The iPhone X was ahead of its time when it first launched in 2017. Three years later, while it is still a pretty good phone, there’s no denying the fact that it is a bit old in the run. If you own an iPhone X and are wondering if the upgrade to the iPhone 12 is going to be worth it or not, read this comparison below.
The basic design of the iPhone X and the iPhone 12 might look the same but a lot has changed between the two devices. Ideally, iPhone X owners should look to upgrade to the iPhone 12 Pro but the iPhone 12 is a pretty good upgrade option as well, especially if you don’t need the telephoto camera and a few other features that the Pro model packs.
iPhone X vs iPhone 12 Comparison: Should You Upgrade?
- iPhone X – 5.8-inch True Tone OLED, 2436 x 1125 pixels (458 ppi), 82.9 percent screen-to-body ratio, HDR10, Dolby Vision, 3D Touch, Super Retina HD
- iPhone 12 – 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR display, 2532 x 1170 (460 ppi), Haptic Touch, HDR Display, True Tone, HDR10, Dolby Vision
The iPhone 12 not only comes with a bigger OLED panel than the iPhone X, but it is also a newer generation one offering higher peak brightness levels along with better contrast. The iPhone X’s display only has one advantage — 3D Touch, though Apple has done away with it in iOS 14 making it kind of moot now.
The iPhone 12’s display is also protected by a tougher Ceramic Shield cover glass which Apple says offers 4x better drop performance.
- iPhone X – 143.6 x 70.9 x 7.7 mm, 174g, IP67 certified
- iPhone 12 – 146.7 x 71.5 x 7.4 mm, 164g, IP68 certified
The basic design of the iPhone 12 might look similar to the iPhone X but that’s about it. The iPhone 12 has a redesigned chassis with flat iPad Pro-like edges giving it a very different in-hand feel. The bigger display on the iPhone 12 also means that it is slightly taller and wider than the iPhone X, but the difference is not too big.
The main difference here is the material used as the iPhone 12 is made of aluminum while the iPhone X features a stainless steel chassis. Due to the steel chassis, the iPhone X feels more premium to hold in-hand and has a heft to it, though it’s not like the iPhone 12 feels cheap.
Lastly, while both phones are water-resistant, the iPhone 12 has IP68 certification which is rated for up to 6m depth making it notably better than iPhone X’s IP67 rating rated for 1m. Another relatively minor difference is that the iPhone 12 is available in five colors while the iPhone X was only available in Silver and Space Gray colors.
- iPhone X – A11 Bionic, 1onm chip, Neural engine
- iPhone 12 – A14 Bionic, 5nm fab, 16-core Neural engine
The A11 Bionic when it first debuted inside the iPhone X in 2017 was ahead of its time in terms of performance. The Neural Engine on the chip was a relatively big deal as it greatly helped speed up certain ML tasks.
Three years later, the A11 Bionic chip is showing its age. In comparison, the A14 Bionic inside the iPhone 12 is another league altogether. Based on the 5nm fabrication process, the 6-core CPU of the chip offers a 40 percent boost in performance while the 4-core GPU brings about a 30 percent performance jump. The Neural Engine has also gotten a major boost and now boasts of 16 cores making it twice as fast as before. Lastly, the second-generation ML boosts machine learning calculations by 10 times.
Apple claims the new CPU is 50% faster than other smartphone CPUs in the market. The GPU is also up to 50% faster than any other smartphone GPU. With such a massive performance bump across the board, the iPhone 12 lineup is once again going to set a new bar in terms of performance. The faster Neural Engine, ISP, and ML will also greatly benefit apps that are increasingly relying on them for complex and specific tasks.
- iPhone X – 64GB, 256GB
- iPhone 12– 64GB, 128GB, 256GB
Both phones ship with 64GB base storage but the iPhone 12 is available in 128GB and 256GB storage variants while the iPhone X only had another top-end variant with 256GB storage.
One advantage the iPhone 12 does have is in terms of RAM as it has 4GB RAM while the iPhone X shipped with 3GB RAM. The additional gig of RAM means the iPhone 12 is going to be much better at multitasking than the iPhone X.
