iPhone 12 vs. iPhone 12 Pro Buyer's Guide

In 2020, Apple unveiled the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro as the successors to the iPhone 11 and ‌iPhone‌ 11 Pro, with a new squared-off industrial design, the A14 Bionic chip, OLED displays, and MagSafe across the lineup.

iPhone 12 vs iPhone 12 pro
The iPhone 12 starts at $599, and while the ‌iPhone 12‌ Pro has now been discontinued, it is often available from some third-party stores for prices below $999. As these iPhones share a large number of features, should you consider purchasing the lower-cost model to save money, or opt for the high-end Pro model? Our guide helps to answer the question of how to decide which of these two iPhones is best for you.

Comparing the iPhone 12 and the iPhone 12 Pro

The ‌iPhone 12‌ and ‌iPhone 12‌ Pro share an overwhelming majority of features, such as display size, processor, and 5G. Apple lists these same features of the ‌iPhone 12‌ and ‌iPhone 12‌ Pro:

Similarities

  • 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR display with 2532-by-1170-pixel resolution at 460 ppi, featuring HDR, True Tone, P3 Wide Color, and Haptic Touch
  • A14 Bionic chip
  • Sub-6GHz 5G connectivity (and mmWave in the U.S.)
  • 12MP Ultra Wide and Wide cameras
  • Face ID
  • Battery life with up to 17 hours of video playback
  • Ceramic Shield front
  • Water resistant to a depth of six meters for up to 30 minutes
  • Compatible with ‌MagSafe‌ accessories and wireless chargers
  • Available in 128GB and 256GB
  • Lightning connector

Apple's breakdown shows that the iPhones share a number of notable features. Even so, there are some key differences between the ‌iPhone 12‌ and ‌iPhone 12‌ Pro, including the LiDAR Scanner and Telephoto Lens.

Differences


iPhone 12

  • 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR display with 625 nits max brightness
  • Aerospace-grade aluminum
  • 12MP Ultra Wide and Wide camera lenses
  • Optical image stabilization
  • 2x optical zoom out, 2x optical zoom range, and digital zoom up to 5x
  • Dolby Vision HDR video recording up to 30 fps
  • Available in 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB
  • Available in Blue, Green, PRODUCT(RED), White, Black, and Purple
  • 4GB of memory *


iPhone 12 Pro

  • 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR display with 800 nits max brightness
  • Surgical-grade stainless steel
  • 12MP Ultra Wide, Wide, and Telephoto camera lenses
  • Dual optical image stabilization
  • 2x optical zoom in, 2x optical zoom out, 4x optical zoom range, and digital zoom up to 10x
  • Dolby Vision HDR video recording up to 60 fps
  • Apple ProRAW and Night mode portraits
  • LiDAR Scanner for Night mode portraits, faster autofocus in low light, and next-level AR experiences
  • Available in 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB
  • Available in Pacific Blue, Gold, Graphite, and Silver
  • 6GB of memory *

Note that the iPhone 12 Pro Max provides a few additional improvements over the ‌iPhone 12‌ Pro beyond a much larger 6.7-inch display. The iPhone 12 Pro Max also offers a wider optical zoom range, sensor-shift optical image stabilization, a telephoto lens with a larger aperture, and longer battery life.

Read on for a closer look at each of these aspects, and see what exactly both iPhones have to offer.

Design and Colors

The ‌iPhone 12‌ and ‌iPhone 12‌ Pro both have a squared-off industrial design with a flat band around the sides. The dimensions of both devices are identical, although the ‌iPhone 12‌ is 25 grams lighter. More noticeable is the use of different materials and finishes.

The ‌iPhone 12‌ uses aerospace-grade aluminum on the edges and a single piece of polished glass on the rear, while the ‌iPhone 12‌ Pro uses surgical-grade stainless steel on the edges and a single piece of matte glass on the rear.

iphone 12 colors 2

‌iPhone 12‌ colors

The two devices also use completely different color palettes. The ‌iPhone 12‌ is available in Blue, Green, PRODUCT(RED), White, Black, and Purple, while the ‌iPhone 12‌ Pro is available in Pacific Blue, Gold, Graphite, and Silver.

iphone12proframe

‌iPhone 12‌ Pro colors

The ‌iPhone 12‌ Pro espouses a more luxurious appearance, but the ‌iPhone 12‌ still looks like a premium device. As the designs are so similar, and only vary in terms of color options and materials, preference for the ‌iPhone 12‌ or 12 Pro will come down to personal taste.

Cameras

The main difference between the ‌iPhone 12‌ and ‌iPhone 12‌ Pro is the rear camera setup. The ‌iPhone 12‌ has a dual 12MP camera system with Ultra Wide and Wide lenses. This facilitates a two-times zoom out. On the other hand, the ‌iPhone 12‌ Pro has a 12MP camera system with Ultra Wide, Wide, and Telephoto lenses. This allows it to offer a two-times zoom in and a two-times zoom out. For video, ‌iPhone 12‌ Pro can record HDR video with Dolby Vision up to 60 fps, but ‌iPhone 12‌ can only do this up to 30fps.

