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The Apple iPhone 12 Mini at the Apple flagship store during a product launch event in Sydney, Australia (Bloomberg)
The Apple iPhone 12 Mini at the Apple flagship store during a product launch event in Sydney, Australia (Bloomberg)

Apple iPhone 12 Mini review: Are small phones back?

  • When it comes to the battery capacity, it's suffice to say, you will not only need to carry a charger around with the 12 Mini, you will also need to use the phone judiciously
  • Essentially, if you’re spending the 69,900 for this device, you’ll be able to take all the same photos like the iPhone 12

Whether you buy it or not, it’s important to note what the Apple iPhone 12 Mini stands for — that there’s still a market for small phones, and that smaller form factors don’t mean big compromises. Having reviewed the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro, there’s really nothing too new to say about the 12 Mini, but there are some noteworthy aspects to this one.

What are the compromises?

The biggest one, of course, is in battery life. As teardowns have revealed since the phone’s launch, the iPhone 12 Mini has a larger battery than the original iPhone SE but smaller than that on the iPhone 12. While battery size isn’t always directly proportional to battery life, in this case, that does hold true.

Suffice to say, you will not only need to carry a charger around with the 12 Mini, you will also need to use the phone judiciously. Taking it off the charger at 8.30 am, the phone ran out of charge by about 6 pm every day, with no gaming and limited camera usage. That’s not poor battery life, but it’s not great either.

Another curious thing to note is that many wireless chargers today aren’t made for this size. I have the Pixel Stand, a rudimentary AmazonBasics wireless charger, and Apple’s MagSafe charger, and only the MagSafe would charge the iPhone 12 Mini without a hitch. Before you ask, yes, both the Pixel stand and AmazonBasics support Qi wireless charging.

That’s it, that’s the iPhone 12 Mini review, really.

Is it really tiny?

On paper, 5.4-inch isn’t really a small screen in the smartphone space. The first phablets had 5.5-inch screens after all. I came across many who wanted to know exactly how small the iPhone 12 Mini is. For reference, it’s less than an inch or so smaller than the iPhone SE (2020) and the original Moto X, and significantly smaller than the Google Pixel 4a.

If you’re used to big-screen phones, then it takes a few days to a week to get used to this one. But aside from a few unfortunate typos here and there, it’s nothing more than a small inconvenience.

iPhone 12 Mini Camera

The two things that make Apple’s iPhones stand out this year (or before) are the display and camera. And the iPhone 12 Mini retains both from the iPhone 12. Essentially, if you’re spending the Rs. 69,900 for this device, you’ll be able to take all the same photos your friend’s iPhone 12 can.

In daylight and most well-lit conditions, the iPhone 12 Mini does very well. It also has Night Mode enabled now, though it doesn’t focus quite as fast in low light as the iPhone 12 Pro (with its LIDAR-driven focusing). That said, the primary camera has a wider aperture this time, meaning the Night Mode kicks in fewer times than on the iPhone 11.

In practice, moving subjects remain an issue when in low light, but for any other kind of imaging, the iPhone 12 Mini does just as well as the iPhone 12. Considering that the difference between the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro isn’t big, the overall compromise seems even smaller.

Should you buy it?

Among iPhones this year, the iPhone 12 Mini has the same OLED display as all other iPhone: it has the same camera as the iPhone 12 and passable if not perfect battery life. Which means you will be making little to no compromise if you’re buying this device. Unlike the older iPhone SE, this doesn’t seem like a “cheaper" iPhone.

On the other hand, for small phone buyers who don’t equate display size with money spent, this could be the only real option. The Pixel 4a is arguably an alternative, but while it can go toe-to-toe with the iPhone’s camera (and even better it at times), has similar battery life and is nowhere close to being as compact or fast.

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