Apple iPhone 11 vs Apple iPhone 12 full review

It's really no big surprise that Apple has unveiled the iPhone 12 at its October event, but what's new for 2020? We compare the latest smartphone with the iPhone 11 to find out covering prices, design and specs.

Spoiler, it's more than just 5G support.

Price and availability

In true Apple tradition, the iPhone 11 is still part of the official range of smartphones but now at a lower price. However, there's not a huge difference in price.

The iPhone 12 comes in at £799/US$799 (more than when the 11 first arrived) and the iPhone 11 drops to £599/US$599, so there's $200 in it to consider.

Note that there's also an iPhone 12 mini that sits in between them, starting at £699/US$699. The iPhone 12 is available to pre-order on 16 October and goes on sale on 23 October. Apple also announced the HomePod mini.

The available models are listed below but it's also worth pointing out that the iPhone range doesn't come with any EarPods headphones or a charging adapter in the box. It's part of Apple's green initiative and means if you need either, they are now optional extras. You only get a cable.

iPhone 11 prices

  • 64GB - £599/$599
  • 128GB - £649/$649
  • 256GB - £749/$749

iPhone 12 prices

  • 64GB - £799/$799
  • 128GB - £849/$849
  • 256GB - £949/$949

See our complete iPhone buying guide.

iPhone 12 blue

Design and build

The iPhone 12 brings with it a new design, although one that's reminiscent of the iPhone 5S thanks to its flat surfaces. Overall, though, it does look pretty similar.

The big news for the 12 is that MagSafe is back - that's the magnetic technology Apple used to use on its MacBook power cables meaning they didn't plug-in like a traditional male-female port. It meant that you could accidentally pull the cable out without breaking it.

For the iPhone 12, it's not about the port (which is still Lightning, not USB-C) but sits hidden on the back much like a wireless charging coil. The idea is that you can buy MagSafe accessories including cases and wireless chargers that snap firmly onto the back of the iPhone 12. There's even a wallet attachment. 

iPhone 12 MagSafe case and wallet

That's a neat feature and the iPhone 12 also boasts a 'Ceramic Shield' front giving it four times the drop protection, according to Apple. The waterproofing is also better than the iPhone 11, despite still being IP68, able to cope with 6m of water depth compared to 3m.

It's worth noting that the iPhone 12 is lighter at 164g vs194g, despite the same screen size.

Colours are, of course, very personal and the iPhone 12 comes in five options: Black, White, Product Red, Green and Blue with the latter being the new addition, although the red and green tones appear to be different.

The iPhone 11 is also available in yellow and purple, but not blue.

iPhone 11 colours

Specs and features

With photography specs largely the same - the iPhone 12 jumps to an aperture of f/1.6 with Smart HDR 3 for photos - it's other areas which separate the two phones. Although, it's worth noting the new phones have HDR video recording with Dolby Vision.

So, the iPhone 12 has the Apple A14 Bionic chip with next-generation Neural Engine. It's 6-core CPU and 4-core GPU is up to 50% faster than other phones. Which phones, we don't know but it will be faster than the iPhone 11 for sure. Apple says it's the best chip in any smartphone on the planet.

iPhone processor performance shouldn't sway you more than other features though. It's likely that 5G is a big lure here given this is the first time Apple has supported the latest network standard (sub-6 GHz and mmWave). You'll get various benefits including faster download speeds and better streaming.

iPhone 12 colours

The iPhone 12's Super Retina XDR screen is higher resolution, supports HDR at 1200 nits and has a 2,000,000:1 contrast ratio. However, if you were excited about rumours of a 120Hz refresh rate, that turned out to be false. Both phones are still 6.1in, but the iPhone 12 is OLED while the 11 is LCD IPS.

Here is a comparison of the iPhone 12 and 11:

  iPhone 12 iPhone 11
iOS iOS 14 iOS 14
Colours Black, green, white, (product) red, blue Black, green, yellow, purple, white, (product) red
Display 6.1in Super Retina XDR (2532x1170, 460ppi) OLED 6.1in Liquid Retina Display (1792x828, 326ppi) LCD IPS
Processor Apple A14 Bionic Apple A13 Bionic
Storage 64/128/256GB 64/128/256GB
Rear camera 12Mp wide, f/1.6, OIS + 12Mp ultra-wide, f/2.4, 2x optical zoom, Smart HDR 3 12Mp wide, f/1.8, OIS + 12Mp ultra-wide, f/2.4, 2x optical zoom, Next-generation Smart HDR
Front camera 12Mp TrueDepth, f/2.2, 4K video, Night Mode, Deep Vision, HDR video recording with Dolby Vision up to 30 fps 12Mp TrueDepth, f/2.2, 4K video
Video recording 4K at 24/30/60fps, 1080p slo-mo at 240fps, HDR video recording with Dolby Vision up to 30 fps 4K at 24/30/60fps, 1080p slo-mo at 240fps
Biometric security Face ID Face ID
Wireless Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi 6 802.11ax Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-Fi 6 802.11ax
Wireless charging Yes Yes
Apple Pay (NFC) Yes Yes
Waterproofing IP68 (6m) IP68 (3m)
Dimensions 71.5x146.7x7.4mm 75.7 x 150.9 x 8.3mm
Weight 164g 194g
Price From £799/$799 From £599/$599
Buy SIM-free Order Now Order Now
Buy on contract   Order Now

Verdict

The age-old 'should I upgrade?' question that iPhone 11 owners may be pondering is one that probably comes down to whether you want to jump to 5G.

Sure, the display is better and the MagSafe accessories are tempting, as is the new blue colours, but overall the phone isn't hugely different. A lot of the above specs table is the same for both phones. 

Choosing between the two for a new phone is a tougher choice and the £200/$200 is significant enough to warrant careful consideration. 

If you can afford the iPhone 12, then you're clearly getting the better phone in various ways. If your budget is tighter then the iPhone 11 will still satisfy, but you should consider the iPhone 12 mini if the 5.4in screen isn't too small.

You may also like to read our comparison of the iPhone 12 vs iPhone XR.

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