The iPhone 12 mini is the most compact smartphone that Apple has offered in years. It is the first iPhone to carry the “mini” moniker, joining the iPad mini and the all-new HomePod mini in the tech giant’s product range.
The palm-sized 5G iPhone debuted during Apple’s “Hi, Speed” October event alongside the iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12 Pro Max, and the affordable HomePod mini. Starting at $699, it's not only the smallest but also the most affordable iPhone 12 variant.
• 5.4-inch Super Retina XDR OLED display with 476 pixels per inch, True Tone
• A14 Bionic chip with updated Neural Engine
• Up to 256 GB of storage
• Dual 12 MP camera with optical image stabilization; 12 MP selfie camera with Face ID
• Built-in stereo speakers
• MagSafe-compatible, fast wired and wireless charging
• IP68 water-resistant
• 5G-, Wi-Fi 6-, Dual-SIM-capable
Display size and battery capacity aside, the iPhone 12 mini is practically identical to the iPhone 12. It has the same sleek and durable design as its 6.1-inch sibling, along with the same industry-conquering A14 Bionic chip with an updated Neural Engine and superb dual camera. The iPhone 12 mini is defined by its size and the ergonomic benefits that it brings.
I spent a week testing the iPhone 12 mini, and it enchanted me. Without skimping on features, the newcomer is small enough to fit in the palm of my hand. Here’s why it’s the ultimate miniature smartphone:
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE HANDLING
The iPhone 12 mini is the most compact iPhone available without a Touch ID. It has the same design as the iPhone 12, with its flat edges and thin display bezels, but a smaller 5.4-inch display.
Despite rocking a bigger screen, the iPhone 12 mini has a smaller footprint than this year’s iPhone SE and other 4.7-inch iPhone models going back to the iPhone 6. The 12 mini has almost no screen bezels, so it is shorter and narrower than its predecessors. Compared to the older iPhone 5/5s and the first-generation iPhone SE with tinier 4-inch Retina displays, the 12 mini is only marginally bigger.
I enjoyed being able to constantly use the iPhone 12 mini with one hand while I tested it. Writing lengthy emails and participating in Slack discussions were a breeze, even during walks in Central Park. Being able to effortlessly interact with the phone without the slightest fear of dropping it felt just like using the iPhone 5s years ago.
Overall, the scaled-down design of the iPhone 12 mini sets a high standard for the entire industry. For comparison, in 2011 we gawked at the first Samsung Galaxy Note — a product that popularized the term phablet — with its 5.3-inch display that was beyond gigantic for its time. And now here we are, almost a decade later, praising an iPhone with a 5.4-inch screen for being compact.
THE SMALLEST (AND SHARPEST) SUPER RETINA DISPLAY
Measuring 5.4 inches diagonally, the Super Retina XDR screen of the iPhone 12 mini has the most compact OLED panel. It is noticeably smaller than the 5.8-inch Super Retinas of the iPhone X, iPhone XS, and iPhone 11 Pro, but it’s just as awesome. Because of its smaller size, the iPhone 12 mini’s display has a higher pixel density, so it’s slightly sharper.
With millions of individually backlit pixels, its screen displays vibrant hues and dramatic contrast by switching off dots to display black color. It is compatible with HDR-enhanced content and equipped with Apple’s True Tone tech and P3 color gamut for displaying rich and accurate colors in any lighting.
Having an OLED screen in a compact iPhone is a big deal and a major turning point for the product family. Previously, buyers looking for a small-sized iPhone had to settle for a less-captivating LCD display.
UNPARALLELED POWER AND SPEED
The iPhone 12 mini is the most powerful small phone yet. It packs the same A14 Bionic chip with upgraded Neural Engine as the bigger iPhone 12 models and the latest iPad Air, so it speeds through almost any task.
Combined with speedy 5G network connectivity, the A14 Bionic makes every interaction with the device snappy and fluid. There’s little delay in switching between a double-digit number of open apps, too.
During the unveiling of the iPhone 12 lineup, Apple noted that, as the first smartphone chip that’s crafted via a 5-nanometer process, the A14 Bionic is “generations ahead of the competition.” By packing more transistors into a tinier space, the cutting-edge tech has given the chip insane power, while keeping it energy-efficient.
The iPhone 12 mini consistently made it through a full day of use while I tested it. I found this model to be a perfect showcase for the A14 Bionic’s power-sipping tech. It contributed to the product’s lightweight size by not requiring a massive battery to keep it running.
Apple offers the recycled aluminum frame and glass back of the iPhone 12 mini in five colors: black, white, blue, green, and (PRODUCT)RED. Just note that this product's packaging lacks a charger and EarPods.
The iPhone 12 mini starts at $699 with 64 GB of storage, and I highly recommend that you spend extra $50 to double it. A variant with 256 GB costs another $100 and is worth the investment, especially for camera aficionados.
The iPhone 12 mini, like the regular iPhone 12 and the iPhone 12 Pro, is also compatible with Apple’s MagSafe tech — the selection of cases and accessories that utilize it is constantly growing.
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