The Cheapest iPhone 12 Starts at S$1,149: Are The New Apple iPhone 12 Phones With 5G Worth it?
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The Cheapest iPhone 12 Starts at S$1,149: Are The New Apple iPhone 12 Phones With 5G Worth it?

Joel Koh
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On 14 October, at 1am (Singapore time), Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) launched the iPhone 12 range of smartphones.

I was up all morning watching the event and was blown away by the production value.

During the event, Apple built a life-sized housing set just to promote the HomePod Mini.

This set, in my opinion, looks as good if not better than most condo showrooms you see in Singapore.

Apple HomePod Mini Housing set
Source: Apple

As luxe as the set looks.

I think that the amount Apple spent on the event would be peanuts to the company, considering Apple’s US$2 trillion valuation and the high prices that they charge for their phones.

But enough about Apple’s money.

You’re here because you want to find out is the new iPhone 12 worth it?

So… is it?

Here is all you need to know about the new iPhone 12 lineup and Apple’s available phones.


TL;DR: Apple iPhone 12 Comparison 2020

ModeliPhone 12 MiniiPhone 12iPhone 12 ProiPhone 12 Pro MaxiPhone SE (2020)iPhone 11iPhone XR
Price (64GB)S$1,149S$1,299--S$649S$979S$799
Price (128GB)S$1,219S$1,369 S$1,649S$1,799S$719S$1,049S$869
Price (256GB)S$1,389 S$1,539S$1,819S$1,969
S$889S$1,219-
Price (512GB)--S$2,149S$2,299
---
5G SupportYesNo
Display5.4" OLED
476 ppi
Max 1200 nits brightness
6.1" OLED
460 ppi
Max 1200 nits brightness
6.1" OLED
460 ppi
Max 1200 nits brightness
6.7" OLED
458 ppi
Max 1200 nits brightness
4.7″ IPS LCD
326 ppi
Max 625 nits brightness
6.1" IPS LCD
326 ppi
Max 625 nits brightness
6.1" IPS LCD
326 ppi
Max 625 nits brightness
ProcessorA14 BionicA13 BionicA13 BionicA12 Bionic
Main CamerasUltra Wide
Wide (2x Optical zoom)
Ultra Wide
Wide
Telephoto (4x
Optical zoom)
LiDAR Scanner
Ultra Wide
Wide
Telephoto (5x
Optical zoom)
LiDAR Scanner
WideUltra Wide
Wide (2x optical zoom)
Ultra Wide
Wide
Video CameraDolby Vision HDR 4K video recording up to 30 fpsDolby Vision HDR 4K video recording up to 60 fps4K video recording up to 60 fps
Face ID or Touch IDFaceIDTouch IDFaceID
Dust & Water Resistance IP68
(Water resistant to a depth of 6 metres for up to 30 minutes)
IP67
(Water resistant to a depth of 1 metre for up to 30 minutes)
iphone-2020-lineup
Source: Apple | Prices in USD

Also, after factoring in conversion, you will need to pay about 17 per cent more to buy an iPhone 12 lineup phone in Singapore as compared to the US.

I suppose you could use a cashback credit card to at least get a bit of rebates or cash back.

But it’s probably impossible to find one which gives you more than 17 per cent cash back to really make it worth your while…

iPhone 12 Release Date Singapore

If you’ve been diligently saving up and wondering when you can get your hands on the new iPhone 12.

Here are some dates to take note of:

  • Pre-order for iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro: 16 October 2020 from 8pm
  • Official retail release of iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro: 23 October 2020

If you want to pick up the iPhone 12 Mini or iPhone 12 Pro Max, you’ll have to wait a bit more.

  • Pre-order for iPhone 12 Mini and iPhone 12 Pro Max: 6 November 2020 from 8pm
  • Official retail release of iPhone 12 Mini and iPhone 12 Pro Max: 13 November 2020

Just in time for Christmas, perhaps?


Got Charger And Earphones Or Not?

Before we begin, let’s address the elephant in the room.

Apple will not be providing any charger or earphones in the box, citing environmental concerns.

