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The Teensy-Weensie iPhone 12 Gets a Teensy-Weensie Teardown from iFixit


The iPhone 12 Mini was released on Friday, November 13th. It didn’t take our friends at iFixit long to do its thing to the little guy, and the findings are interesting. Just how did Apple make the 12 Mini so small? By shrinking components, apparently.

Digging through the teardown shows a lot of familiar bits, but the most fascinating part (to me, anyway) is the shrunken Taptic Engine and loudspeaker. These were both made smaller to presumably make room for literally everything else. The battery is also unfortunately (and expectedly) smaller than other models, which points to not-as-great battery life on the tiniest iPhone.

It’s noted in the teardown that the dual camera module is impressive in a phone this size, but that very thing may be what cut into the space that could’ve otherwise been occupied by a larger battery. Having used the 12 MIni since Friday (review coming soon!), I’m including to agree here—I find ultrawide cameras to be mostly useless. I would rather have a telephone lens or a bigger battery in this case.

Note the smaller Taptic Engine iFixit

The regular iPhone 12 and 12 Pro’s Taptic Engine was already smaller than what was in the iPhone 11, but it’s even smaller in the 12 Mini. It’s unclear whether this has a tangible impact on haptic feedback, but I’m including to say probably not. I can’t feel a difference at all in haptics between the iPhone XR and the 12 Mini, but if you’re hyper-sensitive to haptic feedback then you may feel something that I can’t.

There’s also some interesting details regarding the 12 Mini’s MagSafe ring. The full-size ring doesn’t fit in the MIni’s shell, so instead of making it smaller (which wouldn’t have really worked with standard accessories), Apple decided to cut the left and right edges off. So instead of a full MagSafe circle, it’s more like two MagSafe half-moons. It probably doesn’t lose any benefit this way, either. Smart.

An X-Ray view of the 12 Mini showing its various parts
The MagSafe ring’s sides have been removed so it’ll fit. iFixit

Some peculiarities are also present in the 12 MIni’s notch (the area that houses the Face ID goodies)—at least compared to the EU version of the phone. Both the 12 and 12 Mini have small squares nestled in this area that iFixit was unable to identify, though it is speculated that they may be some sort of mmWave antenna or perhaps a miniaturized ambient light sensor. The fact that it’s only available on the US versions of the phone tells my gigantic worm brain that the mmWave theory makes sense—but I’ll leave further speculation to the folks who actually take this stuff apart.

The teardown concludes with other bits and pieces, including a repairability score of 6/10. Display and battery replacement are prioritized here, which makes the most sense as those are the most common types of repairs anyway.

Source: iFixit

Cameron Summerson Cameron Summerson
Cameron Summerson is Review Geek's former Editor in Cheif and first started writing for LifeSavvy Media in 2016. Cam's been covering technology for nearly a decade and has written over 4,000 articles and hundreds of product reviews in that time. He’s been published in print magazines and quoted as a smartphone expert in the New York Times. In 2021, Cam stepped away from Review Geek to join Esper as a managing Editor. Read Full Bio »