Chapter in this post:
If you expect impressive photos of the wilderness in Canada, New Zealand or Iceland in this article, you will unfortunately be disappointed. As much as I read Austin Mann's photo reviews (here to the iPhone 12 Pro and for iPhone 12 Pro Max) I guess too, but most of my photos are more likely to be taken in Northern Hesse and unfortunately I can't come up with 500 meter high rock faces, blizzards (not yet), deep blue mountain lakes or rivers through a canyon. The photos in this post were mainly taken to compare the results between iPhone Xs and iPhone 12 Pro. So prepare yourself for boring motifs. ;-)
This decision for this review was made because I still have an iPhone Xs and briefly got my hands on the new iPhone 12 Pro. I then sent it back and am now waiting for my iPhone 12 Pro Max.
Aside from the fact that I didn't have any other models available, I think a lot of people do it like me and like to abandon an iPhone model and then get the model after that. Often the differences from generation to generation are so small that one can easily skip a year.
I therefore hope that there will be a certain number of readers who are considering whether to switch from the iPhone Xs to the iPhone 12 Pro. In that case, my article can surely help you decide.
I don't know about you guys, but for years the camera has been the only reason I'm buying a new iPhone. Even with the iPhone 7 Pro, the processor was fast enough for my needs, the display sharp enough and the battery power was completely sufficient - except for that factory battery problemthat back then with a Exchange program has been fixed. For this reason, I would like to focus on the photos here and not compare battery life, CPU benchmarks or the like.
One point where the iPhone 11 Pro was significantly better than the iPhone Xs is the photo quality in poor lighting conditions. The differences between iPhone Xs and iPhone 12 Pro have become even more significant, so that I only want to give the night mode feature a photo (ok, and one more below!) That more than clearly shows the difference.
Note: All photos have only been cropped and scaled down, not further edited.
I tried to take a few photos of different motifs with the iPhone Xs and the iPhone 12 Pro and then pull the trigger at the same time so that you have the best possible comparison. Unfortunately, I am missing a great rail on which I could mount both iPhones and then hold them both with one hand. So it was a bit of a balancing act at times so that neither of the two smartphones falls out of hand.
Since you can often hardly see any differences with the low resolution on the Internet, I have made an enlargement for each example so that you can see what I am talking about.
In this photo of our dog Henry you can see that the iPhone 12 Pro has chosen a slightly lighter and bluish color. Most of the time, the color balance is right, but in this case I find the photo of the iPhone Xs much more appropriate.
The title sounds strange, because the dark areas in particular should actually be a playing field in which the 12 Pro scores. This is certainly the case normally when Smart HDR 3 "works" or night mode is active. In the lower picture I took a photo of a tree against the light and in the enlargement (further below!) You can see that the dark trunk in the photo of the iPhone Xs actually still suggests some light bark with structures, while on the iPhone 12 Pro almost everything is dark.
The green lens flare has unfortunately not yet been "fixed" by Apple, although from my amateur point of view, something like this should be easy to remove with the subsequent image optimization. The spot does not appear in random places, but usually on the opposite side of the picture if the light source is viewed as the starting point.
In the following shot you can see the enormous strength of the iPhone 12 Pro in situations with poor light - especially when you still have a tripod available. The motif is a small AT-AT metal kit that is approx. 5-6 cm tall. I took the photos in a room that got very little light through the window in the evening. With the iPhone Xs picture you can see how little light was actually available.
The iPhone 12 Pro produced a picture from this situation that is very sharp and does not show any image noise. It seems to me as if it was made in broad daylight.
I took the picture again with the studio lighting switched on and found that even the iPhone Xs is ahead. Although you can hardly see any differences in the overall view, the enlarged section below clearly shows the better performance of the iPhone Xs.
I was a bit surprised about the following recordings. Here you can see a section that I made of the head area of the AT-AT in the sunshine. Basically, both cameras deliver a good photo, but you can see in the areas marked with the arrows that the image taken by the Xs (right) is a little sharper than the image taken with the 12 Pro.
Last but not least, I would like to show you the following photos. Here you can see that with reasonable illumination of the subject (here by shining sun) there are hardly any differences between the recordings of the iPhone 12 Pro and the iPhone Xs.
If you are mainly out and about with your iPhone in the sunshine and take fewer party shots at night, you should consider upgrading to an iPhone 12 Pro. The 12 Pro mainly shows its strengths in poor lighting conditions, but then you can see massive differences.
Personally, the iPhone 12 Pro camera was not "superior" enough to me, which is why I returned the iPhone 12 Pro and swapped it for an iPhone 12 Pro Max. I think the larger sensor and the new lens system show a bigger leap in terms of image quality here. Whether this is also the case, I'll let you know in another post where I'll compare the iPhone Xs with the 12 Pro Max (when it finally arrives).
What is your experience with the iPhone cameras? Are you satisfied with the photo quality or do you prefer to snap with the DSLR? Let me know in the comments.
Jens has been running the blog since 2012. He appears as Sir Apfelot for his readers and helps them with problems of a technical nature. In his free time he drives electric unicycles, takes photos (preferably with his iPhone, of course), climbs around in the Hessian mountains or hikes with the family. His articles deal with Apple products, news from the world of drones or solutions for current bugs.