Instead, you will only get one USB-C to Lightning cable in the box for all iPhone 12 models in the box.

The company claims that these changes will result in a reduction of 2 million metric tons of carbon emissions every year, which is roughly equal to removing 450,000 cars from the road each year.

If you need Apple’s charger or earphones, you will have to pay S$29 each for the EarPods with Lightning Connector and the 20W USB-C charger

As much as I agree with the move to protect the environment, this is almost entirely a profit-driven move to me.

If the company really cared about the environment and its consumers, it would price the phones lower.

But guess what?

Last year’s iPhone 11 came bundled with the EarPods with Lightning Connector and a 5W charger.

But, its launch price of S$1,149 for the 64GB version is actually cheaper than its successor the iPhone 12, which costs S$150 more (S$1,299) for the 64GB version.

new girl facepalm
Source: Giphy | Why Apple???

I’ll let you think about that for a moment.


A Closer Look At Whether the iPhone 12 Is Worth It

Design

For this year’s iPhone 12 lineup, Apple has refreshed the design.

iphone 12 design

iphone 12 back design
Source: Apple | iPhone 12

Unlike last year’s phones which feature rounded edges, the iPhone 12 lineup phones have flatter edges with a design that is similar to Apple’s new iPad lineup and the iPhone 5.

Displays

The company has also partnered with Corning to develop a new Ceramic Shield for the front glass of its new iPhones.

Apple states that this Ceramic Shield technology uses nano-ceramic crystals that provide a 400 per cent improvement in drop performance.

But, we will have to see the drop tests first to see if Apple’s claims hold up.

As for the displays, all iPhone 12 models feature the Super Retina XDR Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) displays.

With an almost edge-to-edge design save for the big Face ID notch and the thin bezels around the display.

Aside from the size and slight differences in pixel density, the iPhone 12 models and the Pro models have displays with the almost identical display quality.

However, what is noticeably missing is that these displays only have a 60Hz screen refresh rate, matching the iPhone 11 display.

This is disappointing from the company as you can find Android phones with a smoother 90Hz refresh rate for less than S$350.

FYI: the higher the screen’s refresh rate, the smoother and faster a phone feels while scrolling as more images are being displayed per second.

Build

For better or for worse, the iPhone 12 is still a glass sandwich, where the front and back of the phones are made of glass.

For the iPhone 12 models, the glass is wrapped around an aluminium frame.

As for the iPhone 12 Pro models, the glass is wrapped around a more premium stainless steel frame.

Ruggedness

All of the iPhone 12 models offer IP68 water and dust resistance which means they can withstand submersion in 6 meters of water for up to 30 minutes.

But we would recommend you not dunking your phone into the water on purpose, as this might void the warranty if water gets in.

5G Push

All of the iPhone 12 models in this year’s lineup support 5G connectivity which promises higher multi-Gbps peak data speeds, ultra-low latency, more stable networks, huge network capacity, widespread availability, and a more uniform user experience to more users.

The phones will also support 5G (both sub-6GHz and mmWave) and the 5G Non-Standalone (NSA) and 5G Standalone (SA) standards.

Performance

All iPhone 12 models are also powered by the A14 Bionic chip found in the iPad Air.

This chip is breakthrough as the iPhone 12 models are the first time a 5-nanometer chip is used in a smartphone, bringing about performance and efficiency improvements.

Apple claims that its A14 chip is 50 per cent faster than the fastest competing smartphone chips in terms of CPU and graphics performance.

The A14 chip also has an improved 16-core Neural Engine with an 80 per cent performance increase when completing machine learning tasks 80

Cameras

In terms of cameras, there is quite a bit of difference between the iPhone 12 models and the iPhone 12 Pro models.

The iPhone 12 models have a more basic dual-lens camera setup.

Whereas for the Pro models, you can a fully feature triple-lens camera setup with a LiDAR Scanner and other features.

The iPhone 12 Pro Max’s camera is also more advanced than the iPhone 12 Pro, but more on that in a bit.

MagSafe

Rember the MagSafe charges on the older Apple Macbooks?

