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Review: Apple’s iPhone 12 mini is “Mini” by name only

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Apple’s latest attempt at the compact device of the iPhone 12 mini has brought as much flagship as any other larger iPhone.

Apple’s new 2020 iPhone 12 mini and its 5.4-inch end-to-end display are in stark contrast to Apple’s product line as well as smartphone trends. The giant iPhone 12 Pro Max is on par with Apple’s smallest phone to date, the iPhone 12 mini.

From the front of the entire iPhone 12 lineup

Before jumping to the iPhone 12 mini for our review, some context: We are a longtime user of Apple’s larger iPhone. Continuing that trend, the iPhone 12 Pro Max feels like a great choice this year, but next week there are even more options.

But there’s no reason why people who like small phones don’t have an iPhone flagship to make their calls.

Quick iPhone 12 Summary

All iPhone 12 models share some common features. Many of our opinions about upgrades can be found in the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro reviews. Still, it’s worth the easy rehashing of what the new device offers.

Apart from the new look, all these new phones share an incredibly powerful A14 Bionic processor. The chip is at the heart of it all, leveraging Apple’s latest neural engine, 4-core GPU, next-generation ISP, two high-performance cores, and four high-efficiency cores.

The iPhone 12 mini has 4GB of RAM and is paired with 64GB of storage with 128GB and 256GB options. Supports Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5, and of course 5G — including US millimeter waves

The entire iPhone 12 lineup from behind

There are two 12MP cameras with optical image stabilization. The front-facing 12MP camera is part of the TrueDepth camera system used for Face ID.

The water resistance of the iPhone 12 family has improved, going from 4 meters to 6 meters in 30 minutes while maintaining the IP68 rating. The phone is also more drop-resistant than the iPhone 11 line with the new ceramic shielded glass technology on the front of the phone, and Apple says it’s four times more protective.

Not only does Apple provide more protection on the front of the phone, but the back of the phone is also more durable, but not due to material changes. According to Apple, the new flat side makes this more durable, so when you drop the phone, the aluminum frame, rather than the glass, will be more impacted.

iPhone 12 mini supports 5G including US millimeter waves

The new design is reminiscent of the iPhone 4. The modernization of that philosophy on the iPhone 12 line is a step forward, making the phone more durable and with a cleaner and more modern look and feel. Combined with the latest generation iPad Pro and iPad Air, Apple’s entire lineup becomes more cohesive.

All new iPhone 12 models include MagSafe, a new way to connect, mount and charge your phone. We’ve already thoroughly elaborated on the new features that will change the game, but we’re very excited about future developments. Apple has already introduced wallets, sleeves, cases and chargers for MagSafe, and third parties are adopting them.

camera

The high-end iPhone 12 Pro Max is not shy at the moment in terms of smartphone cameras, but there are some notable differences from the iPhone 12 mini. But that doesn’t mean the iPhone 12 mini’s camera is of poor quality.

iPhone 12 mini is equipped with a wide-angle camera and an ultra-wide-angle camera

Apple has boosted the cameras on the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini (same camera settings) from the iPhone 11. The opening slightly widened from f / 1.8 to f / 1.6. This allows more light to hit the sensor, improving slightly better low-light photos and bokeh. The wide-angle lens cover has also been upgraded with a new seventh element that helps ensure end-to-end sharpness.

Not surprisingly, Apple is sticking to 12MP again on both wide and ultra wide cameras. Still, Apple has enhanced its quality with new software improvements such as Smart HDR 3. This helps identify the scene and improve the balance of colors, exposures, and other details that match the shot. When testing with the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro Max, Smart HDR 3 makes a noticeable difference.

Comparison of all iPhone 12 sizes and cameras

Apple’s signature photo look is still here, making the image tones more neutral to warm, in contrast to the saturated Samsung photo profile. Wide angle is an excellent camera between the two easily. Still, ultra-wide looks better than in the last few years, including lens corrections that correct some of the curvature and distortion.

Portrait mode is still excellent, and night mode has been a selling feature of the iPhone since its debut in the iPhone 11 lineup. It’s here on the iPhone 12 mini, and most of it is computationally capable of capturing stunning low-light images with the help of an aperture.

On the video side, an important additional feature is the ability to shoot, edit and share Dolby Vision HDR video directly on your device. HDR footage looks great, bright and vibrant. 4K Dolby Vision is a step up whether you’re watching on your mobile phone or on your TV via AirPlay 2. This year too, we have a new night mode timelapse that works when using a tripod.

The iPhone 12 mini isn’t the best iPhone camera, but it works the same as the iPhone 12, and is very close to the iPhone 12 Pro, except that it doesn’t have a telephoto lens.