The ‌iPhone 12‌ Pro also has a LiDAR Scanner, which allows for Night mode portrait photos and enhanced AR experiences.

iPhone 12 pro tripled camera

‌iPhone 12‌ Pro triple camera

Beyond hardware, the two devices offer different camera software features. ‌iPhone 12‌ can use digital zoom to zoom in up to five times, but ‌iPhone 12‌ Pro doubles this to a ten times digital zoom. ‌iPhone 12‌ Pro can also capture photos using "Apple ProRAW," a new RAW file format that takes full advantage of the device's rear cameras.

iPhone 12 dual camera

‌iPhone 12‌ dual camera

‌iPhone 12‌ Pro clearly provides a more capable and fully-featured camera experience, so users who prioritize photo and video capabilities should get the more expensive device, and even consider the ‌iPhone 12 Pro Max‌. However, beyond the telephoto lens, many of these features, such as Apple ProRAW and LiDAR, will not be important to the majority of users. For most people, the ‌iPhone 12‌'s camera setup will be more than sufficient, and still offers a range of significant advances, such as HDR video recording with Dolby Vision, Night mode time-lapses, and front-facing Night mode and Deep Fusion.

Other iPhone Options

If you feel that the ‌iPhone 12‌ is slightly out of your budget, and you do not need the new industrial design, 5G connectivity, the latest A14 chip, or OLED Super Retina XDR display, you may wish to consider the ‌iPhone‌ 11. The ‌iPhone‌ 11 uses the same materials as the ‌iPhone 12‌, has the same 6.1-inch screen size, and starts at $499. The ‌iPhone‌ 11's A13 chip and dual-camera setup are still highly capable for day to day use.

Apple iphone 11 rosette family lineup

‌iPhone‌ 11

iPhone 12 Pro Max

If you feel that the ‌iPhone 12‌ Pro is too small or you want the absolute best ‌iPhone‌ camera available, you may wish to consider the iPhone 12 Pro Max. The ‌iPhone 12 Pro Max‌ boasts a much larger 6.7-inch display, and comes with a wider optical zoom range, sensor-shift optical image stabilization, a telephoto lens with a larger aperture, and longer battery life.

Final Thoughts

Overall, the ‌iPhone 12‌ Pro offers minor advancements over the ‌iPhone 12‌ in terms of materials and the rear camera. The ‌iPhone 12‌ Pro is around $200 more than the ‌iPhone 12‌, and many people will find it difficult to justify the additional $200 simply for more premium materials and a better rear camera setup. Those opting for the ‌iPhone 12‌ Pro will be seeking the most premium ‌iPhone‌, or be interested in specific features such as the LiDAR Scanner or the Telephoto lens.

Since the two phones share a large majority of features, including design, an OLED Super Retina XDR display, 5G connectivity, the A14 Bionic chip, battery life, and ‌MagSafe‌, it is difficult to actively recommend the more expensive model. As the improvements of the ‌iPhone 12‌ Pro are minor and specific, most people should get the ‌iPhone 12‌.

One caveat to this recommendation is if you have a need for more than 64GB of storage. The ‌iPhone 12‌ starts at 64GB for the base model while the ‌iPhone 12‌ Pro starts at 128GB. If you want or need 128GB or more, then the price gap closes between the models.

Related Roundup: iPhone 12
Related Forum: iPhone

Top Rated Comments

dmk1974 Avatar
26 months ago
Apples to Apples, compare the 128 gb models and factor in the true pricing which is $30 more for the non-Pro.

KEY Differences

iPhone 12


* 12MP Ultra Wide and Wide camera lenses

* Optical image stabilization
* 2x optical zoom out, 2x optical zoom range, and digital zoom up to 5x

* Dolby Vision HDR video recording up to 30 fps
* 4GB of RAM * ('https://www.macrumors.com/2020/10/14/how-much-ram-iphone-12-pro-has/')



iPhone 12 Pro

* 12MP Ultra Wide, Wide, and Telephoto cameralenses

* Dual optical image stabilization
* 2x optical zoom in, 2x optical zoom out, 4x optical zoom range, and digital zoom up to 10x

* Dolby Vision HDR video recording up to 60 fps
* LiDAR Scanner for Night mode portraits, faster autofocus in low light, and next-level AR experiences
* 6GB of RAM * ('https://www.macrumors.com/2020/10/14/how-much-ram-iphone-12-pro-has/')


