iPhone 15 vs iPhone 12: Should you trade up?

If you got your iPhone 12 at release, then the end of that 36-month plan is in sight! But should you upgrade your iPhone 12 to the iPhone 15?

Storage available
128GB / 256GB/ 512GB
Camera
48MP + 12MP
Processor
A16 Bionic
Cheapest plan est.
$86 per month
Storage available
64GB/128GB/256GB
Camera
12MP + 12MP
Processor
A14 Bionic
Cheapest plan (new)
$74.13 per month
Anula Wiwatowska
Sep 18, 2023
Icon Time To Read5 min read

Apple has now announced the iPhone 15, so you're probably side-eyeing your current one wondering if it's time to say goodbye. If you're pitting iPhone 11 vs iPhone 15 then your decision is relatively straightforward, but iPhone 12 vs iPhone 15 is a different story.

iPhone 15 vs iPhone 12 specs

Lets get it out of the way - yes, of course the iPhone 15 will has more impressive specs than the iPhone 12. Apple announced more advanced cameras, more MP in the primary lens, better battery power and a faster processor.

The most significant change however, is the switch to USB-C. From the iPhone 15 onward, Apple is switching up the Lightning Charger to good ole' USB-C. While this is great for accessories, it shouldn't make much of a difference to your daily use. The new port will however support reverse charging, so you can top up your AirPods straight from the iPhone 15.

Apple also announced the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus will move to the Dynamic Island, the UI pill that replaced Apple's iconic Notch last year. Last year the Pro and Pro Max snagged this upgrade, but the change will flow down to the standard models this year.

As for the iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max, the improvements will feel more drastic - especially if you're stepping up from a standard iPhone 12. Apple's top devices are the only phones to upgrade to the new A17 Pro Bionic processor.

This new Pro chipset is an entirely new design, which Apple claims has 10% faster mobile CPUs in the high-performance cores, with a neural engine that is twice as fast. The A17 Pro includes a new USB controller with USB 3, which will enable wired transfer speeds 20x faster than regular USB.

Check out the table below for a a side-by-side look at the iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12 Pro Max, and the rumoured specs for the iPhone 15, iPhone 15 Plus, iPhone 15 Pro, and iPhone 15 Pro Max.

iPhone 15
iPhone 15 Plus
iPhone 15 Pro
iPhone 15 Pro Max
iPhone 12
iPhone 12 Pro
iPhone 12 Pro Max

Price

$1,499 (128GB)
$1,699 (256GB)
$2049(512GB)

$1,649 (128GB)
$1,849 (256GB)
$2,199 (512GB)

$1,849 (128GB)
$2,049(256GB)
$2,399(512GB), $2,749(1TB)

$2,199 (256GB)
$2,399 (512GB)
$2,719(1TB)

$1,049 (64GB)
$1,129 (128GB)
$1,299 (256GB)

DiscontinuedDiscontinued

Release date

15 Sep 202315 Sep 202315 Sep 202315 Sep 2023

23 Oct 2020

23 Oct 2020

23 Oct 2020

Display

6.1-inch Super Retina XDR Display6.7-inch Super Retina XDR Display6.1-inch Super Retina XDR Display6.7-inch Super Retina XDR Display

6.1-inch Super Retina XDR display

6.1-inch Super Retina XDR display

6.7-inch Super Retina XDR display

Resolution

2556x1179 @ 460ppi796x1290 @ 460ppi2556x1179 @ 460ppi2769x1290 @ 460ppi

2532x1170 @ 460 ppi

2532x1170 @ 460 ppi

2778x1284 @ 458 ppi

Processor

A16 BionicA16 BionicA17 Pro BionicA17 Pro BionicA14 Bionic A14 Bionic A14 Bionic
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iPhone 15 vs iPhone 12

iPhone 15 plans

Telstra, Vodafone, and Optus all offer the iPhone 15 on a plan.

iPhone 15 Pro plans

Opting for a Pro phone? Vodafone, Telstra, and Optus all have the iPhone 15 plans available now.

Standard models compared

iPhone 15 vs iPhone 12

Winner: iPhone 15
TLDR:
  • The iPhone 15 will have a more advanced chipset
  • The iPhone 15 will have better image processing, and have more MP
  • The iPhone 15 will have better dollar-to-GB storage value at release than the iPhone 12 did

Considering the iPhone mini is gone, and the iPhone Plus wasn't here yet, lets compare the standard iPhone 12 with the iPhone 15.

