My first iPhone was the iPhone 6, which shortly after I upgraded to iPhone 6s Plus. I got the 6s Plus soon after the release in September 2015, I can still remember the fuss that Apple started following the big-screen phone trend. So, since 2015, it was my daily horse, and went through everything, all the updates, 3 new screens, 2 new batteries, a few covers, and still working.
Every year, with each new phone release I would consider upgrading but never found any good reasons to do it. None of the models made any drastic changes that I couldn’t do with my good old 6s Plus. But as every year passed the only problem that was becoming very evident was the phone’s insufficient memory and CPU power to cope with the latest iOS’s and apps. That problem increasingly became more and more frustrating for doing everyday activities. The apps would take longer and longer to open, my most used apps wouldn’t stay in the background so multitasking was becoming impossible. And after trying all the tricks in disabling all the system processes I don’t use, disabling all UI candy features, the problem would still persist. And to put the cherry on top Apple will discontinue supporting the iPhone 6s in 2020. After this, I knew that this time it needed a replacement, and I hoped the 2020 model would be just what I wanted both in performances, camera, design, and screen.
The iPhone 12 Pro was just “that” upgrade I wanted.
I’m not going in-depth review, because I think the internet really doesn’t need yet another iPhone review. Instead, in this post, I’ll try to give my perspective on what has changed in the last 5 years in the iPhones.
I would start with the fact that I love the new design. I was never a fan of the rounded design language from the iPhone 6 to the iPhone X, I found them the less appealing designs Apple ever did on the iPhone. Then, I also was not a fan of the previous model design of the iPhone X, in particular the back made of glass.
But the iPhone 12 design is what I was waiting for. Its design, to me, resembles the square design of the iPhone 4s, which in my opinion was one of the best iPhone designs Apple ever did. So coming back to it from my iPhone 6s rounded design was a dream.
But not just from the design standpoint, also from the practical standpoint. The problem with the rounded design was that it was very easy to drop. Rounded angles are much more slippery in contrast to sharp edges.
Swipe-Based Home Button
Removing the home button was the single biggest change that differentiates the old iPhones from the new iPhones. It was a move that we all knew was coming, and in my opinion, it marks a great evolution of the phones.
After 5 years, it felt weird not having the home button. The muscle memory will take some time to adjust, but after the initial period of adapting, which didn’t take long, it felt so natural to manage the home screen. I found swiping much easier than pressing the button which IMHO is a harder action than just swiping up the thumb finger.
I never really complained about the camera on my old iPhone 6s Plus, I’m not a photographer but I like to occasionally take photos when something interesting captures my attention. I knew its limits, I just wished in certain situations it was capable of zooming or taking the night photos, but I learned to live with that.
While I knew with every new iPhone there is some degree of improvement in the camera, since the camera is one of the strongest points of every iPhone. But the camera on the iPhone 12 Pro blew me out of the blue. It’s so good that it basically makes anyone a good photographer.
The triple-camera system is packed with 3 lenses, a standard, ultra-wide, and telephoto camera. Which basically means you have optical zoom-in and zoom-out. In addition to this camera system, there is also included a LiDAR scanner which helps focus faster and take better photos at night. The cameras on the iPhone 12 Pro are incredibly good and checks all the boxes. So comparing the single-camera iPhone 6s Plus with this would not make any sense, it’s just better in any possible way and hasn’t even scratched the surface of its capabilities.
Super Retina XDR display
Removing the home button not only improved the UX with its swipe-based home button but also made more room for the screen which who doesn’t like. The iPhone 6s Plus is bigger in size than the iPhone’s 12 Pro by 1cm (0.39 inches), but the 12 Pro has a bigger screen.
The screen on the 12 Pro is an OLED with up to 1200 nits of screen brightness and a 2000000:1 contrast ratio with true blacks called Super Retina XDR display.
Other than the obvious difference between the two in the size and different aspect ratio, I haven’t found much of the difference in the picture quality. On the paper, everything is better, but to the naked eye, they seem quite similar.
Removing the bottom bezel where the home button was couldn’t be accompanied without removing also the upper bezel, otherwise, it would be pretty ugly. But that has left us with the notch. And one thing I really hate about the new iPhones is the notch, and I don’t think we’ll see it removed anytime soon.
Coming from a perfect notch-less screen to this isn’t pretty, and yes you kinda use it and learn to ignore it but it’s still there.
Goodbye Touch ID, Hello Face ID
The Touch ID is the one future I really miss on the 12 Pro, especially now that we are all wearing masks.
The Face ID is great and makes the phone unlocking instantly, but not always. There are few situations where my face wouldn’t get recognized and then it would ask for the passcode, or alternatively, I would need to switch off the screen and turn it on to try the facial recognition again. In these types of situations having the Touch ID would work much better as an alternative.
There are some rumors the Touch ID will find its way back to the iPhone inside the power button, or possibly under the screen but these are just the rumors for which I hope will come true in the coming models.
At the moment I need to charge the 12 Pro every 2 days, whereas my daily usage is around 3/4 hours a day. So technically I should have around 6/7 hours of battery life, and that is not bad for my needs, but… I had the same results when I acquired the 6s Plus in 2015, which naturally slowly degraded over the years.
There are improvements in the battery capacity and usage, but the 12 Pro is packed with more stuff and that stuff needs more juice.
Aside from the improvements and differences between the two models, 5 years later Apple brought some new features like:
- MagSafe: This is a great addition, it’s practical and probably will become the only way to charge the phone in the near future. I just wished Apple implemented reverse-charging, where I could charge the earbuds on-the-go.
- LiDAR: Still haven’t found a proper use for this except in camera.
- 5G: Never tested, still not available in most places.
As I stated at the beginning I never found a good reason for the upgrade in the previous models, until the iPhone 12 and the apparent need to upgrade.
The changes are notable, most in a good and some in a bad way. But it’s a nice upgrade overall. Five years later and you can feel that Apple is moving in the direction of the wireless and buttonless system. But to see those changes the upgrade window should be around 5-6 years. Apple is very good at marketing new phones but usually, those products offer an incremental upgrade over the previous models, unless your workflow depends on the newly released future you probably don’t need to upgrade yet.
I would warmly suggest to iPhone 6/6s owners to upgrade, but I’m not sure I’d suggest the same for the owners of the iPhone 8 and up.