them and the Pro line is in the camera modules, so let’s jump to that.

iPhone 12 Pro cameras

Just like in previous models, the iPhone 12 cameras will be using what they call Deep Fusion to further enhance the details and quality of your photos. This uses machine learning and every component of the processor to process each pixel in a photo or frame.

What’s new is that Deep Fusion will now work on all iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max cameras, including the selfie camera. Nice one Apple.

LiDAR

There’s a new LiDAR Scanner, just like the one we saw on the latest iPad Pros. LiDAR stands for Light Detection and Ranging, which is a way to measure distances and depth by calculating how long it takes for light to bounce off of walls or objects in a room. Think of it as sonar but with light instead of sound.

To everyone, LiDAR will be very useful as it can improve the performance of autofocus in low light photos and videos, allowing it to focus on a subject 6 times faster. It’s also used to build a depth map to better scan objects and rooms, add effects in photos and videos, and provide an improved and accurate AR experience.

iPhone 12 Pro Max Telephoto

Perhaps for the first time ever, and don’t quote me on this because I didn’t check, but there are fundamental changes to the Telephoto camera between the iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max. The iPhone 12 Pro telephoto camera is capable of 2x optical zoom just like every iPhone before it, but the Pro Max on the other hand is capable of 2.5x optical zoom.

The Pro also has a 52 mm focal length while the Pro Max has a 65 mm focal length, which I think is more pro, making telephoto pictures on the Pro Max show less of the scene than on the Pro.

iPhone 12 Pro Max Wide Camera

These fundamental changes don’t stop at the Telephoto camera as the wide camera on the iPhone 12 Pro Max uses a new and larger sensor with bigger pixels making it 87% better in low light performance.

The iPhone 12 Pro Max also has a new OIS system (that’s Optical Image Stabilization which removes any shakiness from your photos and videos). This is very handy if there’s a lot of movement or hand motion and you want to make sure that your photos are not blurry or your videos are not shaky.

The way a typical OIS camera would work when a camera is in motion is that the lens would physically move and would calculate its motion by using onboard sensors to counteract the camera’s movement. So the lens would always have to move against the movement of the camera. What Apple has done is make the sensor itself move rather than the heavier lens, allowing it to make 5,000 micro adjustments per second which is 5 times more than normal, and they’re calling this Sensor-shift.

Editing like a pro 

The iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max need to earn that Pro moniker that sets it apart from the iPhone 12 and 12 Mini, and oh boy do they ever earn it. For the first time on an iPhone, you can natively edit RAW images with their upcoming Apple ProRaw feature.

So when you’re taking a normal photo, the camera software will capture all the information about the scene and then perform its own set of processes and adjustments, such as brightness, contrast, and sharpness, before creating the image file you see. All the information and details that were not used in the final photo will be lost forever.

When shooting in RAW, the camera will save all that information in the RAW file so that it can be edited at a later time on software that is aimed at professional photographers, such as Photohop, which provides them with powerful manual control over how they want to adjust the image and how it should look.

So instead of having the camera do the work and providing you with an image based on what it thinks is the best image, you can do that yourself. And with the iPhone 12 Pro, you can do it straight on the phone.

And no, this is not the same as the editing you can do on Instagram or any other apps with filters. What those applications do is edit the already compressed and processed JPEG images from your camera. What we’re talking about here is a very granular and detailed level of editing on so many levels that otherwise cannot be achieved. 

What they also added is the ability to record 10-bit HDR videos that can capture over 700 million colors, but the cherry on top is that apparently for the first time on any device you can also record in Dolby Vision HDR in 4K resolution at 60 frames per second. Not only can you record the footage, but you can edit it and export it on the iPhone 12 Pro.

What this all means is that you’ll have the ability to record and edit cinema-grade videos with enhanced colors, contrasts, and a much wider range of bright and dark areas in your footage.

Apple ProRaw and Dolby Vision HDR are available on any of the iPhone 12 Pro cameras, so you’re good to go whichever way you’re capturing content.

A14 Bionic

The processor behind all of these features is their new A14 bionic chip which is the first on a smartphone to be built on the 5nm process technology. This has allowed them to add more features, improve the performance, and enhance the efficiency.

The numbers they threw around are 50% faster than any other phone, 50% faster graphics, 80% faster neural engine performance, and 70% faster machine learning performance. Apple processors have always been quite advanced, so there’s no need to dig deep into each new iteration.

League of Legends: Wild Rift

This new processor and the availability of a 5G connection have made the developers at Riot Games feel confident enough to launch a version of the globally popular game League of Legends on the upcoming iPhones. This game will be called League of Legends: Wild Rift, and it’s actually coming to Android, too, but we’ll have to wait and see how the performance fairs. 

It is worth noting that the Snapdragon 865+ processors found on many Android flagships are also very capable processors, and that many of these flagships have amazing high refresh OLED displays. Since the screens can refresh twice as fast as the iPhone 12, animations will look very fluid and clean, and this is an edge that Android phones still have over iPhones.

The game has actually been released as an alpha version in June and was in closed beta in a limited number of countries since September. It is slated for release later in 2020, and I look forward to seeing the comparison of the gameplay performance between Android and iOS.

MagSafe for iPhones

The final thing I want to talk about is something that is coming to all iPhone 12s and most definitely all future iPhones. As I mentioned in the intro, Apple recently experienced quite the big fail. In 2017, they announced that they will be launching AirPower; Apple’s wireless charging pad that will allow owners to charge 3 devices seamlessly regardless of where you place them on the charging mat. This was quite difficult to do without causing any overheating problems, and after many delays over a period of around a year and a half, they eventually decided to scrap the whole project. I do not remember a single time that Apple has made a public announcement of an upcoming product and not released it, which is why to me this is one of their biggest failures in recent history.

