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iPhone 12 review

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The iPhone 12 is more expensive than the iPhone 11 2019. Apple has added $100 to the price. However, it offers a variety of new features, such as an OLED display and upgraded camera.

This is only one of four iPhone 12 phones. The record-breaking iPhone 12 family has the iPhone 12 pro , iPhone 12 Mini and iPhone 12 pro Max. There is an iPhone 12 that suits everyone’s needs, but as our iPhone 12 review shows, the standard model packs the best features of the range at a much lower price than the Pro models.

Jump to…

Release Date and Price

Design

Display

Camera

Battery Life

Should it be bought?

Also, consider

  • Apple iPhone 12 (64GB) at AT&T for US$10.14

Even though the iPhone 13 has been released, the iPhone 12 remains in Apple’s official lineup. It takes over for a slightly less expensive option that doesn’t have the extra bells and whistles of the new iPhone. Apple has done this a lot. They have kept the 2019 phones but discounted them to make the iPhone 12 more affordable. We expect the iPhone 12 will be a key part of Apple’s future strategy. We can expect it to get newer updates over the years with iOS15.

The iPhone 12 headlines show that 5G offers faster speeds and better connectivity to the new iPhone. However, coverage is still limited because 5G networks have not been fully deployed all over the globe. It works great – we managed to achieve 200Mbps while on the move – but coverage is still limited in many areas, even big cities.

This being said, many people are still using their iPhones for at least three to four years. The iPhone 12 can also connect to a wide range of 5G frequencies, so if there is a signal, you should be able connect to it.

The MagSafe connector, which is new to iPhone 12, is really intriguing. This magnetic connection tech allows you to attach items to your iPhone, such as a case or charger, and can also tell you what’s been connected via a special chip.

MagSafe allows for faster charging and better accuracy, which is a great feature in its own right. But the magnetic connection opens up the doors to new accessories, like a wallet clip or camera mount. We’re certain that MagSafe accessory range will expand as more third-party manufacturers acquire the technology.

This means that we may soon see clip-on accessories such as photo printers, games controllers, and large extra batteries. These MagSafe mounts that transform your iPhone 12 into an real camera show the potential, and the sky is the limit.

The iPhone 12’s performance has been improved once again. The A14 Bionic chipet is the most powerful ever in a smartphone. It annihilates all competition and, strangely, it doesn’t get outperformed theoretically by the iPhone 12 Pro.

It is expensive to begin with 64GB of storage. If you enjoy taking full resolution photos and videos, you may find yourself bumping up against this barrier in the near future.

The iPhone 12 design has been modified with squared-off edges, which are very reminiscent of the iPhone 4, iPhone 5, and a new Ceramic Shield front, that is allegedly four times more difficult to break than the iPhone 11 (not to mention that our review sample was willing to be dropped-tested).

It has also been upgraded to an OLED display. This is the same technology used on the iPhone 12 Pro. The OLED screen offers rich colors, deep blacks and true HDR for compatible content. Although it sounds small, the 120Hz display tech could have been a benefit. However, the iPhone 12 still offers sharp and vibrant viewing experiences.

Camera-wise, the 12MP pair of ultra-wide and wide cameras are back. This model has the former, which is even more effective in low-light. Both can also be used with Night Mode. This feature can enhance your snaps in a truly amazing way. However, it is also available on the iPhone 11 and we would like to see it upgraded in 2020.

Although the video capabilities are impressive, most people will not use them. Despite this, the output is impressive to look at and something that you would be eager to share.

The new iPhone 12’s battery life is average. With heavier usage, your phone should last you most of the day – approximately 17-18 hours at a push. You can still get through the night with lighter usage, but not as much as the 2019 model.

The iPhone 12 seems like it has a lot of potential, but Apple is still relying on other companies to make it a huge success. To make the phone more appealing, we need to see 5G deployments in greater numbers. MagSafe accessories need to be adopted by others quickly.

