A smartphone is a very personal thing, you carry it around with you everywhere, it stores all your personal information and private photos so approaching this iPhone 12 Mini review I had to take into account that not everyone will agree with me.
I’ve always preferred smaller phones. Large phones aren’t great for a regular sized hand, and they are heavier and less comfortable in your pocket. But I’m acutely aware many think the opposite.
So straight from the outset, this review is written for people considering the iPhone 12 Mini. It’s not meant to convince a previous “plus” or “Max” sized phone owner that they should switch down to the Mini.
Our iPhone 12 & 12 Pro Reviews – READ
iPhone 12 Mini Size & Dimensions: Is it too small?
For the most part, I’ll compare this to the iPhone 12 Pro Max. That’s the other phone hitting stores this weekend. At 6.7 inches the Pro Max screen is enormous. It’s amazing they can fit a phone that big into that device.
The iPhone 12 Pro Max weighs 226 grams, is 160.8mm tall, 78.1mm wide and 7.4mm thick. Compare that to the iPhone 12 Mini which is just 133 grams, is 131.5mm tall, 64.2mm wide and 7.4mm thick.
Those dimensions make the Mini 7mm shorter than the iPhone 7, 3mm less wide, and just 0.3mm thicker.
I think those iPhone 7 dimensions are critical. They are the same or there about for the iPhone 6, iPhone 8 and even the iPhone 5 was thicker though ever so slightly smaller.
Those comparisons to the older iPhones that were not “plus” models are the reason this iPhone 12 Mini will sell, and sell well. So many people still have the iPhone 7 or 8, even iPhone 6. This is the phone they want in both size and features.
Key features of the Mini
This is an iPhone 12, it’s not been paired back in any way at all. The same camera systems, the same power under the hood. The same smarts. It’s exactly the same except for it’s size.
With FaceID this will likely be the first “non-fingerprint” iPhone for many new owners. The Ceramic Shield front should offer remarkable drop-performance when compared to those older phones, plus this one is water resistant down to six meters for 30 minutes.
Product Red? Or Not quite?
It’s almost impossible to capture in photos, and the video didn’t do it any justice, but this thing isn’t Red! The sides are very nice matt shiny metal red.
But the back is Salmon, or Peach, not pink, not quite orange, but it’s not red. Perhaps in certain light it is. Next to the Product Red iPhone SE – it’s underwhelming.
That’s legitimately the only negative thing I can say about the iPhone 12 Mini.
iPhone 12 Mini compared to iPhone 12 Pro max
So before I get to the camera test I’ve been doing, how does the iPhone 12 Mini compare to the iPhone 12 Pro Max.
Well, 5.4 inch screen vs 6.7 inch screen.
Both have 5G – so super fast mobile internet where available.
The A14 Bionic Chip is on both, the iPhone 12 Pro Max should churn though 20 hours of video, while the iPhone 12 Mini does 15 hours.
You can only get the mini in 64, 128 and 256GB configurations, while the Pro max comes in 128GB, 256GB and 512GB.
There’s more pixels on screen – of course, and the brightness of the Pro max is much higher at 800 nits max brightness in typical situations, both have a 1,200 nits max in HDR mode.
But apart from all that kinda obvious stuff, the real difference is the camera.
The iPhone 12 Pro Max is a step above even the iPhone 12 Pro, and a big leap over the Mini.
Front cameras on both the Mini and Pro max are identical. However when making video – the iPhone 12 Pro Max is capable of HDR video recording with Dolby Vision at up to 60 frames per second.
There’s also a sensor shift optical image stabilisation – which sees the sensor itself moving to adjust, not just the lens. I think that was most visible in my video above where walking down the pier behind me there was minimal movement detected. That was handheld, no additional support for stabilisation.
Unlike any other iPhone 12, the Pro Max has the standard, wide and 2.5x zoom. The iPhone 12 Pro has 2x, the others do not have that zoom.
Your Pro Max will shoot in Apple’s new “ProRAW” format for the pros, and offers amazing Night Mode Portraits thanks to the Lidar Sensor that is unique to the Pro models.
But will you notice?
Testing the iPhone 12 Mini Camera
I took the phones to the Hunter Valley Gardens Christmas Lights display. I figured that would be a fascinating test of how these phones cope in the more challenging conditions.
Here’s some examples.
I find that fascinating – some real challenges there with dark zones and bright light. Mini copes well.
Another great example of photography on both!
This one fascinates me – both do a GREAT job of giving you the true sense of the scene, while allowing light on the faces. I think the faces are oversaturated, but – it’s a bright yellow tunnel, so we can forgive them that.
Perhaps my favourite photos are these, shot from high up on the Ferris Wheel, really capturing the moment.
Without comparison, here’s another great shot from the Mini
A late night shot, with bright lights in foreground and background. I felt this captured the moment wonderfully well.
In daylight, these phones shine. The HDR performance allows for the capture of bright areas and shade equally as well as each other.
Let’s be honest, for those who share their photos, that’s happening on Instagram, Facebook and more. Here’s a stunning shot of the Hunter Valley in daylight hours:
All in all pretty spectacular stuff by both phones – but particularly the one that costs just $1,199.
Here’s a non posed Portrait shot from iPhone 12 Mini – taken while we were filming the video above.
That’s “Stig”, filming me not knowing I was shooting him. The iPhone 12 Mini did a bloody good job of finding the depth, without LiDAR and without that 2x telephoto zoom lens.
When does the iPhone 12 Mini go on sale?
Pre-orders for the iPhone 12 Mini and iPhone 12 Pro max are already underway at Apple and our major Telcos.
If you’ve got one ordered, it will be shipped to you on Friday November 13. You’ll be able to find them in stores on Friday and this weekend, stocks will be low on the cheapest and mid range models, so stump up the cash and you’ll be best placed.
How much does an iPhone 12 Mini cost?
The iPhone 12 Mini comes in three sizes;
- 64GB – $1,199
- 128GB – $1,279
- 256GB – $1,449
How much does an iPhone 12 Pro Max cost?
iPhone 12 Pro Max also comes in three memory configurations,
- 128GB – $1,849
- 256GB – $2,019
- 512GB – $2,369
The iPhone 12 Range is Apple’s most powerful, capable and appealing yet.
With prices from $1,199 – though the devices start smaller than in 2019 – it’s a really great spot.
For me, the iPhone 12 Mini is the absolute pick of the bunch. But as I’ve said, that’s a very personal thing.
iPhone 12 Pro Max is a beast which many will be drawn to, though what I’ve learned in my limited testing is that the iPhone 12 Mini is batting way above its average in camera performance.