iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro: A Roundup of Reviews

Originally published at: iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro: A Roundup of Reviews - TidBITS

Apple has once again anointed a select few reviewers to get early access to the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro. Here’s a roundup of their early impressions.

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Great roundup! I’m waiting on the 12 Pro Max - only because of the upgraded camera features. I hope to see a similar article then, but may be tempted to pre-order as soon as it’s possible to do so…

Pet peeve coming. Whinging by a reviewer about 1st world problems doesn’t enhance the reviewer’s credibility to regular readers like members of HMUG. Like Josh said on fingerprints: talk about first world problems?

In a sense, the whinging about 64 GB not being enough storage for an iPhone or iPad in a given reviewer’s eyes was and is ridiculous. At HMUG we are mostly mere mortals. We don’t take 4K videos intentionally. We’re normal people. Most of us still don’t use up all 64 GB storage if that’s what we have. I respond to reviewers saying that 64 GB is a “joke” that they’re presumptuous in speaking for the rest of us by using themselves as an example of what’s needed by the average person. They’re wrong, and they’re in denial.

Just a longtime pet peeve: reviewers are prosumers or professionals or both. Their needs are above those of normal users, and yet their reviews don’t acknowledge this with the whinging as I’ve said before. It’s not helpful.

FWIW, John Gruber doesn’t fall into the trap as much, but even he does, sometimes. His review of the iPad Air 4 has the same sense of entitlement in his concluding paragraph. John is one of the very best writers out there, and he’s as technically sound as it gets. I greatly respect him. This last paragraph on iPad Air 4 is a bit dismissive of “normals”. See for yourself.

Each of the other reviewers linked by Josh in the TidBITS post has a little pro level whinging in their reviews that are not helpful to average people. It’s not because they’re bad people or writers. It’s because they’re exceptional. But exceptional literally means they’re exceptions to the rule or the average. Their writing and thoroughness are exceptional: they’re really good at what they do. They don’t mean to, but they end up insensitive to the rest of us normal folks.

This turned into a long rant, but I’m tired of getting questions from HMUG members who read something and say in essence: “why is this described to be so inadequate or bad? Does that mean it’s a problem or flaw and I shouldn’t buy it?”

I have to explain the above, and help them come to an understanding that works for them.


Thank you for these reviews and info on the 12 models! While some might disagree that 64GB is a joke, in real life use and lifespan of the phone, the iOS and apps generally take up 20% of that 64GB (have we forgotten the iOS updates to the 8/16GB IPhones that could not because it needed an additional 4-6GB for the update file alone?). And that the 64GB is really not that but more like 56GB free with the iOS taking up 6-8GB alone. And having 12MB pixel camera, means 36MB per image file. Having 64MB*(lets just say 56GB free) means about 1500 images. I just dealt with someone’s iphone migration that had 9400 images on it (it was an SE model, with 64GB storage–that was almost full). So you can see that many users do not manage their storage or drink the Apple iCloud elixir and subscribe to store there. I wouldn’t replace my current iPhone with anything less than 128GB (and Apple knows this…oh yes they do).
I saw a review (iPad Air Youtube review - The Verge) by Dieter Bohn that seemed rather unbias. I might replace mine with this when it dies (again). I have an iPad air that failed from a dead chipset ($250 to repair) and was $50 more to just replace. I keep it around to remind me of Apple’s failure at quality…and if someone were to file a Class Action on this model of Air failing for others. But that is another rant.

I think Josh did an excellent job of rounding up the reviews, and reading the different takes they all had will help all levels and interest groups of mobile phone buyers make very informed decisions. And they did reinforce my decision not to upgrade my 8+ until 5G is more widely available.

Very many relatives, friends and acquaintances I know are constantly snapping photos on either iPhones or or Androids. A few are prosumers, but most are not. Though it’s been many months before social distancing became a thing, I’ve always seen people snapping away on mobile devices, phones just about always and just about almost everywhere. For whatever reason, I know quite a few people who prefer to keep photos on their phones because they don’t trust cloud services. And road warriors that I know that travel a lot for work with do also like to have more storage space on their phones, especially if they do a lot of airline travel. When it comes to Apple devices, I’m just a 'sumer across the board, nothing resembling a pro or a prosumer.

