(Prototype credit: Apple)
Apple tree may have released its largest phone ever with the iPhone 12 Pro Max, just 2020 likewise saw the launch of two compact crackers that we were big fans of, as shown by our iPhone 12 mini review and iPhone SE (2020) review.
These two devices offer speedy components in pocket-friendly proportions, both at prices that are considerably lower than their larger siblings, making them clear contenders if you’re looking for the best iPhone on a upkeep.
However, despite these apparent similarities, when looking at the iPhone 12 mini vs iPhone SE (2020) you’ll see that they’re unlike in simply virtually every way that counts. And so which is the best compact smartphone for you?
iPhone 12 mini vs iPhone SE (2020): price and availability
Apple tree made its second iPhone SE model available to purchase on April 24, 2020, though information technology’due south no longer sold by the company, having been replaced past the iPhone SE (2022). When information technology was sold, prices started from $399 / £399 / AU$679 for the 64GB model. At that place’s also a 128GB option for $449 / £449 / AU$759 and a 256GB option for $549 / £549 / AU$929.
At present you’ll have to shop around to observe it new, but should be able to do then at a discount.
The iPhone 12 mini landed in shops on November 13, 2020. Prices for Apple tree’southward smallest phone for quite some time started at $699 / £699 / AU$1,199 for the 64GB model at launch, moving upwards to $749 / £749 / AU$1,279 for 128GB and $849 / £849 / AU$1,449 for 256GB.
Nevertheless, Apple tree has since reduced the starting cost of this phone to $599 / £579 / AU$999, ascent to $649 / £629 / AU$one,079 for the middle model, and $749 / £729 / AU$1,249 for the summit option.
Considering both devices are available in the exact aforementioned storage options, information technology’south simple to make a straight price comparison. Across the options, the iPhone 12 mini comes in at $200 / £180 more expensive than the iPhone SE (2020).
iPhone 12 mini vs iPhone SE (2020): design
Hold the two phones, 1 in each hand, and it’southward really quite remarkable to consider that they hit the market place in the same agenda year, allow alone six months autonomously.
To sympathize the enormity of this design gap, you have to examine Apple’s distinct approach for both phones. The iPhone SE was a consequence of the company deliberately setting out to create an affordable phone for just the third time in its history.
That explains the decision to recycle the design of the iPhone 8 from 2017. Now consider that the iPhone 8 itself launched at the end of one of Apple’s three-year design cycles, with its bones shape traceable to the iPhone 6 in 2014.
The result is a securely familiar, compact nonetheless rounded phone, with a flabby 65.4% screen-to-body ratio. The SE sports a sizable forehead and chin, the latter of which houses Apple tree’s classic Touch ID abode button. There’southward no Face ID notch here.
Equally small every bit the iPhone SE is (138.four ten 67.three 10 7.3mm and 148g), information technology’southward actually a fiddling larger than the iPhone 12 mini. They’re about the same thickness, simply the mini is 7mm shorter, 3mm narrower, and 13g lighter.
Despite this, the iPhone 12 mini display is really larger, owing to the fact that it stretches out much closer to the edges of the phone for an 85.ane% screen-to-torso ratio. Talking of edges, the iPhone 12 mini’s flat rim and sharp 90-caste angles are what really sets information technology apart from the iPhone SE.
In a sense, the iPhone 12 mini’s angular aesthetic harks back to the original iPhone SE, and the iPhone iv before that. Merely Apple has profoundly refined its archetype industrial blueprint language for the 2020s.
This includes implementing a toughened nano-crystalline Ceramic Shield screen technology that lays on four times the driblet protection of previous generations. It likewise involves an improved IP68 rating that enables immersion in six metres of h2o for up to 30 minutes. The iPhone SE comes with just an IP67 rating, which enables a dunk in i metre of h2o for 30 minutes.
iPhone 12 mini vs iPhone SE (2020): display
We’ve already touched upon the differences in brandish size between these two phones, but let’southward spell things out. While the iPhone SE (2020) has a tiddly iv.7-inch display, the iPhone 12 mini has a 5.4-inch screen – which is still considered small by modernistic standards.
Apple has managed to nowadays more screen space on a smaller sail by lengthening the attribute ratio (19.five:9 for the mini, xvi:9 for the SE) and drastically reducing the bezel size.
But the differences go mode beyond the dimensions of these displays. While both phones reach a typical effulgence of around 600 nits (which isn’t specially vivid), the iPhone SE uses dated Retina IPS LCD panel technology. The iPhone 12 mini, on the other hand, utilizes a Super Retina XDR OLED panel.
You’re getting a good example of the LCD format with the iPhone SE, but it however has its limitations. OLED packs much bolder, more vibrant colors, higher dissimilarity, and deeper blacks.
The iPhone 12 mini screen is also much sharper, with a resolution of ane,080 x 2,340 for a pixel density of 476ppi. With the iPhone SE you’re getting a mere 750 10 1,334 and 326ppi.
Both phones are stuck with a 60Hz refresh rate – only we tin allow that pass in the cheaper, older iPhone SE. We had rather hoped to run into a 120Hz refresh rate in the mini, so it’s something of a missed opportunity.
iPhone 12 mini vs iPhone SE (2020): photographic camera
We were very fond of the iPhone SE’due south camera in our review. This singular 12-megapixel f/i.8 sensor offers the kind of reliably crisp and balanced point-and-shoot feel that has become Apple’s stock and trade – and for a knock-down cost.
