Apple iPhone 12 Mini Hands-on: It’s so tiny

Apple iPhone 12 Mini Hands-on: It’s so tiny

Almost from the moment it was announced, the iPhone 12 Mini elicited excitement and garnered praise from fans and tech writers alike because they are apparently tired of large phones. And while I generally love big screens, I can see the iPhone 12 Mini’s appeal after testing it for the past day and a half. This is a phone that can fit into most pockets and be used with one hand with ease.

Apple iPhone 12 series: Specifications and Comparison

SpecificationsApple iPhone 12 MiniApple iPhone 12Apple iPhone 12 ProApple iPhone 12 Pro Max
Build
  • Aluminum mid-frame
  • Glass front and back
  • “Ceramic Shield” for glass protection
  • Aluminum mid-frame
  • Glass front and back
  • “Ceramic Shield” for glass protection
  • Stainless Steel mid-frame
  • Glass front and back
  • “Ceramic Shield” for glass protection
  • Stainless Steel mid-frame
  • Glass front and back
  • “Ceramic Shield” for glass protection
Dimensions & Weight
  • 7.4 x 131.5 x 64.2mm
  • 133 grams (Global)
  • 135 grams (USA)
  • 7.4 x 146.7 x 71.5mm
  • 162 grams (Global)
  • 164 grams (USA)
  • 7.4 x 146.7 x 71.5mm
  • 187 grams (Global)
  • 189 grams (USA)
  • 7.4 x 160.8 x 78.1mm
  • 226 grams (Global)
  • 228 grams (USA)
Display
  • 5.4″ Super Retina XDR OLED Display
  • 2,340 x 1,080 resolution, 476 PPI
  • 6.1″ Super Retina XDR OLED Display
  • 2,532 x 1,170 resolution, 460 PPI
  • 6.1″ Super Retina XDR OLED Display
  • 2,532 x 1,170 resolution, 460 PPI
  • 6.7″ Super Retina XDR OLED Display
  • 2,778 x 1,284 resolution, 458 PPI
SoC
  • Apple A14 Bionic SoC
    • 2x performance cores
    • 4x power efficiency cores
  • 5nm process node
  • 4-core GPU
  • 16-core Neural Engine
  • Apple A14 Bionic SoC
    • 2x performance cores
    • 4x power efficiency cores
  • 5nm process node
  • 4-core GPU
  • 16-core Neural Engine
  • Apple A14 Bionic SoC
    • 2x performance cores
    • 4x power efficiency cores
  • 5nm process node
  • 4-core GPU
  • 16-core Neural Engine
  • Apple A14 Bionic SoC
    • 2x performance cores
    • 4x power efficiency cores
  • 5nm process node
  • 4-core GPU
  • 16-core Neural Engine
RAM4GB4GB6GB6GB
Storage Options
  • 64GB
  • 128GB
  • 256GB
  • 64GB
  • 128GB
  • 256GB
  • 128GB
  • 256GB
  • 512GB
  • 128GB
  • 256GB
  • 512GB
Battery & Charging
  • 2,227 mAh battery as per certification listings
  • 15W Wireless Charging with MagSafe
  • 7.5W Qi Wireless Charging
  • 2,815 mAh battery as per certification listings
  • 15W Wireless Charging with MagSafe
  • 7.5W Qi Wireless Charging
  • 2,815 mAh battery as per certification listings
  • 15W Wireless Charging with MagSafe
  • 7.5W Qi Wireless Charging
  • 3,687 mAh battery as per certification listings
  • 15W Wireless Charging with MagSafe
  • 7.5W Qi Wireless Charging
SecurityFace ID (TrueDepth camera for facial recognition)Face ID (TrueDepth camera for facial recognition)Face ID (TrueDepth camera for facial recognition)Face ID (TrueDepth camera for facial recognition)
Rear Camera(s)
  • Primary: 12MP
  • Secondary: 12MP, Ultra-wide angle
  •  Primary: 12MP
  • Secondary: 12MP, Ultra-wide angle
  • Primary: 12MP
  • Secondary: 12MP, Ultra-wide angle
  • Tertiary: 12MP telephoto
  • Primary: 12MP
  • Secondary: 12MP, Ultra-wide angle
  • Tertiary: 12MP telephoto
Front Camera(s)12MP, f/2.212MP, f/2.212MP, f/2.212MP, f/2.2
Port(s)Proprietary Lightning portProprietary Lightning portProprietary Lightning portProprietary Lightning port
AudioAudio formats supported: AAC‑LC, HE‑AAC, HE‑AAC v2, Protected AAC, MP3, Linear PCM, Apple Lossless, FLAC, Dolby Digital (AC‑3), Dolby Digital Plus (E‑AC‑3), Dolby Atmos, and Audible (formats 2, 3, 4, Audible Enhanced Audio, AAX, and AAX+)Audio formats supported: AAC‑LC, HE‑AAC, HE‑AAC v2, Protected AAC, MP3, Linear PCM, Apple Lossless, FLAC, Dolby Digital (AC‑3), Dolby Digital Plus (E‑AC‑3), Dolby Atmos, and Audible (formats 2, 3, 4, Audible Enhanced Audio, AAX, and AAX+)Audio formats supported: AAC‑LC, HE‑AAC, HE‑AAC v2, Protected AAC, MP3, Linear PCM, Apple Lossless, FLAC, Dolby Digital (AC‑3), Dolby Digital Plus (E‑AC‑3), Dolby Atmos, and Audible (formats 2, 3, 4, Audible Enhanced Audio, AAX, and AAX+)Audio formats supported: AAC‑LC, HE‑AAC, HE‑AAC v2, Protected AAC, MP3, Linear PCM, Apple Lossless, FLAC, Dolby Digital (AC‑3), Dolby Digital Plus (E‑AC‑3), Dolby Atmos, and Audible (formats 2, 3, 4, Audible Enhanced Audio, AAX, and AAX+)
Connectivity
  • 5G: Sub 6GHz
    • mmWave for USA
  • Ultra-Wide Band (UWB)
  • Wi‑Fi 6 (802.11ax) with 2×2 MIMO
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • 5G: Sub 6GHz
    • mmWave for USA
  • Ultra-Wide Band (UWB)
  • Wi‑Fi 6 (802.11ax) with 2×2 MIMO
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • 5G: Sub 6GHz
    • mmWave for USA
  • Ultra-Wide Band (UWB)
  • Wi‑Fi 6 (802.11ax) with 2×2 MIMO
  • 5G: Sub 6GHz
    • mmWave for USA
  • Ultra-Wide Band (UWB)
  • Wi‑Fi 6 (802.11ax) with 2×2 MIMO
  • Bluetooth 5.0
SoftwareiOS 14iOS 14iOS 14iOS 14
Other Features
  • IP68
  • Colors: Black, White, Red, Blue, Green
  • IP68
  • Colors: Black, White, Red, Blue, Green
  • IP68
  • Colors: Gold, Silver, Graphite, Blue
  • IP68
  • Colors: Gold, Silver, Graphite, Blue
PricingStarts at $699Starts at $799Starts at $999Starts at $1,099

