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Apple iPhone 12 mini Review: 'Small in size, big on performance'

Nidhi Singal     December 3, 2020

Price: Rs 69,900 for 64GB

Colours: White, Black, Blue, Green, Product (RED)

Specs: 5.4-inch OLED screen, 2340x1080-pixel resolution at 476 PPI, A14 Bionic chip with Neural Engine, 64/128/256GB storage, 12MP ultra-wide + 12 MP wide-angle rear camera, 12M front camera, HDR video recording with Dolby Vision up to 30 fps, Face ID, 5G, iOS 14, wireless charging, MagSafe

What's in the box: iPhone 12 mini, USB-C to Lightning cable

The sudden rush towards big screens hasn't left many options for smaller hands. Thankfully the trend seems to be changing a bit. There have been two approaches to this. An averagely priced smaller device with the mid-range processor - something like the Google Pixel 4a. And a compact flagship smartphone with top of the line specifications. That's what the iPhone 12 mini is about. The most affordable of the iPhone 12 line-up - mini - is compact, small in size but big on performance.

Petite yet vivacious

The compact and lightweight design makes the iPhone 12 mini super comfortable to use. The boxy design with flat edges has helped Apple squeeze in a bigger display, yet has a smaller footprint compared to the iPhone SE 2020. Swiping and reaching the top was a delight. Moving from a bigger display, adapting to the smaller screen took some time but it was mostly about getting accustomed to the keyboard.

The vibrant fluid display with brilliant contrast level made it perfect for sniping the opposition in Call of Duty, and steaming Deadbeat over Lionsgate Play and The Simpsons over Hotstar. The huge notch on the top - housing TrueDepth camera - feels a bit big though. But trading off a bit of screen for the module powering the secure FaceID and the front camera is a wise trade-off.

Marvellous feat

The iPhone 12 mini is a no-compromise device. Photography and performance, the experience is identical to the elder sibling iPhone 12. Without adding fancy camera modules (just two - wide-angle and ultra-wide-angle + image processing software), the mini delivers stunning photographs. Quick to focus, the images are rendered exactly how they are visible in the frame. Shots captured during daylight were commendable. Night mode automatically triggering sensing low-light was indeed helpful but I had to keep the hands still to get the best (in most cases 3 seconds). Colour accuracy, details, sharpness -  you name it.

It lacks macro but I got some splendid snaps by cropping the unwanted area. The camera works well on humans, pets, flowers, objects, sky and whatnot. It lacks a dedicated telephoto lens yet Portrait shots came out well, and I was even able to adjust the background depth while editing. Supporting Dolby Vision up to 30fps, the videos have a high dynamic range and bright colours and looked lifelike. The front camera is equally praise-worthy as I got some nice selfies.

Capturing 4k videos is one thing but editing it on the device takes a toll on most smartphones. But not on this one. iPhone 12 mini has a lag-free performance, just like the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro (with the iOS 14 was a little more polished). Switching between multiple running apps was smooth, and gaming was blistering fast. Even extended sessions of gaming, editing and streaming videos didn't have the mini's temperature rising.

And it's 5G enabled, which makes the iPhone 12 mini future-ready. When 5G networks roll out in the country, or if you happen to travel to a country with 5G network, Apple says this will work. However, unlike the Pro variants that starts with 128GB stooge, this one starts at 64GB. With over five years on Apple ecosystem, and iPhone seamlessly fetching all my data and preferences while setting up a new device (from the older model), I have close to 70GB of data. So if you are not a heavy user, 64GB should work just fine. Just like the PCs, the key is to delete unwanted images, videos, documents and apps.

While there isn't any real-world difference between the performance of the iPhone 12 and the iPhone 12 mini, the battery backup might bother you if you are a heavy user. I being one (hours of calling and video conferencing over Bluetooth earbuds, constant emails, messages, Whatsapp and browsing, a bit of photography and gaming), it struggled to last me a day. But the low power mode can be a saviour as it temporarily reduces background activity like downloads and mail fetch until a full charge. It supports wireless charging and works best with Apple's MagSafe.

P.S. While the iPhone 12 mini starts at Rs 69,900, availing Rs 6,000 cashback using HDFC credit card makes the effective price as Rs 63,900.

Also read: Apple iPhone 12 Pro review: Design, camera set it apart from other smartphones

Also read: 2020 iPad Pro with Magic Keyboard review: The mean machine

Also read: Apple iPhone SE 2nd Gen review: Meticulous performer in a compact size

Also read: Apple iPhone 12 review: The iPhone you should consider buying

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