Left to right: The iPhone 12 Mini, iPhone 12, and iPhone 12 Pro Max.

Patrick Holland / CNET

In 2020, phones are big. Even the little ones are big. The iPhone 12 Mini is wonderful because it's not big. It is really small. When Apple announced the Mini along with the iPhone 12, 12 Pro and 12 per max It was a remarkable moment for little phone lovers like me. We've wanted Apple to make a really small iPhone in the style of the iPhone 5, 5S, or the original SE for a long time. Earlier this year, Apple raised our hopes a little when it released one new iPhone SE what the brains of iPhone 11 Pro in the small body of the iPhone 8. It's a solid phone for the price, but it's in a three-year-old design.

Of course, if you make something smaller there will be tradeoffs, and I was wondering what 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 design, support for 5G and OLED screens with support for HDR. The screen is covered with Apple's ceramic shield. The housing is rated IP68 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 is not.

To like

  • It's actually small
  • 5G support
  • Easy to use with one hand
  • Fits in most pockets
  • Same cameras and everything as the iPhone 12

I do not like it

  • The Baseline iPhone 12 Mini only has 64 GB of storage space
  • The back glass is a fingerprint magnet
  • The battery life is good for the size, but okay compared to the iPhone 12

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 is $ 829 (£ 799, AU $ 1,349) $) costs. If you activate either of a cellular carrier's two phones when you purchase, that price drops $ 30. Plus, cellular carriers have a number of deals and discounts on these phones, especially if you're trading in an old phone.

I did one a few weeks ago in-depth review of the iPhone 12. Since this is the same phone, all of these criticisms apply. For this iPhone 12 Mini review, I wanted to see if the convenience its size offers was due to sacrificing features that I have become used to on larger phones, such as: B. an all day battery life. Spoiler alert: it doesn't.


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iPhone 12 Mini Review: There's a Lot to Like for a Phone …

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Overall, the small physical size, swipe-friendly navigation in iOS 14, and the high screen-to-body ratio make this compact phone nearly perfect … for me. But it might not be for you. This small screen is great for one-handed use, but may not be suitable for reading or viewing documents. There will be many people who find the keys on the on-screen keyboard too small. And that's why there is the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro max.

Still, Apple nailed the iPhone 12 Mini. It is a one-handed phone user's dream. And it's good to see Apple getting so big on such a small phone.

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The iPhone 12 Mini fits in the watch pocket of jeans. Although the top protrudes.

Patrick Holland / CNET

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 fine. In fact, it's not much bigger than an iPhone 5 and smaller than the iPhone SE 2020. The 12 Mini has a much higher screen-to-body ratio than the SE. This is ideal for watching videos or simply showing more information on the screen, such as: B. Additional conversation threads in the Messages app.

The back of the glass easily picks up fingerprint marks and dust. If you want to wrap this into one case, it's not a problem. But without one, you're basically carrying your personal CSI: Miami crime scene with you.

As with the rest of the iPhone 12 family, you'll either love or hate these boxy sides. I think they're wonderful, especially on a phone this size. The pages give me a secure grip on the phone without trying. The flat edges also allow you to stand the 12 Mini on its side to take a photo or watch a video.

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The iPhone 12 Mini is the little phone from Apple that many of us have been waiting for. Here it is next to an iPhone 5.

Patrick Holland / CNET

The display looks tiny compared to the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro, especially next to the iPhone 12 Pro Max's 6.7-inch screen. For some, that small screen is a reason to stick to the 12. For others, like me, the small display is the main reason to choose the 12 Mini. With my thumb in a wiper movement, I can reach any part of the screen. It's satisfying. Even on a slightly larger phone like last year's iPhone 11 Pro (which has a 5.8-inch screen and isn't much bigger), I couldn't get to every part of the screen. And when I tried to reach the top I either had to strain my thumb or loosen my grip and inevitably drop my phone.

In iOS there is a clever software band aid that helps with one-handed operation and is known as reachability. You swipe down at the bottom of the screen and what was at the top of the display moves to the center for you to reach. This mode works well, but can be a hassle if you have multiple interactions in a row with the top of the screen.

The petite size of the iPhone 12 Mini means it's naturally reachable. However, you can use iOS Reachability on the iPhone 12 Mini, which is meta.


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I found one-handed typing on the 12 Mini faster and more accurate than one-handed typing on a larger screen. During my week with the iPhone 12 Mini, I hardly made any typing mistakes. My friends, who usually regularly receive typos and corrections in our message threads, must have thought I had finally learned how to type.

