The iPhone 12 lineup made its debut with some impressive features in tow. The fresh design with flat sides was a welcome change, complete with an updated color palette. We also saw Apple adding a fourth member to its yearly update cycle in the form of the iPhone 12 Mini. But that’s not all. Apple introduced its customary chip successor for iPhones, alongside a host of other upgrades in the camera as well as connectivity departments to name just a few. Here, I am going to outline the top five iPhone 12 features that stood out for me and will be a major deciding factor for those looking to upgrade:

MagSafe – A glimpse into the future

A gif demonstrating how a MagSafe Charger easily attaches to the back of iPhone 12.
MagSafe s one of the most exciting iPhone 12 features this year

Yes, we didn’t get AirPower in 2020, and the likelihood of it ever seeing the light of the day keeps getting slimmer with each passing quarter. But Apple gave us something new (sort of) with the MagSafe charging hardware. Yes, the magnetic ring you’ve seen in promotional videos is the one. Apple has placed the coil just beneath the iPhone 12’s rear panel for wirelessly charging the device. It looks neat, for starters. Plus, it eliminates the hassle of aligning your phone ever so carefully with the coil on a wireless charging mat to actually kickstart the charging process. 

But MagSafe is far from the fastest implementation of wireless charging out there. Just take a look at Xiaomi, which announced a 30W wireless fast charging technology just over a week ago. So, how is MagSafe futuristic? Well, Apple will almost definitely refine it to boost the charging output over the years. And with faster wireless charging, the need for wired charging will eventually take a backseat. All this aligns perfectly with rumored plans for a completely portless iPhone of the future, something that prolific analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has also predicted to happen as early as next year. 

Ceramic Shield = More peace of mind

iPhone 12 Ceramic Shield
The iPhone 12 series employs Ceramic Shield to offer superior protection against accidental drops

Okay, so your iPhone 12 is pricey, but the cost of getting a screen replacement will also hurt your wallet a lot. How much? Well, Apple will charge you $279 to replace the screen on the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro. And if the screen replacement cost for the iPhone 11 Pro is anything to go by, getting the same service for your iPhone 12 Pro Max will easily run you over $300. But Apple has introduced a new solution to reduce the likelihood of getting a screen replacement, and that solution is called Ceramic Shield. 

Apple is calling it the biggest leap in durability in the iPhone history, promising 4x higher durability against accidental drops. Apple says that the Ceramic Shield “goes beyond glass by adding a new high-temperature crystallization step that grows nano-ceramic crystals within the glass matrix.” In a nutshell, the iPhone 12 series’ display is a lot more durable than its predecessor, and it will come as good news for folks who are not a fan of slapping a tempered glass screen protector on top of their phone’s screen. Needless to say, it is one of the more practical and useful iPhone 12 features.

Dolby Vision HDR

Illustration of the iPhone 12's Dolby Vision HDR capability
iPhone 12 Pro can record Dolby Vision HDR videos at up to 60FPS frame rate

The iPhones have lately been ahead of most Android flagships when it comes to video capture, and the iPhone 12 further widens that gap. With the iPhone 12 quartet, Apple has introduced the ability to record Dolby Vision HDR videos at up to 60 frames per second. This feature is exclusive to the iPhone 12 series, at least for now. Dolby Vision HDR promises a noticeable improvement in dynamic range and the overall color output of videos, especially if you are trying to capture something cinematic. And if the reviews that have come out so far are anything to by, Dolby Vision HDR videos offer a massive jump.in raw video quality. 

It is one of those iPhone 12 features that will definitely be a treat for folks who shoot a lot of videos using their phone. But just like 5G, Dolby Vision HDR also leans more heavily towards the futuristic side than practical, since a majority of larger screens out there such as TVs can’t play true Dolby Vision HDR videos right now. Of course, the iPhone 12 series will play it natively and will also allow you to edit those files locally, but you can’t really appreciate a 4K video with all that 10-bit HDR and Dolby Vision magic without playing it on a larger screen. Even Apple’s own Final Cut Pro video editing software doesn’t support the new Dolby Vision HDR format, and will only be able to do so later this year. 

The LiDAR sensor

Closeup of the iPhone 12's cameras and LiDAR sensor
Aside from AR applications, the LiDAR sensor will assist with autofocus and night mode portraits.

Apple has equipped the iPhone 12 Pro and its jumbo-sized Max sibling with a LiDAR scanner, the same circular black thing you will also find on this year’s iPad Pro. The LiDAR will open a new world of possibilities when it comes to AR applications. But there is more to it than just letting you see how a table would look in your dining area before buying one, or how a TV will look on the wall. Instead, the LiDAR camera will play an important role in further enhancing the imaging capabilities of the iPhone 12 Pro pair.

Apple says that the LiDAR sensor will pave the way for a faster autofocus experience in low-light scenarios. More, importantly it will also help bring the night mode portrait shots to life, something only the iPhone 12 Pro and its Max sibling can pull off at the moment. It would be interesting to see how Apple makes it even more useful to further enhance the camera output of its new ‘Pro’ phones.

5G – Apple finally catches up!

5G icon displayed in the corner of the iPhone 12
iPhone 12 marks Apple’s debut into the 5G ecosystem.

Yes, you can argue that 5G is still in its early stages of adoption, the network infrastructure is still immature and we are still far from reaping the full benefits of 5G’s capabilities. So, why pay for such a feature, and above all, why is it so important? Well, for starters, Apple is finally catching up with the competition, which started putting 5G-ready devices on the shelves all the way back in 2019’s first half. But that is just one half of the picture. 

The addition of 5G is more of a future-proofing move, instead of being one of the standout iPhone 12 features. A majority of folks who shell out almost a thousand dollars or more on an iPhone 12 series device will likely use it more at least a couple of years, or even more. And by the time that interval elapses, 5G deployment would be in a much better state and users will actually be able to take advantage of a feature that is far from just another marketing gimmick to make headlines. 

Of course, the slower sub-6GHz band is still the most widely rolled-out iteration of 5G, but it is still an improvement over the best 4G network you can get. And if you happen to live or work in a locale where mmWave band is available or your carrier has already updated its network infrastructure, you’re already milking the most out of your investment. 

A little something extra!

Yes, I know that the iPhone 12 Mini is a device, not one of the iPhone 12 features. But it is more than just a device. Instead, it is an all-new entry point into Apple’s iPhone lineup that can be called a true-blue compact flagship, and not just a phone with an updated processor fitted inside an aging body – yes, I am pointing fingers at the iPhone SE 2020 here. With the iPhone 12 Mini, Apple is letting users experience the best it has to offer in a really light and handy package, without making any major compromises. 

Aside from a smaller size (which also means a smaller display and battery), the iPhone 12 Mini is identical to the iPhone 12, and that is something which is really important for potential buyers like me. After all, if I am spending a sum of $700 or more on an iPhone, I want it to offer me a no-compromise iPhone experience, and one that won’t be left out due to ‘certain limitations’ when new features arrive in the future. And that assurance is what makes the iPhone 12 Mini a very compelling package – a device that offers you everything that the vanilla iPhone 12 brings to the table, but in a package that is smaller and less expensive too.

I’ve been writing about consumer technology for over three years now, having worked with names such as NDTV and Beebom in the past. Aside from covering the latest news, I’ve reviewed my fair share of devices ranging from smartphones and laptops to smart home devices. I also have interviewed tech execs and appeared as a host in YouTube videos talking about the latest and greatest gadgets out there.
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