Skip to main content

Our best iPhone 12 photos show off just how amazing this camera is

Apple took a big step forward in camera quality with the iPhone 12 series, particularly when it comes to low-light performance. We spent several weeks with the 12 and 12 Pro, exploring the limits of the camera system and seeing how they respond to a variety of situations. From the main camera to the ultrawide and telephoto, as well as the selfie shooter.

Here are our favorite photos from the phones, and our takes on how they perform.

Related Videos

Andrew Martonik

Coming from a year of using the Google Pixel 4‘s astonishing Night Mode, the biggest surprise to me is how well the iPhone 12 handles low-light scenes. Night Mode engages seamlessly, taking multi-second exposures when necessary, but more often than not just slightly extending the capture time to get extra frames for a brilliant night scene. Apple’s processing can at times go overboard, bumping up the saturation and contrast to make scenes unnatural — but in any case, night photos are sharp and full of life.

And Apple didn’t forget about daytime performance, which is also superb. The 12-megapixel camera takes crisp, colorful, and balanced photos. What’s equally as impressive is the shot-to-shot consistency — you know that every time you press the shutter, you’re going to get a good shot. And if you plan a bit, use tap-to-focus, and frame properly, you can get something stunning. Portrait Mode isn’t necessary to get a great portrait, and you don’t need to mess with the extra lighting effects. Plus, you have the added variety from the ultrawide and zoom (on the 12 Pro) cameras if you want to mix things up.

I do have to say, things go to an entirely new level on the iPhone 12 Pro Max, which has a different main camera that’s nearly 50% larger than the 12 Pro. But to get my full analysis of that model, you’ll have to read my iPhone 12 Pro Max review.

Andy Boxall

Before you ask, the answer is yes, each one of my photos has been edited using the iPhone’s own editing suite — and I make no excuses for doing so. If this was a review, then I wouldn’t have touched the images, but this is about why I enjoy taking photos with the iPhone 12 Pro and showing some of the images I’ve taken so far that I like the most. What did I do? A few select tweaks to highlights, shadows, saturation, and sometimes black levels. The selfie is the only one with a filter from the iPhone’s library applied.

Part of the iPhone’s appeal is the camera’s natural color palette, its versatility, and all-around reliability to take a great photo. The excellent software then gives me the chance to tweak the photo a little to get exactly the look I was after. It takes just moments to do, doesn’t require an intimate knowledge of the technical side of photography, and is easily reversed if you mess it up.

To be clear, there was nothing wrong with the photos before editing, and my changes (outside of the selfie) were not extensive. But I want my personal photos to look the way I imagined, and if they didn’t quite meet my expectations immediately, the iPhone’s power and flexibility make it easy to change that. Whether it’s portrait mode on the selfie camera or the rear camera, wide-angle, or 2x zoom, the iPhone 12 Pro (like its predecessor) will almost certainly be the camera I reach for when I want to be sure of the final outcome, whether I have to help it along or not.

Christian de Looper

As someone who has been mostly using the iPhone 11 Pro as a daily driver, I was surprised how similar the overall experience using the standard iPhone 12 is on the day-to-day. That’s a good thing — sure, the Pro models have an extra lens and the Pro Max has slightly better specs this time around, but don’t assume you’re getting an inferior camera in the standard model.

I don’t often take many low-light photos unless I’m rigorously testing a camera, but I do take some mid-light shots every now and then, so the wider aperture is still useful. The result of that is that low-light and mid-light photos are more detailed, and it shows. Particularly if you zoom in and inspect the details.

In well-lit environments, the upgrades are less apparent — but it’s still clear that you’re getting one of the best smartphone cameras in the iPhone 12. Tech like Deep Fusion on the ultrawide camera is also important. I don’t use the ultrawide lens all that much, but when I do, it’s clear that shots were more detailed and close in quality to the main camera. Also, despite the fact that the iPhone 12 doesn’t have a lidar sensor like the 12 Pro, it focuses quickly and accurately the vast majority of the time.

Editors' Recommendations

Apple Watch Series 9: the 6 biggest things we want to see
The Apple Watch Ultra with the Apple Watch Series 8 and Watch SE 2.

The Apple Watch Series 8 was a bit of a boring release for Apple’s wearable, as it wasn’t a huge upgrade over the Apple Watch Series 7; Apple seemed to spend more energy focusing on the Apple Watch Ultra instead. The only real upgrades for the Series 8 were the newer-generation S8 chip and a new body temperature sensor, though the use cases for that are pretty limited. But if you didn’t have a Series 7, then the Apple Watch Series 8 was still a great upgrade for those coming from older models.

We’re still a few months away from Apple revealing the next generation of Apple Watch with a Series 9 model, which is most likely coming sometime in the fall, along with the iPhone 15. But until then, here’s what I’m hoping Apple will put in the Apple Watch Series 9 when it finally comes out.
Nonintrusive blood glucose monitoring

Read more
iPhone 15: release date and price predictions, leaks, rumors, and more
iPhone 15 render by 4RMD

As great as the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro are, they're both already a few months old at this point, and the rumors about the iPhone 15 are well underway. We still have several months before the iPhone 15 models drop, though, as Apple usually makes iPhone announcements in the fall. In other words, there's still a lot of time for rumors to circulate around the internet.

We're keeping all of the reports and rumors of the iPhone 15 here in a single place for your convenience, but do remember to keep in mind that these are all still just speculation. Nothing is final until Apple confirms it during an official announcement. Still, a lot of the rumors give us an idea of what to expect each year, which is unfortunate if you like surprises. Here's everything we know of the iPhone 15 so far!
iPhone 15: models

Read more
These Android apps are spying on you — and there’s no easy way to stop them
Illustration of a giant eye stalking through a phone

Android’s security woes need no introduction, but another threat that hasn’t received its fair share of awareness relates to spyware and stalkerware apps. These apps can secretly be installed on a victim’s phone to monitor their activity and can be exploited to harass victims of domestic abuse and engage in online stalking. All someone needs is physical access to the victim's phone to install these apps, which is not too difficult in cases of domestic abuse.

Call it an app-fueled version of AirTag stalking, but on steroids, because these spyware apps can steal everything including messages, call logs, emails, photos, and videos. Some can even activate the microphone and the camera, and secretly transfer these recordings to a remote server where the abuser can access it. Since Google Play's policies don't allow stalking apps, these apps are sold via third-party websites and need to be sideloaded.

Read more