October 29, 2020

Is the iPhone 12 camera really that great? Here's what we found

We put the 12 megapixel Wide and Ultra Wide camera through it's paces with a photowalk around one of Singapore's most iconic neighbourhoods.

Is the iPhone 12 camera really that great? Here's what we found

The iPhone 12 launched to much fanfare last week but is it really worth the hype one week on? Especially since the iPhone Pro Max is coming in November πŸ‘€ (You can still join our waitlist for those phones here)

So many colours to choose from 😍

It's one of the most expensive iPhones to date and given everything that's going on with the pandemic, it is a HUGE investment. Circles.Life is already helping out by creating these innovative Combo Plans that let you get your new phone for $0 upfront; splitting payment across 24 months via installments.

But what about the technical side of things? We'll get a glimpse of the iPhone 12's 5G capabilities when Circles.Life launches their 5G service at the end of the year and the A14 Bionic Chip was shown off a bit in our unboxing video here. The last thing we wanted to test was the camera πŸ“Έ

The Test

I bought the iPhone 12 to replace my old iPhone XS Max. Yes it may seem like a downgrade since the XS Max should be the equivalent of the 12 Pro Max but honestly the iPhone 12 lives up to its name for me.

I managed to get my iPhone 12 on launch day and since then, I've been trying out all the new camera features such as the Smart HDR 3 -a 3rd gen upgrade from the iPhone XS series which features the iPhone's original Smart HDR technology.

Right off the bat, I fell in love with the new camera quality and the amazing night mode that works on all 3 lenses; the 2 on the rear and also front camera. HDR Recording 4k with 30fps is also amazing but I didn’t capture footage as it needs to be viewed on HDR compatible devices for you to appreciate it's true high-def splendour. Without further ado, here is a series of photos that compare the image quality, Smart HDR 3 and also Night Mode between the iPhone XS and the iPhone 12.

The same vase with the iPhone 12 on the left and XS Max on the right. You can see that the iPhone 12 already has a higher contrast and sharpness.
Once again you see that the colour really pops in the first image take on the iPhone 12, with the XS Max looking more sad and faded.

Just look at these two photos between the iPhone 12 & the iPhone XS Max. You can totally see that the 12 shows much detail with the photo of the vase. When comparing the photo of the building, the differences are more minute but in terms of quality, the glaring sun makes the image captured on the iPhone 12 look much sharper when you look closely on the bottom left, with vibrant colours that don't look as washed out as the XS max.

Another feature I wanted to show off is the ultra wide camera on the iPhone 12. You may think that the ultra wide angle will not look as pretty as the normal wide lens but I'm here with my iPhone 12 to change your mind πŸ˜‰

I'm pretty sure you can guess which one was taken on the iPhone 12 here πŸ˜‚
There's wide and then there's WIDER

As you can see from the photos above, even when we took an ultra wide photo using the iPhone 12; Β the image retains its quality and sharpness in all its details despite being "further away". It's my personal opinion, but using an ultra wide lens makes for better photos as it allows you to capture not just a small part of the scene but provides a macro view of the bigger picture πŸŒ…

The next few photos were shot in Night Mode, a new and improved feature that is unique to the iPhone 12 line. Thus, there won't be any comparisons here since the iPhone XS Max does not have night mode.

The main difference that sets the iPhone 12 Night mode apart from the existing feature on the 11 series is that fact that the 12 has Night Mode on all the 3 lenses; wide, ultra wide and also the front camera as compared to the iPhone 11 which restricted it to the main lens with an aperture of f/1.8.

Groovy huh πŸ‘―β€β™€οΈ
Even at night, those colours are still as vibrant as ever. 
Remind me, is it day time or night time again πŸ˜‚

As you can see, the iPhone 12 night mode makes it look as though the photo is shot in daylight. Yes I would say the night mode has improved from the previous 11 series but there can still be improvements as some of the photos does show patches of noise here and there typically in the photo of the Selegie Arts Centre. Still the Night Mode on the front camera will make for terrific late night party selfies, if you're into that sorta thing πŸ•Ί

Bet all you iPhone photographers out here are like this impressed by the iPhone 12 rn. Source 

To Buy or Not to Buy - That is the Question

So, should you get or upgrade to the iPhone 12? To me personally if you come from the X, XS or even the 8 series then yes its worth an upgrade and you’ll get a better processor and also better camera quality with Smart HDR 3, Deep Fusion & Night Mode. The evidence speaks for itself πŸ‘† The photos above were taken with 100% no filter and I think you can judge for yourself the stark difference in quality.

You'll also be future-proofing your phone for quite some time with islandwide 5G coming soon in 2025 (We'll be on to the iPhone 17 by then lol). More serious photographers can also opt to pick up the iPhone 12 Pro or Pro Max which comes with an additional Telephoto Lens (4x Zoom) and the ability to shoot in the RAW format. Β 

Don't be this guy if you have the iPhone 11, save it for the iPhone 13 πŸ˜‰

But if you’re someone who currently owns an 11 series iPhone then the answer is a straight no. The difference is meagre to justify an upgrade and its best to wait for the iPhone 13 (Editors Note: WHERE THEY MIGHT JUST GET RID OF THE NOTCH IN THE 13)

This article was contributed by our Circles.Life user: Danie Alexander Raymond


Make the switch right now and save up to $249 on your iPhone 12/iPhone 12 Pro with a Circles.Life Combo Plan. Interested in the iPhone 12 Mini or Pro Max? Join our waitlist here and be updated the minute they go live in November!