Do You Need a 5G iPhone? No, but You’re Getting One Anyway

By WIRED Staff

Michael Calore: Yes, Lauren.

LG: Mike, are you going to upgrade your iPhone?

MC: Well, I don't have an iPhone, so no.

LG: But it has 5G!

MC: Yeah. Who cares?

LG: Let's see if we can answer that on this week's show.

[Gadget Lab intro theme music]

LG: Hi, everyone. Welcome to Gadget Lab. I'm Lauren Goode. I'm a senior writer at WIRED and I'm joined remotely by my cohost, WIRED senior editor, Michael Calore, he who does not have an iPhone.

MC: Hello, from Pixel land.

LG: We're also joined by WIRED senior associate editor, Julian Chokkattu who has 17 different phones on him right now. Hey, Julian?

Julian Chokkattu: Hello. Yeah, my desk has six phones on it right now.

LG: So today we are talking about yet another Apple event. This week, Apple announced a new iPhone 12, actually, four of them, and a tiny smart speaker. And these are the first iPhones with 5G, which matters? Doesn't matter? It doesn't matter yet? We're going to talk about 5G later on in the show. What you need to know about it, the challenges in rolling it out across the US and whether you'll even be able to connect to 5G with the new iPhone.

Our colleague Will Knight is going to join us later on for that. But first let's talk about the phones themselves. Julian, the new iPhone has chamfered edges. Let's just get that out of the way. That's probably the most important thing here, right? OK. But obviously there's more than that. What stood out to you most about the new iPhones 12.

JC: As someone who takes a lot of photos and tests the cameras on phone, a lot, a lot of the camera upgrades were the most exciting thing for me. And I really like how a lot of those camera upgrades are kind of, for the most part, all across the entire lineup from the 699 iPhone 12 mini you're getting the same main camera that they improve the aperture on as the iPhone 12 Pro.

But for the most part that iPhone 12 Pro, you get these new features like ProRAW which gives you the ability to edit raw photos and also get the benefits of Apple's computational photography. And that is just something that is really exciting for someone who takes a lot of raw photos with my mirrorless camera. It just gives you more granular control over photo editing. And also the other thing is they're bringing night mode to every single lens that's on this phone.

So finally, you can take a selfie at night and not have to worry about it being too terrible looking or grainy. So overall, I think the entire suite of camera features on the entire range is pretty exciting and pretty dramatically better than what you had last year on the iPhone 11.

LG: Tell us about some of the video improvements too.

JC: Yeah. For the video improvements, they added the ability to shoot HDR with Dolby Vision which apparently the only phone that can do this, and it basically lets you get this pro-grade cinematic looking effect or look, you could say with all of your videos at 10-bit. So it's super high quality. It just looks really good with the option to edit the colors and have really good cinematic looking video as well with the iPhone 12 Pro, you have this improved stabilization system that moves the sensor itself.

So basically in effect, you're getting something that feels and looks much more high quality than ever before. And again, this is somewhere where Apple leads compared to every other phone manufacturer. Maybe Samsung is pretty close. No one else does the ability to shoot video quality this well, and every year, it just seems to be getting further and further away from other companies, even like Google and its pixel phones that take really great photos.