Apple on Tuesday announced iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max, introducing a powerful 5G experience, advanced camera systems and technologies that push the boundaries of innovation for users who want the most out of iPhone.
iPhone 12 Pro models feature Super Retina XDR displays, including the largest ever on iPhone, 6.7-inches on the iPhone 12 Pro Max, protected by the all-new Ceramic Shield front cover, which provides the biggest jump in durability ever on iPhone.
The Apple-designed A14 Bionic chip, the fastest chip in a smartphone, powers impressive computational photography features including the all-new Apple ProRAW for more creative control in photos, and enables the first end-to-end Dolby Vision video experience, up to 60 fps. The reimagined pro camera systems include an expansive Ultra Wide camera, a Telephoto camera with an even longer focal length on iPhone 12 Pro Max, and new Wide cameras to capture beautiful professional-quality images and video in bright and low-light environments. iPhone 12 Pro models also introduce a new LiDAR Scanner that offers benefits to the camera with faster autofocus in low light and the introduction of Night mode portraits.
The optical image stabilization (OIS) on iPhone 12 Pro now makes adjustments to the Wide camera 5000 times per second — five times faster than iPhone 11 Pro. And it does an amazing job of keeping photos sharp and videos steady. But to stabilize the iPhone 12 Pro Max Wide camera, Apple had to come up with an entirely different system. Apple engineered a stabilizing solution that moves just the sensor, keeping it even more steady than before. That’s sensor-shift OIS, and it’s a game changer. Until now, sensor‑shift stabilization was only on DSLR cameras. Now, it’s available on Apple’s iPhone!
Apple’s iPhone 12 Pro heaps improvements on the already formidable power of its camera system, adding features that will be prized by “serious” photographers — that is to say, the type who like to really mess around with their shots after the fact. Of course, the upgrades will also be noticeable for us “fire and forget” shooters as well.
The most tangible change is the redesign of two of the three lens systems on the rear camera assembly. The Pro Max comes with a new, deeper telephoto camera: a 65 mm-equivalent rather than the 52 mm found on previous phones. This closer optical zoom will be prized by many; after all, 52 mm is still quite wide for portrait shots.
The improved wide-angle lens, common to all the new iPhone 12 models, has had its lens assembly simplified down to seven elements, improving light transmission and getting its equivalent aperture to F/1.6. The 12 Pro Max gets a further upgrade in the form of a slightly larger sensor. At this scale, practically every photon counts, especially for the revamped Night Mode.
On the software side, the introduction of Apple ProRAW will be a godsend to photographers who use the iPhone either as a primary or secondary camera… Being able to shoot to a RAW format (or RAW-adjacent; we’ll know more with hands-on testing) frees up photographers who may have felt hemmed in by the iPhone’s default image processing. There were ways of getting around this before, but Apple has an advantage over third-party apps with its low-level access to the camera architecture, so this format will probably be the new standard.
This newfound elasticity at the image format level also enables the iPhone Pros to shoot in Dolby Vision, a grading standard usually applied in editing suites after you shoot your movie or commercial on a digital cinema camera. Shooting directly to it may be helpful to people planning to use the format but shooting with iPhones as B cameras. If cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki approves, it’s good enough for pretty much everyone else on Earth.
MacDailyNews Take: No other so-called “smartphone” can compete with Apple’s iPhone 12 Pro or, especially, iPhone 12 Pro Max in still photography, much less videography (iPhone is in another universe in video).