These things aside, the iPhone 12 isn’t a vastly improved iPhone 11 and it doesn’t feel as if it surpasses its higher price tag. It still ranks in the top iPhones but it isn’t one of the most desirable smartphones.

iPhone 12: Release date and Price

  • iPhone 12 is now available around the globe
  • Prices start at $699/PS679/AU$1,199
  • Prices jump to $849/PS829/AU$1,449 per 256GB storage

iPhone 12 specifications

Weight: 164g

Dimensions : 146.7 x 71.5x 7.4mm

Display Size: 6.8-Inches

Resolution: 1170 x 2532

Chipset: A14 Bionic

RAM: 4GB

Storage: 64/128/256GB

Rear Camera: 12MP +12MP

Front camera 12MP

Pre-installed Software:iOS 14

Battery: 2,815mAh

Charging: 20W wired, 15W wireless

The iPhone 12 was released on October 23, 2020. Although the phone isn’t new yet, you can still buy it from Apple (opens a new tab), as well as many other retailers. Although the iPhone 12 mini was not released until a few months later it is still available.

The iPhone 12 launched at $799 / PlayStation799 / AU$1,349. This is $100 / P70 / AU$150 less than the iPhone 11 range. This was due to the added cost of a 5G modem but also because the iPhone 12 Mini is starting at $699 / PlayStation699 / AU$1,199.

These prices have fallen since the iPhone 13 was launched. The 64GB model starts at $699 / PlayStation679 / AU$1,199, while the 256GB version goes for $849 /PS829 /AU$1,449.

Keep in mind that the 64GB version is the only one available at the starting price. That’s a pretty low storage level for 2021. How much will it cost in your country? Below are the iPhone 12 prices in the US, UK, and Australia.

The device will be available in the US on AT&T and Sprint as well as T-Mobile, T-Mobile, Verizon. The $799 price applies only to SIM-free purchases made on these networks in the US. If you wish to buy the phone unlocked, an additional $30 will be charged.

UK residents can buy the iPhone 12 from EE, Vodafone and O2, Three as well as a range of other networks. The iPhone 12 is available in Australia at Vodafone, Optus, Telstra, and Optus.

  • These are the best iPhone 12 offers currently

iPhone 12: design

  • Revamped design, which feels like the iPhone 4
  • New Ceramic Shield should make sure that the phone is more durable
  • IP68 is water and dust-resistant, so it can withstand water

What does the term “elevated” mean to you? If one were to say, the design of something is elevated, would that mean the sides of it were now flat and more ‘industrial’-looking?

If your answer is “yes”, then you already understand the design philosophy behind the new iPhone 12. It’s almost identical in size and shape to the 2019 iPhone 11 (and actually only a few millimeters thinner and smaller), but the key difference lies in the sharp edges that are 90 degrees rather than the convex and curved sides of previous iterations.

The iPhone 12 is more comfortable to hold in your hand, the edges of the phone don’t rest as comfortably in your hands, and it doesn’t feel as sharp after several weeks of use.

You’ll be able to instantly recall the feeling of holding an iPhone 4 or 5 for many years. However, the larger phones do push it into your hands a bit more.

This is an Apple design change that’s interesting. One wonders if it was done to boost 5G signals (there’s a slight gap in the US for the mmWave version).

The phone’s rear is twice as likely to survive drops, even though it uses the same glass as the iPhone 11.

Apple claims that the new Ceramic Shield protects the iPhone 12’s front from shattering.

Many drop tests have been conducted on the internet to test this idea. Most show that the front glass is stronger and more durable than the rear.

We haven’t done any drops tests on our units, mainly because we need to keep them reviewing throughout the year. But it seems that there’s an improvement in the material on the iPhone 12’s front.

The iPhone 12 doesn’t claim to be impervious to scratches or breakability, so you won’t be able to do without a screen protector or case. It is four times less likely to break than the iPhone 12 Pro, but it will still crack from repeated drops. The front display can also get scratched if it is placed with sharp objects in a pouch, such as the iPhone 12 Pro. To keep your iPhone looking new and protected, you should use a case or screen protector.

If you like the feeling of a naked phone, you still have the chance of it breaking, but not as much.

In 2020, the IP68 rating was increased. The iPhone 12 can be submerged for up to 30 minutes at six meters before it starts to get wet. This means that there is less chance of water damage occurring every day.

