iPhone 12 vs iPhone 12 Pro: Is the upgrade worth it?

Are those three extra letters really worth forking out for?

Optus
iPhone 12 mini product card
iPhone 12
4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5
Starts at
$1,199
outright
Display
6.1-inch OLED
Storage options
64GB/128GB/256GB
Cheapest plan
$49 Optus Choice Plus Plan:
$84.52/mth over 36tmths)
Telstra
Image of Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max
iPhone 12 Pro
4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5
Starts at
$1,149
outright
Display
6.1-inch OLED
Storage options
128GB/256GB/512GB
Cheapest plan
$58 Telstra Basic Plan:
$105.19/mth over 36mths)
Georgia Dixon
Digital Content Editor
Read More
September 08, 2022
4 min read

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Quick verdict

The iPhone 12 does (almost) everything its Pro sibling does, but for far less money. It also comes in a lighter, more colourful body and represents all-around better value.

Serious smartphone photographers may prefer the Pro's superior tri-cam setup, while those with more everyday users will be delighted by what the standard iPhone 12 can offer.

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It’s the question that always crops up when Apple releases a new iPhone: which model should I get?

Ahead of their original launch in 2021, the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro were tipped to be the biggest sellers from this year’s 5G-enabled lineup, but is the upgrade really worth it? We've pitted the two head-to-head in an all-out specs showdown to find the answer.

iPhone 12 vs iPhone 12 Pro: Price

Alongside the natural decrease in their street value that happens over time, the iPhone 12 recently got a formal price-cut to coincide with the arrival of the iPhone 14.

These days, pricing for the iPhone 12 ranges from $1,049 for the 64GB model to $1,299 for the 256GB model. The 128GB sits between the two in price at $1,129, and you can also opt for a refurbished iPhone if you know where to look and want to save even more.

As for the iPhone 12 Pro, there's good news and bad news. The good news is that picking up the iPhone 12 Pro nowadays is going to cost you a lot less than its launch pricing, which ranged from $1,699 to $2,219. The bad news is that finding an iPhone 12 Pro is a lot more difficult, since the device was discontinued in 2021.  As with the standard model, refurbished iPhone providers like Catch or Kogan might be your best bet here.

Still, if price is your only concern, odds are that you’ll be able to save a decent chunk of change by opting for the iPhone 12.

Winner: iPhone 12

Model
64GB
128GB
256GB
512GB

iPhone 12 Mini

iPhone 12

iPhone 12 Pro

iPhone 12 Pro Max

iPhone 12 plans

Looking for the base model iPhone on a plan? Here are the most popular deals from Telstra, Optus and Vodafone.

iPhone 12 Pro plans

Or if you’re trying to snap up the photographer’s choice, find a popular plan on Apple’s iPhone 12 Pro with Telstra, Vodafone and Numobile.

iPhone 12 vs iPhone 12 Pro: Size

When it comes to the display specs, the screens on the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro are practically identical. Regardless of which you go with, you're getting a 6.1-inch OLED Super Retina XDR display with Ceramic Shield protection.

If you're looking to tease out some sort of difference between the two, it might be worth noting that the iPhone 12 Pro has a slightly higher typical max brightness of 800 nits versus the 625 nits seen on the standard iPhone 12. Still, it feels like we're splitting hairs here.

It's a tie

iPhone 12 vs iPhone 12 Pro: Camera

iphone-12-camera

When comparing these two devices, the camera is really the deciding factor. Apple knows how to produce amazing smartphone cameras, so you won’t be disappointed with either. Both rock the same 12MP selfie camera, 12MP wide and ultra-wide rear lenses with 2x optical zoom.

That said, there is one major selling point to the iPhone 12 Pro: an extra telephoto lens. In practice, this means 10x digital zoom (compared to the cheaper model’s 5x), which in turn means sharper snaps. In terms of video, the extra lens again translates to better zoom (6x vs 3x), and therefore slightly better video quality.

Those who upgrade to the Pro will also get the bonus addition of a LiDAR scanner. In layman terms, this enables the Pro to take low-light shots with 6x faster autofocus. Both phones are capable of capturing some truly incredible images, but given this is a specs showdown, we have to give the win to the 12 Pro.

Winner: iPhone 12 Pro

iPhone 12 vs iPhone 12 Pro: Design

Looking at the two from the front, there's little in the way of visible distinctions between the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro. Heck, even from the side, they look the same. Their physical dimensions are identical (146.7 x 71.5 x 7.4mm) and they’re both IP68 water and dust-proof.

The only thing that truly sets them apart is the Pro’s extra camera, added weight (187g vs 162g) and the colour selection (the 12 comes in black, white, red, green and blue while the 12 Pro comes in graphite, silver, gold and pacific blue).

Given they’re so similar, we’re giving this one to the 12, solely for the fact that it weighs 25g less. That might not sound like much, but it’s a noticeable difference.

Winner: iPhone 12

iPhone 12
iPhone 12 Pro

iPhone 12 vs iPhone 12 Pro: Performance

iphone 12 vs iphone 12 pro

Judging by the specs, it’s a similar story for the iPhone 12 and the iPhone 12 Pro when it comes to performance. Both are home to Apple’s latest A14 Bionic chip, however, the tech giant rarely discloses RAM, so there may be a slight speed improvement in the Pro.

This one’s too close to call, so we’re calling it a tie.

It's a tie

iPhone 12 vs iPhone 12 Pro: Battery life

Like RAM, Apple is pretty tight-lipped on the new lineup’s actual mAh capacity. However, they have given us battery life estimates in hours for both the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro.

Surprise, surprise, they’re exactly the same. Expect up to 17 hours of video playback, 11 hours of video streaming and 65 hours of audio playback for both models.

It's a tie

Which should I buy?

If you're trying to be more conscious of the spending or not particularly drawn to the photography upgrades it promises, then the Pro upgrade really isn’t worth it.

The iPhone 12 packs all the same impressive features into a lighter, more colourful body, and all for a couple of hundred bucks less. The only reason we see to opt for the Pro is if you’re really into mobile photography and videography, otherwise, it’s just not worth it.

Winner: iPhone 12

iPhone 12 vs iPhone 12 Pro specs

If you just want the technical specifications, we've put together a table comparing the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 pro specs side-by-side.

iPhone 12 vs iPhone 12 Pro vs iPhone 12 Pro Max

iPhone 12
iPhone 12 Pro
iPhone 12 Pro Max

Price

$1,349 (64GB)
$1,429 (128GB)
$1,599 (256GB)

$1,699 (128GB)
$1,869 (256GB)
$2,219 (512GB)

$1,849 (128GB)
$2,019 (256GB)
$2,369 (512GB)

Release date

23 October 2020

23 October 2020

13 November 2020

Display

All-screen OLED Super Retina XDR display

All-screen OLED Super Retina XDR display

All-screen OLED Super Retina XDR display

Size

6.1-inches

6.1-inch

6.7-inch

Resolution

2532x1170 @ 460 ppi

2532x1170 @ 460 ppi

2778x1284 @ 458 ppi

Georgia Dixon
Written by
Georgia Dixon
Georgia Dixon has over seven years' experience writing about all things tech, entertainment and lifestyle, with bylines in TechLife magazine, 7NEWS and Stuff.co.nz. In her spare time, you'll find her playing games and daydreaming about good food, wine, and dogs.

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