iPhone 12 Review (2024) – The Best iPhone to buy Refurbished?

Apple’s original 5G iPhone has steadily dropped in price since 2020, and still has everything you could need.

The iPhone 12 is no longer a phone you can buy direct from the main Apple store. Only old stock and refurbished models remain available. But with a moderately powerful processor, very capable camera, and the modern iPhone design we all know and love, there’s still plenty of reasons to love it.

Most importantly, the iPhone 12 was Apple’s first 5G iPhone, which also means that it’s the most affordable. Any older (i.e. any cheaper), and you’re stuck with the 4G connectivity of the iPhone 11.

In 2024, a refurbished iPhone 12 can be less than half its original price. If that sounds good to you, then the iPhone 12 might be the perfect iPhone for buying refurbished.

Unique features

My Take on the iPhone 12’s Unique Features

I’ve found the iPhone 12 to be a fantastic blend of speed, efficiency, and connectivity. With its A14 Bionic chip, it races through tasks and apps with ease, and being my first foray into 5G, the speed improvement has been a game-changer for my daily internet use. Battery-wise, it’s been a reliable partner throughout my day, consistently outperforming my expectations and keeping me connected without the constant need to recharge.

Design and Build

You’ll mostly find the same design features on this iPhone as those that have come before and after it – the now-familiar notch display housing the selfie camera, the rounded corners, and the lack of a dedicated ‘home’ button.

What I particularly love about the iPhone 12 is the return to the flat-edge design, which makes it feel more ‘iphoney’ than the iPhone 11 (for want of a better word).

Maintaining the now-iconic notch, the iPhone 12 respects its roots while pushing forward in build quality and protection. It’s definitely a little more durable than the iPhone 11, although there’s only so much durability you can get out of a phone made of glass front-and-back.

In 2024, the iPhone 12 is a lot more wallet-friendly than when it first arrived on the scene, making it a great choice for people who want a phone that does a lot without costing a ton of money.

I consider this phone a smart buy for anyone looking for both quality and value. A respectable refurbisher such as The Big Phone Store will be able to provide a great iPhone 12 at a third of the price!

It’s especially good for folks who want a phone that’s good for the planet too, since buying refurbished helps reduce waste.

For the most affordable option, make sure you opt for the 128GB version for a good balance of storage space and affordability.

ModelPriceOur Price*
iPhone 12£799 (64GB)£239 (Good Condition)
iPhone 12 Mini£699 (64GB)£229 (Very Good Condition)
*prices checked Feb 2024, available only while refurbished stock lasts
Did you know?
Unlike many Android phones, iPhones don’t come with expandable storage – which means there is no option to add storage with a microSD card.
Read More: Is 128GB enough?

Is 128GB enough storage for you?

For most users in 2024, we think 128GB is absolutely enough.

Once you take away the storage space you need to cover the bare minimum functions, you’re left with a comfortable 100GB. That’s enough for up to 30 hours of Full HD video, up to 22,000 photos, or 5 huge mobile games (we’re looking at you, Genshin Impact).

If you have a love for taking 4K videos with your iPhone, then you’ll only squeeze a few hours of footage onto your phone before needing to delete something, but serious camera lovers should consider a higher-spec iPhone anyway. Also, Apple offers affordable cloud storage options with iCloud+!

3.0 GHz

(max. CPU Speed)


(aka Memory)

The iPhone 12 uses the A14 Bionic chip, the same as the iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max. This chip features limited AI processing, and has an impressive top speed, but what does that all do for you in practice?

The answer is simple: the A14 chip is much more than just capable of giving you the performance you need to have a stable and reliable iPhone experience. Unless you’re a pro gamer or 3D designer, this powerful little budget model will give you every bit of power you need.

Finally, the iPhone 12 was launched with iOS 14, and is upgradable to the most recent versions of iOS. Assuming 6 years of software updates (as Apple have previously stuck to), it will keep running smoothly and securely until 2026.

