Apple iPhone 12 Pro Review

November 10, 2020 | Amy Davies | Rating star Rating star Rating star Rating star Half rating star


As it does with reliability pretty much every year, Apple has released its latest set of new iPhones. This year, Apple has released not one, but four different models, designed to appeal to a wide range of different types of customer.

There's the iPhone 12, the iPhone 12 Mini, the iPhone 12 Pro and the iPhone 12 Pro Max. All of which have slightly different camera set ups. In this review, we're going to be looking at the iPhone 12 Pro, which is probably the most common device that most who have a particular interest in using their phone for photography will be drawn towards.

The cameras on the rear follow on from the iPhone 11 Pro's triple camera set up. You have an ultra wide, wide and telephoto lens to choose between.

A difference between the iPhone 12 Pro and the iPhone 12 Pro Max is that the telephoto lens is slightly longer on the latter - for the iPhone 12 Pro you get a 52mm f/2.0 lens, compared to 65mm f/2.2. We'll mention some of the other differences as we progress along the review.

Other features for the iPhone 12 Pro include Portrait mode, Dual optical image stabilisation (for the wide and telephoto lenses), Panorama mode, Night mode and the introduction of Apple ProRAW - though it's worth noting that this function is not available from launch, and will be introduced via an iOS upgrade at a later (unspecified) date.

There's been a number of improvements when compared to the iPhone 11 Pro, both in terms of the camera and elsewhere. Two camera improvements include the addition of Dolby Vision HDR video recording up to 60fps and a LiDAR scanner which promises to improve Night mode portraits and enable faster autofocus in low light.

In terms of other changes, one of the biggest is the addition of 5G compatibility, for super fast downloads and high-quality streaming. You will need to have 5G coverage in your area, plus a contract/SIM which includes it in your package.

The screen, at 6.1-inches is also a little bigger than the 5.8-inch screen of the iPhone 11 Pro and is slightly higher in resolution. It also now includes a Ceramic Shield front, which is designed to better withstand drops. The water resistance has been slightly improved, too.

Apple has increased the minimum storage capacity of the iPhone 12 Pro models, with it offering 128GB as standard, compared to 64GB with the iPhone 11 Pro.

You can also get 256GB and 512GB models - with no opportunity to expand the storage, if you anticipate taking a lot of photos and videos with your phone, you might want to consider one of the larger capacity models.

A charging adapter or headphones no longer comes included in the box of the iPhone 12 Pro - Apple says this is for environmental reasons, since many who buy iPhones already have at least one of these items already.

However, if you're new to iPhone, or have lost/damaged your existing equipment, you'll now have to pay extra for them (a USB-C to Lightning cable is included in the box only).

At the time of writing, the iPhone 12 Pro starts at £999 for the 128GB version, rising to £1,299 for the 512GB version. It's available in four different colours; Graphite (black), Silver, Gold and Pacific Blue.

Ease of Use

Apple iPhone 12 Pro
Rear of the Apple iPhone 12 Pro

Apple never strays too far from the design playbook, and as such, the iPhone 12 Pro is essentially an evolution of the phone which came before it, the iPhone 11 Pro.

However, it has a larger screen - both the iPhone 12 and the iPhone 12 Pro are now the same size, unlike the 11 and the 11 Pro.

Apple has also made the iPhone 12 Pro a little more angular than it's predecessor, with straighter corners than before - which you prefer will be down to personal choice, of course.

You can launch the iPhone's native camera app directly from the lock screen by holding down your finger on the camera icon.

If your phone is already unlocked, you can simply tap the camera icon, or, you can hold down your finger on the camera icon to be presented with a number of alternative choices; Take Portrait Selfie (use the front-facing camera with portrait-mode enabled), Take Portrait (use the rear-facing camera with portrait-mode enabled), Record Video and Take Selfie (use the front-facing camera in its standard mode). Otherwise, by default, the native app will launch in the standard 'Photo' mode.

Anyone who has ever used an iPhone before will know that the native camera app is not particularly in-depth or complicated - this can either be seen as positive or negative, depending on your point of view.

On the one hand, it's very easy to use and works very much like a classic 'point and shoot', taking all the guesswork out of settings and leaving you to get on with concentrating on composition.

On the other, if you're an enthusiast photographer who would like greater control over your settings, you'll be out of luck. The second situation can be quite easily solved with a wide number of apps available for the iPhone which gives you that control back - it just means you won't be able to launch the app directly from the home screen.

Apple iPhone 12 Pro
Front of the Apple iPhone 12 Pro

With the native camera app, there are a number of shooting options to take note of, which can be accessed either via swiping left or right on the screen or by tapping the words which represent the modes.