Mini phone, mini compromise

Despite its short stature, the iPhone 12 mini has few compromises compared to other iPhone 12 models. Both the iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 have fewer features than the high-end iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max, but that’s due to price, not size.

Compared to the Pro, the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini have only two cameras on the back (wide-angle and ultra-wide-angle cameras) and no telephoto lens. There is also no support for LiDAR scanners, stainless steel bodies, and Apple Pro RAW photos.

Easy to use iPhone 12 mini with one hand

Dolby Vision HDR video recording is limited to 30 frames per second instead of 60 frames per second, which is not a 1-bit difference for most users.

Best of all, the only real compromise we’ve found on the iPhone 12 mini is battery life. Due to its small size, it physically reduces the internal space and allows for more capacity. Phones can be strained between 5G and more power-consuming processors.

According to Apple, smaller devices can stream video in an hour less than the iPhone 12. Due to the small battery of small devices, watching videos is also reduced by 2 hours and 15 hours. Our own tests confirm this.

Multitasking is easy with the A14 Bionic

In our daily use, it was scarce by the evening. Scrolling on Twitter, reading in news and Safari, and using messages were average uses, but I had a hard time getting it from an alarm clock to a bedtime alert at no extra charge. ..

We’re a little spoiled, but it’s a big battery for our “biggest” phone, but it may still need to be recharged at some point during the day. Fortunately, deploying MagSafe, wireless charging, and USB-C for Lightning Fast Charging and turning it on seems easier than ever.

As another related compromise, MagSafe charges the iPhone 12 mini a bit slower than other iPhones, but with a smaller battery, it’s less of a problem.

Make a tiny iPhone case

The opinions of Apple Insider staff depend primarily on the original iPhone SE, depending on the migration path. After the transition from the iPhone 4 or iPhone 5c, it was a positive move in every respect. But if you’re used to the larger iPhone 6, it was a rough adjustment to a smaller screen size, even with a much better processor. The situation has changed from the original iPhone SE.

The iPhone 12 mini has an end-to-end OLED display, a minimal bezel, and no Touch ID “chin.” The overall increase in size from 4.7 inches to 5.4 inches greatly improves usability. It goes far beyond the line from “tight” to what is truly usable.

Compared to larger phones, you don’t have to stretch your fingers or do hand yoga to reach the top corners of the display. It’s the perfect phone for one-handed use, and it’s a huge improvement over the original iPhone SE, but it should be, given that it’s been nearly five years old, rather than four years old. ..

HomePod mini next to iPhone 12 mini

The iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro are a great midpoint in terms of size, but they still need to be slightly distorted from time to time. These are great mass appeal screens, but the iPhone 12 mini is a different level because it’s easy to hold, use, and store. Having a cell phone isn’t the only determinant of the device, but it’s definitely a big deal.

In our tests, we asked several people to try out the phone at different times, with different hand sizes and use cases. Some women were particularly attracted to the phone because its small size opened it up to a unique fashion choice. This phone slides into a tight pocket much easier and has a new array of accessory possibilities.

Speaking of one of these accessory options, Apple will soon launch a new leather sleeve for the iPhone 12 mini that supports MagSafe and turns your phone into a wristlet. There are two card slots on the inside to protect the phone, an optional leather loop is included, you can make a call when the phone is on the inside and display the time on a color matching background. It may be the perfect combination for a particular user.

However, this screen size is not suitable for everyone. The iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, or iPhone 12 Pro Max may be too big for people with small hands, but conversely, this phone may be too small for people with big hands. Also, I was used to typing with both hands, so I had to make some adjustments. I had to relearn how to type with one hand in a small space.

New iPhone 12 mini

The smaller the screen, the less space you have to watch photos, watch videos, read, and surf. For those with vision concerns, Apple creates a device zoom mode that makes the entire UI a little bigger, but those concerns cannot be completely mitigated. If you need more screen space, the upgrade path is clear.

I can’t say enough about this new compact form factor, as these concerns don’t get in the way. The size is outstanding, it is easy to hold, and it is also excellent in usability. Apple has finally made us make a big bet on the new mini.

Small and easy-to-hold design and fun colors Camera improvements Increased durability MagSafe and new accessory options A14 Bionic’s amazing performance Beautiful OLED display 5G support No telephoto lens Battery life is insufficient

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Where to get great deals on iPhone 12 mini

Wireless carriers are offering cash rebates and trade-in promotions to shoppers on the new iPhone 12 mini, offering some of the best iPhone deals on popular mobile phones.

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