Tech Talk

iPhone 12 (2020) vs iPhone X (2017), Worth the Upgrade?

Oct 17, 2022 Esteban Facundo

Apple has finally unveiled the iPhone 12! But what does it bring to iPhone X owners, or people prepared to upgrade to the X? Are there any new features that only the iPhone 12 can provide?

Let’s compare and contrast exactly what the newest model has over 2017’s heavy hitter.



The table below highlights the differences between the iPhone X and iPhone 12

Release date20172020
Screen size5.8 inches6.1 inches
Height & width143 mm x 70 mm146 mm x 71 mm
Depth7 mm7mm
Weight174 g164g
Display typeSuper RetinaSuper Retina
Pixel density458 ppi460 ppi
Front-facing camera7 MP12 MP
Back-facing camera12MP + 12MP Telephoto12MP + 12MP Ultra Wide
Back-facing video4K 60 FPS4K 60 FPS
Audio playbackMonoStereo
Battery power2716 mAh2775mAh
Video Playback Time13 Hours17 Hours
Internal storage64GB, 256GB64GB, 128GB, 256GB
Operating system at releaseiOS 11iOS 14
Current Operating SystemiOS 14iOS 14
BodyGlass / Stainless Steel"Ceramic Shield Glass" / Aluminum
FinishSilver, Space GrayBlue, Green, Black, White, and (PRODUCT)RED
Splash and dust resistantIP67IP68
Data Speed4G LTE5G
Price, at time of release$999, $1149$749,$799, $899
The current price, new**N/A$749,$799, $899




Where is the Upgrade?

From the table, we can see that despite being three years apart, the devices have similar exterior hardware and feature sets.

Body size and weight are quite similar.  The iPhone 12’s screen is slightly higher in size, resolution and pixel density, but the difference is very slight.  Both are classified as “Super Retina” and both are sufficiently dust resistant.

Here are the differences that matter:

CPU, Battery Life, Cameras, and Data Speed


By and large, this will be the most significant difference between the two phones on release.

Three years have passed since Apple’s A11 chip set, and there have been numerous speed and efficiency improvements made along the way.

It’s no doubt that the A14 will be 2020’s most powerful mobile CPU, but where does the extra power go to? We have reached a point in smartphone usage where daily tasks like loading videos, taking photos, playing games, and browsing social media is no longer cumbersome to even mid-ranged phones. The A11 excelled at all of these tasks in 2017 and continues to do so to this day.

Unless there are incredibly intense mobile games that a prospective user may be interested in, I find it unlikely that this new CPU will be a selling point for the phone, despite performing better.

Battery Life

While the size of the battery is roughly the same, the reported hours of video playback differ here. This is due to the previously mentioned CPU efficiency improvements.

The iPhone X should last you from morning to evening just as it always has, and it is expected that the iPhone 12 will be there for you on days that you forgot to charge, or for extended nights out.

The improvements are greatly appreciated, but nothing revolutionary. The same nightly routine of plugging in before bed will still guide our lives.


Each phone has a selfie camera and two front facing cameras.

In this case, the iPhone 12’s selfie camera has a more impressive 12 megapixel lens which beats the iPhone X’s 7 megapixel lens.

For the front facing camera, minor improvements for low light photos have been made in past generations, but the even bigger factor here is that the second lens in the iPhone X is for zooming in at an optical 2X zoom, while the iPhone 12’s second camera is for zooming out to get an even wider shot.

This ultimately comes down to personal preference and what kind of photos you are interested in taking; iPhone X for zooming in, iPhone 12 for zooming out.

Data Speed

5G, the next generation cellphone service technology, promises 4 gigabits down and 200 megabits up.

The new iPhone 12 series are the first iPhones to be equipped with technology to receive 5G signal and benefit from its increased download and upload speed.

This is certainly great for the future, but at present not many consumers will be able to access these enhanced antenna bands.

While the future of 5G looks promising, the early versions of this technology suffer from specific issues such as the cost of the extremely high speed. The areas covered from one broadcast is limited to the size of say, a park, an airport, or a football stadium. The technology has not yet reached a point where consumers will receive the benefits of 5G data while in a car, office building, or at home.


Apple’s newest phone is a magnificent piece of hardware that continues to push boundaries in terms of performance and future proofing.

However, I believe that since the past generations are not struggling at all for the vast majority of users’ demands, the general experience of using an iPhone 12 will not significantly differ from users of an iPhone X.

Specifically, I think a user who has been holding on to an iPhone 6 or 7 for the past six years would get much more value out of the iPhone X considering that high quality used devices are selling for about $390, and prices are decreasing every day.

Why pay more? Stay up to date at a discount.

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