This year, Apple came out swinging with the announcements of the iPhone 12 series. The model that got my attention the most was the iPhone 12 Pro Max, here are my thoughts on the specifications & why I think that it’s going to be the go to device for content creators the world over.
The iPhone 12 Pro series is packed with 6 GB of RAM & is powered by Apple’s new & incredibly powerful A14 Bionic chip. Notably, the A14 Bionic is the world’s first 5-nanometer chip. It is smaller, faster & more energy efficient than the previous generation which was already the fastest one around by a country mile. Apple has also doubled the number of cores in the Neural Engine from 8 to 16. This Neural Engine will play a big part in image processing on the device & we can expect a huge performance boost of up to 80% on machine learning based tasks like Deep Fusion (More on this later). There is also a brand new Image Signal Processor (ISP) which will bring a marked performance gain in areas like Smart HDR & Dolby Vision(More on this to follow). Apple has increased the screen size, from 6.5 inches on the iPhone 11 Pro Max to 6.7 Inches on the iPhone 12 Pro Max by reducing the bezel & increasing the overall device proportions ever so slightly. This overall increase in size has also allowed Apple to really pack in ground breaking technology into its camera system.
The iPhone 12 Pro Max features a triple-lens setup that looks much like the one from last year’s device. All three rear camera modules are 12MP. The Ultra-Wide lens is a 13mm, f/2.4 aperture lens with a field of view of 120°. The Telephoto lens is a 65mm, f/2.2 aperture lens providing for an optical zoom of 2.5x from the wide lens. The Wide lens is 26mm, f/1.6 aperture & features a brand new 7-element design.
The Wide Lens is the true star of the iPhone 12 Pro Max. It features a sensor that is 47% larger, dramatically increasing the light gathered. Apple has also added sensor- shift Optical Image Stabilisation(OIS), a technology that’s only found in DSLR cameras & is a first in the smartphone industry. The sensor shift system is lighter & simpler than OIS systems that shift the lens itself. The precise stabilisation effected by the sensor-shift system coupled with the larger sensor & quicker aperture will help produce photos & videos with stunning detail & colour. According to Apple, low-light pictures will be 87% better!
Apple’s Night Mode has been improved & expanded to the TrueDepth (Front facing camera) & Ultra Wide cameras. Apple says we will be treated to brighter, more detailed & vivid pictures. The sensor-shift OIS powered Wide Lens will give us the ability to shoot Night Mode pictures for up to 2 seconds of exposure time completely hand-held. There is also a new Night Mode Time-Lapse which will deliver better light trails & smoother exposure when used with a tripod. The night mode also now is extended to portrait mode which transforms photos with a background blur in low light situations.
Both iPhone 12 Pro devices feature LiDAR. LiDAR uses laser to illuminate a target & measure reflections via the sensor. This technology enables accurate object & room scanning along with precise placement of augmented reality (AR) objects. The iPhone 12 Pro series also uses LiDAR for focusing in low-light. Apple says we will see a 6x quicker autofocus performance in low-light in both still & video capture modes. Portrait mode in low light will also see a marked improvement thanks to LiDAR. The boosted machine learning on the iPhone 12 series will result in even better subject & background separation. In-built creative controls will allow us to adjust the light on the face & background blur.
Deep Fusion, which is Apple’s technology for blending multiple bracketed frames together to make one highly detailed composite image, is now better, faster & accessible in all cameras including the front-facing selfie camera. The improved Deep Fusion should afford us more life-like images even in scenes with complex lighting & textures.
Smart HDR 3 features refined highlight, shadow & contour management. The improvement will help preserve details in the darker parts of the image without blowing out the highlights. Textures in the foreground & background will remain sharp without inducing artefacts. It will also preserve white balance to further enhance image quality. This technology is on all cameras including the front-facing one.
For the iPhone 12 Pro series, Apple has also introduced a new file format called Apple ProRAW which will be coming soon. ProRAW will comprise standard RAW information, along with the Apple image pipeline data. Editing these images will be a breeze with the in-built editor on the iPhone & won’t require specific editing apps although, I get the feeling most image shooting & editing apps will be quick to add support for this file format. In the past shooting in RAW required you to install third-party apps to shoot & edit them, Apple clearly wants to put the power of pro level shooting & editing in all our hands.
On the video front, Apple has made huge advancements on the iPhone 12 Pro series, not only do they capture 700 million colours (60 times more colour than before) in 10-bit HDR Video but are now the only devices in the world that can capture video in 4K Dolby Vision at 60fps! The iPhone 12 Pro series shoots two exposures of the scene & then runs them through the new ISP to create a histogram based on which Dolby Vision metadata is generated. Powering all of this video magic in realtime is the A14 Bionic! Before the advent of the iPhone 12 Pro series, you couldn’t shoot Dolby Vision, let alone edit it on a smartphone. Editing & publishing 4K Dolby Vision videos is as easy as firing up the in-built editor, iMovie or Clips app! Final Cut Pro will support Dolby Vision by the end of the year. You can show-off your 4K Dolby Vision videos on the 6.7 inch Super Retina XDR display of the iPhone 12 Pro Max or stream it to your Apple TV or Smart TV via AirPlay.
Apple has been targeted constantly for not innovating enough or not making enough of a leap forward but I personally think they have done an amazing job with the iPhone 12 Pro Max. The only downside I see in India is the price for the phones, exorbitant to say the least. Having said that, I do feel that this particular model of the
Why Apple has made a huge stride
iPhone 12 is going to score big! It is quite literally a one-stop shop for high-quality content creation on the go.
It is a well known & documented fact that Android struggles to bring about a unified experience on devices & most apps have a lacklustre feel/performance when compared to their counterparts on iOS. Take for example Instagram, iOS users are able to publish content that is much higher in quality on the platform when compared to Android users. This difference is all down to how tightly Apple controls its hardware, software & developer tools for media creation. Simple things like recording videos at a concert produce a much better result on iOS. Most if not all Android devices struggle to deal with high SPL audio content & I can’t understand why they haven’t been able to fix it in all these years.
As someone who dabbles in photography & video as a somewhat serious hobby, I have always found that pictures & videos on iOS look closer to what I have actually seen in person than those shot on other smartphone platforms. I always want to be able to capture an image & then process it to the degree that satisfies me. The last thing I want is to capture an image & then notice colours that didn’t exist in the actual scene or saturation & hues levels that were off. In this respect, Apple has continued to deliver truer to life images & videos than most! If you are like me & want to have complete control over the way your smartphone captures, edits & publishes content then I think the iPhone 12 Pro Max is the way to go. This phone represents the single largest step forward that Apple has ever taken with any of its phones & I for one am excited for what the future holds. People have always been quick to compare smartphone images with that from DSLR or mirrorless cameras. Apple however, is not competing with DSLR cameras or Mirrorless cameras. It is creating an alternative ecosystem of products for content creators & the iPhone 12 Pro Max is the first of many!
To wrap things up, they say the best camera is the one that’s always on you, the iPhone 12 Pro Max looks like it will fit that bill in all quadrants.