In 2020, phones are big. Even the small ones are big. The iPhone 12 Mini is wonderful because it’s not big. It’s truly small. When Apple announced the Mini along with the iPhone 12, 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max it was a remarkable moment for small phone lovers like myself. For a long time, we’ve wanted Apple to make a truly small iPhone in the vein of the iPhone 5, 5S or original SE. Earlier this year, Apple got our hopes up a bit, when it released a new iPhone SE which put the brains of the iPhone 11 Pro into the smallish body of the iPhone 8. It’s a solid phone for the price, but it’s tucked inside a three-year-old design.
Obviously when you make anything smaller, there are going to be trade-offs and I braced myself wondering which features Apple sacrificed to make a small phone in 2020. But the iPhone 12 Mini has everything the iPhone 12 has — it’s just smaller. It has the same flat-sided design, support for 5G and OLED screen with support for HDR. The screen is covered with Apple’s ceramic shield. The body has an IP68 rating for dust and water resistance and supports MagSafe wireless charging and accessories. It has the same A14 Bionic processor, runs the same iOS 14 software and even has the same cameras. The iPhone 12 and 12 Mini are the same phone. But one is small and one isn’t.
The iPhone 12 Mini has a 5.4-inch display and costs $729 (£699, AU$1,199) while the iPhone 12 has a 6.1-inch screen and costs $829 (£799, AU$1,349). If you activate either phone on a carrier when you buy it, that price drops $30. Also, carriers are running a number of deals and discounts on these phones, especially if you trade in an old phone.
A couple of weeks ago, I did an in-depth review of the iPhone 12. Since this is the same phone, all of those criticisms apply. So for this iPhone 12 Mini review, I wanted to see if the convenience its size provides comes at the sacrifice of features I’ve grown accustomed to on larger phones, such as an all-day battery life. Spoiler alert: It doesn’t.
Overall, the small physical size, the swipe-friendly navigation in iOS 14 and high screen-to-body ratio make this compact phone nearly perfect… for me. But it might not be for you. That small screen is great for one-handed use, but you might not find it great for reading, or viewing documents. There will be many people who find the keys on the onscreen keyboard too tiny. And that’s why there’s the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro Max.
Still, Apple nailed the iPhone 12 Mini. It’s a one-handed phone user’s dream. And it’s good to see Apple go so big on a phone so small.
The iPhone 12 Mini is actually small
With flat aluminum sides and a glossy glass back, the iPhone 12 Mini looks like a premium version of the iPhone 5, which is absolutely a good thing. In fact, it isn’t much bigger than an iPhone 5 and it’s smaller than the 2020 iPhone SE. The 12 Mini has a much higher screen-to-body ratio than the SE, which is great for watching videos or just having more information displayed on screen, like extra conversation threads in the Messages app.
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