iPhone 12 mini Hands-on Review: Mini Phone, Max Ambition

The iPhone 12 mini is about the same size as the iPhone SE but it packs in a larger edge-to-edge display.


Of all the phones in the iPhone 12 series this year, the iPhone 12 mini is the most intriguing. There is no denying the charm of a small iPhone. Especially when the iPhone 12 mini is shorter and narrower than the iPhone SE. And yet, it manages to cram in a larger 5.4-inch display compared to the 4.7-inch one on the iPhone SE.

Anyway, I’ve been using the iPhone 12 mini for about a day now and here are my first impressions of this cute phone.

Also read: iPhone 12 Hands-on Review – Retroactive Re-engineering

iPhone 12 mini – small is the new Black

So, apart from the size itself, not much is different in terms of the materials used for construction between the iPhone 12 and the iPhone 12 mini. You get the same glossy hardened glass on the rear and ceramic shield glass on the front. And, the metal railing is made of aluminium. It has a matte finish, which is also true for the camera module.

Now, the dimensions of the iPhone 12 mini make it very easy to use with one hand and reaching the top edges of the phone is a cinch. The in-hand feel is great too considering it is made from premium materials. And, while it is pretty light just 135g, it feels densely built.

All that said, I feel it is a tad too tiny for my big hands. For me the 5.8-inch to 6.1-inch display size range is ideal. What’s your perfect phone size? Let me know in the comments below.

As for the 5.4-inch display on the iPhone 12 mini, it gets as bright as the iPhone 12 and is a very crisp OLED panel generally. Now, there were a few things that I wanted to test immediately:

  1. The haptic feedback on the iPhone 12 Mini is as good as it was on the iPhone 12. Nothing changes despite the tinier body.
  2. The wide notch takes up even more space on the top, leaving you with very little space on the left and the right. It is definitely an irritant.
  3. Typing on the iPhone 12 mini was slightly cumbersome for my pudgy fingers but I am sure I’ll get used to it once I use it regularly. Also, if someone can get used to an iPhone SE’s keypad in 2020, the iPhone 12 mini shouldn’t be a problem.

iPhone 12 mini – same excellent dual cameras

The iPhone 12 mini has the same 12MP wide plus 12MP ultrawide setup as the iPhone 12 (that’s an excess of twelves in one sentence, I know). And, you get a 12MP camera on the front for selfies as well. I took a few preliminary shots alongside the iPhone 12 and I can assure you, you cannot tell the difference. The pictures look equally sharp with punchy colours and excellent dynamic range. Low light shots and selfies look pretty good too.

iPhone 12 mini – no compromise performance

I really like how Apple doesn’t compromise on the chip used inside its entire lineup of iPhones. The 12 mini gets the same, super powerful 5nm A14 Bionic chip inside. There’s 4 gigs of RAM packed in along with three storage options – 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB. The battery inside is a 2227mAh unit. Unfortunately, I haven’t had enough time to test the battery life. In any case, I have to save something for the full review right? Oh by the way, there is a tiny quirk with the 12 mini. Unlike the other three iPhones in 2020’s lineup that support up to 15W speeds on Qi Wireless Charging, the 12 mini only supports up to 12W of Qi Wireless charging speeds.

Anyway, moving on, I did test the performance of different parameters quickly by playing Call of Duty for about 30 minutes at stretch on the phone.

  1. The first thing I noticed is the speaker doesn’t sound as full as the iPhone 12. That was expected considering the 12 mini has a tinier chassis plus the speaker grille is smaller too.
  2. Playing on the comparatively smaller 5.4-inch display was not a problem per se. But yes, the notch was definitely annoying.
  3. The phone battery percentage dropped from 49% to 36% during 30 minutes of gaming, which is 13% and that’s not great.
  4. At the start of the gameplay session, the phone’s temperature was about 34 degrees and after an hour it reached a max of 38 degrees. These numbers are phenomenal and it looks like the 5nm A14 Bionic’s power efficiency is coming to the fore. Excellent stuff.

Closing first thoughts on the iPhone 12 mini

The iPhone 12 mini has been chiseled by Apple for a certain section of the audience. Interestingly, my wife is in awe of the iPhone 12 mini and loves the size. And, I am sure there are many folks like her, who’d prefer the 12 mini over the iPhones this year. And, considering phones have been getting bigger every year, a mini phone is definitely a refreshing change.

What do you folks think of the iPhone 12 mini? Do let me know in the comments section below.