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Apple iPhone 12 Mini review: A pocket rocket

By Kenny Yeo - 12 Dec 2020

Performance, battery life, and conclusion

Performance analysis

The smaller iPhone 12 Mini has the same processor as the larger iPhone 12, 12 Pro, and 12 Pro Max.

The iPhone 12 Mini has the same A14 Bionic processor as the rest of the iPhone 12 lineup. In recent years, however, Apple has made significant improvements in performance by maximising the thermal envelope and squeezing out every ounce of performance from its processors. What this means for smaller phones is that they could potentially be a little slower because their compact bodies are less effective at dissipating heat and so the processor cannot run as hard. Let’s look at the charts below to see if that’s the case with the iPhone 12 Mini.

 

Looking at the results, it’s clear that the iPhone 12 Mini is every bit as fast as the larger iPhone 12 and that the smaller body hasn't had a negative impact on perfomrance. Even on AnTuTu, which is one of the longer running benchmarks, the iPhone 12 Mini held on and recorded results that are similar to the iPhone 12. Actually, what’s more interesting from these charts is how much better-performing the iPhone 12 Pro Max was. It seems that the larger body of the iPhone 12 Pro Max has gave it a leg-up over the smaller iPhone 12, 12 Pro, and 12 Mini.

 

Battery life

Our standard battery test for mobile phones has the following parameters:

  • Looping a 720p video with screen brightness and volume at 100%
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity turned on
  • Constant data streaming through email

The iPhone 12 Mini has a considerably smaller battery compared to the iPhone 12. A capacity of 2,227mAh means its battery is 20% smaller than the iPhone 12’s 2,815mAh battery and it's possibly the smallest out of any phone released in 2020 – I haven't seen a phone with a smaller battery. Unsurprisingly, battery life has taken a nasty hit. It lasted just 237 minutes (3 hours and 57 minutes) in our battery test, which is nearly 1.5 hours less than the iPhone 12. But to put the numbers into perspective, in terms of actual power consumption, the iPhone 12 Mini wasn't any much more power-hungry than any of the new iPhones.

In the real world, I managed to go 12-14 hours and have about 20% to 30% of charge left. But bare in mind because I'm working at home I was mostly on Wi-Fi. Even with the phone's Smart Data Mode, if you are out and about and mostly on cellular (5G consumes even more battery than 4G), I think most people will struggle to get through a day without a mid-day charge at some point.

 

Refreshingly small

It's genuinely refreshing to see a phone this small with flagship-class performance. Perhaps 2021 will be the year small flagship phones make a comeback?

Do you remember a time when flagship phones were the smallest phones in the lineup instead of the biggest? I do. So the arrival of the iPhone 12 Mini brings back fond memories of the Motorola StarTACs and Nokia phones like the 8210 and 8850. For once, it’s refreshing to be able to slip your phone into the pocket and not worry about breaking it whenever you need to take a seat. Perhaps 2021 will be the year compact flagship phones make a comeback.

With prices starting at S$1,149, the iPhone 12 Mini is pricey like any other top-tier phone. And with Apple insistent on not giving expandable storage options on their phones, I suspect most users will raid their wallets and stretch for the pricier 128GB and 256GB models to future-proof their investments.

iPhone 12 prices
Model iPhone 12 mini iPhone 12 iPhone 12 Pro iPhone 12 Pro Max
64GB S$1,149 S$1,299 - -
128GB S$1,219 S$1,369 S$1,649 S$1,799
256GB S$1,389 S$1,539 S$1,819 S$1,969
512GB S$2,149 S$2,299


The only criticism I have of the iPhone 12 Mini is its battery life. I suspect most people will find it tough to get through a day without having to charge it at some point. Of course, this won’t be an issue if you already have a habit of charging your phone mid-day or utilise standing wireless chargers that perpetually charge your device by your side. But I think a large number of people would rather not have to deal with the anxiety of their phones running out of juice. Having said that, I also think this is something you have to put up with when you have a processor this powerful and a display this bright into a body that’s this small. Ultra-thin notebooks face the same problem and it’s no different with smartphones.

If battery life issues don’t bother you or you could manage it effectively, there’s a lot to like about the iPhone 12 Mini. Its compact pocketable size is refreshing (not to mention cute), the build quality is very high, the display is fabulous, performance is class-leading, and it takes outstanding photos and videos. If you have always felt that the size of phones was getting out of hand, the iPhone 12 Mini is the perfect antidote.

 

***Read next***

1) Apple iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro review
2) Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max review
3) iPhone 12 telco price plan comparison

4) iPhone 12 buying guide
5) 12 cases to consider for your new iPhone 12

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9.0
  • Design 9
  • Features 9
  • User-Friendliness 9
  • Performance 9
  • Value 8
The Good
Sleek, compact design
One-hand operation
Gorgeous OLED display
Insane performance
Excellent cameras
Dolby Vision recording
Impressively loud speakers
The Bad
Small battery, not-so-great battery life
Still not USB-C
No expandable storage
Pricey
No charger and headphones
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