Want the best iPhone 12 camera? There's only one option

Apple last night revealed its entire iPhone 12 lineup, and like every year, it talked up a bunch of camera enhancements across the board. But while most models are seeing modest camera improvements, one stands out from the rest: the iPhone 12 Pro Max.

Previously, both 'Pro' models have enjoyed the exact same camera setup, but for the first time ever, Apple has genuinely maxed out the 'Max'. The larger phone features the biggest ever sensor in an iPhone, as well as a longer focal length. If price isn't an issue (at £1,099/$1,099, it ain't cheap), the iPhone 12 Pro Max could be aiming straight for the top of our best camera phones list (and then some). 

iPhone 12 Pro Max

For the first time, one 'Pro' iPhone features a better camera than the other (Image credit: Apple)

Boldly calling it "the photographer's iPhone" during yesterday's launch event, Apple is clearly confident in the iPhone 12 Pro Max's abilities – and it's easy to see why. Both 'Pro' iPhone 12 models can capture the HDR format Dolby Vision footage in real time, with Apple claiming them to be "the first cameras and only devices in the world" to be able to process this in-camera, while recording. The company shared some example footage (below), shot by film director Emmanuel "Chivo" Lubezki.

Apple also announced ProRAW, a new, raw image format which retains much more metadata for post-production. The company claims that the power of the A14 Bionic chip makes this possible – so it's curious to note that ProRAW isn't present in the standard iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Mini, which both feature the same chip. That said, all four phones should be able to handle any of the best video editing apps without an issue.

Dolby video and ProRAW are impressive software enhancements, but if you're looking for innovative camera hardware, you'll need to look to the largest model. The iPhone 12 Pro Max features a 47% larger sensor, which brings an 87% improvement in dark conditions. This means that in some conditions, the iPhone 12 Pro Max's camera is almost twice as effective as the iPhone 12 Pro's.

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For the first time in a few years, then, if you want the best possible camera in an iPhone (and possibly any smartphone), you'll have to go for the largest and most expensive model. Like previous years, the Pro Max is $99 more than the Pro – but that price jump seems to bring with it a lot more value for creatives this time around.

Of course, the iPhone 12 Pro Max won't be for everyone. For a start, the 6.7-inch device is huge – especially compared with the strangely adorable iPhone 12 mini. And if you don't need the best-of-the-best when it comes to photography, the iPhone 11 Pro still has an incredible camera setup. Check out today's best deals below, and don't forget to take a look at the best Apple Amazon Prime Day deals while there's still time. 

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Daniel John
Senior News Editor

Daniel John is Senior News Editor at Creative Bloq. He reports on the worlds of art, design, branding and lifestyle tech (which often translates to tech made by Apple). He joined in 2020 after working in copywriting and digital marketing with brands including ITV, NBC, Channel 4 and more.