iPhone 12 mini review: don’t buy this pocket-rocket for the price alone
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The iPhone 12 is, without doubt, one of the finest smartphones Apple has ever made. It packs a pin-sharp OLED screen, speedy processor, improved camera, and access to 5G download speeds, which makes it a worthy successor to the iPhone 11. If you want a new iPhone, the iPhone 12 is a must-have purchase. However, before you hit the “Buy” button, Apple will launch a new twist on the iPhone 12 formula this Friday.
As the name suggests, iPhone 12 mini is a scaled-down version of the iPhone 12. It features an edge-to-edge 5.4-inch screen, down from the 6.1-inch display found on the iPhone 12 (that’s the same size as found on the iPhone 11 and iPhone Xr). If you haven’t enjoyed the trend in ever-expanding screen sizes in recent years, iPhone 12 mini is the antidote.
And don’t think for one minute that the iPhone 12 mini compromises in other areas because of its smaller size – you get every single feature that’s packed into the iPhone 12. It’s pretty incredible that Apple has managed to squeeze so much inside so little, here’s our full review.
Apple iPhone 12 review: Design, Display
The iPhone 12 mini is, of course, much smaller than its 6.1-inch sibling. Apple has squeezed a 5.4-inch panel into its new miniature iPhone, but because it has an edge-to-edge design, this new iPhone is around the same size as the iPhone SE, which has a 4.6-inch screen. If you were happy with the size of the iPhone 6, iPhone 7 and iPhone 8… the iPhone 12 mini will occupy around the same amount of space in your pocket, but packs all of the same goodies as the latest-and-greatest iPhone 12 models as well as a slightly bigger screen than those previous iPhones.
Like the entire iPhone 12 line-up, the mini gets the new Super Retina XDR display, which really is excellent. This OLED panel offers rich colours and deep blacks making it a joy to play games, check your emails and have a quick Netflix movie binge. Along with its pin-sharp appearance, another bonus of the new display is the fact that it’s around four times stronger than previous Apple smartphones.
That’s due to the US firm’s “Ceramic Shield” technology which should mean it’s able to last a little longer should you happen to drop it.
The rear glass panel has also been toughed up and, although we’ve not dropped our review unit, YouTube is full of videos proving Apple’s claims of less breakable glass are true.
Along with the updated screen, the mini also gets the same angular appearance of the iPhone 12. That means the curvaceous soft edges found on iPhone 11 have been replaced with a sharper chassis. On the back, there’s the same glossy glass finish with a square-shape camera bump fitted with two lenses.
We really like the look of the iPhone 12 mini with its solid build and all-glass finish making it feel as premium as you’d expect. The mini comes in four colours including White, Blue, Black, Green and Product RED which is not as bright as previous years.
All in all, we like the mini’s design and display but it is worth noting that it does feel pretty small especially when trying to bash out an email or send a long iMessage due to the diddier on-screen keyboard.
Of course, that small size is exactly why Apple has created it and some will love the fact that it’s so perfectly pocket-sized. However, before you rush to purchase it we strongly recommend that you wait until you can head in-store to compare the mini to the standard 12 and make sure you get the right device to suit your needs.
Apple iPhone 12 mini review: Power
It might be mini, but boy, the iPhone 12 mini is mighty.
That’s because this smaller phone still benefits from Apple’s premium A14 Bionic chip – unlike the other smaller iPhone models available in the Apple Store right now, like the iPhone SE (2020) – which is capable of powering all of your daily digital needs without breaking a sweat.
You can easily edit 4K video, play the latest games and multitask on this device and this ultimate power should also mean this phone is capable of coping with many years of iOS updates in the future.
That’s great news, but what won’t last very long is the amount of available memory on your new iPhone. Sadly, Apple continues to start the range with just 64GB of internal storage, which is way too low. Shooting 4K video footage will munch through this in no time and you could find yourself needing to delete files to download iOS updates or take new photos.
Of course, you can add more storage when you buy the phone but this will cost you extra. For example, the iPhone 12 mini starts from £699 but boost the memory to 128GB and you’ll need to pay £50 extra. Go for the full 256GB of storage and that will leave your wallet £150 lighter.
Almost all Android phones now ship with a minimum of 128GB and it really is about time Apple joined its rivals. As always, our advice is to buy the biggest memory you can afford as this will future-proof the phone and save you the pain of endlessly freeing up space on the device.
Apple iPhone 12 mini review: Camera
The new iPhone 12 mini features the same camera as the iPhone 12 with a dual-lens system placed on the rear case. This camera, which is powered by the A14 chip, offers the usual Ultra Wide and Wide shots along with Night and Portrait modes.
As with the last year’s iPhone 11, this device will take some great shots without you having to think about the settings which is exactly what most people want from their phones.
