iPhone 12 Mini Reviews: The Best Small Smartphone but Battery Life ‘Leaves Much to Be Desired’

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First impressions of the iPhone 12 mini have now been shared by select media outlets and YouTubers, providing a closer look at Apple’s small form factor smartphone. Reviewers praised the ‌iPhone‌ 12 mini’s size and full feature set, but were disappointed about the device’s battery life.


Photo via The Verge

Size

The Verge‘s Dieter Bohn believes that surprisingly little is lost on the ‌iPhone 12‌ mini’s smaller display:

Despite the smaller screen size, you don’t miss out on as much as you might expect. Compared to the regular ‌iPhone 12‌ with a 6.1-inch screen, there are maybe one or two lines of text that are cut off. What you actually miss out on is that sense of immersion you can get from a bigger screen when you’re playing a game or watching a movie. Those were the only times this screen felt cramped.

TechCrunch‘s Matthew Panzarino similarly noticed that the display size felt surprisingly similar to that of the iPhone 11:

If you look at this and an ‌iPhone 11‌, because of the way that the screen is rendered, you’re going to see pretty much the same amount of content.

He also experienced an improved typing experience on the smaller device compared to a number of older models:

I am happy to report that the typing experience on the ‌iPhone 12‌ mini is far superior to the 4.0-inch first generation SE. It even gets a leg up on the 4.7-inch iPhone SE introduced earlier this year because the screen is the same width but taller… This additional size, especially for the spacebar, improves the typing experience measurably. The key spacing is a bit less generous than the ‌iPhone 12‌, but this is a workable situation for typing.

Bohn noted the ‌iPhone 12‌ mini’s smaller size leads to significantly better ergonomics:

Because it’s a bit narrower, it’s easier to reach the opposite side of the screen with your thumb. Because it’s a bit shorter, a lot of people will be able to reach the top for the swipe-down gestures without contorting their hands into awkward claws or risking dropping the phone.

Performance

In benchmarks, Panzarino found that the ‌iPhone 12‌ mini’s A14 Bionic processor underperformed slightly compared to other ‌iPhone 12‌ models, but it was close enough to not be noticeable:

While it appears that either heat management, scaling or power management in general has made Apple tweak the processor ever so slightly, the benchmarks are close enough to make it a wash. There is zero chance you ever see any real-world difference between the ‌iPhone 12‌ mini and any other ‌iPhone 12‌.

Battery Life

Engadget‘s Chris Velazco was highly critical of the ‌iPhone 12‌ mini’s battery life:

While the mini offers the same great performance as the larger model, its battery life leaves much to be desired… Sure enough, on my first day of using the 12 mini as my daily driver, I pulled it off the charger at 8AM and it was on its last legs by 4PM.

By contrast, Panzarino had a surprisingly positive experience of the ‌iPhone 12‌ mini’s battery life compared to the larger ‌iPhone 12‌:

Apple says that the ‌iPhone 12‌ mini’s battery life is better than the 4.7” ‌iPhone SE‌ and that bore out in my testing. I got through a day easily, with maybe a few percentage points difference between the ‌iPhone 12‌ mini and the ‌iPhone 12‌.

Bohn found battery life to be a key limitation of the device, but remarked that it was a variable experience that could be improved by a more diligent approach:

The battery life on the ‌iPhone 12‌ mini is noticeably worse than on the ‌iPhone 12‌, which itself was a step down from the battery-champ ‌iPhone 11‌. For me, it’s good enough, but it does mean I’m already using it differently than I use bigger phones.

Without making any effort at it, I have consistently drained the ‌iPhone 12‌ mini’s battery by early evening… So it’s not bad, but it’s definitely not great. My feeling after a little less than a week is that getting through a day requires a little bit of battery management. Holding yourself back from putting an hour into an Apple Arcade game, knowing where your next opportunity to charge might be, and above all being more willing to turn on the low power mode.

Value for Money

Velazco expressed some concern over the price of the ‌iPhone 12‌ mini when compared to the iPhones of previous years:


Another reason I can’t fully get on board with this thing is that it sits in a strange place in Apple’s ‌iPhone‌ lineup. At $699, this is the cheapest version of the ‌iPhone 12‌ the company makes, but last year you could get a phone with a bigger screen and much better battery life for the same price.

Framed as a budgeting decision, this is the most accessible of Apple’s newest iPhones, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to make sense for most people. And despite the 12 mini’s improved performance and better screen, I’d still probably recommend that shoppers who don’t want to drop $800-plus on a phone consider last year’s ‌iPhone 11‌ instead.

On the other hand, Panzarino believes that the ‌iPhone 12‌ mini offers excellent value for money:

The ‌iPhone‌ mini is by far the best value per dollar in Apple’s 2020 lineup. With this you get all of the power and advances of the ‌iPhone 12‌, everything but the telephoto camera (and 60fps/4k video) of the iPhone 12 Pro and everything but the new sensor in the ‌iPhone 12 Pro‌ Max. Those additions will cost you anywhere from $300-$400 more over the life of your device if you choose to step up.

More Reviews

For early unboxings and first impressions, check out our summary, which compiles over a dozen of the latest videos reviews.

‌The ‌‌iPhone‌‌ 12 mini is now available to pre-order in the United States and numerous other countries, with deliveries to customers and in-store availability beginning Friday, November 13.

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