About Gruber being “dismissive,” you should hear me and my other family members who live in NY metro and the relatives from Chicago arguing about which regional pizza style is superior. Many restaurant and food reviewers have attitude about choices and pricing as well. Film, music, art and book critics likewise. I’m personally glad that Josh provided a spectrum of opinions, as TidBITS readers are a very varied group encompassing a wide variety of skill levels and interests. Every reader can focus in on their particular needs.

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Steven Aquino, who has written for TidBITS in the past, has published his reviews of the 12 and Pro in Forbes.

It can be tough for tech journalists to internalize the perspective of “normal” users. As you say, we tend to be power users in the first place, so we have a different view. I think a lot of reviewers focus on nitpicky little things because they want to appear as critical and unbiased instead of giving in to their love of new toys.

I always learn a lot by helping friends and family with technical issues, because their view of things is so different.

I disagree on the storage sizes, though. One of the issues I struggle with the most often is family members not having enough free space on devices. I’ve been working on an article for TidBITS where I document a scenario where that was a real hurdle. There’s a bit of a myth that less-technical users need fewer computer resources, but in my experience they need more. A power user can work around slow processor speeds and limited storage, but these things frustrate regular people.

But I think pretty much anyone who buys an iPhone 12 or 12 Pro is going to be happy with it. For that matter, the iPhone I’ve been recommending for a lot of people is the new SE. I realize that somewhat contradicts what I said above, but the SE really is plenty of phone for most people, and is a real bargain. That said, I try to push them toward the 128 GB model, since it’s only $50 more and will give them so much more breathing room.


This is very true. It’s hard for power or experienced user to put ourselves in the mindset of a newbie or non-techie. So many times I’ve shown a fabulous feature to a “regular” person and they’ve totally popped my balloon by pointing out some silly average person usage that seems irrelevant to me (like a phone’s color or a “puzzling” user interface that seems obvious).

I just got my 79-year-old mom a new iPhone 12 and her main complaint is Apple’s clear case is too slippery and she keeps dropping the phone. :roll_eyes:

(BTW, you mentioned storage, which definitely depends on the person. Her old phone was 64GB with 33GB free, so I got her the 64GB and it’s fine for her as it’s more than half empty. I got the 256GB for me.)


Jason Snell’s review is now up at Six Colors:

And for photographers, Austin Mann’s review is also great (though I’m still waiting to see comparisons with the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro).

Please spread this concept far and wide. Over and over I see ordinary users struggling with under-resourced systems, reinforcing their beliefs that “computers are difficult” or, worse, “I just don’t get along with computers.”

I can get by just fine with a 64GB phone (my antepenultimate iPhone was a 64GB 6s+) but only by doing the kind of juggling I would never expect a non-techie user to be able to pull off without a struggle. Heck, I could run my life on a Raspberry Pi if I had to (fortunately, I don’t) but most ordinary users need far more power, memory, and storage to be comfortable and efficient.

Give the developers the low-end machines! :wink:


This reminds me of the first company I worked for after graduating college. It was their policy to give the developers (especially the newest ones) underpowered machines in order to force them to write efficient code. If they were able to get good performance out of their developer machines, it would work great on customer machines. And if they couldn’t get good performance, we would re-think a feature’s design to come up with one that could perform well on that hardware.

Overall, this worked up to a point. The biggest problem was that these underpowered machines took a while to compile the software so a lot of time was wasted there. On the other hand, our customers loved the results.


The Raspberry Pi is an excellent example. I recently purchased a Raspberry Pi 4 for ham radio purposes, and I was aghast at how slow it is. I’m patient enough to deal with it, but I absolutely wouldn’t want to hand one off to a less-experienced person.

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I got mine yesterday it’s a bit like a big 4 which was my favourite model I just loved the engineering and this one has the same feel. No e sim but the dual SIM card tray is cool. Still working my way through things but overall it’s a winner so glad I bought the stock.