Apple is sort of bringing back MagSafe charging to the entire iPhone 12 range.

You can simply connect the magnetic charger to the back of your iPhone to charge it.

With MagSafe chargers efficiently provide up to 15W of power while still accommodating existing Qi-enabled devices.

iPhone 12 magsafe charging
Source: Apple

There will also be new silicone, leather, and clear cases that easily snap onto the back of the iPhone, and a leather wallet.

In addition, you can also expect that third-party manufacturers will make MagSafe accessories as well.

Apple iphone-12-magsafe
Source: Macrumours

iPhone 12 vs iPhone 12 Mini: Which Is Worth It?

The iPhone 12 (64GB) starts at S$1,299.

Whereas the iPhone 12 Mini, the cheapest phone in the iPhone 12 lineup, starts at S$1,149 for the 64GB version.

But aside from the difference in display size, there is little that separates the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Mini.

Display

The iPhone 12 sports a 6.1-inch OLED display with a resolution of 2532 x 1170 and a pixel density of 460 pixels per inch.

Whereas iPhone 12 Mini sports a 5.4 inch OLED display with resolution of 2430 x 1080 and a pixel density of 476 pixels per inch.

Both displays are also very bright and can go up to 1200 nits with HDR support and wide colour technology and True Tone for true-to-life colours, and a more natural viewing experience.

iPhone 12 Features
Source: Apple

Cameras

Although the cameras in the iPhone 12 Mini and 12 are not as good as the iPhone 12 Pro models, the cameras are still an upgrade over last year’s iPhone 11.

Both the iPhone 12 and 12 Mini have a dual-lens setup with 12MP Wide and Ultra-Wide Angle cameras.

The cameras also sport a new f/1.6 aperture that lets in 27 per cent more light for better performance in low-light conditions.

As well as other improvements like 4K 60 frames per second (fps) video recording.

iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Mini Colours

Both the iPhone 12 and 12 Mini will be available in:

  • Black
  • Pink
  • Red
  • Mint
  • Navy
iphone 12 colours
Source: Apple 

iPhone 12 Pro vs iPhone 12 Pro Max: Which is Worth It?

With the pro models what you are getting is a more premium build and better cameras as compared to the standard iPhone 12 models.

But, you will have to pay a premium for this.

The base iPhone 12 Pro starts at S$1,649 for the 128GB version while the base iPhone 12 Pro Max starts a S$1,799 for the 128GB version.

This is where you’ll need to decide whether this is a ‘want’ or a ‘need’…

Build

iphone-12-pro front
Source: Apple | iPhone 12 Pro

You’ve got to hand it to Apple.

They sure know how to make desirable looking phones.

Even though the iPhone 12 models are no slouch, the iPhone 12 Pro models look more premium and are more sturdy due to its stainless steel frame.

However, this makes the Pro models heavier than the standard models.

Cameras

When it comes to the cameras, there are big differences between the standard models and the pro models

Both the iPhone 12 Pro and the iPhone 12 Pro Max have triple camera setups with an additional LiDAR scanner.

These scanners are primarily used for Augmented Reality applications, while they also have the added benefit of improving auto-focus in low-light environments.

For photographers, you will want to take a look at Apple ProRAW, a feature that will come later this year.

This new file format will produce raw files embed with Apple’s computational photography technology, giving more seasoned photographers more flexibility with how they want to process their photos.

As for video, Apple states that the phones will be able to record Dolby Vision video as well as edit it on their phones.

In other words, there the phones support 10-bit HDR recording and the ability to capture over 700 million colours for more evocative video.

Here is where both phones differ.

The iPhone 12 Pro has three 12MP cameras that share the same focal lengths with its predecessor the iPhone 11 Pro.

Its 26mm wide camera has a brighter F/1.6 aperture lens that can gather about 27 per cent more light.

Whereas its 52mm telephoto has an improved 4x optical zoom, while the 13mm ultrawide camera can now shoot in Night Mode.

For the bigger iPhone 12 Pro Max, the phone sports three 12MP cameras with different focal lengths and better technology.

