Camera Comparison: iPhone 12 Pro vs. iPhone 11 Pro

Apple last week released the iPhone 12 Pro, which is being sold alongside the ‌iPhone 12‌, 12 mini, and 12 Pro Max. The Pro Max has the best camera of the bunch, but since it's not out yet, we thought we'd take a look at the improvements introduced in the ‌iPhone 12‌ Pro and see how camera quality compares to the iPhone 11 Pro.



The ‌iPhone 12‌ Pro has the same triple-lens camera setup as the ‌iPhone 11‌ Pro with a Wide lens, Ultra Wide lens, and Telephoto lens, but there are improvements across all three cameras plus the addition of the LiDAR Scanner, which improves low-light performance. The faster A14 chip and new image signal processor also bring new photographic capabilities, ultimately introducing quite a few improvements.

TrueDepth Camera

When it comes to the front-facing camera, it's still using the same f/2.2 12-megapixel lens with no real improvements to the hardware, but thanks to the A14 chip, it now supports Night Mode selfies, ‌Night Mode‌ time-lapse videos, Deep Fusion, Smart HDR 3, and Dolby Vision HDR video recording, none of which are available in the ‌iPhone 11‌ Pro.

iphone12pronightmodeselfie
Deep Fusion's addition to the front-facing camera allows it to pull out the best pixels from multiple exposures to make one crisper image with more detail and less noise, and it primarily activates in medium lighting conditions.

Smart HDR 3 improves highlights, shadows, and white balance so you get more natural lighting that looks truer to real life, and Dolby Vision HDR recording lets you record and edit HDR video from the front-facing camera for selfie videos that look better than ever.

In practice, you need specific conditions to see the improvements that the software brings to the front-facing camera, and so you might not always see huge differences between the 11 Pro and 12 Pro, with most changes being subtle. ‌Night Mode‌ selfies are where you'll see the most noticeable updates.

Rear Camera Improvements

Smart HDR 3 and improved Deep Fusion have also been added to the rear cameras of the ‌iPhone 12‌ Pro, plus there's a new 7-element Wide lens with an f/1.6 aperture that lets in 27 percent more light for improvements to low-light photography.

iphone12prowideanglelens

A Wide lens comparison

Auto stabilization is improved, and there's a new f/2.0 telephoto lens with a 52mm focal length, and while the Ultra Wide lens hasn't changed, it does offer a Lens Correction feature to account for distortion that can come from a wider-angle lens, and it supports ‌Night Mode‌ thanks to the LiDAR Scanner. Deep Fusion works across all lenses for improvements to color and texture, and Smart HDR 3 includes scene recognition that allows the iPhone to recognize everyday scenes and adjust accordingly to make photos look more true to life.

Pictures in Ideal Lightning

In practice, standard photos in good lighting from the ‌iPhone 12‌ Pro look fantastic, and Smart HDR 3 does an excellent job with white balance and preserving important image details for photos that look crisper and slightly more realistic than those that come out of the ‌iPhone 11‌ Pro. The new lens ekes out a bit more sharpness and detail by cutting down on noise and getting a better balance between varying lighting in photos.

iphone12prowideanglehill

A Wide lens comparison

While images do look a little bit better out of the ‌iPhone 12‌ Pro, it's subtle. Comparatively, photos from the 11 Pro and 12 Pro look a lot alike unless you're pixel peeping and zooming in for detail. The ‌iPhone 11‌ Pro could put out some sensational images in ideal lighting conditions, so it's no surprise to see only subtle improvements here.

iphone12protelephoto

A telephoto comparison

Portrait Mode Images

Apple's A14 chip and the LiDAR Scanner (which takes a depth map of the scene) improve Portrait Mode photos by better separating the subject from the background, and this is noticeable in the fine details. Edge detection is better than before, especially for fur and hair.