When the iPhone 12 was first introduced in 2020, Apple advertised its battery life to last up to 17 hours for video playback, up to 11 hours for streamed video playback, and up to 65 hours for audio playback.

If you pick up an iPhone 12 from a place that knows its stuff, like a store that specializes in refurbishing phones, they’ll make sure the battery is in tip-top shape before you take it home. This means they check the battery to ensure it can still hold a good charge, giving it a thumbs up for keeping you connected.

The iPhone 12 is also capable of fast charging (with any official Apple charger), wireless charging (using the universal Qi standard), and Apple’s custom battery optimizations mean that your phone will last longer than other leading Android flagships (per miliamp-hour of battery capacity).

Read More: A note on Battery Health

Phone batteries can degrade as you use them, depending on a huge number of factors such as your charging habits and how you take care of your device. You can protect your phone battery by enabling the smart battery optimizations and optimized charging on your iPhone.

When you’re buying a refurbished phone, battery health can vary depending on the grade of the phone. At The Big Phone Store, our refurbished iPhones have a MINIMUM of 80% battery health – and if you’re not satisfied with that, we even offer battery replacements on all our refurbished iPhone models!

To read more about battery health, click here.

The iPhone 12 only has 2 rear-facing camera lenses: one wide, and one ultrawide. It doesn’t have the telephoto lens included on all of Apple’s Pro iPhones.

Compared to the iPhone 11, the iPhone 12 made significant strides, especially with its dual-camera system on the back. Both phones have a main and an ultra-wide camera, but the iPhone 12 offers improved low-light photography thanks to its Night mode being available on all cameras, including the ultra-wide and the front selfie camera. This means your evening shots and selfies come out clearer and brighter on the iPhone 12, making it a noticeable upgrade from the iPhone 11.

When you put the iPhone 12 next to the iPhone 13, the differences become subtler but still meaningful. The iPhone 13’s camera system has a few more tricks up its sleeve, such as Cinematic mode for video and Photographic Styles to customize your photos before you even take them. However, the iPhone 12 holds its own with excellent photo quality that many users find more than sufficient for their needs. Its Night mode and Deep Fusion technology provide sharp, detailed photos in various lighting conditions, which remain competitive even as newer models come out.

iPhone 12 Camera Specs
Main Lens: 12MP, ƒ/1.6 (great low light performance)
Wide Lens (120° FOV): 12MP, 13mm, ƒ/2.4
Selfie (TrueDepth): 12MP, ƒ/2.2

The iPhone 12’s display is a massive step up ahead of the iPhone 11. Rather than keeping the lower-quality LCD camera, the iPhone 12 took the Super Retina XDR display from the iPhone 11 Pro – and the same display has stuck with every iPhone since.

Super Retina XDR displays have a pixel density of about 460ppi (pixels per inch) – which for a phone held at a normal distance from your face, is a higher resolution than the human eye. 

Here’s how far you need to zoom in before you can see the individual pixels on the screen:

Steve's headshot
Steven Athwal
Sustainability Expert

Apple uses carbon offsetting to make their own operations 100% carbon-neutral, and have the ambitious goal of offsetting the total carbon footprint of all of their products by 2030.

The fact that you can’t buy a new iPhone direct from the manufacturer means that the iPhone 12 is a no-guilt purchase in 2024. Only refurbished models remain, which means that if anything, by buying an iPhone 12 and taking care of it, you’re saving a device from ending up in a landfill site.

– Steve

You should buy the iPhone 12 if…

You should buy the iPhone 12 in 2024 if you’re looking for a high-quality, reliable smartphone that balances advanced features with affordability. Whether you’re into photography, need a durable device for everyday use, or simply want a phone that can keep up with the latest apps and updates without breaking the bank, the iPhone 12 offers a compelling mix of performance, camera excellence, and future-proofing that’s hard to beat at its price point.

You should avoid this phone if…

If you want a phone that you know will last you for as long as possible, then the iPhone 12 might not be the best choice for you. Newer iPhones are even more durable than the 12, and will recieve software and security updates for many more years into the future.