To the right of the standard Photo mode, you have further stills options; Portrait (shallow depth of field effect), and Pano (panorama). To the left is where you'll find the video options; Video, Slo-Mo (slow motion) and Time-Lapse.

The standard 'Photo' mode is probably what most people will use for the majority of their shots. As mentioned above, it is a very simple set up, but there are a few things to take note of.

On the screen you'll see your options for choosing between the three iPhone lenses - 0.5, 1 and 2. Whichever lens you have selected will turn the lettering in the icon yellow, and add an 'x' next to the number.

At the top of the screen, you'll see the flash icon, which you can set to on or off from this icon, and the Live Photo icon, which looks like a bullseye. By setting this to on, you'll create a short video clip with every shot you take.

If you're shooting in low light, you'll see the Night Mode icon also appear - this is not a mode you can manually select, but instead it will automatically appear should the phone detect that there's not enough light in the scene.

In the middle of the top of the screen, you should see a small arrow. If you tap this, you'll be presented with additional options, including flash (which from here you can set to Auto, On, or Off (as opposed to just on or off at the top of the screen), Live Photo (from here, again, you can set to Auto, On or Off), change the aspect ratio from the standard 4:3 to either Square (1:1) or 16:9, dial in some positive or negative exposure compensation - a fairly new addition which came via an iOS update (and is therefore also available on older iPhones), the ability to set a timer - you can choose between 3 seconds and 10 seconds, and the ability to add a digital filter to your shots.

Apple iPhone 12 Pro
Rear of the Apple iPhone 12 Pro

You can either let the iPhone decide for itself where it wants to focus, or you can tap around the screen to select an alternative focus point.

This will also affect the metering, so if you're photographing a particularly high contrast scene, it can be worth tapping around the screen to find a point where the scene is most balanced - or at least the part you want to be well exposed is found.

When you tap to select a focus point, you should also see a sun icon appear - once it does, you can slide your finger up and down the screen to adjust exposure, to make the scene lighter or darker, rather than relying on the additional option found in the pull up menu.

A feature which was found in the iPhone 11 series is also found with the iPhone 12 Pro, and is very handy. As well as the camera you've chosen to shoot with, the phone uses the additional cameras to show you what's going on outside of the frame.

So, if you're shooting at 1x, the ultra wide-angle lens comes into play to show you what's happening at either side of the frame - particularly useful if you're trying to avoid people in your frame, for example.

If you're shooting at 2x, similarly, the phone will use the 1x lens to show you what's going on outside the frame. If you're shooting at 0.5x, naturally you won't be able to see what's happening outside the frame.

If you head into Portrait mode, you'll be able to create shallow depth of field effects. Although it's called Portrait mode, you don't have to photograph a human for it to work - you can use it on any subject you like if you wan to blur out the background.

You have the option to choose between the 1x and the 2x lens here, depending on how close you are to the subject. The 1x option is also useful for creating more environmental type portraits, showing off more context in the background.

Apple iPhone 12 Pro
Camera Mode

By using the swipe up menu, again you get a few more options in this mode to choose from, including flash, exposure compensation, timer, the ability to add filters, and the option to choose a different aperture (effect).

You can swipe to as wide as f/1.4, and go all the way as narrow as f/16. If you don't make a choice, it will choose one automatically for you.

In Portrait mode, you've also got different Lighting (effect) options. You can choose between Natural Light, Studio Light, Contour Light, Stage Light, Stage Light Mono and High Key Light Mono. These are all worth experimenting with if you like that kind of thing.

A new addition for Portrait mode is the ability to combine it with Night mode - once again, it's not something which you can elect to switch on, but rather, something which will automatically appear if you're shooting in low light.

Once you have taken a picture, you can view your images in playback, but only those taken in the current session if you opened the camera from the lock screen. If you want to see more than that, you'll need to unlock your phone.

If you've been shooting in Portrait mode, you'll be able to make some changes to your images after you've taken them by tapping 'Edit'. You'll be able to change the lighting mode and adjust the aperture effect, which is useful if something hasn't come out quite the way you'd hoped.

Apple iPhone 12 Pro
Image Playback

Other editing options will also appear if you've shot in another mode, such as the ability to adjust exposure, contrast, highlights and so on. You'll also be able to rotate, crop and add filters to your image.

It's worth shooting Live Photos, as this will also give you more scope in Editing too - for example, you can choose a different frame if at the point you hit the shutter release, it wasn't quite the decisive moment - having extra frames either side can be very useful.

