Lux’s Sebastiaan de With reviewed the iPhone 12 family as cameras. I think the whole thing is excellent — it sure helps that de With is a terrific photographer — but this, from the conclusion, stands out to me:
Smart image processing, magical multi-frame combination, deep fusion, night mode: the best camera is the one that is not just on you, but gets out of the way. That takes a great photo, yet does this smart enough to make you feel like you actually took it. A camera that takes better photos but remains neutral — allowing the photographer the flexibility to edit it afterwards to make it fit their mood and artistic vision.
Great cameras let you fail.
In out-of-the-box auto mode, I’m glad the iPhone does a lot to make pictures look terrific, without trying to invent a scene that doesn’t exist. But I am happier still that there are APIs and settings to bypass all of that and let me create the image in my head. That is, as long as I take the time to compose the shot properly, set the exposure just so, and capture the scene carefully. You know — photography.