The most controversial change with the iPhone 12 is not the phone itself but the items that come with it. Apple has removed the EarPods and charging block from the box. This is in order to highlight the environmental benefits of not cluttering millions of people’s drawers with items they already own (as well the shipping efficiency resulting from slimmer boxes).

“In an effort to achieve our environmental goals, the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 min do not include a power adapter nor EarPods. You can use your existing Apple power adapter or headphones, or you can purchase these accessories separately.

This is what you will see on the new iPhone page. It would make sense, except for the Apple power adapter.

Apple will include a Lightning-to-USB-C cable with the iPhone 12 (not the Lightning-to-USB-A connector). This means that you will need an older Lightning cable and charger if your new iPhone 12 is purchased. If you have a first iPhone, you’ll probably need to spend $19/PS19/AU$29 to get a charging block.

Display for iPhone 12

  • A 6.1-inch LCD display that is crisp and clear
  • A better quality display than the iPhone 11
  • Standard 60Hz refresh rate is unlike many Android alternatives

The display on the iPhone 12 is a significant improvement over the iPhone 11. While 2019 Apple made it clear that OLED displays with high contrast and fancy colors were for people who could afford the Pro, the Super Retina XDR Display was now available for those who can afford the iPhone 12.

This is especially evident when viewing HDR-encoded photos, videos, and movies.

While you might not notice a significant difference in the quality of images when browsing the internet, OLED upgrades can make a huge impact on image quality.

It means that you will have more opportunities to see high-quality content every day. HDR Netflix is not available to everyone, but HDR Netflix images in normal mode can still be vibrant and rich, which can make them even more impressive (if you’re watching the same nature videos as us).

The iPhone 12’s 2532×1170 pixel resolution is impressive. It can be viewed from all angles and sharpens easily. Although the bezels are thinner, the squared design of this phone makes them look slightly thicker. This allows the iPhone 12’s display to be a bit shorter and wider than the 2019 version while still maintaining the 6.1-inch size.

Although it was easy to criticize Apple’s display technology in the past, the iPhone 12’s screen is very good.

120Hz screen refresh rate, which allows for fluid scrolling on new iPads and some Android flagships, adds a gloss to the interaction with the iPhone. However, the sharpness, color reproduction, and HDR levels appear to be very good all around.

Our testing revealed that the iPhone 12’s brightness is slightly lower than the iPhone 12 Pro. While they have the same peak brightness for HDR content, their day-to-day view appears darker. Although we didn’t notice any difference between the two, it did make the iPhone 12 slightly brighter, which will allow for slightly longer battery life. We were able to see everything even in bright sunlight.

We don’t know if you will want HDR on your phone screen. While the HDR mode is great for color reproduction and contrast ratios (the difference in brightness and darkness) it can cause some details to be lost in the’majesty” of the display.

Although this notion is subjective and will not affect how you use your phone, it’s something you should be aware of if HDR is something you are interested in.

iPhone 12: MagSafe vs 5G – Which is the best feature in iPhone 12?

  • Future-proof with 5G connectivity
  • 5G may not be useful for everyone,
  • MagSafe tech introduces a range of accessories and uses

We’ll be covering the more complex upgrades to the iPhone 12 in a later review. However, two important changes to the 2020 model will most likely catch your attention.

Unfortunately, neither of these are likely to be incredibly impressive right now.

The iPhone 12’s main feature is 5G support. It has more compatibility than other phones to connect to 5G networks, even the limited-range, lightning-fast mmW (millimeter wave), standard in the US.

It sounds great to be able browse faster, download faster, and stream in better quality. But, 5G is not available outside large cities. Even then, coverage is limited.

Thankfully, our 4G speeds are still sufficient for most people’s current smartphones. It is acceptable to stream Netflix and Spotify, so making it faster feels like a luxury rather than a necessity. Do you need speed? Need for speed?

It is difficult to add 5G connectivity into a smartphone design. The components are more costly and the chassis space is limited.

iPhone 12 specifications

Weight: 164g

Dimensions : 146.7 x 71.5x 7.4mm

Display Size: 6.8-Inches

Resolution: 1170 x 2532

Refresh Rate: 60Hz

Pixel density: 460ppi

Chipset: A14 Bionic

RAM: 4GB

Storage: 64GB / 128GB / 256GB

Rear cameras: 12MP + 12MP

Front camera 12MP

Battery: N/A

Although 5G might not seem necessary at the moment, it is not unnecessary. First, 5G speeds are amazing when you make a connection. We were able to download a 110MB audiobook in less than a minute on a train (on the EE network) in London, UK, while a 4G connection took us at a slower rate. Although it isn’t blindingly fast (30Mbps), it is a significant improvement on 4G.