So really, it's just $120 more for telephoto, higher frame rate, LiDAR, and more RAM.
Score: 36 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ghanwani Avatar
26 months ago
It all boils down to whether you want to use the phone to fly or to perform surgery.
Score: 30 Votes (Like | Disagree)
menist Avatar
26 months ago
Stop reading after seeing $799. Sim-fee cost $30 more ($829), only att and verizon are priced at $799. This needs to be specified and more wide spread.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
felixroqu3 Avatar
26 months ago

Minor differences between iPhone 12 or 12 pro. Most customers who buy the pro/pro max are absolutley not interested in benchmark results, or RAM sizes, or professional photography. These products are so fast that average users won't notice any difference. They change their iPhones each year basicly to get more attention on social media, and public places, and this attention costs 200$ more... (Apple knows that for sure!) So simple it is! I bet the new pacific blue model will be the super best selling iPhone 12 pro EVER!
Please don’t speak on behalf of us who upgrade every year. I don‘t upgrade my iPhone every year to ”get attention.” On the contrary, I always get the black phone with a black ultra-thin case, so I don't “stand out.” I upgrade every year because I appreciate having a new, faster phone as I pretty much use it for everything. Both work and personal. All these yearly upgrades, no matter how incremental they might seem, are always worth it to me. Having the latest iPhone doesn’t make me feel like I’m better or more special than the next person. Because I’m not. I do it because it dramatically benefits MY life.
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
AskMcG Avatar
26 months ago
1: technically it’s $150 more if you compare proper specs. iPhone 12 starts at 64GB storage, the pro comes in at 128. If you bump up the 12 to 128, then it’s $150 difference not $200

2: if they are correct, the iPhone 12 has 4GB RAM and the Pro has 6GB.

To me personally, having stainless steel and the extra 2GB of RAM is enough to go pro, especially since I intend to keep it until it’s unusable.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
selmy Avatar
26 months ago
Though if you want a SIM free 128GB phone, the price difference is $120.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Related Stories

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...
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...
Studio v Pro Feature Purple

Mac Studio vs. Mac Pro Buyer's Guide

Friday March 18, 2022 11:26 am PDT by
The all-new Mac Studio is now Apple's most powerful desktop computer, surpassing even the high-end Mac Pro. The Mac Studio also starts at $1,999, substantially less than the $5,999 starting price of the Mac Pro. So why is the more expensive Mac Pro still in the lineup and should you buy it over the new Mac Studio? Our guide helps to answer the question of how to decide which of these two...
iphone 13 matte black bronze and lurid

What to Expect at the September 14 Apple Event: iPhone 13, Apple Watch Series 7, and More

Friday September 10, 2021 1:04 pm PDT by
Apple is holding its annual iPhone-centric event on Tuesday, September 14, and like last year, it will be entirely digital. We've been hearing rumors about what's coming for many months now, so we have a good idea of what to expect. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. We're expecting the new iPhone 13 models and Apple Watch Series 7 models to debut at the event, along...
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 13 and iphone 13 mini

iPhone 13 Mini vs. iPhone 13 Buyer's Guide

Wednesday September 22, 2021 7:14 am PDT by
In 2021, unveiled the iPhone 13 mini and iPhone 13 as the successors to the popular iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12, featuring a 20 percent smaller notch, the A15 Bionic chip, improved cameras, longer battery life, and more. As Apple's entry-level iPhone 13 offerings, the iPhone 13 mini and iPhone 13 offer a host of versatile features intended for the mainstream consumer. The iPhone 13 mini...
mac studio vs mac mini

Mac Studio vs. Mac Mini Buyer's Guide

Friday March 11, 2022 12:22 pm PST by
The all-new Mac Studio is Apple's most powerful custom silicon standalone desktop computer, overtaking the entry-level M1-based Mac mini that Apple launched in November 2020. The Mac Studio starts at $1,999, dwarfing the $699 starting price of the Apple silicon-based Mac mini, so do you need the latest high-end Mac, or is the humble Mac mini sufficient for your needs? Our guide helps to...
iPhone 13 Feature Candy Corn

iPhone 12 vs. iPhone 13 Buyer's Guide

Monday September 20, 2021 7:25 am PDT by
In 2021, Apple unveiled the iPhone 13 as the successor to the popular iPhone 12, with improved rear cameras, longer battery life, the A15 Bionic chip, and more. As devices that are more affordable than the Pro models, but more full-featured than the low-cost iPhone SE or iPhone 11, the iPhone 13 will likely be the most popular option among consumers. The iPhone 12 from 2020 continues to be...

