Breaking down Apple’s three new iPhone 12 camera systems
Apple has just announced its iPhone 12 lineup, and as part of today’s announcements, the company introduced a dizzying amount of camera tech scattered amongst the new iPhones. If you’re coming from an iPhone that currently has a single camera, or even a pair, you may find some serious upgrades here.
But first, let’s establish the baseline.
One camera: iPhone SE (2020) and iPhone XR
The iPhone SE turned heads earlier this year at a $399 price, and the iPhone XR is now $499. Both have a single 12-megapixel f/1.8 “wide” camera, though they’re not quite the same — the XR has a larger sensor, while the iPhone SE appears to be a smaller one similar to 2017’s iPhone 8. Neither has ultrawide or telephoto lenses, nor fancy Deep Fusion techniques; your portrait-mode shots are also limited to what Apple’s machine learning algorithms can guess about depth, since there’s no second camera to verify.
Still, each offers a six-element lens with optical image stabilization, 4K60 video recording, and a basic portrait mode.
Two cameras: iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini
The iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini come with two cameras each, but perhaps even more importantly, that single main camera has changed. While it still offers 12 megapixels like prior phones, the lens now has 7 elements and a larger f/1.6 aperture that lets 27 percent more light hit that sensor compared to the previous gen — which should mean brighter, less noisy and/or blurry images in low light, and slightly less depth of field.
You also get:
- A second 12-megapixel f/2.4 ultrawide camera with a 120-degree field of view, a 5-element lens, and a 13mm-equivalent focal length, which sounds like the same ultrawide we got in the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro