It’s not the best iPhone for most people, but it’s going to be a favorite for many.
If you asked me which of the four different models of the new iPhone 12 you should buy without providing any further context on your needs or desires, I would tell you to buy the regular iPhone 12 without question. It has the best balance of screen size, storage, cameras, battery life, and value. It is, in my opinion, the best iPhone 12 for most people.
But the iPhone 12 mini is my favorite.
For the first time in many years, Apple is making an intentionally small phone. The key, though, is that unlike other small phones, Apple isn’t putting worse parts in it. The iPhone 12 mini has all the same features as the larger iPhone 12. It has the same cameras, same processor, same everything save for two things: screen size and battery life.
The iPhone 12 mini starts at $729 for a 64GB model in the US, but $50 more gets the 128GB model and that’s a much better option. It’s a small phone, but it’s not a cheap phone.
IPHONE 12 MINI HARDWARE
It’s traditional to refer to phones by their screen size and for the iPhone 12 mini, that number is 5.4 inches diagonally. But that number doesn’t tell the story at all. The phone is smaller than the traditional 4.7-inch-home-button iPhone design we saw from the iPhone 6 on through the 6S, 7, 8, and 2020 SE models, even though the screen itself is larger.
That’s because the 12 mini, just like the rest of the iPhone 12 line, has switched over to Apple’s more modern OLED screens and Face ID notch for unlocking. Those two features allow Apple to design the phone with minimal bezels and maximal screen.
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.
If there is a knock on the screen, it’s that it doesn’t offer a high refresh rate like many Android phones — including the Pixel 5, which isn’t too far off from the iPhone 12 mini’s size. I’m more annoyed that the Pro iPhones don’t have it, though — here on the mini, I think battery life is more important.