This was made worse by the fact that other manufacturers were pushing out their own iterations of multi-device charging pads. Every name in the smartphone accessories market, big or small, was making their own wireless charger. One in particular from Ampere was called the Unravel 3-in-1 Wireless Charger, and it’s basically 3 square wireless charging pads that are connected side by side which you can use to charge 3 of your devices, or you can fold it up and stack them if you just want to charge 1 device and not take up too much space, or you can fold it to turn it into a phone stand which will also charge your phone. It looked ugly, but it just worked. 

In case you haven’t picked up on this yet, Apple has finally released a wireless charging pad, only it’s not exactly the same as AirPower. What’s really interesting is their approach to the problem they had before; how can they make sure that someone with an iPhone, AirPods, or Apple Watch can start seamlessly charging their devices without having to fidget to find the right spot?

Insert the Jessie Pinkman meme from Breaking Bad because the answer is magnets! Your next iPhone will have magnets and some other sensors in the internal wireless charging coils. These magnets, along with the ones in the charging pad, will be used to align the phone on the charger so that it would be in the right spot every single time. Not only that, but future iPhone accessories will also utilize these magnets. One such accessory is a slim card holder that they announced which you can magnetically attach to the back of the phone and detach whenever you need to take it with you.

All iPhone 12 cases will also have magnets in them to allow for the use of accessories as well as wireless charging.

So what are they calling this new wireless charger? The MagSafe Dual Charger. Yes, MagSafe. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because that’s what they called the charging connector on the 2006 MacBook Pro which magnetically connected to the laptop. This was very handy as it was very quick and easy to just connect the charger and in case someone trips on the cable or it gets caught on something, it will automatically dislodge from the laptop so that it doesn’t send your precious MacBook Pro flying across the room. They started phasing out the MagSafe connector in 2016 as they started using USB-C and it eventually got discontinued in 2019. 

The MagSafe Dual Charger is capable of charging 2 devices at a time, and is also foldable. Just like that Ampere charger, only much better looking and compact.

Saving the environment… and costs

Speaking of chargers, your next iPhone will not have a charger in the box. Neither will it have the wired EarPods. This is due to the same environmental reasons they had with removing the charger from the Apple Watch Series 6; e-waste. 

The logic is sound and I’m 100% behind it. We all have chargers lying around the house. I have at least 2 unused ones in my room alone, and I definitely don’t need to add more. The same thing applies to the EarPods, we all either have our own pair of earphones or headphones that we prefer to use, or just use whatever came in the previous box. So by not shipping the charger and EarPods with every iPhone, they guarantee that there will be less waste as a result.

They also get to make the boxes smaller, which is more eco friendly. And since the boxes are smaller, they can now ship more iPhones in the same shipping palette. Actually, they said they’ll be able to ship 70% more iPhones. So they get to cut down on production costs of these accessories and save on shipping costs, too. I wonder what was the driving force behind this decision.

What taints this whole initiative for me is that Apple did not lower the price of the iPhone 12 to reflect the missing accessories and the reduced cost from their end.

iPhone 12 prices

The iPhone 12 and 12 Mini come in 64, 128, and 256GB variants starting at $799 or AED 3,399 for the iPhone 12 and $699 or AED 2,999 for iPhone 12 Mini

As for the Pros, the iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max are available in 128, 256, and 512GB variants, and will start at $999 or AED 4,1999 for the iPhone 12 Pro and $1,099 or AED 4,699 for the iPhone 12 Pro Max

You can preorder the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro on October 16th and they’ll be available to ship the week after on the 23rd.

Preorders for the iPhone 12 Pro Max and the iPhone 12 Mini will start on November 6th and will start shipping the week after on the 13th.

HomePod Mini

Apple also announced the HomePod Mini, which I purposely kept for the end of this episode and I will go through really quickly as I honestly don’t know how many people would really care about it. No one I know, not even Apple fans, has an HomePod, so I’m not really sure how excited you will be with this announcement, but here goes.

Long story short, they use computational audio to analyze music and tune it 180 times a second. That’s their way of saying these speakers sound great. You can use multiple HomePod Minis together to form a stereo speaker system or a multi-room speaker system.

They introduced an intercom feature so you can announce things to other people in the house, and Siri is now better in one way or another.

The HomePod Mini will cost $99 and will be available to order on November 6th, and will ship on November 16th

Conclusion

And that concludes the Apple October event. The next iPhones are great and do have a lot to offer.

Which iPhone is the right iPhone for you? Well, it falls down to the size and cameras. If you’re just going to be instagramming your food and taking selfies for social media, then get the iPhone 12. It’s got the 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR OLED display and it is much more than capable at anything you’ll be throwing its way on a daily basis.

Do you think of yourself as a photographer or filmmaker? Then the iPhone 12 Pro is the phone for you as it allows you to shoot and edit RAW images as well as Dolby Vision HDR videos. If size matters or you need the bestest best camera on an iPhone, then there’s the iPhone 12 Pro Max.

And then we have the iPhone 12 Mini. It’s quite small. It’s the cheapest iPhone 12. It looks a lot better than the iPhone SE. So if those check your boxes, then that’s the iPhone for you.

I’m actually very excited for the MagSafe feature for some reason. Perhaps this is because it’s something I think will be coming down the line on future Android phones and I am generally a fan of magnets. I’m sure accessory makers will have a field day with pushing out new MagSafe compatible products, so you better have your wallet ready to upgrade everything you own.

Outro

Please reach out to me on Twitter or Instagram, my handle is @tmonther, and let me know your thoughts on the episode and on this show. You can also check out the rest of my episodes on the website wordsoftim.com.

Thanks for tuning in, and I’ll catch you in the next episode.