We also noticed that signal coverage is improving. We were able send and receive messages while on a train ride that was previously a blackspot. We aren’t sure if this was due to increased coverage by networks or increased band sensitivity of the iPhone, but we were happy with the results.

You would be wrong to think that 5G is all about speed. One test involved one iPhone connecting to 4G in central London. We then tried to connect to Spotify while running to stream music. It would connect. Nope.

Our iPhone 12 was upgraded to 5G and we were able instantly to connect to the internet and stream without any problems. This is partly due to the fact that 5G allows multiple connections without slowdown, and also because there are less people using this network.

You can see that 5G will be allowed at football games and packed concerts. This will mean you won’t have to use your phone on those occasions, but data won’t pass through.

We are still a long way from this, however. 5G must be deployed more widely around the globe to realize the superfast dream.

iPhone 12: MagSafe- What is it?

  • Snap-on magnet tech
  • Chargers and cases

Although 5G is the most prominent spec on the iPhone 12, it’s not the only one that makes us excited.

MagSafe is the same magnetic snap-on technology Apple used to connect its power adapter to MacBooks previously. The magnets are placed in a circle underneath the iPhone’s rear case, which allows for the introduction of accessories that simply click onto iPhone 12 handsets.

MagSafe accessories are equipped with a chip that the iPhone can read. This allows it to register what they are supposed to do. Although this feature was limited to Apple’s cases and charger at launch, it is an improvement on previous years and third-party collaborations could lead to real innovation in the iPhone.

The iPhone 12 MagSafe charger (Image credit to TechRadar).

There have been attempts in the past to bring magnetically-attached accessories to smartphones, notably by Essential and Motorola. Motorola’s Moto Mods were particularly impressive. You could attach a battery pack, game controller or speaker to your smartphone.

Motorola’s phones didn’t enjoy the same widespread adoption as the iPhone, so there wasn’t the demand from accessory manufacturers that this cool idea deserved. The feature was quietly removed.

We can get an idea of what MagSafe could offer by looking at the Moto Mods results: there was a snap on games controller, mini projector, instant photo printer, and an entirely new Hasselblad accessory for your smartphone that added a large sensor.

Imagine what innovation could be achieved with a similar system on the most loved phones in the world if we see it with the Motorola range.

You will receive a MagSafe charging cable from Apple at launch, along with some accessories and cases. It’s neat because it can charge your iPhone with 15W wirelessly. That’s twice the power of the iPhone 11.

Apple has increased the power by making sure that the charger clips securely to the device. We’ve had problems with older iPhones charging wirelessly. Sometimes we wake up to find that the wireless charger has slipped slightly when we put it on the phone. This is now a thing of the passé with the iPhone 12/MagSafe.

MagSafe cases are a great idea. The new iPhone recognizes the color of the MagSafe case through a chip and will lighten the screen with the same hue. These new cases cost PS10/$10 more than Apple’s standard cases (opens in new window), but they offer another benefit: your case can charge the iPhone 12 directly.

Many will find this a big plus. Having to remove a phone case every night can be annoying. Eventually, it can become a burden and you may just want to leave it off permanently. This reduces protection for your new phone.

iPhone 12: Camera

  • It’s similar tech to the 2019 iPhone 11, but it has some improvements
  • Rear camera features two 12MP shooters
  • A 12MP front sensor is also available

The camera setup of the iPhone 12 does not appear to have been upgraded. You can still see the wide camera (which many would call the regular sensor) and the ultra-wide snapper that allows you zoom out to capture more scenery or people in the frame.

These sensors have been upgraded in their overall capabilities. The wide 12MP sensor is now paired with an f/1.6 aperture to allow for improved low-light photography, Apple claims.

These results support the claim that low light performance can be improved for sharper images with more detail.