Even with its ostensibly limited hardware (well-nigh affordable Android phones accept multiple image sensors), Apple tree’s advanced computational photography algorithms help the SE take ameliorate shots than its 2017 heritage would suggest. We’re talking improved sharpness and more accurate color reproduction in a variety of lighting atmospheric condition compared to the pre-iPhone 11 class, although information technology does manifest a trend towards overexposing in some scenarios.
Equally skilful as the iPhone SE camera is for the money, the iPhone 12 mini trounces it in every respect. You’re getting two 12-megapixel sensors hither, with an f/ii.iv ultra-wide assisting a brighter f/1.6 broad sensor. The quality of the shots captured here is quite staggering in a phone of this size, facilitated past Apple tree’s A14 Bionic CPU more than than whatsoever neat camera hardware improvements.
It’s a more flexible camera than the iPhone SE’s, too. Yes, there’south that 120-degree ultra-wide sensor to call upon, just the iPhone 12 mini as well gains Night way for all 3 of its cameras. While this may non appear to brand much difference in good lighting, the newer phone produces far superior results when the lights dim.
On the video front, both phones tin can shoot 4K at 60fps. However, only the iPhone 12 mini can shoot in Dolby Vision HDR, which makes footage wait brighter, meliorate exposed, and more than professional.
iPhone 12 mini vs iPhone SE (2020): specs and performance
They might have just been separated by half a year, but the iPhone 12 mini and iPhone SE (2020) are a full generation apart when it comes to ability.
While the iPhone SE shares its A13 Bionic CPU with the iPhone eleven family, the iPhone 12 mini runs on the all-new A14 Bionic. It’s difficult to pivot these things down, but the newer bit enjoys a roughly twenty% advantage in the CPU department, and effectually a 10% advantage with the GPU.
Elsewhere, the A14 packs a 16-core Neural Engine for a significant 80% boost to AI performance compared to its predecessor. It’s likewise worth mentioning that the iPhone 12 mini comes with 4GB of RAM, while the iPhone SE runs on 3GB.
There’s plenty more performance headroom in the iPhone 12 mini, but that’s unlikely to become evident for a year or two. Everything sails along effortlessly on both phones, from 3D games to intensive image processing apps.
Apple tree’due south phones continue to be so fast relative to the kind of applications we subject them to, that you’ll accept to look to time to come use cases to really stretch either. Looking forward, the iPhone 12 mini will without doubt perform better for longer.
The iPhone SE yet offers outstanding performance for the price, though. We defy you to find another $400 / £400 phone on the marketplace that runs as smoothly.
Both phones are bachelor in the same storage options: 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB. While that seems fine in the iPhone SE, we experience it’s a fiddling miserly in the more expensive iPhone 12 mini; 128GB should really be the new normal.
One other spec advantage that the iPhone 12 mini enjoys over the SE is 5G connectivity. Coverage is even so a trivial spotty in most countries, but where available you’ll be able to admission download speeds that make your fibre broadband connectedness seem like a 56k dial-upwards modem. Until you move ii metres down the road and lose your 5G signal, that is.
Still, give it vi months to a yr and we predict that the picture volition look a whole lot rosier for 5G – and for the iPhone 12 mini’s connectivity advantage.
iPhone 12 mini vs iPhone SE (2020): battery life
Neither phone is what you’d phone call blessed with outstanding stamina. A large function of that comes down to their compact size, with a mere two,227mAh battery crammed into the iPhone 12 mini and a piddling 1,821mAh unit of measurement serving the iPhone SE.
Sure plenty, we noted mediocre bombardment life as a key flaw for both phones in our review summaries. Information technology isn’t much of a competition, in truth – just for what it’due south worth, the iPhone 12 mini comes out on top again.
With the iPhone SE, we oftentimes found ourselves reaching for the charger come the evening. With the iPhone 12 mini we could typically get to our usual bedtime charge.
Both phones handle low use and standby time very well. It might sound counter-intuitive, but Apple tree’south smartphones excel at non being used. Neither much likes being hitting hard with excessive media usage, though.
I boosted bombardment-draining component with the iPhone 12 mini is its 5G antenna. When we were out and about, flitting between networks and actively using the phone a fair amount, we establish ourselves needing to recharge part manner through the twenty-four hours. Basically, you shouldn’t purchase either of these phones if y’all’re a heavy or power user.
Both phones support wireless charging, but the iPhone 12 mini also benefits from Apple’s repurposed MagSafe standard. However, you’ll need to pay actress for this magnetized charger (or ane of the related cases and wallets), and it remains to be seen if information technology’southward anything more a gimmick.
iPhone 12 mini vs iPhone SE (2020): takeaway
Apple turned its attending dorsum to the compact telephone market in 2020, and nosotros’re delighted with its double effort. Merely despite fitting similar course factors, the iPhone 12 mini and iPhone SE (2020) are actually two very different phones.
The iPhone 12 mini is far more advanced in terms of display quality, functioning, and camera capabilities, and it looks much fresher too. It’s as well a little tougher, and has the benefit of existence able to accept advantage of the fledgling 5G network.
You’ll pay for those forward-thinking components, even so. The iPhone SE (2020) still feels like good value to this mean solar day, offering a loosely equivalent iOS feel for $200 / £180 less.
If yous’re shopping for a genuinely small-scale phone, these two handsets are all yous really need to consider at present. If ‘very good’ is practiced plenty for yous, then the iPhone SE will serve you brilliantly for an affordable toll. But if you demand a about-on compromise-gratuitous experience, and so the iPhone 12 mini gives you close to the total modern iPhone experience in the daintiest of form factors
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