Many people these days fancy big-screen smartphones but are averse to bulky designs, which is unfortunately what you get in most current-generation big-screen devices. Smartphone makers have in the past made efforts to design balanced smartphones with optimum size and big screen. But they have restricted such products to the midrange segment, leaving the users of premium smartphones in the lurch. That said, there is now a smartphone, the Apple’s iPhone 12 mini, which packs the best of both the worlds – a top-end premium device of an optimum size and a big screen.
iPhone 12 mini: Design
The iPhone 12 mini is a no-compromise premium smartphone, which is small in size but not in any other respect. It has the same flat-frame design of its siblings in the iPhone 12 series. The iPhone 12 mini flaunts a premium glass-aluminium construction, with a ceramic shield glass on the front touted to be 4x more resistant to drops than the previous generation. However, the textured scratch-resistant glass and stainless steel frame on the Pro models have been replaced with a glossy glass and an aluminium frame in the mini. The phone’s ergonomic design is complemented by a lightweight (133g) build, which aids its in-hand feel and does not make your jeans pocket look unnecessarily bulky when placed there.
Some compromises have been made in the iPhone 12 mini but they are not on parameters that directly impact the handling of the phone. For example, the iPhone 12 mini is IP68 rated for water and dust resistance, and it is said to withstand water abuse at a maximum depth of 6 metres for up to 30 minutes.
iPhone 12 mini: Display
Despite being as big as the iPhone SE 2020 (review), the iPhone 12 mini sports an ample screen of 5.4 inches, which is good 0.7-inch bigger than the former. The display size is neither small nor too big. It’s just right, and it complements the iPhone 12 mini’s overall dimensions. It is an OLED screen of a 2340 x 1080 resolution (Super Retina XDR display) that works well for most content you consume on a mobile device.
In terms of performance, the screen is bright and stays legible under direct sunlight. The brightness almost doubles (1200 nits) for high dynamic range (HDR) content, resulting in exceptional contrast ratio with deep blacks and true whites. Like its elder siblings, the iPhone 12 mini has a true tone display that adjusts the colour temperature automatically based on ambient light conditions.
iPhone 12 mini: Camera
The iPhone 12 mini has a dual camera set-up on the back, featuring two 12-megapixel sensors — wide and ultra-wide. Both the sensors are capable of delivering consistent results, irrespective of light conditions. Though the phone lacks a dedicated telephoto lens — and the optical zoom capability therefore — the 2x digital zoom is good enough for day-to-day imaging.
Despite some compromises, such as the absence of night-mode portraits and sensor-shift optical image stabilisation, the iPhone 12 mini does not lag far behind its premium siblings in the Pro series. On the brighter side, some of the pro features like night mode for both wide and ultra-wide sensors is available here, and they give a major boost to the phone’s low-light imaging. Similarly, the camera system on the iPhone 12 mini is capable of HDR video recording with Dolby Vision at up to 60 frames per second from the rear sensor and 30 fps from the front.
The iPhone 12 mini’s 12MP front camera is similar in performance to the iPhone 12 Pro. It supports most of the camera features available for the rear-camera module, including night mode, portraits, and live photos.
iPhone 12 mini: Performance
The iPhone 12 mini is powered by Apple’s 5nm process-based A14 Bionic chip, which is the same chip that powers the rest of the iPhone 12 series. Therefore, the performance is top-notch and the phone handles day-to-day tasks with ease. It does not slow down or show any weakness even while handling processor- or graphic-intensive tasks like multimedia editing, 4K 60fps video recording, etc. It does warm up at times but not so much as to become uncomfortable to hold and operate.
Talking of the battery life, the phone sails through a day on a single charge on moderate usage but requires intermittent charging if used for power-intensive purposes like extended video recording or streaming videos over the internet. As for charging, the iPhone 12 mini supports up to 20W fast-charging through wired charger (sold separately) and up to 12W through the newly introduced MagSafe charger (sold separately at Rs 4,500). The phone takes about an hour to fully charge using the 20W wired charger. The charging time extends to about two hours through the MagSafe wireless charger.
iPhone 12 mini review: Verdict
Priced Rs 69,900 (64GB storage) onwards, the iPhone 12 mini is a compact smartphone that punches well above its weight. Unlike other compact-sized smartphones like the Google 4a (review), the iPhone 12 mini does not cut corners on any front and offers an experience that is somewhat similar to what you get in the iPhone 12 Pro (review) models. It is an ergonomically sized smartphone that is otherwise as premium as it gets. The phone fully justifies its premium pricing.