Images shot on the 12 mini all look pin-sharp and packed with detail and it’s hard to get things wrong when using this camera. The biggest change in 2020 is that the Ultra Wide lens now includes an f/1.6 aperture which delivers a 27 percent improved low-light performance.
You can also use Apple’s clever Night Mode with this wider lens which is a nice addition when shooting low light landscapes. If movies are your passion then the new camera can now record in Dolby Vision which captures 60x more colours.
The iPhone 12 Pro can also edit encoded Dolby Vision videos right on the device, which has never been possible until now.
There’s also some impressive image stabilisation for a smooth look to your films and there’s the usual slow-motion and Time Lapse modes. The iPhone 12 mini’s camera isn’t a dramatic update but this is a solid device for taking photos and you’ll have little complaints after hitting the shutter button.
Apple iPhone 12 mini review: Battery, Magsafe
Clearly, the iPhone 12 mini is a smaller phone and that means it gets a smaller battery. There’s no question that it doesn’t last quite as long as the iPhone 12 but you’ll still have no problems getting through a day without needing to refill it.
We’ve run a number of video tests with the mini performing well. Streaming a two-hour film with the screen brightness set to 100 percent only used around 15 percent of the battery life which is pretty impressive.
When things do run low, iPhone 12 mini includes wireless and wired fast-charging. And, like all of Apple’s new devices, it’s also compatible with the MagSafe charger. This clever disk snaps to the back of the case using magnets and offers faster wireless charging speeds.
Apple has confirmed that the mini gets 13 Watt MagSafe charging speeds rather than the 15 Watts found on the standard iPhone 12. However, we’ve run a number of tests on both phones with them getting identical charge times. 30-minutes of MagSafe charging boosts the battery by around 36 percent.
You don’t get the MagSafe disk in the box and it will cost you £39 to purchase one but it’s worth it if you want the best battery-boosting experience. One final thing to note is that the mini doesn’t ship with a power adaptor as Apple has removed the plugs to help cut down on electronic waste.
Apple iPhone 12 mini review: Enter 5G
Another feature that Apple has managed to squeeze inside this smaller phone is 5G. That means the mini can access superfast data speeds on the move with 5G capable of beaming the web to your pocket at over 300Mbps – that’s around six times faster than the UK average broadband,
It’s great to see Apple bringing 5G to all of its new devices but it is worth noting that this is a new technology that is slowly rolling out across the UK.
All of the major networks are adding new areas but there’s large swathes of the country that won’t have 5G for while.
So, be warned, if you are expecting blisteringly fast downloads on your street – you might be left feeling a little let down.
There is something else to remember as not all contracts include 5G and you may find you need to pay a little extra each month to access it.
Your network will be able to tell you more so check to see how much extra it will cost before making the jump.
Apple iPhone 12 mini review: UK Price
At £699 the mini is the cheapest of the range and is £100 less than the iPhone 12 and £300 less than the Pro. Considering what’s been tucked inside that’s pretty good value and certainly makes owning a premium iPhone more affordable.
As we mentioned earlier, prices can rise if you add more storage and, with Apple not shipping a plug or headphones in the box you might need to add these items to your shopping basket which does increase the cost.
The latest USB-C fast charger costs £19 from Apple and is probably worth considering as the cable that ships with the iPhone 12 mini isn’t compatible with the USB-A plugs that have shipped with all previous iPhones.
Apple iPhone 12 review mini: Final Verdict
PROS – Great new design and nice OLED display • Fast processor • Good battery life • Stronger screen • Improved camera experience
CONS – It is very small • Measly 64GB storage in entry-level device • 5G can be hard to find
With the iPhone 12 mini, Apple finally has an answer for all of those people who have complained about the trend in ever-growing screen sizes. If you’ve despaired when trying to type one-handed while holding a steaming cup of coffee, or been unable to fit your iPhone into your jeans pocket or bag – iPhone 12 mini should be the solution. This miniature smartphone might be small, but Apple has done an incredible job ensuring there aren’t any compromises over its larger siblings.
That means you still get the same phenomenal A14 Bionic processor, OLED screen, Face ID unlock, 5G data speeds, and solid camera experience.
The new, sharper, design also looks great and the fact it should survive a fall, thanks to the Ceramic Sheild, all add to the appeal. Our only real issue with the mini is that …well, it is very small.
Of course, this is clearly why Apple launched a “mini” version of its iPhone 12 as some people don’t want a huge phone stuffed inside their jeans, or can’t comfortably use screens sized over 6-inches or more.
If you’re desperate for a compact phone, then you’ll love mini but if you’re considering buying one simply because it’s the cheapest in the new iPhone 12 range, we’d recommend saving up a little longer and buying the standard iPhone 12 as the slightly larger screen makes watching movies, playing games, and making video calls more immersive and enjoyable.
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