How to choose the best iPhone 12 for you: Depends on whether you value the camera features

Is it easier to choose now that there is no difference in key features?

Engadget JP (Translation)
Engadget JP (Translation) , @Engadget_MT
2020年10月15日, 午後 07:41 in egmt
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This article is based on an article from the Japanese edition of Engadget and was created using the translation tool Deepl.


We've already published a number of articles about the iPhone 12 series, so we'll focus on the new lineup's positioning and highlights here.

Overall, I felt that the camera quality, especially video recording capability, has improved significantly. In addition, the display has been refined in accordance with industry standards, and the quality of the screen is now comparable to that of professional devices, resulting in improved picture quality when watching premium content such as movies. It's also impressive that there are almost no size limitations, and that all the products that call themselves "12" have the same performance and philosophy, and all the products that call themselves "12 Pro" have the same performance and philosophy.

No matter which product you buy, there is no difference in the SoC or modem specifications, and you choose a product based on its value-added features as a smartphone, specifically the display and camera specifications, and the price. In that sense, there are relatively few things to consider this time around, and it should make choosing a product a simple process.

If you want to focus on camera features, the Pro series is for you

The first thing to consider when deciding which product to choose (albeit at different price points) is whether to choose the iPhone 12 series or the iPhone 12 Pro series. There is a difference in the brightness of the OLEDs on both, but the most significant difference is the cameras.

Apple used the term "computational photography" a lot this time. This term indicates how information captured from the video sensor is calculated and analyzed by computer and processed appropriately. These include semantic rendering (a method of automatic development based on subject analysis based on machine learning and other processes), Smart HDR, and Deep Fusion (image enhancement through pixel composition), all of which contributed to the dramatic improvement in camera quality in the last year's 11 series.

In the iPhone 12 series, the inclusion of A14 Bionic has deepened these processes, and the increased power of the A14 Bionic has led to advances in the Neural Engine, ISP, and machine learning accelerator. The brighter wide-angle lens (f/1.6) has, of course, contributed greatly to the image quality. However, Apple's development work is based on the theme of "improving the process of creating better photos through computation", and this benefit is common to all iPhones that use the A14 Bionic.

I'm not exaggerating when I say the process of creating better photographs. Semantic rendering is a good example, but the philosophy behind the iPhone's built-in camera is not to make AI-like adjustments to the captured images, but to devise a development process that results in a better photo.

Just as there is a difference between the camera development process and the retouching process, the two approaches to image processing with a built-in camera are completely different. As a result, image processing such as Deep Fusion and Smart HDR 3 contribute to high quality and natural-looking results. I'll be able to evaluate how far the camera's base strength has improved once I get my hands on it, but what advantages does the Pro series have over the A14 Bionic while benefiting from the same?

One of them would undoubtedly be the inclusion of a telephoto camera.

In this Pro series, all four cameras, including the front camera, can benefit from Deep Fusion and Night Mode. In that sense, the value of the telephoto camera has increased, but what sets the Pro series apart is the presence of LiDAR. If camera features are important to you, then the Pro series should be your choice.

LiDAR raises the potential of the camera

LiDAR, which stands for Light Detection and Ranging, recognizes the shape of space by measuring the distance by measuring the time it takes for light to be reflected from a subject and return to the sensor. A similar sensor is also available on the Xperia 1 II.

The ability to measure distance information per pixel has been used in the iPad Pro to bring a more realistic AR experience, while the iPhone is more focused on improving the camera experience. Among other things, we can expect to see improvements in autofocus speed and accuracy.

LiDAR can measure distances in total darkness, which increases the accuracy and speed of focus adjustment. This is because LiDAR allows the camera to focus in advance and then use contrast detection to track down the details of the focus. In addition, because distance information for each pixel is known, the subject and background can be accurately identified. This is even in dark places. This allows it to accurately handle portrait mode, even when it's so dark you need night mode.

The iPhone's background bokeh is derived from an optical simulation of actual lens bokeh, and a more precise understanding of distance produces an image with the appropriate three-dimensional effect, and this is possible even in near-darkness.

In addition, the iPhone 12 Pro Max adds a sensor-shift image stabilization to the wide-angle camera. And the angle of view of the telephoto camera increases in magnification from the iPhone 12 Pro's equivalent of 52mm to 65mm (in terms of the 35mm version).

In addition, only the iPhone 12 Pro series will support recording in Apple ProRAW in an update before the end of the year. Apple ProRAW is the sensor's RAW data that has been assigned to various computational photography data analyzed by A14 Bionic. Apple ProRAW is a combination of the sensor's RAW data with various computational photography data analyzed by A14 Bionic, which uses CPU, GPU, ISP, and neural engines to record the information utilized within the camera app, so you can manipulate freely in the RAW development process, but you can also take advantage of information derived from multiple frames of images, such as Deep Fusion and Smart HDR.

Incidentally, Apple ProRAW will be able to be handled by third-party photo editing apps in addition to the standard iOS photo app.

If you just want to take a pretty picture

Now that we've come to this point, "Well, you're leading me to 12 Pro, aren't you?", you might feel that. But I just feel that there is a surprisingly large difference between the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro cameras when we actually put the information together. I just feel that there is a surprisingly large difference between the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro cameras when we actually put the information together. If you simply want to take pretty pictures, the difference between the two is minimal for the most part (except for the telephoto lens).

Moreover, the iPhone 12 and the iPhone 12 Pro are designed to share a MagSafe compatible case as well, so they are exactly the same size. There is a difference between the stainless steel or aluminum frame, but once you put the case on, you might not be able to tell the difference.

After all, if you don't have the intention to actively use the camera, the iPhone 12 is good enough for you. In that sense, understanding the differences between the cameras is the key to choosing a product this time around. Then, depending on your screen size preferences and budget, you can choose the smaller 12 mini or the larger 12 Pro Max.

However, this has happened in the past, and perhaps the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro may have different onboard memory capacity. This is because only the 12 Pro series supports Apple ProRAW.

To store the generated additional data on the memory, we can assume that some extra main memory will be needed. We'll find out if the actual amount of RAM onboard will be different as soon as we get the actual device.


This article is based on an article from the Japanese edition of Engadget and was created using the translation tool Deepl. The Japanese edition of Engadget does not guarantee the accuracy or reliability of this article.


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