Vanessa Hand-Orellana from CNET once told me that a phone is not really small unless it is "pocketable". The pockets of my clothes fit comfortably in most phones, but I realize that there are many people whose clothes do not have pockets, and when they do, those pockets can be tiny. To test the iPhone 12 Mini, I found the smallest pocket in my household, namely the inside pocket of a pair of jeans. (Fun fact: it's called a watch pocket.) The iPhone 12 Mini got mixed results. It fit in the pocket, but the top stuck out. I don't know of any mainstream phone that is sold today that fits in a watch pocket.

The tiny iPhone 12 Mini offers a lot of camera performance

Fortunately, the pocket capability of the 12 Mini doesn't come at the expense of the camera hardware. In fact, the 12 Mini has the same wide, ultrawide and selfie cameras as the iPhone 12. They capture great photos and videos and always deliver great images. The Mini can even record videos at up to 4K 60 frames per second and up to 4K 30 fps in Dolby Vision.

Having all the power of this camera in such a small device had one strange consequence: I used it a lot. The 12 Mini is a lot less obtrusive than taking a photo or video with a larger phone like the iPhone 12 Pro Max.

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The iPhone 12 Mini has the same wide, ultra-wide, and selfie cameras as the iPhone 12.

Patrick Holland / CNET

It's easy to take photos and videos with one hand. The phone sits between my pinky and index finger so my thumb can maneuver the iOS camera app. I really appreciated the quick settings drawer next to the shutter button. This made it easy for me to set the exposure, aspect ratio, and even the length of time for a night mode shot with one hand.

Check out some photos I took with the 12 Mini below.

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This is a night mode photo taken with the iPhone 12 Mini.

Patrick Holland / CNET
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Notice how the 12 Mini handles all the details in the background image.

Patrick Holland / CNET
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This was captured using the ultra wide angle camera on the iPhone 12 Mini. The software corrects the distortion in the corners without affecting the perspective.

Patrick Holland / CNET
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I like how the 12 Mini handles the texture of the wall and keeps the color alive.

Patrick Holland / CNET
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This is a night mode selfie taken with the iPhone 12 Mini.

Patrick Holland / CNET
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The iPhone 12 Mini does an excellent job of keeping the highlights in the clouds at bay.

Patrick Holland / CNET
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Here is another night mode photo taken by the iPhone 12 Mini.

Patrick Holland / CNET

The iPhone 12 Mini is the smallest 5G phone

Apple managed to fit the same 5G antennas from the 12, 12 Pro, and 12 Pro Max into the 12 Mini. Right now, the iPhone 12 Mini is the smallest 5G phone you can buy. I tested it in Greenville, South Carolina on both T-Mobile's 5G network and Verizon's Nationwide 5G. The consistency of 5G speeds was inconsistent.

With the SpeedTest app, the iPhone 12 Mini recorded download speeds between 2.53 and 14.9 megabits per second on T-Mobile, while it reached between 48.7 and 104 Mbps for download on Verizon. For reference, the average download speed in the US on a home broadband connection is 135 Mbps.

The iPhone 12 Mini looks like a premium iPhone 5 and that's a good thing

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A small phone means a small battery life

If there's one consequence to a small phone, it's battery life. Apple doesn't share the size of the batteries in its phones. However, it is evident that the 12 Mini has a smaller battery than the 12 or 12 Pro. You wouldn't expect a two-seat convertible to contain as much gasoline as an SUV, and that goes for battery life too.

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From left to right: The iPhone SE (2020), iPhone 12 Mini, and iPhone 12;

Patrick Holland / CNET

During the week I used it, the iPhone 12 Mini had good battery life for its size. The 12 Mini survived a day of regular use without any problems. I ran a battery test and played a looped video while the phone was in airplane mode. The Apple website says the 12 Mini should last for 15 hours. In my test, it took 14 hours, 48 ​​minutes.

The iPhone 12 Mini has the same A14 processor as the iPhone 12 family. The phone was peppy and quick in use. The animations looked smooth. The camera opened quickly. Editing photos was easy. Gameplay was smooth, although the 12 Mini sometimes warmed up after a few minutes.

MagSafe for the Mini

While it's the smallest iPhone you can buy, the 12 Mini is designed for Apple's MagSafe wireless charging system. Magnets in the phone and charger bring them into an ideal position for the most efficient charging. Having MagSafe on such a small phone was fantastic. I could see myself buying a MagSafe charger and AirPods along with the Mini for the ultimate minimalist phone setup.

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The iPhone 12 Mini and Apple Watch Series 3 on the MagSafe Duo charger.