You'll also be able to create special effects, such as the impression of a long exposure, which the phone creates by blending together all the frames from a Live Photo.

In video mode, you have fewer options to choose between. You can switch the flash on or off (or set it to auto in the swipe up menu), and you can dial in some exposure compensation.

You can also set resolution and frame rates by tapping at the top (or to the left) of the screen - tap 4K and it'll switch to HD, and vice versa, or tap 60 and it'll change to 30 (again, or vice versa).

You can record video with any of the three lenses available on the iPhone. In slo-mo, you can shoot either at HD or 720p, at either 240 of 120fps - these can be altered again by tapping in the top right hand corner of the screen.

Image Quality

Apple has continually impressed with the quality of its onboard cameras, and it continues to build on that good work with the latest mode, the iPhone 12 Pro.

Images are bright and punchy, displaying beautiful colours, particularly in good light. Although the user doesn't have much control over the settings, it's hard to feel too bitter about that when the results straight from the phone are so good.

There's also a good overall impression of detail, despite the fact that the sensors still have a relatively modest resolution - images look great on the phone's screen, and while they look less impressive if you examine them in very fine detail on a larger computer screen, it seems unlikely that the average user will be doing just that.

Portrait Mode continues to be a useful feature for those that want to create shallow depth of field effects. It does a good job, particularly when the outline of the subject is well-defined. It performs less well with very fiddly subjects, but that's not hugely surprising.

The much-lauded Night Mode of the iPhone 11 Pro is also found here and again builds on its success. It seems to be slightly improved, but perhaps by not so much that you'd immediately notice when comparing images from the two side-by-side.

The LIDAR scanner does seem to make autofocusing quicker, though, so arguably it makes getting those low-light shots easier. It'll be interesting to see if the larger sensor found inside the iPhone 12 Pro Max makes more of a visible difference in lower light conditions.

An improvement in Night Mode can be more clearly seen with the 2x camera, which produces cleaner results this time around. The ultra wide angle lens can use Night Mode, but the results here are much less impressive - we probably wouldn't use it unless it was impossible to stand further back from the subject.

Focal Range









Night Mode


Portrait Mode


Flash Off


Flash On



Ultrawide Flash Off


Ultrawide Flash On


Wide Flash Off


Wide Flash On


Telephoto Flash Off


Telephoto Flash On

Sample Images

This is a selection of sample images from the Apple iPhone 12 Pro camera, which were all taken using the 16 megapixel JPEG setting. The thumbnails below link to the full-sized versions, which have not been altered in any way.

Sample Movies & Video

This is a sample movie at the quality setting of 3840x2160 pixels at 60 frames per second. Please note that this 16 second movie is 97.1Mb in size.

This is a sample movie at the quality setting of 3840x2160 pixels at 30 frames per second. Please note that this 17 second movie is 94.7Mb in size.

This is a sample movie at the quality setting of 3840x2160 pixels at 24 frames per second. Please note that this 17 second movie is 76.6Mb in size.

This is a sample movie at the quality setting of 1920x1080 pixels at 60 frames per second. Please note that this 16 second movie is 48.1Mb in size.

This is a sample movie at the quality setting of 1920x1080 pixels at 30 frames per second. Please note that this 17 second movie is 33.8Mb in size.

This is a sample movie at the quality setting of 1280x720 pixels at 30 frames per second. Please note that this 16 second movie is 17.1Mb in size.

This is a sample slow-motion movie at the quality setting of 1920x1080 pixels at 30 frames per second. Please note that this 16 second movie is 29.3Mb in size.

This is a sample slow-motion movie at the quality setting of 1280x720 pixels at 30 frames per second. Please note that this 41 second movie is 52.3Mb in size.

Product Images

Apple iPhone 12 Pro
Apple iPhone 12 Pro
Apple iPhone 12 Pro
Apple iPhone 12 Pro
Apple iPhone 12 Pro
Apple iPhone 12 Pro
Apple iPhone 12 Pro
Apple iPhone 12 Pro
Apple iPhone 12 Pro
Apple iPhone 12 Pro
Apple iPhone 12 Pro
Apple iPhone 12 Pro


Clearly, Apple doesn't need much help when it comes to selling iPhones - many consumers will decide to buy the latest one regardless of whether they actually 'need' one or not.

Apple has been producing extremely well-performing cameras for a number of years, and the iPhone 12 Pro is no different.

In terms of the camera alone, if you are already in possession of an iPhone 11 Pro, forking out to replace it is perhaps not worth it for most people unless they're desperate to have the latest model.

You could also save yourself money by plumping for the older model (either new or second-hand), as an upgrade from an even older model, rather than having the latest available.