iphone12proportraitmodeleaf
The LiDAR Scanner even allows for ‌Night Mode‌ Portrait images, so you can get some incredible low-light portrait shots that just aren't possible to capture in the same way with the ‌iPhone 11‌ Pro.

iphone12pronightmodeportrait

Low Lighting and Night Mode

In lower lighting conditions, there are more noticeable improvements in the photos coming from the ‌iPhone 12‌ Pro, again thanks to the A14 chip and LiDAR Scanner. ‌Night Mode‌ photos capture more detail, are sharper, and are just a bit more vibrant.

iphone12prowidenightmode
‌Night Mode‌ photos can also be taken with the Ultra Wide lens for the first time, for impressive night time wide-angle shots, and LiDAR brings much faster autofocus in poor light.

iphone12proultrawidenightmode

Video Capture

The camera improvements introduced for photos also apply to videos, and there are some improvements to the ‌iPhone 12‌ Pro over the ‌iPhone 11‌ Pro. In our testing the ‌iPhone 12‌ Pro was able to focus faster because of the LiDAR Scanner, and HDR Dolby Vision is a new A14-enabled feature that's not possible on the ‌iPhone 11‌ Pro.

iphone12proultrawideparking
HDR Dolby Vision recording looks great as you can see in the video up above, but it's limited right now. Video you capture is easiest to edit right on the ‌iPhone‌ because of a lack of Mac compatibility for editing Dolby Vision video, and playback needs to be on a Dolby Vision-compatible device like your ‌iPhone‌ or a Dolby Vision TV.

iphone12proultrawidecolors
If you capture a video in Dolby Vision on the ‌iPhone 12‌ Pro and then play it back on the ‌iPhone‌ it looks fantastic. Elements in the video are bright, crisp, and well-defined, but again, you need the right device to see the improvements over ‌iPhone 11‌ Pro video. Dolby Vision HDR comes on by default so keep in mind video you're recording might not look as great to someone you send it to. Dolby Vision HDR is a big deal for those who want to capture movies on their iPhones and do serious ‌iPhone‌ video recording, but it's less useful for the average ‌iPhone‌ user.

For video mode, there's a new ‌Night Mode‌ Time-Lapse option that's fun if you want to take longer exposure night sky videos, but most people likely won't get a ton of use out of this because it requires a tripod.

Bottom Line

The ‌iPhone 12‌ Pro definitely offers camera improvements over the ‌iPhone 11‌ Pro, but the differences aren't super major except for when it comes to new features and some low-lighting photography, so camera tech alone probably isn't a reason to upgrade except for the most dedicated ‌iPhone‌ photographers.

iphone12proportrait 1
This year's iPhone 12 Pro Max has even more improvements than the ‌iPhone 12‌ Pro, so we'll be doing another comparison when the larger model is released. Let us know in the comments what you think of the 11 Pro and ‌iPhone 12‌ Pro comparisons and whether you're seeing image improvements in your own usage.

Related Roundup: iPhone 12
Related Forum: iPhone

Top Rated Comments

evgenyfeldman Avatar
24 months ago
There clearly are some details the new camera is just not capable to capture...

Attachment Image
Score: 63 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Kylo83 Avatar
24 months ago
The colour on the 11 pro looks a bit better
Score: 50 Votes (Like | Disagree)
myrtlebee Avatar
24 months ago
Cute portraits!

I'm no photographer, but I have to agree with the other poster that in some photos the 11 Pro looks better - at least as far as color. The 11 Pro pic looks much better to me with the trees in the Rear Camera Improvements section.
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)
darcyf Avatar
24 months ago
These cameras are so similar in daylight photography, it’s like comparing lollipops before and after one lick. I don’t see a lick of difference ?
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
hmark8 Avatar
24 months ago
I don't understand why in these comparisons they never simply have the same photo for both. That is yet they are simialr scenes, but totally different expressions when people in, or including people in one and not the other, and not even trying to get the same field of view/angle. Makes comparing device quality when the photographer doesn't try to minimize differences between their shooting. Overall most of the 11s look better, perhahps 12s are more 'accurate' but the 11s look more pleasing other than of course comparising night mode vs when night mode wasn't available and hdr in video of course looks better.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
xander09 Avatar
24 months ago

