iPhone 12 Professional’s Flat Design Does not Beat the Curvy 11 Professional

iPhone 12 Pro's Flat Design Doesn't Beat the Curvy 11 Pro

The iPhone 11 Pro is one of the most perfectly proportioned, wonderfully curvy, and exceptionally comfortable to hold smartphones ever made. I’ve used it every day since its release in 2019 and compared it to most of the other popular phones that have been released since then. While some came very close to it – the Huawei P40 Pro springs to mind – nothing beat it.

Apple’s new iPhone 12 Pro doesn’t look like the 11 Pro. It looks more like the iPhone 4 and iPhone 5, with its angular sides and slablike design. No question about it, it’s a nice phone. It even looks good. But is it an improvement? I do not think so.

New design surprises

As sure as night follows day, every iPhone has been followed by an S version since the iPhone 3G, but the look of the iPhone 11 series was discontinued after a single year, although it differs significantly from the previous iPhone XS. The real reason for the decision will likely never be known, but it could have been a combination of things including increased competition, a variety of similarly curvy phones, a desire to change the design to interest new buyers, and technical requirements for the the integration of 5G antennas and other technology.

Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

I’m not going to argue about the success and quality of the design with our mobile editor Andrew Martonik, who said on his iPhone 12 Pro review, “As an overall object to keep your eyes on, it’s as great as you expect it to be would from an Apple product. Lines, tolerances and the overall finish are perfect. “

It is highly unlikely that anyone would be sad about not getting an iPhone “11S” in 2020, and there will be many who will be thrilled that the new design pays homage to some of their older, arguably most popular devices. But as someone who loves the shape of the iPhone 11 Pro, does the iPhone 12 Pro’s design recall have undesirable retro downsides?

Concerns about comfort subsided

I worried that after a year on the iPhone 11 Pro, the sharp-edged 12 Pro would feel like holding a razor blade. Apple’s switch of the iPhone SE 2020 design from the distinctly iPhone 12-like iPhone 5 to the curvier iPhone 11-like iPhone 6 already indicated that the sharp look isn’t working today. But that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

After a few days with the new phone, I found that while it is obviously very different, it is not the disaster I initially feared. It’s better than the 11 Pro in some ways. Better? Yes, and here is an example. If you hold the 12 Pro normally in your hand, the corner that is in the palm of your hand will be “softer” and won’t cause the 11 Pro’s super rounded corners to dig easily after a while. This is likely related to the additional real estate provided by the flat sides.

The iPhone 12 Pro also feels slimmer, despite having essentially the same dimensions, and this improves one-handed use. I can stretch my thumb a little further across the screen on the 12 Pro compared to the 11 Pro without having to adjust my grip, and those flat sides, in turn, mean a larger contact patch against my hand. So it’s even safer than the 11 Pro.

Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

These are pleasant surprises, and while it’s hard to get a flat, angular, sharp-edged design like this one, the 12 Pro is no better to hold than the 11 Pro. I still prefer the smoothness of the old phone as well as the curved 2.5D screen over the flat panel on the 12 Pro, even if it’s a bit bigger this time around. And I don’t find the sharp-edged buttons very nice either. However, the iPhone 12 Pro is a much more confident design that attracts far more admiring glances.

Forget Apple’s clear case

My iPhone 11 Pro spends a lot of time in Apple’s own clear case. It shows the color midnight green and makes the finish look new. It also compliments the design really well and just feels like a thicker iPhone 11 Pro in my hand. I thought of the 12 Pro and when I launched I bought the MagSafe clear case from Apple. At $ 50, it was an expensive addition and I couldn’t have been more disappointed. It underscores the delicate, millimeter-level balancing act that Apple must have performed in order for the 12 Pro’s design to feel right.

Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

I don’t mind the appearance. The oversized power icon used to designate the MagSafe charging ring is no different from the name of a case manufacturer or any other equally meaningless design on a case. What I do mind is the slippery, almost greasy finish of the clear case and how it robs the phone of comfort.

The added size of the case and the overall lack of grip make the phone less comfortable in the palm of your hand. You might be wondering why this is important, but we hold these devices for hours every day and it shouldn’t feel uncomfortable. It should feel natural, and if done right, designers make their money.

iPhone 12 Pro Design Review Screen HandApple iPhone 12 Pro Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

iPhone 12 Pro Design Review 11 Screen HandApple iPhone 11 Pro Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

iPhone 12 Pro design review and 11 chargerAndy Boxall / Digital Trends

I haven’t tried any other cases for the iPhone 12 Pro, including the Apple silicone case, and this situation may only occur with the clear case. It’s such a disappointment that I removed it from my iPhone 12 Pro and am using it without a case. This has at least given me more time to appreciate the new shape of the phone, but I’m not interested in personally reviewing the true strength of the Ceramic Shield glass, so I’ll be auditioning case alternatives soon.

The departure of the iPhone 11 Pro hurts

As soon as I finish this article, I’ll say goodbye to my iPhone 11 Pro. I used it as a trade-in for the iPhone 12 Pro, so it will need to be reset, packaged and returned, presumably to be refurbished and sold to a new owner. I’ll be sad to see it go I’m pleased with the new design of the iPhone 12 Pro because it couldn’t have existed so easily until next year if Apple had stuck to its previously rigid release structure, but I think it’s more of a sideways step in comfort-first design than a step forward. Not worse, but not better.

What this means is when you look refurbished or old iPhone 11 Pro Models, don’t hold back because it doesn’t look like this year’s phone. You get an incredibly ergonomic, well-designed smartphone that holds its own against the device it replaced, making it ahead of most other phones right now.

As for the iPhone 12 Pro, the beautiful Pacific Blue color surpasses Midnight Green every time, although its shape doesn’t quite surpass the 11 Pro for me.

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