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Apple iPhone 13 mini review: A 'mini' powerhouse with great display, excellent camera

Apple iPhone 13 mini review: A 'mini' powerhouse with great display, excellent camera

Starting at Rs 69,900, there is an HDFC bank cashback offer, that can bring down the effective price by Rs 6,000.

iPhone 13 mini is Apple's cheapest model iPhone 13 mini is Apple's cheapest model

Specs: 5.4-inch Super Retina XDR OLED display, 2340x1080-pixel resolution at 476 PPI, A15 Bionic chip with a neural engine, Dual 12MP camera system: Wide and Ultra Wide (Photographic styles, Cinematic mode), 12MP Selfie camera, FaceID, 5G, Wi-Fi, 140 gramme.

Price: Rs 69,900 for 128GB
 
Colour: (PRODUCT) RED, Starlight, Midnight, Blue, Pink
 
In the Box: Apple iPhone 13 mini, charging cable, sim eject tool
 
iPhone 13 mini is Apple's cheapest model in the iPhone 13 series, but it still has a great display, plenty of camera tricks and just as much power as its bigger and expensive siblings. With the iPhone 13 mini, there is very little that you will miss.
 
Palm perfect
 
Thanks to the bigger displays, smartphones have become huge and heavy. A problem for people with small palms, and some with big hands too, who prefer a small compact device. They have been out of luck when it comes to compact, small smartphones as there aren't many options to choose from -- only a handful of devices. But at 64.2 mm wide and weighing 140 gm, the iPhone 13 mini is palm perfect. It's comfortable to grip and operate with one hand. In the world of close to 7-inch+ displays being squeezed in smartphones, the 5.4-inch might feel a little less on paper. But as these screens are measured diagonally, in the real world the difference isn't huge. Although bigger screens are great for immersive experiences like gaming and streaming videos, this isn't bad either. Moving to the iPhone 13 mini from a 6.5-inch screen smartphone felt a little small and cramped while using the keyboard, but it is also getting used to screen size.
 
iPhone 13 mini continues to have a bright OLED panel with a slightly bumped up brightness level that makes it more legible under sunlight. Unlike the Pro siblings, it lacks a high refresh rate but even at 60Hz scrolling through the media feed was slick and smooth. What tops this all is the ceramic shield developed in partnership with Corning, which actually makes it durable with better drop resistance and scratch resistance. And the IP68 rating prevents it from accidental water accidents.
 
Excellent camera
 
Every small upgrade counts and more so on the camera front. The iPhone 13 mini houses two improved, larger 12-megapixel sensors at the rear and a faster image signal processor. Bigger sensors let in more light, resulting in crisp and accurate colour reproduction, which do not pixelate even when blown up on the big screen.
 
The improved imaging hardware works well at low-light and night shots too. Holding breath for 3-5 seconds to capture a good night shot is long and a reduction of even a second makes a huge difference, which the iPhone 13 mini does.
 
Between Apple and Samsung, the former captures more natural-looking colours but many prefer the vivid colours of the latter, especially while sharing on social media platforms.
 
Apple has addressed this concern by adding photographic styles allowing one to choose the tone and warmth while capturing an image. Easily accessible from the camera app, I was able to switch between rich contrast, vibrant, cool, and warm presents with a swipe, and even adjust them further.
 
Although I preferred using standard the most, I used the vibrant style while capturing evening clouds and blooming flowers. However, unlike filters, these styles can't be removed while editing. The phone also captures some good portrait shots. However, the iPhone 13 mini lacks the telephoto lens.
 
Video footage of the iPhones are pretty neat and the same goes for the iPhone 13 mini. The videos captured while walking around were steady as if it was recorded using a gimbal. It even gets the much talked about Cinematic Mode -- an equivalent of Portrait Mode for video. When shooting in this mode, the camera locks focus on the face in the front of the frame and blurs the rest. And it is quick to shifts focus to the one in the background when the foreground one turns away or exits the frame. iPhone does this automatically but it lacks refinements. However, I was able to overtake the controls and focus manually too. But this mode struggles in low-light and is restricted to 1080p at 30fps. Even with some shortcomings, the photography and videography on the iPhone 13 mini are admirable.
 
Powerhouse
 
Not just imaging but editing on the device itself was smooth. So was the gaming experience. Power-hungry games like Shadow Fight 3, Call of Duty Mobile, and Asphalt 9: Legends ran like a treat. One thing I like about Apple is that it doesn't differentiate between the models when it comes to processing power. All the iPhones in the 13 series have the new A15 Bionic processor. And overall, the iPhone 13 mini feels blazing fast in whatever you do, with no signs of lag. The iOS 15 (not many bugs) plays an equally important role in the great experience. I liked using its focus mode -- a better way of customising Do Not Disturb Mode -- with filters for calls and messages, auto-reply and more. Onboard storage has also been doubled -- starting at 128 GB -- giving more room for experimenting with the new video and photography modes.
 
Bumped battery
 
Last year's iPhone 12 mini was great, but battery backup was a pain point for many. Apple has pulled out an ace with this new mini that easily lasted me all day with extensive use including work calls and videos, camera, constant communication over email and WhatsApp, browsing and gaming. Accompanied by the charging cable (minus adaptor), it also supports Qi-certified wireless charging.
 
Apple iPhone 13 mini is nothing short of a powerhouse if you can suffice a compact screen. Starting at Rs 69,900, there is an HDFC bank cashback offer, that can bring down the effective price by Rs 6,000.

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