The iPhone 12 mini is Apple’s newest and smallest generation of iPhone, whilst still offering pretty much everything the regular-sized iPhone 12 can bring to the table. The device offers a 5.4-inch OLED display, 12-megapixel cameras across the device and Apple’s latest A14 Bionic silicon.
I’m a big fan of the design and form-factor of the iPhone 12 mini, it is lightweight at 135g making it comfortable to use and hold. The design features a glass front and back, which uses Gorilla Glass, and aluminium build which feels great and looks premium, to protect the phone I have been using the device in a case for most of my testing, but when the case is off it looks great.
The device is the smallest size iPhone since the iPhone 5 and 5s, this is despite having a larger 5.4-inch screen, thanks to its thin bezels which are the same across all sides of the device – meaning there is no big chin which can be found on some other phones. This gives the 12 mini a uniform look all the way around the front of the device, which is only obstructed by the notch at the top.
The notch doesn’t bother me too much, although it is significantly larger than the hole-punch cut-outs that we are seeing on devices such as the Samsung Galaxy A90 and Google Pixel 4a. The notch houses the selfie camera, FaceID authentication system and earpiece speaker. It would, of course, be nice to have a smaller notch or no notch at all, but even if the iPhone did have a hole-punch cut-out, the top portion of the screen would still be taken up by status indicators, so I’ve gotten used to it.
As we move from the front to the back the sides have a flat design, which is reminiscent of the iPhone 4 and 5. I quite like this look as it gives the phone a flatter design and it feels comfortable with the small form-factor, but this will feel different to the more rounded design of the iPhone 11 and devices such as the second-generation SE. The sides otherwise remain unchanged from other iPhones, which a sleep/wake button that also activates Siri when held on the right, volume rockers and a ringer mute switch on the left and a Lightning port on the bottom.
The back of the device is extremely simple and clean, like the front glass the glass on the back is also flat. The top left is home to the camera system of the 12 mini, with two 12-megapixel cameras alongside a flash and microphone. These cameras are housed within a camera bump which is interesting as the camera lenses do protrude out of the bump itself a little, but it looks like it is a good way to get around having a thicker camera bump.
Overall, I’m very happy with the design of the iPhone 12 mini, the form-factor is perfect for me, having previously used an iPhone 6s as my daily driver and it’s incredibly comfortable to use daily.
The display is a 5.4-inch rounded display with a 1080p resolution, resulting in a pixel density of 476ppi which is great, resulting in sharp text and detailed viewing experiences for photos and video content. The display has a 19.5:9 aspect ratio, so it is a little taller than a regular 9:16 aspect ratio.
The display is a Super Retina XDR OLED display, making it capable of displaying HDR10 and Dolby Vision content. As the display is an OLED, it also provides excellent contrast when watching videos or looking at photographs, such as HDR photos and video captured using the cameras – you’ll be a big fan of the display if you use dark mode in your apps.
The display also features some additional features such as true-tone which will adjust the white balance of the display depending on the environment you are in as well as wide colour gamut which allows the display to show more colours than a typical display.
Unfortunately, if you’re a big mobile gamer the display does lack a high refresh rate. The iPhone 12 mini display is a 60Hz panel, I didn’t find this to be a big problem for me as I do not know any better, but if you’re downgrading from a high refresh rate phone, you’ll probably notice.
The iPhone 12 mini shipped with iOS 14.1 at its release, but this can be upgraded to the latest version easily within the settings app. A huge compelling reason to get an iPhone, in comparison to an Android device, is the longevity of software support and updates that the device will receive.
I can imagine the 12 mini getting updates for the next 5 or so years, which was a big selling point for me as my device is not tied to a contract. Android has been getting better at this more recently, but Apple is still winning in the competition for software updates.
The optimisation of the iOS software paired with the A14 Bionic provides a pleasant and smooth user experience when using the device, from using apps to multitasking. The general day-to-day experience of using the device has been great, apps load fast and multitasking is smooth, particularly when using gestures to swipe back and forth between apps.
Most of my time on my phone is spent browsing social media or listening to music on Spotify – with the occasional 2D game if I’ve got a few minutes to kill. I’ve not had any issues regarding performance for these activities on the device and the experience has generally been very fluid.
Running a Geekbench 5 benchmark, I was able to get a single-core score of 1,592 and a multi-core score of 4,071 from the device and a compute score of 9,283.
The 12 mini supports a range of wireless connectivity, including NFC for Apple Pay, 5G, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0 and MagSafe. MagSafe is incredibly interesting and I’m looking forward to seeing more accessories being made for the iPhone that features MagSafe, at the moment I’ve only been using the MagSafe silicone case with my phone but in-car phone mounts and photographic accessories sound very interesting to me.