The colour on the 11 pro looks a bit better
Agreed. I much prefer the warmth of the 11 Pro. In some of the shots the 12 Pro did a significantly better job with greens in grass, but overall the 11 Pro wins for me. It'll be interesting to see if this is consistent in other comparisons in coming weeks. And, of course, how the 12 Pro Max performs.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Related Stories

Apple iPhone 13 colors lineup 2022

iPhone 13 vs. iPhone 13 Pro Buyer's Guide

Friday September 17, 2021 7:04 am PDT by
In 2021, Apple unveiled the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro as the successors to the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro, featuring a smaller notch, the A15 Bionic chip, longer battery life, significantly improved cameras, and new color options across the lineup. The iPhone 13 starts at $799, while the iPhone 13 Pro starts at $999. As Apple's latest iPhones share a large number of features, should you...
iPhone SE 2022 Red Feature

What to Expect From Apple's Upcoming 2022 iPhone SE 5G

Friday February 4, 2022 2:08 pm PST by
Update: 📢 New iPhone SE has been announced.📢 👀 Read the details. We will update this guide to reflect the release information shortly. Apple is working on an updated version of its most affordable iPhone, and the new 2022 version of the iPhone SE could be coming out within a matter of weeks. While not the most exciting refresh, there are some features that are going to be great at the...
iphone 13 pro models 1

iPhone 13 Pro vs. iPhone 13 Pro Max Buyer's Guide

Tuesday September 21, 2021 7:58 am PDT by
In 2021, Apple unveiled the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max as the successors to the popular iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max, featuring a ProMotion display, the A15 Bionic chip, improved cameras, longer battery life, and more. As Apple's premium flagship offerings, the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max are the most fully-featured iPhones available. The iPhone 13 Pro starts at $999...
iphone se vs

iPhone SE 2 vs. iPhone 11 Buyer's Guide

Thursday October 14, 2021 8:54 am PDT by
The second-generation iPhone SE and the iPhone 11 are low-cost iPhone options. Apple released the iPhone 11 in late 2019, and has bumped it down in price since then to make it more accessible as new iPhone models have been released. On the other hand, the iPhone SE launched in early 2020 as a low-cost iPhone option, prior to being replaced by the third-generation model in 2022. Should you...
Apple iPhone 13 colors lineup 2022

iPhone 13 Colors: Deciding on the Right Color

Monday September 20, 2021 7:01 am PDT by
The iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro arrived in 2021 in a range of color options, with entirely new hues available on both devices, as well as some popular classics. The iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro have different color choices, so if you have your heart set on a particular shade, you may not be able to get your preferred model in that color. iPhone 13 mini and iPhone 13 The iPhone 13 mini and...
MAsk On Face ID iOS 15

iOS 15.4 Features: Everything New in iOS 15.4

Monday March 14, 2022 1:45 pm PDT by
Apple today released iOS 15.4 and iPadOS 15.4, the fourth major updates to the iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 operating systems that first came out in September. iOS and iPadOS 15.4 are huge updates that bring quite a few useful new features to the iPhone and the iPad. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Face ID With a Mask With iOS 15.4, there is now an option to unlock your...
iOS 15

iOS 15.1 Features: Everything New in iOS 15.1

Monday October 25, 2021 2:02 pm PDT by
Apple today released iOS 15.1, the first major update to the iOS 15 operating system that was released in September. iOS 15.1 introduces new features that were delayed from iOS 15 plus it adds camera improvements for iPhone 13 Pro users. This guide highlights everything that's been added in the iOS 15.1 update. SharePlay Integrated into the FaceTime app, SharePlay is a feature that's...
iPhone SE 2022 Red Feature

Everything We Expect to See From Tomorrow's Apple Event

Friday March 4, 2022 1:18 pm PST by
Apple is set to hold its first event of 2022 on Tuesday, March 8 at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time. Apple's spring events sometimes aren't as exciting as the September and October events, but it's nice to have new devices on the horizon in the new year. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. For the 2022 spring event, we're expecting a refreshed version of the iPhone SE, a new...

