Both are solid iPhones with great build quality and design and great cameras, but the iPhone 14 wins with its more powerful processor, longer battery life, and improved camera modes. If the iPhone 12 came with 128GB as a base we’d recommend that, but since that’s not the case the 14 seems to be the better deal overall.
The iPhone 14 is now the benchmark for a standard iPhone, holding back on the extra camera and many extra currency units required to step up to the Pro level. We often call it the best iPhone for ordinary people as it strikes a healthy balance between performance, features and cost. But Apple has kept the iPhone 12 i for another year, giving consumers the choice to buy the flag-bearer from two years ago if they want to save more money. Would that be a wise choice, or should you go with the new model? Here is our comparison of the iPhone 14 and iPhone 12.
How the designs compare
Apple gave the iPhone a facelift when it launched the 12 series. The rounded design of the iPhone X, XS, XR, and 11 has been replaced with squarer edges that hark back to the golden age of the iPhone 5 and original SE. This aesthetic has carried through to the iPhone 13 and is now appearing on the iPhone 14 as well.
Check out these dimensions to see how similar they are to each other:
iPhone 14: 146.7mm x 71.5mm x 7.80mm; 172g
iPhone 12: 146.7mm x 71.5mm x 7.4mm; 162g
As you can see, they’re practically identical, except the iPhone 12 is a bit slimmer and lighter.
Dominik Tomaszewski / Foundry
At first glance, you hardly notice a difference, at least from the front. Both feature a 6.1-inch display with a notch, an aerospace-grade aluminum body, a Lightning connector, a glass back, and a dual camera array on the back.
The latter is one way to tell the models apart, as the iPhone 12 has the two lenses positioned in a vertical line, while the iPhone 14’s lenses are positioned diagonally. Various color schemes are also available, with the 12 featuring exclusive shades of blue and purple, while with the 14 you can find other shades of blue, purple or green alongside the traditional black, white and (PRODUCT) red options.
Both devices are certified with an IP68 rating, so they’ll perform equally well if you drop them in the bath, and there’s 5G support for faster cellular network speeds.
Are the ads different?
The displays on the iPhone 12 and iPhone 14 appear identical. Both feature a 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR OLED panel protected by Ceramic Shield material, which Apple says is the toughest glass on any smartphone. You’ll also find 2532×1170 (460ppi) resolutions, 2,000,000:1 contrast ratios, True Tone, Wide Color Display (P3), and an HDR peak brightness of 1,200 nits.
But there’s one key difference: the iPhone 14 has a maximum (typical) brightness of 800 nits, while the iPhone 12 only hits 625 nits. That might sound overly technical, so it gets straight to the point that the iPhone 14 is quite a bit brighter than the iPhone 12 in day-to-day use. It also has a slightly smaller notch, although not so much that it’s enough of a difference in yours daily use.
Dominik Tomaszewski / Foundry
Of course, the iPhone 14 also comes in a larger version, the iPhone 14 Plus. So if you want an even larger display, consider the 6.7-inch OLED panel on this model.
How are the cameras performing?
iPhones are known for their cameras and Apple typically adds a feature or two every year to improve this area of the device. On paper, the two share some specs, but the iPhone 14 definitely has the edge when it comes to looks.
The iPhone 12 has a decent array of talent in the photo and video departments, thanks to its dual 12-megapixel rear camera made up of f/1.6 (main) and f/2.4 (ultra wide) lenses. These have optical image stabilization to eliminate camera shake, offer 2x optical zoom together and can capture some lovely photos, made even better thanks to Smart HDR 3 capabilities alongside the night and portrait modes. Video goes up to 4K/60fps or HDR video ending at 4K/30fps. All in all a very useful set of skills for the budding iPhoneographer.
Dominik Tomaszewski / Foundry
However, these are surpassed by upgrades in the iPhone 14 that include a faster f/1.5 main lens, sensor-shift stabilization for even smoother images and videos, and the new Photonic Engine to improve detail and color balance overall, especially in night mode .
Apple also adds Smart HDR 4 for photos and Cinema mode for videos, which gives you a film-style shallow depth of field when focusing. There’s also the new Action mode, which keeps the video stable even when you’re moving fast.
There’s also an upgrade for the front camera, with the iPhone 14 sporting a faster f/1.9 12-megapixel TrueDepth camera (better than the f/2.2 camera in the 12), as well as the same improvements to Smart HDR , Cinematic modes, HDR video capture, and the inclusion of the Photonic Engine.
The iPhone 12 is a great device for taking photos and videos, but the iPhone 14 is just a little bit better.
What about processors and memory?
Although the devices are two years apart, the processor generation is only one. In the iPhone 12 you will find the A14 Bionic, while the iPhone 14 comes with an A15 Bionic. There’s a caveat here, though, as the chip in the 14 is the optimized one that first appeared in the iPhone 13 Pro models and has an extra GPU core. Both are damn fast. So unless you’re a hardcore gamer, you probably won’t notice too much of a difference.
Storage marks a change in approach. The base iPhone 12 has a meager 64GB, while the entry-level iPhone 14 doubles that to 128GB. The former isn’t a great choice in the modern world, where this 4K video capability could have you filling the space in no time (assuming you shoot a lot of videos). You can of course upgrade to higher capacities, but at a price.
iPhone 14: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB
iPhone 12: 64GB, 128GB, 256GB
There are two things you should know here. Apple states that the iPhone 14 offers around three hours more battery life than the iPhone 12, which is remarkable. The newer model also comes with the new Crash Detection feature, which can detect serious car accidents and automatically contact emergency services if you don’t respond. One will keep your phone running longer, while the second might do the same for you.
What about the price?
One of the main reasons to consider the older model is the price. With that in mind, here’s how the two models compare:
The iPhone 12 is still a solid device two years after its initial release. The camera system is capable of capturing great photos and videos, while the A14 Bionic chip means you shouldn’t be short of performance or software upgrades for years to come. The price difference isn’t quite as big as we think, but mostly hampered by the stingy 64GB that Apple continues to offer. With that in mind, the extra cash that gets you an iPhone 14 seems like the wiser choice. In return you get upgraded cameras, cinema mode, the new Photonic Engine, plus the extra battery life and brighter display that just make it seem like a device that ages better over time.