iPhone 12 vs iPhone 11 Pro – Should You Upgrade?

By Michael Grothaus •  Updated: 10/19/20 •  7 min read

Welcome to our iPhone 12 vs iPhone 11 Pro comparison! For the last several years, much of the technology from the previous “pro” model of iPhone for any given series gets passed along to the newer “regular” generation of iPhone when the new series debuts. For example, some of the tech from the 2018 iPhone “pro” model, the iPhone XS, made its way into the non-pro model of the 2019 iPhone 11.

But if you bought an iPhone 11 Pro last year, is it worth upgrading to the iPhone 12 this year? Or would that be a step back? Let’s take a look at both phones to find out.

iPhone 12 vs iPhone 11 Pro Quick Comparison

iPhone 12 vs iPhone 11 Pro – Should You Upgrade?
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Look, we know it’s considered a given that a “pro” model iPhone has a better design aesthetic than a non-pro variant, but here that’s not the case. Even though the iPhone 11 Pro uses better materials, like a stainless steel frame, we think the iPhone 12 just looks much better.

There something about the iPhone 12’s flat aluminum frame that is so visually appealing it’s hard to put into words. Of course, the iPhone 12 also features Ceramic Shield glass, which means the back of the iPhone is much less likely to shatter if dropped than the back of the iPhone 11 Pro.

Other than that, the phones are pretty similar from a design perspective. Both feature all-screen designs and Apple’s Face ID biometric authentication system.

Winner? iPhone 12 – Though the aluminum body of the iPhone 12 can’t match the stainless steel edge of the iPhone 11 Pro, that Ceramic Shield glass is a major upgrade when it comes to durability.

MORE: iPhone Specs Comparison (2007 to 2020) – All Models Compared


This year the “entry-level” iPhone 12 clearly outshines last year’s “pro” model when it comes to the display. Why? Because the iPhone 12’s display is both larger and has a higher resolution. At 6.1in, the iPhone 12 has a 2532 x 1160-pixel resolution. Compare that to the 5.8in iPhone 11 Pro with a 2436 x 1125-pixel resolution.

It should be noted that both phones, however, do have the same underlying display tech. Both the iPhone 12 and the iPhone 11 Pro feature OLED Super Retina XDR display panels.

Winner? iPhone 12 – While the underlying display tech is the same–both have Super Retina XDR OLED displays–the iPhone 12 has the better resolution and larger display.


Another area where the entry-level iPhone 12 beats last year’s pro variant is in the processing department. The iPhone 12 features the all-new, blazing fast A14 Bionic chipset. That CPU is up to 25% faster than the A13 Bionic found in the iPhone 11 Pro. Of course, the A13 Bionic could still run circles around almost every Android processor on the market today, however, it’s topped by the speed and power of the A14 chipset.

Winner? iPhone 12 – No contest. The A14 is up to 25% faster than the A13.

iPhone 12 vs iPhone 11 Pro – Should You Upgrade?
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OK, the iPhone 12 has performed great in this comparison so far–until now, that is. When looking at the cameras on both phones, the iPhone 11 Pro is still the clear winner. But first, let’s mention how both phones are the same. Both the iPhone 11 Pro and the iPhone 12 have a 12MP front selfie camera.

However, when you flip the devices around, you immediately see their differences. The iPhone 12 only comes with a dual-lens 12MP wide and ultra-wide system. The iPhone 11 Pro, on the other hand, has a triple-lens rear camera system.

The iPhone 11 Pro has a 12MP wide, 12MP ultra-wide, and 12MP telephoto lens rear camera. No matter which way you cut it, that beats the dual-lens camera on the iPhone 12.

Winner? iPhone 11 Pro – There’s no denying that the iPhone 11 Pro still has the superior camera array even though the phone is a year older.

Storage Options

The iPhone 11 Pro also beats the iPhone 12 when it comes to storage. While both start at 64GB, the iPhone 11 Pro doubles the next two storage tiers from what the iPhone 12 offers.

MORE: A “Portless” iPhone WILL Happen – It’s Just A Matter of Time…

Battery Life

The iPhone 11 Pro also bests the iPhone 12 when it comes to the battery. That’s because the iPhone 11 Pro offers 18 hours of battery life, while the iPhone 12 offers 17 hours.

However, the iPhone 12 retakes the lead in the power-management department because it supports Apple’s new MagSafe wireless charging!

Winner? iPhone 12 – Even though it’s got an hour less battery life, the new MagSafe charging feature is just too cool.

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There is much to love about the new iPhone 12. And it beats the iPhone 11 Pro on multiple fronts, including having the better, stronger display; having a superior processor that is up to 25% faster; and the MagSafe charger.

Unfortunately, the iPhone 12–though the newer phone–can’t compete with the iPhone 11 Pro on one major front: the camera. The iPhone 11 Pro still has the better camera array by a long shot. The triple-lens system just can’t be beaten by the dual-lens system found on the iPhone 12.

So, if you are wondering about whether you should ditch your 5.8in iPhone 11 Pro for the iPhone 12–I would say don’t do it. You’ll gain 5G and MagSafe charging, but you’ll lose one of the biggest benefits to owning a Pro model–that amazing triple-lens camera system.

MORE: Which iPhones Have OLED Screens? A Quick Guide…

iPhone 12 vs iPhone 11 Pro: Specs

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Here are the specs for the iPhone 11 Pro:

And here are the specs for the iPhone 12:

Be sure to check out our iPhone 12 mini vs. iPhone 12 Pro Max comparison, too!

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Michael Grothaus

Apple expert and novelist, Michael Grothaus has been covering tech on KnowYourMobile for the best part of 10 years. Prior to this, he worked at Apple. And before that, he was a film journalist. Michael is a published author; his book Epiphany Jones was voted as one of the best novels about Hollywood by Entertainment Weekly. Michael is also a writer at other publications including VICE and Fast Company.
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