Night Mode was the main feature of the iPhone 11 in 2019, and it’s back with iPhone 12. Plus, you can use it with both wide and ultrawide sensors.

Night Mode detects when the light is dropping and will prompt you to hold the phone still for up 15 seconds depending on the conditions to brighten the image through computational understanding.

These shots, taken in total darkness, look as clear as daylight. It is important to set the right framing and not move the camera during exposure. You will notice a slight blurring effect.

Night Mode adds a level to night scenes that is hard to imagine, even though there may be a little motion.

The’main’ sensor is the best. However, we found that while both sensors could capture stunningly bright images in our tests, Night Mode with its ultra-wide sensor produced more muddy shots. This makes sense considering it’s less adept at low light photography.

Night Mode is a great way to brighten dark scenes. However, we wish there was more. It would have been more beneficial to use it on the ultrawide sensor. This would have made the process faster and sharpened the results.

Image 1 of 3

This is when Night Mode is turned off (Image credit TechRadar).

At the ‘auto’ level (three seconds here). (Image credit to TechRadar).

The full 10 second capture was captured (Image credit TechRadar).

We’re being a bit picky, but Night Mode requires a lot of patience to work. It would have been nice to just make it easier.

Image 1 of 2.

Images can still look very muddy… Image credit: TechRadar

It’s not so bad, but it’s not terrible if you look at the source image. (Image credit: TechRadar)

The iPhone 12 comes with a new upgrade, Smart HDR 3. This tech is capable of reading specific scenes, such as ones with a lot of sky, and tweaking photos to make them look their best. For example, highlighting features in foreground or lightening particular areas.

It can be combined with the main camera’s f/1.6 aperture to produce some stunning snaps, especially when there is mixed lighting or different color conditions.

Image 1 of 2.

This is the iPhone 12 wide angle lens. Image credit: TechRadar

The same image with an ultra-wide lens. There is a lot more information and less distortion than last year. (Image credit TechRadar).

It’s amazing that the iPhone can upgrade and enhance photos while you take them. This allows you to see how the iPhone brightens and sharpens your ordinary snaps. Apple’s Deep Fusion capabilities allow you to improve the image pixel by pixel. Although it is quite complex, it really makes your photos shine.

We were impressed by the detail captured in some photos, even though it felt a bit slow for the ‘world’s most powerful chip in smartphones’.

Image 1 of 9

The Photos app allows you to adjust the settings and create some beautiful effects (Image credit: TechRadar).

Even though night photos can be difficult to capture, they are possible with persistence (Image credit TechRadar).

Although it’s darkened in some places, this scene is still well-lit and shows great detail. Image credit: TechRadar

This photo shows the Smart HDR really bringing out the skytones. (Image credit: TechRadar).

This is the scene that looks natural, with no sharpness. (Image credit: TechRadar)

The filter can be added to make it 16:9 when exported. It is an easy enhancement and powerful. (Image credit: TechRadar).

This is the default, non-filter image. Image credit: TechRadar

This is the result with ‘Vivid Warm’ added (Image credit TechRadar).

Given the strong backlight, this foreground detail is amazing. (Image credit: TechRadar)

The front-facing camera received an upgrade. The 12MP sensor functions in the same way as the ultra-wide rear sensor. We think the f/2.2 aperture could have been a bit faster, since night shots can sometimes be more difficult to capture, but you can still use Night Mode on your front-facing camera.

While some selfies were quite good, others looked grainy or washed-out if we didn’t use the Retina flash at the front to brighten them. The portrait mode photos taken in low light were the best of the bunch.

Image 1 of 4

The selfie camera has been upgraded and now the portrair mode is more accurate. (Image credit: TechRadar).

Auto night mode activated. Image credit: TechRadar

This one impressed us with its max night mode (Image credit to TechRadar).

This shows how dark the scene looked without any enhancement. It is grainy and low in light. (Image credit: TechRadar)

Portrait mode on the front-facing camera appears to be more efficient at finding edges of hair – we didn’t see any instances where the iPhone 12’s attempts to blur background resulted in a fuzzy mess around the subject.