We anticipate the iPhone 15 (128GB) will start at $1,399 which is $50 dearer than the iPhone 12 (64GB) was at launch. Since dropping the 64GB models with the iPhone 13 family, Apple's dollar-to-GB ration improved a lot. That extra $50 now buys you double the internal storage. Nowadays a 64GB iPhone 12 will set you back $1,049 RRP, if you're here tossing up between new models. 

iPhone 15 vs iPhone 12: performance and camera compared

Three years of upgrades would usually be worth jumping for joy over, but it is more like two years between the iPhone 15 and iPhone 12.

Yes, technically the iPhone 15 is three generations greater than the iPhone 12, but last year Apple switched up its upgrade process. Rather than every iPhone getting the new Bionic silicon chipset, the standard models are now getting held back by one. This means the iPhone 15 has the A16 chipset, which is two above the iPhone 12's A14.

While the iPhone 15 processor vs the iPhone 12 processor is definitely faster, it won't make too much of a practical difference for most users. 

Users are most likely to see the difference between the iPhone 15 and iPhone 12 processors in photography upgrades. Jumping from the 12 to the 15, you'll get the new selfie camera, a 12MP + 48MP set up (rather than 12MP + 12MP), and the benefit of years of computational photography tweaks. All up, you can expect much clearer photos from the iPhone 15 as opposed to the iPhone 12.

Pro models compared

iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max vs iPhone 12 Pro and Max

Winner: iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max
TLDR:
  • The iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max will have the fastest Apple processor of any iPhone - the A17 Pro Chipset
  • The iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max will have a better camera sensor and more advanced image processing
  • The iPhone 15 Pro Max has the longest telephoto zoom on any iPhone 
  • iPhone 15 Pro Max base model has more internal storage

While iPhone 15 vs iPhone 12 is a tight race, there is more leeway when comparing the Pro models.

Since the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max have Apple's most advanced chipset - the A17 Pro Bionic - they will be significantly faster than the iPhone 12's A14. You may however have to pay more than you would expect for the privelege, with prices tipped to go up by as much as $300 AUD. It is not going to be a cheap iPhone.

If that price has you tossing up your options, check to see how the iPhone 15 vs iPhone 13 showdown goes - maybe you can get something that suits you for cheaper.

iPhone 15 Pro vs iPhone 12 Pro: performance and camera compared

Similar to the iPhone 12 vs iPhone 15, the Pro category will see the bulk of the upgrades in camera performance. 

The iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max has the new selfie camera from last year, plus a 48MP wide lens, and greater optical zoom than the iPhone 15. The 48MP lens ends up making 24MP images once the computational photography kicks in. The 15 Pro will maintain the 12MP telephoto lens with 3x zoom, but the same lens on the Pro Max could goes to a 5x telephoto zoom lens. This gives the iPhone 15 the longest range so far in an iPhone, and a generous step up from the 2x optical zoom in the iPhone 12.

With a USB-C 3 cable, you'll also be able connect to your Mac or external storage and transfer new photos or video in real time.

It shouldn't be a surprise that 15 Pros will be the best phone cameras Apple have released to date, but this is where you'll notice the upgrade from 12 to 15 the most.

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Conclusion

Is it time for iPhone 12 users to upgrade to iPhone 15?

iPhone 14 homescreen

These days the choice to upgrade your iPhone 12 to iPhone 15 is more grey then it is black and white. If you're looking to jump up in the standard models, you can take it or leave it. While you will get photography improvements, the USB-C charger, and the Dynamic Island, it won't be a life changing upgrade.

On the other hand, if you can afford the iPhone 15 Pro or the Pro Max you'll be in for a more exciting progression. With three generations of silicon improvements, better zoom, more MP, the new selfie camera, Dynamic Island, and USB-C, this phone will feel like more of an upgrade.

iPhone 12 plans

Popular SIM Only iPhone plans

If you're buying an iPhone 15 outright, these are the most popular SIM Only plans you can buy today.

Anula Wiwatowska
Written by
Anula Wiwatowska
Anula is the Content and Social Media Editor within the Reviews.org extended universe. Working in the tech space since 2020, she covers phone and internet plans, gadgets, smart devices, and the intersection of technology and culture. Anula was a finalist for Best Feature Writer at the 2022 Consensus Awards, and an eight time finalist across categories at the IT Journalism Awards. Her work contributed to WhistleOut's Best Consumer Coverage win in 2023.

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