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
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.
- iPhone 11 Pro – The iPhone 11 Pro featured a glass front and back and a surgical-grade stainless steel rounded-corner edge.
- iPhone 12 – The iPhone 12 features a glass and aluminum body. However, its glass is a new kind of material called Ceramic Shield, which means it’s 4x more drop-resistant than the iPhone 11 Pro’s glass.
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.
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.
- iPhone 11 Pro – The iPhone 11 Pro featured an OLED Super Retina XDR display that is 5.8in and has a 2436 x 1125-pixel resolution.
- iPhone 12 – The iPhone 12 features an OLED Super Retina XDR display that is 6.1in and has a 2532 x 1160-pixel resolution.
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.
- iPhone 11 Pro – the iPhone 11 Pro featured the A13 Bionic chipset.
- iPhone 12 – the iPhone 12 features the A14 Bionic chipset.
Winner? iPhone 12 – No contest. The A14 is up to 25% faster than the A13.
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.
- iPhone 11 Pro – The iPhone 11 Pro featured a 12MP selfie camera. Its rear camera was a triple-lens array with a wide, ultra-wide, and telephoto lens, all of which are 12 MP.
- iPhone 12 – The iPhone 12 features a 12MP selfie camera as well. However, on the rear camera, you only get a dual-lens wide-angle and ultra-wide array, both of which are 12MP.
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.
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.
- iPhone 11 Pro – 64GB, 256GB, or 512GB
- iPhone 12 – 64GB, 128GB, or 256GB
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!
- iPhone 11 Pro – The iPhone 11 Pro’s battery gets you about 18 hours of battery life. It features regular wireless charging.
- iPhone 12 – The iPhone 12’s battery will get you about 17 hours of battery life. It too features wireless charging, but it supports Apple’s new MagSafe tech.
Winner? iPhone 12 – Even though it’s got an hour less battery life, the new MagSafe charging feature is just too cool.
- iPhone 11 Pro – The iPhone 11 Pro is no longer sold by Apple.
- iPhone 12 – The 6.1in iPhone 12 costs $799 (64GB) and $849 (128GB) and $949 (256GB).
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.
iPhone 12 vs iPhone 11 Pro: Specs
Here are the specs for the iPhone 11 Pro:
- Display: 5.8in OLED Super Retina XDR display with a 2436 x 1125-pixel resolution
- Dimensions: 144 mm x 71.4 mm x 8.1 mm
- Weight: 188 grams
- Storage: 64, 256, or 512GB
- Processors: A13 Bionic chip
- Front camera: 12MP FaceTime HD camera
- Rear camera: 12 MP Ultra Wide, 12MP Telephoto, and 12MP Wide. 2x optical zoom in, 2x optical zoom out.
- Battery: Up to 18 hours (video playback)
- Other: 4G, Face ID, NFC, wireless charging, IP68 waterproof (4m)
And here are the specs for the iPhone 12:
- Display: 6.1in OLED Super Retina SDR display with a 2532 x 1160-pixel resolution
- Dimensions: 146.7 mm x 71.5 mm x 7.4 mm
- Weight: 164 grams
- Storage: 64, 128, or 256GB
- Processors: A14 Bionic chip
- Front camera: 12MP FaceTime HD camera
- Rear camera: 12 MP Ultra Wide and 12MP Wide. 2x optical zoom out
- Battery: Up to 17 hours (video playback)
- Other: 5G, Face ID, NFC, wireless charging with MagSafe, IP68 waterproof (6m)
Be sure to check out our iPhone 12 mini vs. iPhone 12 Pro Max comparison, too!
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Is the iPhone 12 better than 11 Pro?
In many ways the iPhone 12 is better than the iPhone 11 Pro. The biggest advantages the iPhone 12 has over the iPhone 11 Pro is the larger display, the faster A14 chipset, and 5G support. However, the iPhone 11 Pro has the better rear camera.
Q: Will iPhone 12 come with AirPods?
No, the iPhone 12 does not come with AirPods. If you want AirPods with your iPhone 12 you’ll need to buy them seperately.
Q: Will the iPhone 12 have 4 cameras?
No. The iPhone 12 has one front camera and one back camera. The front camera has a single 12MP lens. But the rear camera does have a dual 12MP lens–a 12MP wide and a 12MP ultra-wide lens. So the iPhone 12 has one front single-lens camera and one rear dual-lens camera.
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.