Patrick Holland / CNET

I tried Apple's $ 129 MagSafe leather case, which looks really cool. There is a small window for a quick look at the time. It even has a wrist strap and a shield pocket for a few credit cards or ID. The leather case made the phone bulky, which I didn't like. Though I can definitely imagine people having the leather case for their cell phone and putting some credit cards in there to go out … whenever we need to do that again.

iPhone 12 specs compared to iPhone 12 Mini, iPhone 12 Pro, and iPhone 12 Pro Max

Apple iPhone 12

Apple iPhone 12 Mini

Apple iPhone 12 Pro

Apple iPhone 12 Pro max

Display size, resolution

6.1 inch OLED; 2,532 x 1,170 pixels

5.4 inch OLED; 2,340 x 1,080 pixels

6.1 inch OLED; 2,532 x 1,170 pixels

6.7 inch OLED; 2,778 x 1,284 pixels

Pixel density

460ppi

476ppi

460ppi

458ppi

Dimensions (inch)

5.78 x 2.82 x 0.29 in

5.18 x 2.53 x 0.29 in

5.78 x 2.82 x 0.29 in

6.33 x 3.07 x 0.29 in

Dimensions (millimeters)

146.7 x 71.5 x 7.4 mm

131.5 x 64.2 x 7.4 mm

146.7 x 71.5 x 7.4 mm

160.8 x 78.1 x 7.4 mm

Weight (ounces, grams)

5.78 oz .; 164 g

4.76 oz .; 135 g

6.66 oz .; 189 g

8.03 oz .; 228 g

Mobile software

iOS 14

iOS 14

iOS 14

iOS 14

camera

12 megapixels (wide), 12 megapixels (extremely wide)

12 megapixels (wide), 12 megapixels (extremely wide)

12 megapixels (wide), 12 megapixels (ultra wide), 12 megapixels (telephoto)

12 megapixels (wide), 12 megapixels (ultra wide), 12 megapixels (telephoto)

Front camera

12 megapixels

12 megapixels

12 megapixels

12 megapixels

Video recording

4K

4K

4K

4K

processor

Apple A14 Bionic

Apple A14 Bionic

Apple A14 Bionic

Apple A14 Bionic

camp

64 GB, 128 GB, 256 GB

64 GB, 128 GB, 256 GB

128 GB, 256 GB, 512 GB

128 GB, 256 GB, 512 GB

R.A.M.

Not disclosed

Not disclosed

Not disclosed

Not disclosed

Expandable storage

No

No

No

No

battery

Not disclosed; Apple lists 15 hours of video playback

Not disclosed; Apple lists 15 hours of video playback

Not disclosed; Apple lists 17 hours of video playback

Not disclosed; Apple lists 17 hours of video playback

Fingerprint sensor

No (face ID)

No (face ID)

No (face ID)

No (face ID)

Interconnects

lightning

lightning

lightning

lightning

Headphone jack

No

No

No

No

Special features

5G activated; MagSafe; waterproof (IP68); Wireless charging; Dual SIM functions (nano SIM and E-SIM)

5G activated; MagSafe; waterproof (IP68); Wireless charging; Dual SIM functions (nano SIM and E-SIM)

Lidar scanner; 5G activated; MagSafe; waterproof (IP68); Wireless charging; Dual SIM functions (nano SIM and E-SIM)

Lidar scanner; 5G activated; MagSafe; waterproof (IP68); Wireless charging; Dual SIM functions (nano SIM and E-SIM)

Out of Contract Price (USD)

$ 829 (64GB), $ 879 (128GB), $ 979 (256GB)

$ 729 (64GB), $ 779 (128GB), $ 879 (256GB)

$ 999 (128GB), $ 1,099 (256GB), $ 1,299 (512GB)

$ 1,099 (128GB), $ 1,199 (256GB), $ 1,399 (512GB)

Price (GBP)

£ 799 (64GB), £ 849 (128GB), £ 949 (256GB)

£ 699 (64GB), £ 749 (128GB), £ 849 (256GB)

£ 999 (128 GB), £ 1,099 (256 GB), £ 1,299 (512 GB)

£ 1,099 (128 GB), £ 1,199 (256 GB), £ 1,399 (512 GB)

Price (AUD)

AU $ 1,349 (64 GB), AU $ 1,429 (128 GB), AU $ 1,599 (256 GB)

AU $ 1,199 (64 GB), A $ 1,279 (128 GB), A $ 1,449 (256 GB)

AU $ 1,699 (128 GB), AU $ 1,869 (256 GB), AU $ 2,219 (512 GB)

AU $ 1,849 (128 GB), A $ 2,019 (256 GB), A $ 2,369 (512 GB)

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