iPhone 12 or the 12 Mini: Which Should You Buy?

Apple iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini.

Apple is trying something new this year. The company is selling a $700 iPhone 12 Mini alongside its $800 iPhone 12, and some people aren’t really sure which device to go with. Don’t worry; the only differences between the iPhone 12 and 12 Mini are size and price.

Note: The standard iPhone 12 is already available in-store and online, but the iPhone 12 Mini doesn’t ship until November 6th. If you need a new phone today, then you’re stuck choosing between the standard iPhone 12 and the 12 Pro. The 12 Pro Max will be available on November 6th alongside the Mini.

Internally, the 12 and 12 Mini Are Identical

Aside from their price tag, the only difference between the iPhone 12 and the iPhone 12 Mini is size. Both devices contain the same A14 processor and 5G wireless chip. They have the same cameras, the same MagSafe technology, and the same display. Heck, they even come in the same colors!

Let’s review the iPhone 12 and 12 Mini’s new features real quick. These features are shared by the iPhone 12, the 12 Mini, and the larger 12 Pro devices (the 12 Pro and Pro Max have additional perks not listed here):

  • A New Design: The iPhone 12 and 12 Mini is just 0.29 inches thick, thanks to its flat-edged “slab” design. New iPhones also have a Ceramic Shield screen, which has four times the drop-resistance of older iPhone screens.
  • The Best iPhone Display Ever: Apple finally made the leap to 1080p with the iPhone 12’s OLED HDR display. It looks amazing, and it shines brighter than previous iPhones at 625 nits during typical use and 1200 nits with HDR.
  • MagSafe: One of the standout iPhone 12 features is MagSafe, an internal magnet that connects your iPhone to wireless chargers, wallets, phone cases, car mounts, and other accessories.
  • mmWave 5G: All new iPhones offer mmWave 5G, which is the fastest form of the new 5G wireless standard. Previous iPhones do not offer any form of 5G connectivity.
  • Updated Cameras: The 12 and 12 Mini have a two-camera array that looks similar to the iPhone 11. The big change is an improved Wide camera with a larger 1.6 aperture and True-Tone Flash. The 12 and 12 Mini can also record at 4K 30FPS with Dolby Vision HDR.

At the end of the day, the iPhone 12 costs $100 more than the iPhone Mini because it has a larger screen. That’s all there is to it. For many people, the extra $100 is a no brainer. But for people who enjoy a smaller device, the iPhone 12 Mini is a godsend, and its price tag is just icing on the cake.

How Small Is the iPhone 12 Mini?

An accurate example of the iPhone 12 Mini, iPhone SE, and iPhone 12's size differences.
The 12 Mini is physically smaller than the iPhone SE, but it has a much larger display. Apple

Alright, we’ve established that the iPhone 12 costs an extra $100 because it’s bigger than the 12 Mini. But is the 12 Mini really that small, and how does it compare to previous iPhones? Should you drop an extra $100 on the standard iPhone 12?

Apple brags that the 12 Mini is the smallest iPhone of all time, which is true-ish. Yes, the 12 Mini is shorter, narrower, and thinner than any iPhone, including the 2020 iPhone SE. But the average iPhone owner who upgrades to a 12 Mini isn’t “downgrading” their handset, as the 12 Mini’s 5.4-inch display is actually much larger than what you’ll find in most of its predecessors.

That’s right, the 12 Mini has a smaller body than any other iPhone, but its 5.4-inch HDR display is a major upgrade from any iPhone with a Home button, like the 4.7-inch iPhone 8 or iPhone SE. And while people with large hands may feel cramped by the Mini’s tiny frame, the average adult or teenager shouldn’t have much of a problem with it (especially after buying a protective case).

But even if the iPhone 12 Mini fits comfortably in your hands, you might feel a bit underwhelmed by the display size. It’s a lot smaller than the 6.1-incher found in the iPhone XR, the iPhone 11, and the standard iPhone 12. If you’re coming from a large Android phone or a newer iPhone, then you should seriously consider spending an extra $100 on the standard-sized iPhone 12.


Apple’s approach to the iPhone 12 Mini is a bit odd, as the tiny phone has all the same features as its bigger more expensive alternative. But if you’re coming from an older iPhone or you prefer a smaller device, then the iPhone 12 Mini is a serious contender. If it’s too small for you, just save up an extra $100 and go for its big brother.

Andrew Heinzman Andrew Heinzman
Andrew is a writer for Review Geek and its sister site, How-To Geek. Like a jack-of-all-trades, he handles the writing and image editing for a mess of tech news articles, daily deals, product reviews, and complicated explainers. Read Full Bio »

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