iPhone 13 Mini vs. iPhone 12 Mini: Which Mini Maxes It?


It may have been the neglected, smaller sibling of last year’s iPhone 12 range, but Apple’s Mini is back, in its second incarnation as the iPhone 13 Mini. While taking the same 5.4-inch display as its successor, it adds a bigger battery, the new A15 Bionic chip, enlarged storage options, and a smaller front-facing notch. In theory, this should make it a better phone overall than the 2020 model, but is it worth an upgrade if you already have the latter?

We answer this question by pitting the two devices against each other in a head-to-head comparison test, in which we examine their specs, designs, displays, performance, cameras, and software. By weighing up all of their pros and cons, we should help you decide which one might suit you best.

Specs

iPhone 13 Mini
iPhone 12 Mini
Size 131.5 x 64.2 x 7.7 mm (5.18 x 2.53 x 0.30 in) 131.5 x 64.2 x 7.4 mm (5.18 x 2.53 x 0.29 inches)
Weight 141 grams (4.97 ounces) 135 grams (4.76 ounces)
Screen size 5.4-inch Super Retina XDR OLED 5.4-inch Super Retina XDR OLED
Screen resolution 2340 x 1080 pixels (476 pixels per inch) 2340 x 1080 pixels (476 pixels per inch)
Operating system iOS 15 iOS 15
Storage space 128GB, 256GB, 512GB 64GB, 128GB, 256GB
MicroSD card slot No No
Tap-to-pay services Apple Pay Apple Pay
Processor Apple A15 Bionic Apple A14 Bionic
RAM 4GB 4GB
Camera Dual 12MP wide and 12MP ultrawide rear, 12MP front Dual 12MP wide and 12MP ultrawide rear, 12MP front
Video 4K up to 60 frames per second, 1080p up to 240 fps 4K up to 60 frames per second, 1080p up to 240 fps
Bluetooth version Bluetooth 5.0 Bluetooth 5.0
Ports Lightning Lightning
Authenticate method FaceID FaceID
Water resistance IP68 IP68
Battery 2,438mAh

Fast charging (20w)

MagSafe wireless charging (15W)

Qi magnetic fast wireless charging (7.5W)

2,227mAh

Fast charging (20w)

MagSafe wireless charging (15W)

Qi magnetic fast wireless charging (7.5W)

App marketplace Apple App Store Apple App Store
Network support AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon
Colors Starlight, Midnight, Blue, Pink, PRODUCT (RED) White, Black, Blue, Green, PRODUCT (RED)
Price $699 $599
Buy from Apple, AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, Amazon, Best Buy Apple, AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, Amazon, Best Buy
Review score News 4 out of 5 stars

Design, display, durability

iPhone 12
Andrew Martonik/Digital Trends

We hope you enjoy playing “spot the difference,” since you’ll be hard-pressed to notice any glaring deviations from the iPhone 12 Mini to the 13 Mini. They have nearly identical dimensions and the same flat sides, with only two relatively modest differences being apparent. The first is that notch on the iPhone 13 Mini is around 20% narrower, while the second is that the two camera lenses on the back of the newer phone now have a diagonal alignment. Whether this makes it a more attractive phone, however, is something for the reader to decide.

It’s also a case of Spot the Difference with the displays of each device, since they appear to be exactly the same. They both employ a 5.4-inch Super Retina XDR OLED display, with 2340 x 1080 pixels a piece (making for 476 pixels per inch). That said, the iPhone 13 Mini is apparently a little brighter on average (800 nits compared to 625), although both max out at 1200 nits, so you’re not going to notice too much of a (or any) gap in quality.

Both devices are also protected by a Ceramic Shield screen, providing four times better drop protection than 2019’s models. An IP68 rating for each also means that you can dip both phones in up to 1.5 meters of water for as long as 30 minutes.

Put simply, both phones are almost identical, so this round is a tie.

Winner: Tie

Performance, battery life, charging

iPhone 12 Mini
Andrew Martonik/Digital Trends

Here’s where things start to get a little interesting. Both the iPhone 13 Mini and the 12 Mini come with 4GB of RAM, while the newer phone harnesses the A15 Bionic chip and the older one uses the A14. You might therefore assume that the 13 Mini has the edge in terms of performance, although preliminary reports indicate that this isn’t really the case. It appears that the A15 isn’t really much more efficient than the A14, so while it will enable you to use all of the latest apps and games without fuss, it won’t be noticeably faster than the A14.

