Apple has taken the wraps off the new series of iPhones at its California Streaming event. And of course, while all the buzz in tech town is about the iPhone 13, the iPhone 13 mini, the iPhone 13 Pro, and the iPhone 13 Pro Max, interest in their predecessors remains alive and well. And not least because some of them have suddenly received significant price cuts. Perhaps the most tempting of these is the iPhone 12, which is now available at Rs 65,900 (and even lower in some places) for its 64GB variant, Rs 70,900 for 128GB and Rs 80,900 for 256GB. These are not only much lower than the prices they were launched at – the iPhone was launched at Rs 79,900 for 64GB, remember? And it went all the way up to Rs 94,900 for the 256GB edition.
Now, when you consider that the iPhone 13 starts for Rs 79,900 for its base variant, which now has 128GB of storage, the iPhone 12 becomes a very interesting proposition. For, by paying Rs 1,000 more, you can actually get the top variant (256GB) of the iPhone 12. Incidentally, the 256GB variant of the iPhone 13 starts at a much stiffer Rs 89,900.
The question, of course, is that while you do end up gaining extra gigs of storage and saving some money, what do you end up losing when you opt for an iPhone 12 instead of an iPhone 13? Well, if you are looking in terms of sheer design, not really much. For in terms of appearance, barring a slight difference in colours, both phones are clones of each other – the iPhone 13 might have a very distinct pink shade, but then the iPhone 12 earlier this year got an equally eye-catching purple one, and both phones have an IP68 rating!
That apart the phones are almost exactly alike in appearance – they are both 146.7mm long and 71.5mm wide. Ironically, the iPhone 12 is actually slimmer and lighter than the iPhone 13 – it is 7.4mm thin as compared to 7.65mm, and weighs 162 grams as compared to 173 grams. Mind you, neither of those is likely to be noticeable. The difference between the displays is also not likely to leap out at you right at you – both are 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR OLED displays with resolutions of 2,532 x 1,170 – the notch seems slightly smaller on the iPhone 13, but once again, the difference is not likely to leap out at you right away.
What might be a little more noticeable is the difference in hardware. The iPhone 13 obviously gets the latest A15 Bionic processor, as compared to the A14 Bionic on the iPhone 12, which is likely to make a difference in performance. Mind you, my year-old iPhone 12 still is a very snappy performer, so the difference is likely to be between very fast and fast, rather than fast and sluggish! The difference on the camera front might, however, be more telling While both phones come with dual 12-megapixel sensors (wide and ultrawide) on the back and a 12-megapixel TrueDepth camera on the front, Apple claims the iPhone 13’s sensors are larger – the “biggest wide camera sensor” and even the ultra-wide is faster. Add to that the sensor-shift OIS that the iPhone 13 has as against more regular OIS that the iPhone 12 comes with, and support for the uber-cool Cinematic mode where focus shifts intelligently, and the difference starts becoming a gulf.
However, as in the case of the processor, the point to note is that while the iPhone 13’s cameras are better (perhaps much better) than the ones on the iPhone 12, the ones on the 12 are not pushovers. In fact, the iPhone 12’s cameras still capture wonderful, detail-rich stills with none of the crazy saturation levels you see on some flagships, and remains one of the best video cameras around with support for HDR video with Dolby Vision up to 4K at 30 FPS.
Of course, both phones will run iOS 15 – the iPhone 13 right out of the box, the iPhone 12 after the update on September 20th. And it is a fair chance that both of them will run it well too, although the faster processor on the iPhone 13 might (might!) give it a slight edge. That processor edge might come to the fore in gaming too, but only if you really go pixel peeping – that A14 Bionic does handle heavy-duty games very easily too. And both phones have super stereo speakers as well. Battery life is also expected to be a little better on the iPhone 13, but then, battery life was never a problem on the iPhone 12, which sailed through a day of normal usage without any trouble whatsoever. And of course, neither comes with a charger in the box.
So, let me sum it up for you – the iPhone 13 is likely to beat the iPhone 12 in terms of processor performance, camera performance and battery life. But of these, one (battery) is not really a pain point, and even the processor difference will not leap out at you in routine tasks, and actually even in most games. Which means that the one important area where the iPhone 13 might outgun the iPhone 12 is the cameras, and even there it is not as if the iPhone 12 will do badly – it is just that the newer iPhone will do better.
Now, if you have the bucks to go for an iPhone 13, then you do not even need to be reading this. That is a newer phone with newer hardware. But if money is not flowing as freely as the Ganges in an Indian plain, then the iPhone 12 does come into the picture. It matches the iPhone 13 in design, is a step behind but not overwhelmed in performance terms (the camera seems to be the most significant differentiator) and at the time of writing, does deliver more (giga)bytes for fewer bucks. I am not saying the iPhone 12 is a better phone than the iPhone 13, but it remains a formidable proposition. And following its price reduction, the amount of value it delivers for its price just went up significantly.
Goeth thou in pursuit of an iPhone 13, but find thy wallet to be strained? Consider the iPhone 12!