You just bought an iPhone 12 — here are some of the fun things you can do with it

  • Apple's iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro were released on Friday.
  • CNBC has a few tips and tricks if you just bought one and want to learn more about what's new and how to get the most out of it.
  • We'll show you how to set up widgets, organize your home screen, manage your 5G network and charge faster.

Apple's iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro were released on Friday. That means they're now available for in-store pickup or will be arriving to customers who pre-ordered them earlier this month.

I have a few tips you should know about as you set them up. If you haven't used iOS 14 yet, Apple's new iPhone software that rolled out in September, then you may enjoy Apple's new widgets and app organization tools. And the iPhone 12 has a couple of unique features, like support for better selfies in dark settings and access to faster 5G networks.

Here are some tips and tricks for your new iPhone 12 as you get up and running.

Set up widgets on the home screen

Widgets are like little pieces of apps you can place on your home screen that show you information at a glance. Spotify has one, so you can see your playlists, and there are others from Google, TripIt, Robinhood and more.

You can add them to your home screen by pressing and holding anywhere until the home screen starts wobbling, then tapping the + button on the top left.

Charge faster

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I talked about this a bit when the iPhone launched but I'll reiterate: the iPhone 12 and the iPhone 12 Pro come with a cable but not a charging brick that plugs into the wall.

If you use your old small square charger that came with an older iPhone, you might want to upgrade to a new one. The latest iPhones support up to 18-watt charging, giving you about a 50% charge in 30 minutes.

I recommend Apple's $19 20-watt iPhone plug or Anker's similarly priced charging brick. 

Get rid of app clutter

Apple's new App Library feature can help you get rid of all the icons on your home screen for apps you don't use OFTEN. App Library automatically organizes everything into folders and stores them in a screen you can access by swiping left across the iPhone display.

Here's how to set it up:

First, you'll want to make sure App Library is turned on. To do that:

  • Open Settings.
  • Tap Home Screen.
  • Check "App Library Only."

Next, you can turn off the pages all of your apps appear on.

To do that:

  • Tap and hold on the home screen.
  • Tap the gray bar at the bottom of the screen.
  • Uncheck the circles for all of your home screens with apps on them.

Now, the App Library will automatically store all of your apps to the right of your primary home screen.

Take lowlight selfies and portraits

The iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro support new low-light selfies. That means your face will appear brighter even if it's dark out, and there's no need to turn on the flash. There's no need to turn it on or set it up, your iPhone just automatically detects if it's dark out and turns on night mode to make the selfie clearer. But it's fun to play with. I recommend propping your iPhone up to make sure the picture is clear, since it can get blurry if you move while it's taking a photo.

If you own the iPhone 12 Pro, try new low-light portrait pictures, which isn't supported on the regular iPhone 12. This lets you take the kind of professional-looking pictures with a subject in focus and the background blurred at night. It works pretty well.

How to turn 5G on and off

The iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro will automatically switch between 5G and 4G LTE networks to save battery life. But I've found that sometimes it will connect to a 5G network when your existing 4G LTE network is still faster. (Yes, 5G is still very confusing.)

You can move between 5G and LTE networks manually by doing this:

  • Open Settings.
  • Tap Cellular.
  • Choose 'Cellular Data Options.'
  • Pick 'Voice and Data'
  • Change from '5G Auto' to '5G On' or 'LTE.'

Now, use an app like SpeedTest to see which network is fastest.

FaceTime HD over 5G

Apple lets you do a few things over a 5G network that you can't on 4G LTE, like download big software updates and use FaceTime with clearer video quality. Just give it a try by FaceTiming with someone who's also on 5G (or Wi-Fi). You should notice, as I did, that FaceTime call quality is much clearer when you're using a 5G network.


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