Small phones are a dying breed – but Apple might just have changed that. Finding a compact and powerful phone is an even tougher ask. Earlier on in the year, Apple released the iPhone SE 2020. While it is hailed for its performance, it is housed in the body of the iPhone 8, making it a step away from the design language of the newer iPhones. It debuted with the A13 Bionic which was the latest Apple processor at the time making it a performance beast at the sub-$400 bracket. However, the 4.7” screen is flanked by huge bezels and the battery is not all that impressive. Still, it is an option for anyone who likes compact phones.
A Welcome Addition
Fast forward to late 2020 and Apple added a new variant to the iPhone 12 lineup – the iPhone 12 Mini. Naturally, it had everyone buzzing. A small phone that was just as powerful as the biggest of the bunch? Yes, please. Over in the Android universe, big means powerful, stacked, expensive – small means the opposite.
First of Many?
Enter Tim Cook and Co. It was not enough that the 12 Mini is tiny, they released it alongside the biggest iPhone ever made – the 12 Pro Max. Any iPhone user who chose to forego the 12 and 12 Pro siblings has a choice to make: Max or Mini? Does it hold its own? Is it the best compact phone there is? Let’s find out, shall we?
iPhone 12 Mini
It is all in the name. This is the iPhone 12 – mini. It quite literally is the vanilla iPhone 12 shrunk down. It is very reminiscent of the iPhone 5, and if you had that phone, it is bound to trigger some nostalgia. While comparing it to the iPhone SE 2020 might seem like the logical thing to do, it goes toe to toe with its bigger siblings. There are plenty of compromises with SE, and while there are a few inevitable ones with the 12 Mini, it is otherwise only comparable in size.
Less Is More?
Whether it is size or value, there is truth to be found in that statement as regards to the 12 Mini.
Coming in with a 5.4” display, it much smaller compared to the 6.1” on the 12 & 12 Pro and the 6.7” on the Pro Max. It has a bigger screen than the iPhone SE, but the modern design means it has a smaller body, making it the smaller device. It has the same brilliant OLED display as the other 2020 iPhones with a resolution of 1080×2340 and a PPI count of 476. All other features like Ceramic Shield, Dolby Vision and HDR10 are present as well.
Size & Build
The first thing you notice when you have the 12 Mini on hand is the ease of usability. Coming from a much bigger phone, you will find yourself admiring just how compact it is as you reminisce on the last time your thumb could reach all four corners of a phone. It is a different experience – but a welcome one. The size does not take anything away from the premium feel of the phone. It has the same high-quality build as the regular iPhone 12 as well as IP68 certification. It weighs 135g compared to the iPhone 12’s 164g.
The base variant comes in at $729, making it the cheapest iPhone 12 variant. The base iPhone 12 starts at $829, making the difference in size worth about $100. But what if you actually like the smaller phone?
In the comparison between the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro, the vanilla iPhone 12 came out on top in terms of its value proposition. The price difference is substantial and the feature differences are somewhat minimal unless the extra camera and storage space is an absolute must. Now, the Mini upstages the 12 to a greater degree.
The two phones have the same base storage and the same number of camera lenses. The only difference is the screen size and battery capacity (and consequently battery life). Is the extra $100 worth it?
Baby iPhone Packs a Punch
Cute, but powerful. The 12 Mini has the same processor internals as the 12 Pro Max – Apple’s 5nm A14 Bionic. What else is there to be said? It breezes past tasks. The lack of a high refresh rate does nothing to dampen the speed of the 12 Mini. IOS 14’s shiny new features work well on this phone, even though the icons are much smaller than you are used to.
The 12 Mini packs the same dual-lens camera found on the iPhone 12. The main 12mp sensor takes great shots, and the inclusion of night mode on the ultrawide lens does wonders for those dramatic shots taken in low light. Its siblings like the 12 and 12 Pro Max have extra telephoto lenses and a larger sensor in the case of the Pro Max, but the Mini remains a great camera. It has support for Dolby Vision, which is a higher standard for shooting on mobile – something not found even on the most high-end Android phones as of yet. No corners were cut for the mini in the camera department.
Compromises in the 12 Mini
For such a small-sized phone, it would have been impossible to replicate what was found on the other variants. Necessary internal components like the 5G antennas take up space that would otherwise have been used to enhance other features.
Battery & Charging
The iPhone 12 Mini has a 2227 mAh battery. Before you understandable scoff at that number (looking at you Android users), there is a reason why Apple does not bother to mention the battery capacities on iPhones. Control over the hardware and software allows Apple to optimize efficiency which means that smaller battery capacity lasts for much longer than expected.
With that said, however, the 12 Mini has average battery life at best. Hardcore users will not make it to the end of the day. The charging is not great either. MagSafe tops out at 12W compared to 15W on all the other iPhone 12s. This is possibly due to thermal concerns considering it is such a small body.
It’s a relatively smaller screen and media consumption take a hit. The screen is brilliant, but bigger screens offer a better experience. The notch size on the Mini is the same size as the one on the 12 Pro Max – meaning it takes up more screen real estate.
There is a learning curve when it comes to typing, especially if you’re coming from a much bigger phone. This is more of a personal compromise as opposed to a compromise on Apple’s side.
The iPhone 12 Mini is a great phone offering great value. The compromises are understandable and the perks can genuinely not be found anywhere else. It is easily the best compact phone of the year and is bound to have a cult following in a few weeks. Whether you choose to go Max or Mini, make sure your phone lasts you a long time by getting some protection for it. Browse for great Tech Armor screen protectors right here.