- iPhone X – Dual 12MP camera setup with OIS, f/1.8 and f/2.4 aperture, 1.22um pixels, Focus Pixels, Portrait mode, True Tone Flash with Slow Sync, Auto HDR
- iPhone 12 – Dual 12MP camera setup with f/1.6 and f/2.4 aperture, 1.4um large pixels, OIS, Smart HDR 3, Focus Pixels, Portrait mode with advanced bokeh and Depth control, Brighter True Tone Flash, Night Mode, Deep Fusion, Dolby Vision with HDR recording, Night mode Time-lapse
The iPhone X has a dual-camera setup but it is different from the iPhone 12 since it packs a secondary telephoto camera which is arguably not as useful as the 12MP ultra-wide angle shooter of the newer iPhone.
Even the primary 12MP shooter on the iPhone 12 is much better than the iPhone X’s shooter. The resolution might not have changed but the iPhone 12’s primary camera has a wider aperture, better OIS implementation, bigger individual pixels, and much more. The iPhone 12 also has better video recording capabilities including features like Audio Zoom, QuickTake video, Stereo recording, Night mode time-lapse, and extended dynamic range.
Another thing to note is that the iPhone 12 comes with a 12MP TrueDepth camera while the iPhone X has a 7MP TrueDepth camera. This allows the former to capture better selfies and also helps with Face ID as it has a slightly wider field of operation.
- iPhone X – LTE-A, VoLTE, Wi-Fi ac with MIMO, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC with Reader mode, GPS
- iPhone 12 – 5G, Gigabit LTE, Dual-SIM, Wi-Fi 6 with MIMO, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC with Reader mode, Ultra-Wideband chip, GPS, Dual-SIM
The iPhone 12 represents a huge upgrade over the iPhone X in the connectivity department. Some of the improvements like Gigabit LTE, Wi-Fi 6, and U1 chip might not seem like a big deal on paper but they have a pretty noticeable impact while in daily use. Then, there’s also 5G which means you can actually get gigabit+ download speeds on mobile data.
- iPhone X – Face ID
- iPhone 12 – Face ID
While both phones have Face ID, the iPhone 12’s implementation is slightly faster and works at a slightly wider field of view. In other aspects though, the experience is largely the same — Face ID is not going to work with masks on any of the phones — and there’s no real improvement here on the iPhone 12.
Battery Life and Charging
- iPhone X – Up to 13 hours of video playback, 60 hours of video playback, Qi wireless charging support
- iPhone 12 – Up to 17 hours of video playback, 65 hours of video playback, MagSafe Charging support
One of the advantages of the slightly bigger size of the iPhone 12 is that it comes with a bigger battery than the iPhone X. Couple with other more power-efficient components, the iPhone 12 offers notably better battery life than the iPhone X. The difference is big enough to be easily noticeable in daily use as the iPhone 12 can make it through a day of heavy use while the iPhone X will struggle to do so. Both iPhones also support fast charging so they can be charged from 0-50% in just 30 minutes.
While the iPhone X also supports wireless charging, it lacks support for MagSafe charging. The latter allows MagSafe-compatible chargers to automatically snap at the back of the device. Additionally, the iPhone 12 also supports up to 15W wireless charging when used with a MagSafe charger.
- iPhone X – Started from $999
- iPhone 12 – Starts from $799
The iPhone X was available for $999 when it first launched. In comparison, the iPhone 12 is available for $799. Despite a couple of hundred lower price tag, the iPhone 12 offers much better value for money and a lot of new features that the iPhone X lacks.
Do note that the unlocked variant of the iPhone 12 is actually $30 more expensive. So, if you want to buy an unlocked iPhone 12, the starting price jumps to $829.
If you feel that your iPhone X is running slow, its camera performance is not adequate, and the device frequently runs out of charge then you should consider upgrading to the iPhone 12. The latter packs a number of new features, a bigger and better display, better battery life, and much more. If you trade-in your existing iPhone X, you can even get the iPhone 12 for a lower price.
If you have not already purchased your new iPhone, here’s how you can get an iPhone 12 for free. And once you do get your hands on it, check out the best iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro tips and tricks. There are plenty of new features in iOS 14 that you need to know about, so take your time to go through them all.
This post was last updated on March 26, 2021.