Both phones share the same 13mm ultrawide camera.

But, the Pro Max’s telephoto camera has a 65mm focal length and longer 5x optical zoom.

As for the 26mm wide camera, the iPhone 12 Pro Max has a bigger sensor with sensor-shift optical image stabilisation technology found in larger mirrorless cameras.

This means that the camera can gather up to 87 per cent more light which will make quite a difference in low light environments.

But, do note that this is mostly claimed by Apple. I would wait for reviews to see if the cameras on the iPhone 12 Pro models are that much better.

iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max Colours

Both the iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max will be available in Silver, Graphite, Gold, and Pacific Blue.

apple-iphone 12 pro colours
Source: Apple

Cheaper Alternatives to the iPhone 12

As nice as the iPhone 12 phones are, they are still pretty expensive, with the cheapest base iPhone 12 mini starting at S$1,149 for the 64GB version.

The most expensive iPhone 12 Pro Max will set you back S$2,299, more than what most laptops in Singapore cost!

Also with the launch of the iPhone 12 range, Apple has discontinued the iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max.

But, you may still get these phones from authorised third-party retailers and telcos. They might go for cheaper as well as I would think that these retailers would want to clear their stock for the iPhone 12.

Apple has also slashed the prices for the iPhone 11 and iPhone XR. More on that in a bit.

Here are some alternatives that won’t leave you broke.

Option 1: iPhone SE (2020)

Earlier this year, Apple launched the second-generation iPhone SE.iPhone SE2 Review

This phone is still quite compelling and is comparable to the iPhone 12 mini.

You will save about S$500 going with this phone, with the Phone 12 mini starting at S$1,149 for the 64GB version and the iPhone SE 2020 starting at S$649 for the 64GB version.

But, you will lose out in the display, camera, 5G and the design department.

The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) has said that Singapore is on track to roll out nationwide 5G coverage and deploy two true standalone (SA) 5G networks by 2025.

In the meantime, Singapore’s network operators (MNOs) like Singtel, Starhub and M1 have started deploying 5G networks that ride on existing 4G infrastructure, otherwise known as 5G non-standalone (NSA) networks.

The extra cash future proofs your phone, but I would think that you can do everything with a 4G phone still.

But overall, this phone still provides quite a decent experience and is worth considering.

Option 2: iPhone 11

If you don’t want to spring for the latest iPhone, the predecessor to this year’s iPhone 12 is still quite a solid phone.

In fact, Apple has also reduced the prices of the iPhone 11.

iPhone 11 Price Singapore

  • iPhone 11 (64GB): S$979 (From S$1,149)
  • iPhone 11 (128GB): S$1,049 (From S$1,219)

For context the iPhone 12 costs S$1,299 for the 64GB version.

You will save S$320 going with the iPhone 11.

But, you will lose out in the display, camera, 5G and the design department.

If you are okay with this compromise, I would get the iPhone 11.

Option 3: iPhone XR

The last iPhone on this list is the iPhone XR.

iPhone XR Price Singapore

Since this is an old model, it’s no surprise that Apple has also cut the prices of the iPhone XR.

Personally, I would not go with this phone as it is already two years old.

However, the phone still provides quite a solid experience and would be good if you’re on a strict budget.

  • iPhone XR (64GB): S$799 (From S$949)
  • iPhone XR (128GB): S$869 (From S$1,049)

Do note that this is the Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) from Apple.

I would recommend that you look at at the authorised third-party retailers who might be selling these phones for cheaper!

Option 4: Budget Phones Under S$500

If you’re on an even stricter budget, you can also consider these phones under S$500!

Best-Budget-Smartphones

They might be cheap(er) but that doesn’t mean they’re lacking in quality.

And in fact, they’re probably the smarter choice if you’re looking to make a more pocket-friendly consumer decision.

About Joel Koh
History student turned writer at Seedly. Before you ask, not a teacher. My time as a history student has equipped me with the skills to evaluate the impact societal development has on financial and nonfinancial events.
You can contribute your thoughts like Joel Koh here.

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