The first reviews of the new iPhones arrived Tuesday morning, with the lifting of the review embargo. They’re mostly positive, although some questions were raised about the promise of 5G on the new devices.
“The new iPhone has an improved design, but it’s undermined by the wireless industry’s messy rollout of ultrafast 5G networks,” The New York Times said of the new iPhone 12. Reviewer Brian Chen noted that the 5G speed was indeed impressively fast, but that the 5G network was not available at his home or in most places in his hometown of San Francisco. He did call the device “still a solid upgrade from past iPhones.”
Reviewing both the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro, the Wall Street Journal’s Joanna Stern noted that the iPhone 12 “is indeed the fastest 5G smartphone,” but she agreed that 5G “is not a killer feature for the new iPhone 12 models,” at least not yet.
“It’s best to think of 5G as an invisible feature—something that might one day come in handy,” Stern said. “What makes this the best iPhone upgrade in years are a fabulous-to-hold design and substantial camera improvements.”
The Verge’s Dieter Bohn gave the iPhone 12 a score of 9 out of 10, praising the camera, design, the phone’s MagSafe charging ecosystem and upgraded display. Negative points included the higher price, the “small regression” of the battery, and what he called “the 5G tax.”
“This design just feels more elegant and confident than the past few years of iPhones, including even the big iPhone X redesign. And the smaller size is the best part; the iPhone XR and iPhone 11 always felt just a little too big. If this is the design we’ll be living with for the next six years, I won’t complain,” he wrote.
The Verge ran a separate review of the iPhone 12 Pro, also giving it 9 out of 10.
“The iPhone 12 Pro is a beautiful, powerful, and incredibly capable device. I enjoyed using it during this review, and the camera is extremely good,” Nilay Patel wrote. “If you can find a patch of sidewalk with an mmWave signal, you will have a killer speedtest screenshot to share. It will make you happy if you buy one.”
Tom’s Guide gave the iPhone 12 a review of four stars out of five, calling it “a serious step forward for the most popular iPhone.” The review praises the “attractive new design,” the 5G coverage, the dual cameras, and “solid battery life,” while criticizing the only 64GB of base storage, and the lack of charger or headphones in the box.
“The iPhone 12 sports a gorgeous new design, full 5G support, great cameras and even better performance. However, the lack of a charger in box and limited base storage are drawbacks,” the review said.
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.