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

Are those three extra letters really worth forking out for?

Best iPhone 12 plan
iPhone 12
$49 Optus Choice Plan
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    $86.46/mth
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    60GB data
Best iPhone 12 Pro plan
$49 Optus Choice Plan
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    $96.18/mth
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    60GB
Cheapest iPhone 12 plan
iPhone 12
Vodafone $40 Lite Plan
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    $72.47/mth
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    10GB data
Cheapest 12 Pro plan
Vodafone $40 Lite Plan
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    $82.19/mth
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    10GB data
Georgia Dixon
Digital Content Editor
Read More
November 06, 2020
3 min read

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. Still, serious smartphone photographers may prefer the Pro's superior tri-cam setup.


It’s the question that always crops up when Apple releases a new iPhone: which model should I get? The iPhone 12 and 12 Pro are tipped to be the biggest sellers from this year’s 5G-enabled lineup, but is the upgrade really worth it? We pitted the two head-to-head in an all-out specs showdown.

iPhone 12 vs iPhone 12 Pro: Price

The iPhone 12 ranges in price from $1,349 to $1,599 (depending on storage), while the iPhone 12 Pro will set you back between $1,699 and $2,219. For fairness’ sake, we’ll be using the 128GB iPhone 12 for our price comparison (despite there being a cheaper, smaller storage model), as 128GB is the smallest storage you can get on a 12 Pro.

If price is your only concern, you’ll save a decent chunk of change by opting for the iPhone 12, which is $1,429 - that’s $270 cheaper than the iPhone 12 Pro with the same 128GB storage. Neither would classify as budget-friendly, but the iPhone 12 is definitely more palatable.

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 12? 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 Optus.

iPhone 12 vs iPhone 12 Pro: 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, the two devices are essentially identical. Heck, even from the side, they look the same. In fact, their 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 vs iPhone 12 Pro: Display

They’re literally identical. 6.1 inches, OLED, Super Retina XDR.

Tie

iPhone 12 vs iPhone 12 Pro: Performance

Judging by the specs, it’s a similar story for the 12 and the 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.

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, and 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.

Tie

Which should I buy?

It’s still early, but from the specs alone, it seems 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

6.1-inch all-screen OLED Super Retina XDR display

6.1-inch all-screen OLED Super Retina XDR display

6.7-inch all-screen OLED Super Retina XDR display

Resolution

2532x1170 @ 460 ppi

2532x1170 @ 460 ppi

2778x1284 @ 458 ppi

Processor

A14 Bionic chip (next-generation Neural Engine)

A14 Bionic chip (next-generation Neural Engine)

A14 Bionic chip (next-generation Neural Engine)

Memory (RAM)

TBA

TBA

TBA

Storage capacity

64GB
128GB
256GB

128GB
256GB
512GB

128GB
256GB
512GB

Rear camera

Dual 12MP Ultra Wide and Wide cameras
2x optical zoom (out)
5x digital zoom

Pro 12MP Ultra Wide, Wide and Telephoto cameras
2x optical zoom
10x digital zoom

Pro 12MP Ultra Wide, Wide and Telephoto cameras
5x optical zoom
12x digital zoom

Rear video

HDR video with Dolby Vision @ 30fps
4K video @ 60fps

HDR video with Dolby Vision @ 60fps
4K video @ 60fps

HDR video with Dolby Vision @ 60fps
4K video @ 60fps

Front camera

12MP TrueDepth Camera

12MP TrueDepth Camera

12MP TrueDepth Camera

Front video

HDR video with Dolby Vision @ 30fps
4K video @ 60fps

HDR video with Dolby Vision @ 30fps
4K video @ 60fps

HDR video with Dolby Vision @ 30fps
4K video @ 60fps

Weight

162g

187g

226g

Water and dust resistance

Rated IP68

Rated IP68

Rated IP68

Battery

Video playback: up to 17 hours
Video playback (streamed): up to 11 hours
Audio playback: up to 65 hours

Video playback: up to 17 hours
Video playback (streamed): up to 11 hours
Audio playback: up to 65 hours

Video playback: up to 20 hours
Video playback (streamed): up to 12 hours
Audio playback: up to 80 hours

Fast charge

Up to 50% charge in 30 mins (20W adapter or higher)

Up to 50% charge in 30 mins (20W adapter or higher)

Up to 50% charge in 30 mins (20W adapter or higher)

Operating system

iOS 14

iOS 14

iOS 14

Connectivity

5G
WiFi 6
Bluetooth 5.0

5G
WiFi 6
Bluetooth 5.0

5G
WiFi 6
Bluetooth 5.0

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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