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The iPhone 12 is a smartphone made for our dire times

In the end, some Good news! It’s been a rough few months, but Apple is ready to help bring you back. On Tuesday, the company finally unveiled the iPhone 12, in four different variations and a smattering of delightful colors. Could this be the best thing that happened in 2020? Could be!


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This was a very special Apple event. As it is still not safe to gather in a crowd, the usual hustle and bustle has been abandoned in favor of a series of pre-recorded videos. But you didn’t have to be there to understand that this is the most dramatic iPhone version of recent years. The new model uses the new Apple A14 Bionic system on a chip, which has 11.8 billion transistors spread across six cores and powers a whole host of great new features.

The big picture

The feature that will have the greatest daily impact for most users is the improved set of cameras. When you live the story, you really want to have the best possible image capture at your fingertips. The sky can now turn bright orange due to how much of the planet is on fire, and the iPhone 12’s Deep Fusion Computational Photography System and Smart HDR 3 System will help you catch every last surreal shade. Future generations may not believe it was ever blue, so now is the time to take your final beautiful shots of the horizon using the new 12 megapixel f / 1.8 “wide” camera. Congratulations, as always, to Apple’s hardware engineers for designing the devices we will need in this previously unfathomable future.

Some have speculated that the FaceID unlock feature of the front cameras could be significantly faster on new phones. It’s all a bit theoretical for now, as your face will always be covered with a mask. Still, it’s nice to know that the feature will be waiting for us if we ever manage to develop a vaccine. Plus, the credit is due: Apple is one of the few popular facial recognition technologies on the market that helps people instead of supervising them.

Meanwhile, the stress of long-term isolation has made it more important than ever to stay in touch with your support network, particularly if your terrible health insurance doesn’t include mental health benefits. This is still technically a phone, after all, even though the uncontrolled proliferation of spam callers makes it nearly impossible to use it as such. Tools like FaceTime are absolutely vital when you can’t safely see your friends and family in person, and on the iPhone 12 you’ll always be great no matter how you actually are. FaceTime is end-to-end encrypted too, so your conversations will be private, although if you’re really worried about that you should probably switch to Signal.

The silver lining

The iPhone 12 does its part to keep up with the dizzying pace of life in 2020. Connectivity speeds have been significantly improved, with the new models operating on high-speed 5G networks and delivering data up to 4 gigabits per second. This is particularly good, given that most of the traditional internet is now full of ads that are difficult to block from mobile device operating systems. I guess you could try to solve the problem by addressing the underlying economic forces, but as usual Apple has a more elegant solution: just move everything at higher speeds!

At this week’s unveiling event, Apple CEO Tim Cook pointed out that faster connectivity also helps improve your personal security, since you won’t need to connect to the internet as often via inaccurate WiFi hotspots. He’s right: you really can’t afford to trust foreign networks anymore. At the very least, you need to use a VPN service every time you connect to the internet via a network you don’t personally control. In fact, it might even be wise to always use a VPN, even on your own connection, now that the FCC has explicitly allowed ISPs to undermine net neutrality and the FBI doesn’t need a warrant to look into your browsing history. Whether or not you pay for an extra layer of protection, 5G is a big deal.

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