On the other hand, the iPhone 13 Mini provides one much-demanded improvement compared to previous years’ models: it ships with 128GB of internal memory as standard. By contrast, the iPhone 12 Mini’s basic model gives you only 64GB by default, which arguably isn’t sufficient in this era of social media and compulsive photography.

Another advantage boasted by the iPhone 13 Mini is that its battery is slightly bigger, at 2,438mAh compared to 2,227mAh. The battery was in fact the iPhone 12 Mini’s weakest point when it was released last year, so this modest upgrade is more than welcome. It should at least give you another couple of hours of life each day, although we haven’t yet given the iPhone 13 Mini a full review, so we’ll need to confirm this first.

Still, with more generous internal memory as standard, this round goes to the newer device.

Winner: iPhone 13 Mini

Camera

iPhone 12 Mini rear cameras.

The cameras provide another case of squint-and-you’ll-miss-it differences. Both the iPhone 13 Mini and the 12 Mini come with a dual-lens setup featuring a 12-megapixel wide lens and a 12MP ultrawide lens. The newer model hasn’t received any significant hardware upgrades compared to its older sibling, with its two lenses featuring the same aperture sizes. That said, one small difference is that the iPhone 13 Mini features sensor-shift optical image stabilization (OIS) on its wide lens, ensuring that shots remain steadier and more reliable.

We’re not entirely sure if this will make a significant difference to the quality of the iPhone 13 Mini’s camera, although it might. Something similar can be said for the introduction of Cinematic Mode, which will let you shift focus subtly from foreground to background when filming video. This certainly seems like a very nice touch for budding cinematographers, but once again we aren’t entirely sure if the average layperson will even notice it.

Regardless of which one you eventually choose, you’ll get an excellent and versatile camera phone. This round, therefore, remains a tie, pending a full review of the iPhone 13 Mini.

Winner: Tie

Software and updates

iPhone 12 Mini
Andrew Martonik/Digital Trends

Both the iPhone 13 Mini and iPhone 12 Mini run on iOS 15. The recently updated operating system brings a slate of new features to all iPhones, including a more intelligent Notification Summary, a Focus mode for blocking out distractions, as well as the ability to share media experiences via FaceTime and Messages.

Both phones will also provide the same reliable feed of regular software updates, while even the iPhone 12 Mini will receive updates long beyond the point at which you’d want to upgrade to a new iPhone.

Winner: Tie

Special features

Cinematic Mode iPhone 13.

Both the iPhone 13 Mini and the iPhone 12 Mini support 5G connectivity. Both also support the faster mmWave band in addition to the slower (but longer range) sub-6Hz frequencies. Given that all major carriers support both phones, you’ll have no problem connecting to 5G, assuming that a signal is in range.

Both phones are also compatible with MagSafe accessories, such as magnetic chargers and cases. These are steadily growing in number, and while they’re hardly a game-changer for the smartphone world, they’re a nice extra touch.

Other than that, both phones will provide you with returning special features such as Face ID and Memojis. Given that neither flaunts anything the other lacks, this round is another tie.

Winner: iPhone 12 Mini

Price and availability

Starting from $699, the iPhone 13 Mini can now be preordered from Apple, with units officially shipping from September 24. The 256GB and 512GB models will cost you $799 and $999, respectively. It will be supported by all major carriers and sold pretty much everywhere.

The iPhone 12 Mini now starts at $599 for the 64GB model. The 128GB and 256GB models are available for $649 and $749, respectively. It is also supported by all carriers and stocked by the vast majority of outlets.

Overall winner: iPhone 13 Mini

No, there isn’t much in it, but the iPhone 13 Mini is just about the better phone overall. This is due to its more generous default internal storage, as well as its longer battery life. There’s also a chance that it may have a slightly more effective and consistent camera than the iPhone 12 Mini, although without a full test we can’t say this for certain. However, if you already own the iPhone 12 Mini, there really isn’t much reason for you to upgrade. It’s also arguable that if you have neither, the $100 saving might make the older phone the more attractive option.

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