Popular Stories

apple watch ultra deuglify 1

Apple Watch Ultra User Mods Titanium Casing to 'Deuglify' Design

Tuesday September 27, 2022 8:05 am PDT by
An Apple Watch Ultra user has modified their new device's casing to add a brushed finish and remove the orange color of the Action Button in an effort to make it more visually appealing. The Apple Watch Ultra offers the first complete redesign of the Apple Watch since the product line's announcement in 2014, and while the design has been met with praise from many users, some have criticized...
Dark Sky App Featured

Dark Sky Removed From iOS App Store Ahead of Upcoming Shutdown

Wednesday September 28, 2022 4:27 pm PDT by
The Dark Sky weather app that's owned by Apple is no longer available for download in the U.S. App Store, suggesting that it has been removed ahead of schedule. Apple acquired Dark Sky back in March 2020 and has since incorporated elements of the app into the Weather app available on the iPhone (and soon, the iPad). Dark Sky remained available for purchase as a standalone weather app...
iphone 14 pro max vs 13 max 2

Camera Comparison: iPhone 14 Pro Max vs. iPhone 13 Pro Max

Thursday September 29, 2022 7:44 am PDT by
The iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max introduce some major improvements in camera technology, adding a 48-megapixel lens and low-light improvements across all lenses with the new Photonic Engine. We've spent the last week working on an in-depth comparison that pits the new iPhone 14 Pro Max against the prior-generation iPhone 13 Pro Max to see just how much better the iPhone 14 Pro Max can be. Subscrib ...
apple watch ultra hammer test

YouTuber Tests Apple Watch Ultra Durability With a Hammer: Table Breaks Before the Watch

Sunday September 25, 2022 2:27 pm PDT by
A YouTuber has put Apple's claims for the durability of the Apple Watch Ultra to the test by putting it up against a drop test, a jar of nails, and repeated hits with a hammer to test the sapphire crystal protecting the display. TechRax, a channel popular for testing the durability of products, first tested the Apple Watch Ultra by dropping it from around four feet high. The Apple Watch...
tony blevins car

Apple Procurement VP Departs Company After Vulgar TikTok Comment

Thursday September 29, 2022 12:38 pm PDT by
Tony Blevins, Apple's vice president of procurement, is set to depart the company after he made a crude comment about his profession in a recent TikTok video, reports Bloomberg. Blevins was in a video by TikTok creator Daniel Mac, who was doing a series on the jobs of people he spotted with expensive cars. After seeing Blevins in an expensive Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren, Mac asked Blevins what ...
iPhone 14 Pros in Hand Black Background Feature

Verizon iPhone 14 Pro Customers Reporting Cellular Connection Issues

Monday September 26, 2022 6:23 am PDT by
iPhone 14 Pro customers on the Verizon network in the U.S. are reporting issues with slow and unreliable 5G cellular connections and calls randomly dropping. Several threads on Reddit (1,2,3) and the MacRumors forums chronicle issues faced by Verizon customers and Apple's latest iPhone. According to user reports, signal strength on the iPhone 14 Pro is unreliable and weak, while other...
iPhone 15 to Switch From Lightning to USB C in 2023 feature sans arrow

Kuo: iPhone 14 Pro Max Popularity Could Lead to More Differentiation Between iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max

Wednesday September 28, 2022 10:22 am PDT by
Apple has seen high demand for the 6.7-inch iPhone 14 Pro Max, which could lead the company to further differentiate the next-generation iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max, according to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. Apple could add exclusive features to the iPhone 15 Pro Max in an effort to encourage more people to purchase the larger and more expensive device. Kuo last week said that Apple asked...
iPhone 14 Pro Sports Scores Dynamic Island

iPhone 14 Pro Features Live Sports Scores in Dynamic Island on iOS 16.1

Monday September 26, 2022 7:52 am PDT by
Earlier this month, Apple announced that iOS 16.1 will enable a new Live Activities feature that allows iPhone users to stay on top of things that are happening in real time, such as a sports game or a food delivery order, right from the Lock Screen. On the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max, Live Activities also integrate with the Dynamic Island. Premier League match in Dynamic Island via Paul Bradford ...
iOS 16

Everything New in the Latest iOS 16.1 and iPadOS 16.1 Betas: Stage Manager Expansion, Wallpaper Tweaks and More

Tuesday September 27, 2022 11:36 am PDT by
Apple today released new betas of iOS 16.1 and iPadOS 16.1 to developers, tweaking some of the functionality that's been introduced in prior betas and in the case of iPadOS 16.1, adding a major new feature to Stage Manager. We've rounded up everything new in both betas below. Wallpaper Updates Apple has updated the Wallpaper section of the Settings app to allow users to swap between...
General iOS 16 Feature Yellow

Some iOS 16 Users Continue to Face Unaddressed Bugs and Battery Drain Two Weeks After Launch

Monday September 26, 2022 7:34 am PDT by
Today marks exactly two weeks since Apple released iOS 16 to the public. Besides the personalized Lock Screen, major changes in Messages, and new features in Maps, the update has also seen its fair share of bugs, performance problems, battery drain, and more. After major iOS updates, it's normal for some users to report having issues with the new update, but such reports usually subside in...