In early February, industry data provider Counterpoint revealed that iPhone 12 mini sales were just 5% of overall sales of its new phones during the first of January in the US. Counterpoint added that these numbers are in line with global trends where screens under 6-inches now only account for 10% of all smartphones sold worldwide. These numbers have rekindled the debate around small smartphones. Are they still relevant in 2021? And who is the iPhone 12 mini for?
Back in Q3 2020 at the height of the COVID-induced lockdown in India we tested the iPhone SE (2020). It was a refreshing change for me to swap my iPhone 11 Pro for the compact form factor of the SE. But there were a few gripes like the 4.7-inch LCD screen and the underwhelming battery. I also missed the ultra-wide lens in the single lens rear cam. Cut to October 13, 2020. The instantly recognisable James Bond theme begins to play. An aluminium briefcase opens to reveal the iPhone 12 Mini. That moment was probably the highlight of Apple’s big, annual iPhone event. Tech reviewers and gadget geeks were super excited. This was the iPhone many of us wanted. One that doesn’t compromise on key features like the display, camera and processing power and yet offers the convenience of single handed usage. We got our hands on the iPhone 12 Mini after we tested the iPhone 12 Pro and the 12 Pro Max; it was a wonderful switch.
At 135 gm, this one’s lighter and marginally shorter than last year’s iPhone SE or the iPhone 8. But there’s one big difference. You get a 5.4-inch display with an 85.1% screen: body ratio (compared to thick bezels and the 65.4% screen: body ratio on the SE). What’s more this is a Super Retina XDR OLED display, a standard feature across all iPhone 12 siblings. With a pixel density of 476 PPI (Pixels per inch) this is also the sharpest of all the iPhone 12 displays. But does 5.4-inches cut it in 2021. That might well boil down to your usage patterns. If your iPhone is also your primary Netflix screen and gaming device, then you will certainly miss the extra screen real estate. But if you follow a more compartmentalised approach with specific tasks for your tab, laptop and phone, then this one’s for you. A compact form factor might be one of the reasons you still cling to your iPhone 7 or 8. It’s the same reason we dig the iPhone 12 mini. I could wrap my hand around the display and also access the top of the screen with one hand. As mobile screens near the 7-inch threshold, we’ve had to forsake the joy of one-handed navigation.
The iPhone 12 mini packs the same cameras as the 12. This means your get a sharp 12MP selfie shooter and a dual rear cam that shoots terrific videos and ultra-wide images. It’s also one of the best smartphone cams in low-light. You miss out on the telephoto lens and the LiDAR sensor, headline features of the cameras on the iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max. That’s not a major trade-off for most average users.
The big compromise with a featherlight phone – this is a phone that might even be able to slip into some tiny pockets of your jeans (the watch pocket), is battery life. While the mini does much better than the iPhone SE (2020) or devices like the iPhone 7 and 8, you’re still likely to reach for your charger by evening. I also found battery drains quite high when the device was in standby mode. While battery life might not be a deal breaker at a time when business travel remains infrequent, it’s unlikely to last for a day business trip when you use your device for multiple tasks including emails, videos, music and snapping images.
While the iPhone 12 Pro Max has been my daily driver for the last few months, it’s been great to swap that for the 12 mini. This is the iPhone for you if you miss compact smartphones – a dying breed, and don’t want to make too many compromises. I can’t remember how it was to dash off an email with a single hand as I strolled with my supermarket bag in the other hand.
The iPhone 12 mini comes in five colours (White, blue, black, green and red) and three storage options – 64GB/Rs 69,900, 128GB/Rs 74,900 and 256GB/Rs 84,900