The iPhone 12 and 12 Pro have more in common than you think

iPhone 12
(Image credit: Future)

With iPhone 12 handsets getting into eager early adopters’ hands, not everyone is immediately using their new handset to play the latest apps and snap photographs. Some people, inevitably, are opening them up to see what makes them tick.

Of course iFixIt is amongst that number. The repairs website has cracked open the brand new iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro, and the big surprise is how much the two handsets have in common. Indeed with the camera shield removed, the two look essentially identical: 

iFixIt iPhone 12 teardown

(Image credit: iFixIt)

That’s not just appearances, either: the OLED Retina Display, Taptic Engine and 2,815mAh battery don’t just look the same, but are essentially interchangeable, according to the site. 

In other words, you can whack an iPhone 12 Pro screen in an iPhone 12, and it’ll work just fine. That’s a bit of a surprise, given the screens have subtly different specs, with the iPhone 12 Pro screen capable of getting 200 nits brighter than the vanilla handset.

This isn’t to say that there’s no point in buying the iPhone 12 Pro, of course, and there are differences that should be obvious, even without a teardown like this. For starters, capacity is doubled, with the Pro starting at 128GB and going up to 512GB, while the regular iPhone 12 has between 64GB and 256GB. 

Then there’s the camera module. Where the iPhone 12 Pro has a telephoto lens and LiDAR scanner, the regular iPhone 12 has a plastic spacer to plug the gap. The 12-MP wide and ultra-wide cameras are again shared between the two. 

Here’s an X-ray breakdown of the two handsets side by side from Creative Electron: they really are very similar indeed.

iFixIt iPhone 12 teardown

(Image credit: iFixIt)

Of course, it wouldn’t be an iFixIt breakdown without a verdict on how easy the iPhone 12 is to repair — and it’s a middling 6/10 score for Apple here. While the site praises the modular components and use of screws over glue, they’re fiddly to keep track of and require special drivers to access. 

On top of this, the improved waterproofing makes things more complex, and the heavy use of glass is just asking for trouble. “If the back glass breaks, you’ll be removing every component and replacing the entire chassis,” the site cautions. 

Thankfully, Apple is a lot more confident of the hardiness of the iPhone 12 thanks to the introduction of Ceramic Shield — a technology the company says makes it up to four times’ less likely to break when dropped. Early tests indicate this is absolutely spot on, with the iPhone 12 capable of enduring some surprisingly steep drops on to concrete without becoming unusable.  

Alan Martin

Freelance contributor Alan has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering phones, drones and everything in between. Previously Deputy Editor of tech site Alphr, his words are found all over the web and in the occasional magazine too. When not weighing up the pros and cons of the latest smartwatch, you'll probably find him tackling his ever-growing games backlog. Or, more likely, playing Spelunky for the millionth time.