5 features iPhone 12 flaws that would have been pretty good



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Angela Lang / CNET

The iPhone 12 has been hugely impressed with our review and it comes with some great features like 5G support, a fresh design and support for Apple’s new MagSafe chargers. But there are some things missing that we would like to see in an ideal world. No, they aren’t deal breakers, and not even features that we would find on an iPhone, but it might be worth keeping in mind, especially if you’re thinking of switching from Android.

1. Expandable storage

Apple has never allowed you to expand storage with a microSD card on any of its phones and the new generation, including the iPhone 12, is no exception. While it may not be a problem for many of you, think carefully about how much space you are likely to need and how much built-in storage you can afford in advance. Apple charges a premium for more storage, with the base 64GB iPhone 12 priced at $ 829, while the 256GB model costs $ 979.

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If you could insert a small microSD card there would be endless space to store more photos and videos.

Andrew Hoyle / CNET

If you switch from Android it may not be something you have given much thought to since many Android phones allow you to insert a microSD card to expand the basic storage. If you plan on recording a lot of 4K video or downloading a lot of large, graphically demanding games, you should look at the higher capacities.

2. Fingerprint scanner

Apple has the classic home button with its built-in fingerprint scanner a few generations ago (the iPhone SE, of course) to replace it with FaceID instead, which uses facial recognition to secure your phone. It works well for the most part, and we didn’t really miss it. That’s until the coronavirus pandemic hit and wearing face masks became the norm when we were out and about in public places. FaceID does not work with face masks so we are again typing pin codes to access our phones.

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An on-screen fingerprint scanner would still provide biometric security, but wouldn’t take up extra space on the phone.

Andrew Hoyle / CNET

While we don’t want a big button on the front of the phone to return, squashing the screen, many Android phones, including the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra and even affordable phones like the OnePlus Nord, have the fingerprint scanners built into the display self. They are invisible and do not take up extra space on the phone, making them an elegant solution for biometric security when face scanning is impossible.

3. 120 Hz screen refresh rate

All iPhone 12 models have a 60Hz refresh rate, which has been a disappointment to many hoped Apple would increase this to 120Hz. A faster refresh rate gives the phone a smoother look and feel when you use it, without motion blur when moving between screens and anything that feels smoother. It’s a feature that’s increasingly common on Android phones, including the Samsung Galaxy S20 and OnePlus North.

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The OnePlus 8T has a 120Hz screen, which makes everything look buttery smooth as you scroll around.

Andrew Hoyle / CNET

Apple has likely opted to stick with 60Hz to improve battery life, especially as the addition of 5G makes the phones even more energy hungry. Does it matter? Personal no. If you hold the iPhone 12 next to the OnePlus Nord with its 120Hz display (as I did) you might be able to see a slight difference, but I honestly don’t think it’s something you’d ever notice in everyday use.

The powerful processors in the iPhone 12 models make the performance feel snappy at all times, which makes for a smooth experience despite the slower refresh rate, and I’d take a better battery every day on a faster screen.

4. Telephoto lens

The The camera of the iPhone 12 can take beautiful photos with its standard wide viewing angle and with the super wide lens. What it cannot do is zoom in with the telephoto lens of the iPhone 12 Pro, 12 Pro Max or on previous generations such as the iPhone 11 Pro.

Read more: iPhone 12 vs Pro and Pro Max: The Features That Might Convince You to Go Pro

Whether that matters to you depends on how seriously you take your photography and how often you find yourself needing to get closer to a scene, or whether you prefer to capture as much as possible for you.

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The iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max have a telephoto lens that allows you to zoom in on the action.

James Martin / CNET

For me, photography skills are my number 1 priority with phones, so I want that telephoto lens to give me extra shooting options when I’m on the go. If you’re a more casual shooter you might not miss it and will be perfectly happy with the fantastic shots you can get with the other two lenses.

5. ProRaw

Apple’s upcoming ProRaw is an image format that uses some of the camera’s computational photography capabilities (including HDR merge) but allows for deeper editing options, much like a raw image file created with a professional DSLR. It’s potentially a great compromise between full raw and the standard JPEG the camera spits out, but it’s a feature reserved for the iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max.

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Apple’s ProRaw can be of great help for editing images professionally after they are taken. It’s not available yet, so this image was taken in standard JPEG mode, which still leaves plenty of editing options.

Andrew Hoyle / CNET

It might be a pretty niche feature that will only appeal to the most dedicated of photographers (of which I call myself a proud member), so as with the telephoto lens, the more casual photographers among you will probably never give the absence a second thought. There’s a chance Apple could bring the feature to phones outside of the Pro line, but it seems more likely that it will be reserved as a more elite feature to justify the upgrade cost.


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