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Why I Bought Last-Gen's iPhone 11 Pro Instead of the New iPhone 12

Apple’s new 5G iPhone 12 isn’t necessarily the best purchase for most people. Here’s why I completely ignored this generation of iPhones.

iPhone 11 Pro | Apple

(HEADS UP, THIS POST IS ENTIRELY OPINION BASED, AND WILL LIKELY NOT APPLY EXACTLY TO YOU. PLUS, THIS POST IS BETWEEN THE 11 PRO AND THE 12 MINI)

This week marked the first time in three years that I’ve gotten a new phone. As a quite young human, my first phone was the iPhone SE, bought Summer 2016. After that phone sort of stopped working entirely, I upgraded to the iPhone 7, around 2018.

This year, and coincidentally this week, was my newest upgrade, from the 7 to the 11 Pro.

While I can hear some of you already asking, “but why, since the iPhone 12, 12 Mini, 12 Pro, and 12 Pro Max literally just released?, I’ve got a couple of major reasons.

As a heads up, my final choice (not really that hard of one), was between the iPhone 11 Pro and the iPhone 12 Mini (due to pricing and availability, not as a which one’s better), and so, here’s why that choice wasn’t that hard:

Apple’s featured changes aren’t that important to me
This year’s iPhones focus mainly on a few select things: the inclusion of 5G, the Ceramic Shield screen, squared edges, MagSafe accessories, a faster processor, and bigger phones.

In a previous post, which you can read here, overall, the iPhone 12 really isn’t that big of an upgrade from newer generation iPhones.

From an iPhone 7 to a 12, that’s a pretty big jump, but it didn’t justify me not getting a higher end iPhone 11 over the lowest end 12.

The biggest difference between the 11 models and the 12 models really come down to design preference, a 10-15% faster CPU, 5G and a stronger screen. None of those really apply to me when I can get a phone that performs almost as well, has more cameras at higher quality, has a better screen, and has a bigger screen too. (also, price, but that’s a different segment)

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5G hasn’t performed nearly as well as anticipated (this coming from an early 5G enthusiast), a 10% CPU gain on a smartphone really isn’t that necessary, I don’t drop my phone, and I’d get a screen protector anyway, I don’t really have a preference for either edges, and I’ve heard the 12s have sharp edges, and the 11 Pro is bigger than the 12 Mini.

That’s why the featured changes don’t really matter to me. Either you’ve got some slight improvements, or some things that you won’t really care about, unless you’re an enthusiast.

In direct comparison, the 11 Pro either beats or ties with the 12 Mini

Yes, I realize this is an unfair comparison, but as a teenager with literally no money to compare the 11 Pro to the 12 Pro, this was essentially the only comparable option. The 11 Pro was available for me starting at around $670-690, and the 12 Mini is available for $699, base model.

Upgrading from an iPhone 7, I had 5 major needs:

  • a bigger and better screen — the iPhone 7 has a 4.7 inch HD screen, which is only 750p. it’s not even true HD which sort of surprised me, and the screen caps at 625 nits
  • a faster CPU — the A10 is in no way a slow chip, but it pales in comparison with the new A13 and A14 Bionics. they’re so much faster and power efficient
  • a muuuuch better camera — the camera on the 7 isn’t terrible. it isn’t great either. I wanted my new phone to have a nice camera to be able to record in high framerates at 4K, or take nicer photos
  • FaceID — both phones have it. i just like it
  • longer battery life — I got a few hours on my phone, sometimes draining half of the battery watching movies for 2-3 hours. I ended up charging it 2-3 times per day, which was hard to do when you forget your chargers

Both of these phones had everything that I wanted from a new phone, so I put up a little point comparison below (1 point = win, 0.5 = tie, 0 = loss; max of 5 points):

Screens

The 11 Pro has a 5.8″ screen, while the 12 Mini has a 5.4″ screen. Both of these are either .7 or 1.1″ bigger diagonally than the 7. The Super Retina XDR display is on both phones as well, with an 1125p screen on the 11 Pro (458ppi), and a 1080p screen on 12 Mini (476ppi).

While the 12 Mini has a higher pixel count per square inch, the 11 Pro has a higher pixel count total, with a higher typical max brightness as well.

 

Credit | MacRumors
iPhone 11 Pro
0.5/5
iPhone 12 Mini
0.5/5

 

CPU

The 11 Pro has Apple’s last generation A13 Bionic, which provided ~50% gain from the A12, while the 12 Mini has the A14 Bionic, which is around 9% more powerful.

The A14 pulls ahead of the A13 in every speed benchmarking category, excluding UX, which generally means it performs better than the A13.

That 9% isn’t too much, but it’s still enough to edge the 12 Mini into 1st for CPU.

 
iPhone 11 Pro
0.5/5
iPhone 12 Mini
1.5/5
Camera

Both of these phones come with incredible cameras, improved by Apple’s evolving AI technology.

The iPhone 12 Mini has 2 cameras, with a wide and ultrawide camera. The iPhone 11 Pro has 3 cameras, with a wide, ultrawide, and telephoto camera. Both have Night Mode, for excellent night photos, the same technology, lighting, HDR, 4K60 recording, QuickTake, etc. 

While the 11 Pro has 3 cameras, with higher apertures, the 12 Mini has Dolby Vision at 30FPS. Yeah.

iPhone 11 Pro
1.5/5
iPhone 12 Mini
1.5/5
FaceID

Both phones have FaceID. There’s literally no competition. So, each get half a star then..

iPhone 11 Pro
3/5
iPhone 12 Mini
3/5
Battery

Last but not least, we get to battery.

This was honestly one of the biggest improvements that I needed from a new phone, since my 7 could barely hold a charge. Both of these phones have great battery life compared to the 7, with Apple listing the 12 Mini’s battery life at 15 hours of video playback, and the 11 Pro at 18 hours, compared to the 7’s 13 hours.

This 3 hour advantage gives the final win, by a margin, to the iPhon— wait there’s one more comparison

iPhone 11 Pro
4/5
iPhone 12 Mini
3/5
Price

Oh yeah, price. The 11 Pro wins out for a couple of major reasons.

  1. It’s not a brand new flagship. Deals, discounts, refurbished, all that exists already.
  2. I could get the 11 Pro on a 24 month plan. The 12 Mini was sitting at 30 last I checked.
  3. The iPhone 12 Mini, for 256GB starts at $35.37 per month, or $849. With Verizon trade-in, I could get it for around $30. The iPhone 11 Pro on the otherhand, with discounts and trade-in, I got for $8.33 per month. That’s a $1200 phone for $199.92. That’s it. 76% cheaper than the cheapest 12 model. Wow.
iPhone 11 Pro
5/5
iPhone 12 Mini
3/5

All in all, don’t take this too seriously. This is just an opinion piece written on why I personally bought the 11 Pro over the 12 Mini. If you can find a deal on the 12 Mini, or plan on spending more money on a phone than I was planning on, the 12s are still great options. I just happen to be a teen with not a lot of money and a financial dependency on my parents. That’s all.

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