You can also get a performance boost if you are a video enthusiast. Apple has been very proud of the iPhone 12’s ability to record video in Dolby Vision and process it before displaying it on the display in HDR (high Dynamic Range) quality.

We played with different video settings and concluded that Dolby Vision wasn’t going be a major reason for most ‘normal’ people to purchase the iPhone 12.

While the HDR-improved results look clearer and more vibrant when compared to their non-HDR counterparts (although there is still a difference), it’s not that significant.

The iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max can record at 30fps in 4K. If you want to get the best out of Dolby Vision, you should consider the iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max. These devices can record at 60fps. This will result in smoother video for your professionally or home-made movies.

The iPhone 12 camera leaves you feeling satisfied. Apple has made improvements to the sensor, making the results a little better. Night Mode upgrades are particularly impressive and do their job well.

You might not notice any difference in the quality between the iPhone 11 or 12 (if you are trying to decide between them two); you will get great-looking, colorful snaps but the iPhone 12 Pro (and especially 12 Pro Max) have some of Apple’s best cameras, even before you see the iPhone 13 range.

iPhone 12: Battery life

  • Battery life is longer than the iPhone 11
  • Our testing suggests that the A14 Bionic chipset is more efficient

Apple seems to be continuing the trend of making the iPhone standard last a long time. The iPhone 12 has battery life improvements that will mean less trips to the charger.

Apple has clearly done some work to make sure things don’t get so dire in power management. We tested the iPhone 12 and found it to last well on a full battery, even compared to iPhones a few years ago. It’s still not a leap in battery life, but it’s at least comparable to the iPhone 11 and possibly a little worse.

We found that our battery life was about 16-18 hours on a high-use days.

Apple has reduced video playback endurance on the iPhone 12 to 17 hours instead of the 18 hours provided by the iPhone 11. This is quite odd.

We tested the iPhone 12’s battery life by playing full HD video for 90 minutes. This is a good result, but we are not seeing any significant performance improvements in our day-to-day use.

Our lab tests have shown that the iPhone 12’s battery life has been compromised by adding 5G to it. This latest iFixit teardown (opens new tab) has also shown that the iPhone design had to shrink the battery in order to accommodate the 5G modem. The iPhone 12’s longevity has suffered a significant loss.

The A14 Bionic chipet that powers the iPhone promises to be more efficient than ever while still providing some of the highest performance stats on any smartphone on the market.

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Apple has made significant improvements to its engine to ensure that it lasts year after year. The 5nm fabrication process is used to make the chipset. This means that transistors are more closely spaced and require less energy to operate. Apple could, therefore, reduce the size of the battery while still maintaining a good battery performance.

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If you plan to use the iPhone 12 extensively, such as browsing the internet and playing games, it will likely last between 7 and 10 hours before you need to charge the battery. This is a good result for modern iPhones, although we long for a day when the iPhone can be used for 24 hours, regardless of what task you are attempting to complete.

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Although it isn’t as durable as the competition, most iPhone users won’t notice a significant problem when it comes to battery longevity – it’s comparable with iPhones 2-3 years ago, but not with the iPhone XR or iPhone 11.

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We also live in a different world, one where we spend more time at home, and don’t have to commute into work. This is a change from the iPhone 12 world.

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We are taking fewer photos and listening to less music while on the move. The motion sensor inside our iPhone is also firing up less frequently, which will have an impact on the battery life.

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We’ll reiterate what we said earlier about charging: You’ll (probably) need a charger to charge your iPhone. You won’t be able to use the cable included with your iPhone 12 because it is USB-C and Lightning.

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Apple made a very strange decision to switch to USB-C cables for its iPhones before distributing the charging block. A USB-C cable is a great option for faster charging. However, you must have the right charging block and be willing to pay $19 / PS19 / AU$29 to get the privilege.

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The MagSafe charger was tested using an 18W Anker PowerPort PD 1 charger. It charged the iPhone 12 to 100 percent in just 160 minutes.

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The phone was charging at 28% after 20 minutes, and half-full after an hour. A MagSafe charger can be useful for charging longer periods, but it’s worth keeping the Lightning to USBC cable and the MagSafe charger handy. Both will plug into the same block (as MagSafe charger also uses USBC), so it’ll charge up faster with a physical connection.

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