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Like clockwork, new iPhones are once again on their way to a pocket near you — this time, in a brand new color. Starting today, you can pre-order Apple's iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Mini models in a bright aluminum purple finish. The announcement comes five months after the launch of the iPhone 12 Mini and iPhone 12 Pro Max models. The company also revealed new accessories, including a new MagSafe leather case in Deep Violet, a silicone case in four different colors and a leather wallet in Arizona, all available to order now.
Like the five other colorways offered for the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Mini, pricing for the new purple phone will start at $800 and $700, respectively, when tied to a carrier contract (a SIM-free phone will cost $830 and $730, respectively). The iPhone 12 and the iPhone 12 Mini in a purple finish is available for pre-order starting today and will ship on April 30.
If you're thinking about upgrading, we're here to help you decide whether the new iPhone 12 is worth your money — and it depends on what phone you currently have. Each of Apple's four iPhone 12 models brings forth its own form factors and improvements. Below, we dig into what sets them apart (and what is similar among them).
- Price: starts at $800
The iPhone 12, which starts at $800 depending on the amount of storage you want, is an update both inside and out. The flat-edge design is similar to the iPhone 5 from a few years back, but with six different colors to choose from, an improved dual-camera layout on the back, and the large screen modern iPhones have used for the past few years. It's also powered by Apple's newest A14 Bionic processor for snappy performance, alongside 5G support for super fast wireless internet (you know, if and when you can find it — 5G isn't that useful yet). Its magnetic wireless charger makes for lots of fun accessories, and ensures your charging pad snaps into place every time.
- Price: starts at $700
After years of phones growing in size, Apple finally reversed course a bit and introduced the iPhone 12 Mini. Its 5.4-inch screen still goes edge to edge, however, which is more than enough for most folks. It has all the same specs as the standard iPhone 12, though it’s slightly less expensive at $700. The smaller screen may not be quite as pleasant for watching movies or playing games, but for most people, it still strikes a good balance between screen size and pocketability.
- Price: starts at $1,000
The iPhone 12 Pro includes all the improvements of the iPhone 12, alongside a LIDAR sensor for improved augmented reality, and an even more beefed-up triple camera system with better zoom and low-light performance (not to mention HDR video). These upgrades are most useful for photographers and videographers (or Instagrammers, YouTubers and TikTokers). Unfortunately, neither the iPhone 12 Pro nor the iPhone 12 Pro Max are currently available in the purple color.
- Price: starts at $1,100
The iPhone 12 Pro Max is similar to the iPhone 12 Pro, but in a larger form factor with the best camera system of the entire lineup, with even better optical zoom and low-light performance.
So the iPhone 12 sounds exciting. Should you buy one?
As a tech reviewer for longer than a decade, I love getting to play with the latest gadgets. But phones have gotten good enough that you don't need to upgrade as often as you used to. Apple has done an incredible job keeping older phones snappy and up-to-date with the latest software (unlike the days of old when a two-year-old iPhone would stop getting updates and felt unbearably slow). So I usually recommend holding onto your devices as long as possible — your wallet will thank you, and so will the environment.
But no phone lasts forever.
Maybe your current iPhone is feeling long in the tooth, or you're weighing the decision to repair the phone you have vs upgrading it. Here are some ballpark recommendations to help steer your iPhone 12 deliberation:
If you have an iPhone X, iPhone 11 or other new-ish device, I wouldn't recommend upgrading. Those iPhones are still fantastic, providing high-quality cameras, speedy performance and modern software. As much as Apple would like you to think the iPhone 12 would be a revolutionary life change — just like last year's model and the year's before that — upgrading from a recent iPhone is going to offer incremental improvements in the grand scheme of things. That probably isn't worth $700 to $1,100. Even if your phone needs repairs, it'll be a fraction of that cost, so don't let FOMO get the better of you. Your phone is still great.
The iPhone Xr may not have the perfect blacks of an OLED screen or the triple-camera layout of the iPhone 12 Pro but it's still a fantastic phone. In fact, it's so good that Apple still sells it, and for $500, it's a pretty good deal for those that don't need the latest and greatest. (You can get it refurbished for even less, too.)
If you have an iPhone 6s, 7, 8 or first-gen SE, the choice is a bit tougher. I think these devices are still pretty solid — my wife and I both own iPhones in this bracket, for example, and they're still performing well and getting software updates. The iPhone 12 models, however, will likely have better performance in high-end games and noticeably better cameras, particularly when it comes to portraits and low-light shots. So if you have kids or otherwise take lots of photos, that upgrade may be worth it to you.
Alternatively, if you're itching for that new phone high but don't need the iPhone 12, consider replacing your phone's worn-out battery and grabbing a new case for a slightly fresher look and feel.
If you've been holding off upgrading because you don't like the new form factors — I'm a fan of the home button and fingerprint sensor myself — the latest iPhone SE is a good alternative. It has the size and shape of older iPhone models with more modern internals for snappy performance. And it starts at $400, which is super compelling for the quality of what you get.
If you have an iPhone 6, 5s, or older device, it's almost certainly worth upgrading to a newer iPhone. While these phones haven't been abandoned entirely (they did get some security updates this year), they aren't getting any major iOS feature updates, and the general experience is probably feeling a little sluggish thanks to the old hardware inside. Upgrading to a new model will be a big step up, whether you go with the affordable SE or the top-of-the-line 12 Pro Max.