Apple iPhone 12 Series Forums

Design: small but mighty

I unboxed the iPhone 12 Mini and 12 Pro Max at the same time, and while the plus-sized phone felt exactly as I expected it to in the hand, I was caught off guard by just how dainty the iPhone 12 Mini is. Not since the iPhone 5 or Samsung Galaxy S3 eight years ago have I held a flagship phone with premium components this small.

You know that place-your-pinkie-under-the-phone-to-support-it grip that we’ve all mastered in the last few years? I don’t have to do that with the iPhone 12 Mini, because measuring just 64mm (2.5-inches) across from left to right and weighing just 133g (0.3 lbs) means this is a phone I can wrap my fingers around and grip securely with ease.

I can grip my entire hand around the iPhone 12 Mini

I can also reach the top of the screen with my thumb with just a slight stretch, without having to loosen my grip the way I do with other recent iPhones. This is helpful with iOS because you need to swipe down from the top to activate the Control Center.

Not since the iPhone 5 or Samsung Galaxy S3 eight years ago have I held a flagship phone with premium components this small

Before I got my hands on the iPhone 12 Mini, I wondered if its 5.4-inch screen would be too small for reading, but iOS’s UI inherently displays content at a larger scale compared to Android (this also means everything looks a bit too large on the iPhone 12 Pro Max). There are options to increase the font size if needed.

But because the notch that houses the Face ID system remains the same size across all the iPhone 12 series, this means the 12 Mini loses the most percentage of screen real estate to that notch.

iPhone 12 Mini stacked on top of an iPhone 12 Pro Max.

The iPhone 12 Mini’s 5.4-inch display on top of the 12 Pro Max’s 6.7-inch display.

Other than its petite size, everything about the iPhone 12 Mini is identical to the standard iPhone 12 with the exception of one thing, so there’s no need to cover every detail here again. If you’re interested in seeing how the iPhone 12 Mini’s cameras or processor performs (they’re top notch), then please read my iPhone 12 review from two weeks ago.

Battery life could be a problem

That one exception I mentioned in the last paragraph is the battery life. The battery on the iPhone 12 Mini is even smaller (2,227 mAh) than the standard iPhone 12’s, and this will likely be a problem. I had trouble getting the iPhone 12 to last an entire day for me when connected to 5G, and with the iPhone 12 Mini, I am concerned it won’t even make it to dinner time.

That was indeed the case on my first full day with the phone — the battery icon turned red (under 10%) — by 8 PM. I will have to test it for longer to see if that was an anomaly or not, but let’s just say I doubt it was. At least you’ll have three ways to charge the iPhone 12 Mini: wired Lightning charging, Qi wireless charging, and MagSafe.

Early impression: the most powerful small phone in a long time

The iPhone 12 Pro Max, 12 Pro, and 12 Mini

The iPhone 12 Pro Max, 12 Pro, and 12 Mini.

With Apple’s A14 Bionic and a very capable camera, the iPhone 12 Mini is easily the most powerful small phone in many years. Personally, once the novelty of being able to palm the entire phone wears off, I’ll want to jump back to a larger screen. But for those who have complained about phones being too large; for women with very shallow pockets (literally, not figuratively); or for those who want the newest iPhone at the cheapest price possible, the iPhone 12 Mini is the one to get. Just make sure you carry a charging cable or portable battery pack with you.

    iPhone 12 Mini
    The iPhone 12 Mini is the smallest flagship in years. Despite it’s petite size, it packs arguably the most powerful SoC in smartphone right now, along with one of the very best cameras.

About author

Ben Sin
Ben Sin

I'm a senior editor at XDA Developers. I have been a journalist for a decade, the last five years covering the mobile tech scene closely, reviewing just about every phone and attending trade shows and launches. I also run a gadget review channel on YouTube.