FaceID is the only biometric unlocking method supported, unfortunately, we are yet to see an iPhone with both fingerprint and face recognition – but hopefully that isn’t too far away. FaceID works quickly and is very convenient, not only for unlocking the device but also for app authentication as I don’t even have to do anything apart from look at my phone.
The speakers on the 12 mini sound surprisingly good, for how compact the cut-outs for them are, the bottom facing speaker and earpiece speaker work together to provide a more filling sound. Obviously, they will be no match for a Bluetooth speaker, but I was pleasantly surprised by how these sounded for quick and casual listening.
The iPhone 12 mini does a great job at capturing photographs and recording videos, with good amounts of detail and dynamic range – resulting in sharp and well-exposed images. The 12 mini has 12-megapixel cameras throughout the device, with an f/1.6 26mm wide and f/2.4 13mm ultrawide on the back of the device.
Landscape photographs taken on the device look great, with good exposure of the sky and land thanks to automatic HDR and processing done to images by the phone. From my testing, I had a range of different weather and times I took photographs, and the iPhone did well within all of them, the white balance looks accurate and reflects the time of day and colours look accurate within a scene. I did notice that the lens of the camera can sometimes catch the light, particularly on a sunny day, and this can result in a rather large lens flare which goes over the entire vertical height of a shot – this was quite annoying as it can spoil an otherwise great photo.
Getting a little closer to subjects such as trees, I the phone manages to handle these well, but I do think that the Google Pixel 4a has a slight edge over the iPhone as it manages to recover the shadow details a little better, but it’s not a huge difference between the two. When taking photos of handheld objects, the cameras perform well and are able to offer a good level of depth of field without the need for portrait mode to be on.
If you’re needing more to be in a shot, the ultrawide camera does a great job at offering that and can offer a quirky addition if you’re looking for a bit more of an artistic look or want to capture more of the environment or room you are in.
The cameras feature a Night and Portrait mode which are both featured within the camera app. The night mode mostly depends on the setting you are in, it is handy for taking a photo in a dimly lit room as long as your subject can stay still whilst the photo is taken. I was most impressed with the night mode outdoors, particularly on a moonlit night – I remember taking a photo and it ended up looking like midday.
Portrait mode works well for adding a background blur or adding an artistic effect for a portrait photograph, it works well on people as well as dogs – so you can get some pleasant and artistic photos of your canine friend. I did find the preview of the portrait photos, as well as the night photos, to look worse in the viewfinder preview but as soon as the phone had time to process them the cut-out of the subject was fairly decent and worked well. I did find that some of the portrait mode pre-sets worked better in softer lighting versus harsh sunlight, but luckily you can tweak these settings after the fact as well.
Moving over to the front-facing selfie camera, this camera works well for taking selfies or for video calls. It supports portrait mode and makes use of the FaceID infrared system for a more accurate outline of your face.
When it comes to recording video, you can record in a range of resolutions and framerates. Both the selfie and rear-facing cameras can record in up to 4K at 60fps and the rear-facing camera can also do HDR and Dolby Vision HDR video as well as 240fps slow-motion at 1080p. It’s great to see that the cameras are consistent across the device, so if you choose to edit some footage all the clips will share the same resolution and framerate.
The iPhone 12 mini has been criticised for having lesser battery life in comparison to the rest of the 12 series, but as a smaller device, this is a result and cost of having a smaller phone. Despite this, I’ve been able to get a day’s use from the phone since I’ve started using it without the need to charge throughout the day, which has been a nice change coming from an iPhone 6s which needed charging three times a day.
I’ve been able to get around 3 and a half hours of screen-on time from the phone, which is mainly from social media and some video streaming, although your mileage may vary depending on your usage.
When it comes to charging the device, this can be done through wireless charging, MagSafe charging or wired charging, which all support different charging rates. Wireless charging with a Qi-compatible charger will change at 7.5W, MagSafe at 15W and wired charging at 20W with a compatible fast-charger plug, with wired charging being able to do a 50% charge in 30 minutes.
If you’re looking for a compact iPhone with the latest features, the iPhone 12 mini is the one to get. Despite having a smaller form-factor, there are no compromises on the feature set aside from the battery life, which makes it a compelling option. The experience of using the device is great and the cameras are able to capture some great moments with good exposure and detail. There are a couple of downsides such as the lack of high-refresh-rate and the large notch, but overall, I’m very happy with the device and the experience it offers.
The Apple iPhone 12 mini is available to purchase on Amazon.
iPhone 12 miniiPhone 12 mini
- Compact size makes the device easy to hold
- Excellent camera quality
- High quality OLED display
- Notch is quite large
- Battery life will not be able to cover two days
- No high-refresh-rate display