There may be other reasons why you want the iPhone 12 Pro, including the addition of 5G connectivity, for example.

This year it's also not a straightforward choice, since Apple announced four different models at the same time.

With the iPhone 12 Pro, you've got a good balance of high-performing camera, good sized screen and the flexibility of triple lenses.

If you want to save cash, you could get the standard iPhone 12, which will mean you sacrifice the telephoto lens.

If you can push the budget just a little more, you could also go for the iPhone 12 Pro Max, which gives you an even longer telephoto lens, a larger sensor in the main camera, and a bigger screen - at only £100 more, it's not too much of a jump if you're already happy to spend £999.

Of course, this being Apple, the iPhone 12 Pro is by no means a cheap proposition. That said, with other high-end smartphones from manufacturers like Samsung being similarly priced, they're starting to look less extortionate than they once were.

It's the same launch price as the iPhone 11 Pro, but with double the amount of inbuilt storage (as well as the other improvements), so it doesn't feel like too bad value - and of course, most Apple fans will be used to paying high prices anyway.

It's worth remembering that from this model onwards, Apple is not including a charging adapter (you do get a cable) or headphones. If you need either of those things, you will have to factor them into the cost of purchasing the phone.

Overall, as usual, the iPhone 12 Pro produces excellent images, and anyone buying the phone with particular interest in the camera should be very happy. Beautifully vibrant shots are all but guaranteed in good light, while low light shots are also impressive - particularly the standard lens.

It's a criticism we've thrown at several generation of iPhones, but we'd still like to see the addition of a 'pro'or 'advanced' mode within the native camera app. We're still waiting for the ProRAW update to become available, but it'll be interesting to see how the files shape up, too.

4.5 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 4.5
Features 4
Ease-of-use 4.5
Image quality 4.5
Value for money 4

Main Rivals

Listed below are some of the rivals of the Apple iPhone 12 Pro.

Huawei P40 Pro

The P40 Pro is Huawei's new flagship smartphone for 2020. Featuring a 6.58-inch screen, 50 megapixel sensor, 5x optical zoom lens and 4K video recording, can it overcome its much-publicized lack of Google App support? Find out now by reading our in-depth Huawei P40 Pro review, complete with full-size sample images and videos...

OnePlus 8 Pro

The OnePlus 8 Pro is the latest flagship smartphone for 2020 from OnePlus. It features a 48-megapixel quad-camera setup with an upgraded ultra-wide camera, 4K/60p video recording, Pro shooting mode and the ability to shoot in Raw. Find out if this is the best smartphone for photographers by reading our in-depth OnePlus 8 Pro review with full-size sample photos and videos.

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra

The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is Samsung's latest flagship smartphone, boasting a 6.9-inch screen, 108 megapixel standard camera, 5x optical zoom, 8K video, super slow motion video, Pro shooting mode and Raw capture. Take a look at our in-depth Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra review to find out if this is the best smartphone camera for keen photographers...

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra

The Galaxy S20 Ultra is Samsung's new flagship smartphone for 2020. Featuring a 6.9-inch screen, 108 megapixel sensor and 100x zoom lens, it's certainly big in size, megapixel count and zoom range, but is it also big in performance? Find out now by reading our expert Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra review, complete with full-size sample images and videos...

Sony Xperia 1 II

The Sony Xperia 1 II is a new flagship smartphone offering a range of pro image and video features aimed at keen camera enthusiasts. These include 20fps with continuous autofocus focus and autoexposure and real time eye AF for humans and animals, utilising technologies borrowed from the Alpha A9 full-frame mirrorless camera. Read our in-depth Sony Xperia 1 II review, complete with full-size sample images and videos, to find out if this new smartphone hits the mark for serious photography...

Review Roundup

Reviews of the Apple iPhone 12 Pro from around the web. »

The iPhone 12 Pro is a fantastic addition to Apple's ecosystem of devices. While the iPhone 12 Mini and iPhone 12 Pro Max will also likely tempt buyers at either end of the price spectrum, the iPhone 12 Pro is a great "default" device for fans of iOS.
Read the full review » »

Apple is taking a different approach with the launch of its latest iPhone this year. The company is releasing a total of four different models, with the first two -- the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro -- currently available to order right now. The iPhone 12 Mini and iPhone 12 Pro Max will be available through pre-orders on Friday, Nov. 6, with in-store availability and shipments starting on Nov. 13.
Read the full review » »

Apple’s more luxurious version of the iPhone 12 takes the best of the iPhone 4’s looks, adds some polished stainless steel and a third camera on the back – and an extra £200 to the price.
Read the full review »

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