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iPhone 12 Mini REVIEW

A closer look at Apple’s mighty mini

There once was a time when an iPhone launch meant getting exciting about a single phone, but these days, Apple is spreading its wings when it comes to giving consumers options. The iPhone 12 isn’t just a single phone – it’s an entire line of devices which cater for a wide range of needs. If you’re looking for a handset which offers the most screen real estate, then the iPhone 12 Pro Max is the one to go for, but Apple has kindly remembered that not everybody wants a monster phone in their pocket and has also added the iPhone 12 Mini to the lineup. Does this pint-sized marvel really offer the same kind of experience as its bigger siblings? Let’s find out.

The Design

Remember the iPhone 5, or the original iPhone SE? Those lovely flat edges really are nostalgic, right? Apple is clearly hoping so, as it’s gone all-in on reviving that particular look for its iPhone 12 range. Rounded, pebble-like phones are old news, according to the Cupertino giant – and after enduring what feels like an eternity of handsets which all look exactly the same, we’re incredibly pleased to see this shift in design. The iPhone 12 Mini – like the rest of the range – looks great, and it’s genuinely nice to see Apple reference its past designs in such a bold way.

At just over 130 grams, the iPhone 12 Mini certainly lives up to its name. It’s comfortably the smallest phone Apple has produced since the original iPhone SE, and is even smaller than the iPhone SE 2020 – despite having a bigger 5.4-inch display. That’s because it uses the iconic screen design which was introduced with the iPhone X: a panel which fills the entire face of the phone (with the exception of the Face ID and selfie camera array, of course – the notch isn’t going anywhere yet, it seems).

Outside of the oversized power button, all of the other inputs are pretty traditional and will be instantly familiar if you’ve used an iPhone in the past decade. The back of the device is made from glass, which allows the fancy wireless charging to work. You’ll also find the dual-camera setup and famous Apple logo here, too. On the bottom edge, there’s the Lightning connection, because Apple still hasn’t upgraded to USB-C yet.

The Screen

With a resolution of 1080 x 2340 pixels, the iPhone 12 Mini’s Super Retina XDR OLED screen is pin-sharp – which is great news, as this is one area in which Apple could have cut corners (as it did on the iPhone XR and iPhone SE 2020, both of which had inferior LCD screens). HDR10 support is also very welcome, assuming you have access to content that supports it. While you might assume that such a small phone would be lumbered with a tiny screen, because it fills the entire front face of the device, the iPhone 12 Mini’s display feels roomy – although naturally, it looks small when placed alongside the iPhone 12 Pro Max.

Under The Hood

While it’s smaller than its stablemates in the iPhone 12 line, the Mini doesn’t cut corners when it comes to power. It’s using the same A14 Bionic chipset seen in its siblings, albeit with slightly less RAM (4GB compared to the 6GB seen in the iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max). The A14 is the fastest chip that Apple has ever produced, and even when compared to the A13 from last year, there’s a definite sense of increased speed. 4GB of RAM might not sound like much if you’re used to Android phones, but it never caused any issues during our time with the phone. However, while the iPhone 12 Mini is available with 64GB of storage, we’d highly recommend you opt for at least the 128GB model, especially if you’re intending to download movies, TV shows or music to your device for offline use. 64GB really doesn’t cut it in 2020.

It’s worth noting that 5G – a first for Apple in the iPhone 12 range – is included in this mini-device. That’s good news if you’re looking for a future-proof handset, but to be painfully blunt, 5G coverage in the UK is pretty dismal at the moment unless you live in the middle of big town or city. It will get better, though, and download speeds are utterly insane, even compared to home wireless connections.

Cramming all of that good stuff into such a svelte frame means something has had to give, and sadly that’s the battery. While Apple hasn’t officially stated what size battery is inside the iPhone 12 Mini, it’s reported to be around 2700mAh, which is quite small for a 5G-ready phone in 2020. If you’re not a power user then you’ll be able to get through a full day on a single charge, but if you use your phone a lot then you can expect to run out of juice on more than one occasion.

The Cameras

While the iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max have three cameras on their backs, the iPhone 12 Mini has to make do with just two – but it makes up for that by offering some seriously impressive talents. Standard shooting takes advantage of the additional processing power by using Apple’s AI-based HDR system, which really makes images pop via instantaneous post-production. Night Mode is also included, ensuring that you can take decent photos even in darkened conditions. However, it’s the ultra-wide angle camera which has won our heart; while this isn’t a new concept, it’s great to be able to cram more data into a photo using this secondary camera. You want more good news? The iPhone 12 Mini can shoot 4K video at 60fps, as well as slow-motion video at 1080p.

The Verdict

Considering it starts from just £700 for the 64GB model, the iPhone 12 Mini packs in a fearsome amount of tech for your money. You’re getting an OLED screen, 5G, amazing cameras and a market-leading chipset, as well as the typically polished iOS experience and the assurance that you’ll get regular software updates for the next few years. The only real blot on its copybook is the battery life; even with moderate usage, the iPhone 12 Mini is gasping for air by the end of the day. If you can overlook this single issue – and it’s one that’s going to be a deal-breaker for some, sadly – then this is one of the best smartphone purchases you’ll be able to make in 2020.

Thanks to Box.co.uk for supplying the iPhone 12 Mini used in this review.

 

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