Buying a new iPhone is getting increasingly difficult. And Apple knows this.
I was listening to a podcast last night, where one of the guests noted that, if you start upping the storage on the standard iPhone 12, it gets to within shouting distance of the baseline iPhone 12 Pro.
What’s an extra £100 if it means you get that aluminium body, extra camera, and a video mode you’ll never use (more on that later)?
Apple knows this. It’s why they have more money in the bank than most governments. But it has also made the purchasing decision incredibly tricky.
However, I did make a decision yesterday, and I’ve come up with an interesting idea.
Go on then – which one did you go for?
Yesterday, I preordered an iPhone 12 Pro with 256GB of storage.
That’s a bit of a departure for me, because I’ve always opted for the largest screen size Apple offers. But, if I’m honest, I’ve had enough.
I recently road tested the Pixel 4a. You can read my review here.
I loved everything about that phone, but one of the main takeaways as a large-screen iPhone owner was the one-handed-ability of the 4a. It was so easy to use compared to my monstrous iPhone XS Max.
Using the Max one handed is damn-near impossible and has resulted in several near-misses during walks where the slippery device has done everything in its power to escape my grasp and head screen-first onto the pavement.
Don’t get me wrong – a big screen is nice, but the Max is just too big after a while. It almost gets tiresome.
By comparison, the iPhone 12 Pro non-Max edition isn’t that much smaller (6.1” vs 6.45”, to be exact), but the alternative is the new Max, which looks comically huge.
The Pixel has taught me that a big screen isn’t everything, and I’d rather spend the extra money on upping the storage my device has than paying a premium for screen real estate and a slightly better camera.
Apple’s focus isn’t in line with my own
The other reason it’s so hard buying a new iPhone nowadays isn’t because of the colours (I went for the blue one, if you’re interested), or the new accessories you’ll inevitably have to buy.
It’s because Apple seems to be focusing on stuff which makes it incredibly tricky for me to justify a new phone. I suspect that’s the case for other people, too.
My XS Max is working perfectly fine. In truth, it doesn’t need upgrading, even after two years of heavy use. Alas, upgrade I must, partly because I review this stuff on my YouTube channel, but also because I want to keep up with what’s going on in iPhone land.
The problem lies with the headline features Apple focused on during the launch event:
- Improved cameras
Let’s take a look at each one.
I really, really don’t care about 5G. Over here in the UK, it means literally nothing and won’t for a few years to come. We still struggle to get decent 4G in some areas, and, regardless, WiFi does a perfect job everywhere else. The amount of focus placed on 5G by Apple was nothing more than a desire to be the first manufacturer to claim they’ve “nailed it”. That bores me to tears.
MagSafe? It looks cool, sure. But I already have two perfectly decent ways of charging my phone, and I have no desire to attach my credit cards to the back of it. Let’s see what third-parties do, but it didn’t get me quite as excited as some industry analysts.
Finally – the cameras. My XS Max has a shoddy camera. I have no idea what Apple did with that generation, but it’s grainy, dull and lacking in detail. But I’ve got used to it.
However, the Pixel revealed to me just how far smartphone cameras have come; it knocks my iPhone into a cocked hat. I therefore want a daily carry phone which matches up to that performance, and have no doubt the iPhone 12 Pro will (the ultra-wide angle will certainly be a nice edition).
But the problem I have lies with one of the biggest features Apple revealed in the Pro line: 10‑bit HDR Dolby Vision video recording.
No one is going to use this. Ever.
And don’t get me wrong, it is so cool that a phone can do this. But it’s equally pointless. Professional videographers use cameras dedicated for the task, and ‘normal’ people simply choose ‘video’ in the camera app and shoot away, only to very rarely review the footage in future.
Why Apple chose to put this much effort into a feature which will be so widely ignored is beyond me. Why not, instead, give us a 120hz refresh rate display, for instance? Or invest some of that R&D time and money in removing the camera notch?
Sorry, Apple – I’m upgrading out of necessity and because of my job. I’m not upgrading because I’m overexcited about what this phone will do for me.
Although, something has got me excited.
There is one last reason I found it so hard buying the phone this year, and it actually relates to screen size.
As soon as I heard there might be a mini version of the iPhone 12 on the way, my ears pricked up. The idea of having a properly pocket-sized device which harks back to the iPhone 5 design was genuinely interesting for someone who’d had enough of large screens.
That’s exactly what Apple announced – a 5.4” version of the iPhone 12, complete with the new design and that lovely OLED screen. And I think it looks fab.
So, here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to run the iPhone 12 Pro for six months before switching to the mini. I want to see if I miss the former at all, and whether or not the size of the mini is something I’m comfortable with going forwards.
Did you pre-order an iPhone this week? Let me know which one and your reasons for doing so in the comments!