It’s incredibly difficult to find a small, easy-to-hold smartphone that isn’t stripped of desirable features and specs. Typically, if there’s a small phone that’s part of a series, you can bet that it will be missing something important. Well, Apple has just turned this equation on its head with the iPhone 12 Mini, the smallest in a series of four iPhones that Apple has launched this year in its flagship line-up.
The Mini is unique in that every other smartphone looks like a gigantic slab next to it. This is specially true of the iPhone 12 Pro Max, which is the largest of the four, and almost looks like an iPad placed next to the Mini.
The screen of the Mini is 5.4 inches diagonally across. The phone is actually smaller than the iPhone SE, but its screen is larger. It still has a big broad notch across the top, like the other iPhone 12s, but that notch hides components that are essential to the iPhone, including the true depth camera that makes a secure Face ID possible. The display is nice and crisp and bright, and has AMOLED like the rest of the line up. None of these screens sport a 120Hz refresh rate, and that’a disappointment to many who feel they should get the feature when they are paying such a high premium for an iPhone.
The Mini just happens to be a lovely size. It feels great in the hand and nestles in the palm with your fingers curling around it easily in a strong secure grip. You could even do without a case if it weren’t for the fact that it gets smudged with fingerprints The only thing is, despite the protection that Apple refers to as a ‘Ceramic Shield’ making the device more shatter-proof, it could still get scratched with objects it touches in a bag or pocket. And, of course, this is a very pocketable phone that would just slip in and be barely noticeable.
The size of this phone also makes it usable one-handed. And that’s something many really like. Even with small hands, your fingers and thumb can easily reach across the display. The keyboard is a little narrow and cramped, and becomes more so in some apps, so it isn’t really for someone who uses the device intensively — a bigger screen would be better for that customer. Instead, it’s really for those whose lives are not dominated by phone use but who like to do their bit of messaging, checking out WhatsApp, watching the occasional video, looking up email, browsing and playing the simpler games.
This doesn’t mean that the Mini can’t take on the more processor intensive tasks — it very much can, including augmented reality, games with a lot of graphics needing power, 4K video, and more. The Mini uses the same A14 Bionic chip that the other phones in the line-up do, and is every bit as powerful. It also uses the same software: iOS 14, so it has the same features and capabilities. The amazing thing is that the Mini is actually the iPhone 12 but in a smaller body. In fact, even the iPad Air 2020 uses the A14 Bionic chip, so the Mini certainly has no compromises on power.
If you’re an intensive user or want to consume and interact with a whole lot of content, a bigger screen is warranted and you should be stepping up to one of the other iPhones, assuming you would like to stay in the Apple ecosystem. If your phone is not the very centre of your life, I think the Mini makes for a sweet companion. The iPhone 12 Mini is also a 5G phone and thought to be the smallest 5G phone for the moment. Of course, that doesn’t mean much to use in India for now, but if you manage to hang on to your phone long enough to travel to a 5G location in the future, you may just get to experience high speeds.
The camera is another thing that isn’t compromised on this phone. It may lack the telephoto lens on the Pro model, but it does have an ultra wide to accompany its primary lens. If you’re familiar with the Apple camera, you’ll know that you get great detailed images with a focus on realism. Apple tunes its cameras to show up shadows and highlights really well, and to keep colours true to life. There’s also no forgetting low light or night photography, the portrait mode with all its studio lighting and filters, and the strongest video shooting capabilities, including the ability to take 4K footage. What’s more, the use of the camera is actually aided by the small size of this device because it makes it so handy and easy to hold up and touch the shutter button quickly.
If you’re an active user of your phone, you’ll almost certainly finish off the Mini’s battery well before the day is out. Gaming, camera use, video, lots of browsing etc will eat up the battery — and it cannot but be a small battery in a phone this size. If your use is reasonable you could get through the day with it. By the way, you no longer get a charger in the narrowed down box that the iPhone 12s come in, so that and a case are extras to factor in. It actually supports wireless charging though it’s slower using the famous MagSafe charger which is anyway rather expensive for this phone.
You get to choose from several colours, this time. The design is a flat and slightly boxy one with clean lines, and that’s how users like it. The Mini and the iPhone 12 have a glossy back and come in black, white, product red, dark blue and an interesting pale green.
Price: Starting ₹69,900
Pros: Great ergonomics, runs on same chip and software as the higher models, great camera, smooth performance, looks lovely,
Cons: Very expensive, battery necessarily small, retains notch, no step-up to high refresh rate, no charger in the box