Popular Stories

airpods pro black background

AirPods Pro 2: Five New Features and Improvements to Expect

Sunday August 14, 2022 3:28 pm PDT by
Apple's second-generation AirPods Pro are finally nearing launch, with a release expected later this year. If you are considering upgrading to the new AirPods Pro once they are released, keep reading for a list of five new features to expect. In addition to all-new features, the second-generation AirPods Pro will likely adopt some features added to the standard AirPods last year. H2 Chip ...
iPhone 14 Dummies 1 Feature

Everything Rumored for Apple's September Event: iPhone 14, Apple Watch Pro and More

Friday August 12, 2022 2:34 pm PDT by
There's just about a month to go until Apple holds its annual September event focusing on new iPhone and Apple Watch models. We thought we'd take a quick look at everything that's rumored for Apple's September event to give MacRumors readers a rundown on what to expect when the first fall event rolls around. iPhone 14 The iPhone 14 can probably be described more as an "iPhone 13S" because...
10th Generation iPad Render

10th-Generation iPad With Major Design Changes Reportedly in Production Ahead of September Launch

Monday August 15, 2022 8:02 pm PDT by
Apple's rumored 10th-generation iPad is currently in production and will feature "major" design changes, according to a report from Taiwanese website DigiTimes. A mockup of the potential 10th-generation iPad design by Renders By Shailesh The report did not provide any specific details about the 10th-generation iPad's new design, but rumors suggest the device will feature a larger 10.5-inch...
ios 16 lock screen feature2

Apple Seeds Sixth Betas of iOS 16 and iPadOS 16 to Developers [Update: Public Beta Available]

Monday August 15, 2022 10:04 am PDT by
Apple today seeded the sixth betas of upcoming iOS 16 and iPadOS 16 updates to developers for testing purposes, with the updates coming a week after Apple released the fifth developer betas. Registered developers can download the iOS and iPadOS 16 profiles from the Apple Developer Center, and once installed, the betas will be available over the air. iOS 16 introduces a revamped Lock...
apple watch se

Apple Watch SE vs. Apple Watch Series 8: New Features to Expect If You've Waited to Upgrade

Monday August 15, 2022 2:44 am PDT by
The Apple Watch SE was announced in September 2020 and has been a popular Apple Watch model for customers looking for their first smartwatch or an affordable Apple Watch. Apple Watch SE customers may be wondering, however, what's in store for them with the upcoming Apple Watch Series 8 and what new features they can expect. Continue reading to find out. Apple Watch SE vs. Apple Watch Series ...
odyssey ark 1

Samsung Launches $3,500 'Odyssey Ark' 55-Inch Curved Gaming Display

Monday August 15, 2022 7:15 am PDT by
Samsung today announced the launch of the Odyssey Ark, which the company says is the world's first 55-inch 4K curved display with a 165Hz refresh rate for improved gaming performance. Samsung first previewed the monitor at CES, but it is now available to order. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Priced at $3,500, the Samsung Odyssey Ark features mini-LED technology...
top stories 13aug2022

Top Stories: New Battery Percentage Icon in iOS 16, USB-C AirPods Rumor, and More

Saturday August 13, 2022 6:00 am PDT by
This week brought some shocking news for iOS 16 beta testers, with Apple bringing back the iPhone battery percentage to the status bar after a number of years. Other news and rumors this week included word that Apple has started recording portions of its media event planned for next month to introduce the iPhone 14 and Apple Watch Series 8, claims about iPhone 14 Pro pricing and Apple's...