Among Apple's current set of iPhones, an iPhone 12 Pro vs. iPhone 12 Pro Max comparison reveals a number of notable differences. That's not the case with the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini, which are virtually carbon copies of each other.
Oh, there are some variables on the surface. The iPhone 12 is the bigger of the two models, while the iPhone 12 mini offers the lower price. But in terms of the things that determine how a phone performs in everyday use — processor, cameras and so forth — Apple's two least expensive iPhone 12 models share a lot of the same parts.
- iPhone 12 mini vs. iPhone SE: Which small phone is best?
- Here are the best iPhones
- Plus: iPhone 13 rumors — what's coming this year
If you're trying to decide which iPhone to get, our iPhone 12 vs. iPhone 12 mini face-off details the similarities and differences between these two models. (We've also taken a broader look at the iPhone 12 mini vs. iPhone 12 vs. iPhone 12 Pro vs. iPhone 12 Pro Max, in which all four phones are compared.) It's a decision you may have to make sooner rather than later — reports suggest Apple may slow down production on the iPhone 12 mini, making the smaller phone harder to come by later in the year.
iPhone 12 vs. iPhone 12 mini specs
|iPhone 12 mini||iPhone|
|Screen size (Resolution)||5.4-inch OLED (2340 x 1080)||6.1-inch OLED (2532x1170)|
|CPU||A14 Bionic||A14 Bionic|
|Storage||64GB, 128GB, 256GB||64GB, 128GB, 256GB|
|Rear cameras||12MP wide (ƒ/1.6), 16MP ultrawide (ƒ/2.4)||12MP wide (ƒ/1.6), 16MP ultrawide (ƒ/2.4)|
|Front camera||12MP (ƒ/2.2)||12MP (ƒ/2.2)|
|Battery life (Hrs:Mins)||7:28||8:25|
|Size||5.18 x 2.53 x 0.29 inches||5.78 x 2.81 x 0.29 inches|
|Weight||4.76 ounces||5.78 ounces|
|5G compatibility||Sub 6Ghz, mmWave||Sub 6Ghz, mmWave|
iPhone 12 vs. iPhone 12 mini: What's the same
The iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini have some differences, as we'll get to. But on balance, these two phones have a lot in common, from the way they look to how they perform. Here's a look at the iPhone 12 vs. iPhone 12 mini similarities.
Processor: The A14 Bionic powers each and every member of the iPhone 12 family, from the mini all the way up to the iPhone 12 Pro Max. So the two phones perform similarly, especially since Apple includes equal amounts of RAM in each device. (Or at least, that's what teardowns reveal, since Apple doesn't issue official numbers on the amount of memory in its phones.)
We've run iPhone 12 benchmark tests on both phones. On the Geekbench 5 general performance, the iPhone 12 posted single- and multicore scores of 1,593 and 3,859, respectively. The iPhone 12 mini posted a higher multicore score at 4,123 points, but the phones turned in essentially equal times when we had them transcode a 4K video using Adobe Premiere Rush. (The iPhone 12 did it in 26 seconds, the iPhone 12 mini took 27 seconds.)
Put another way, if you place an iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini alongside each other, you won't spot any difference in how these phones run your favorite apps.
5G connectivity: Just as all the iPhone 12 models run on the A14 Bionic, they also all connect to 5G. That means every kind of 5G, as Apple included support for a wide variety of bands.
So both the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini will be able to work on any kind of 5G network, whether it's built on the far-reaching sub-6GHz spectrum or uses faster mmWave technology.
Cameras: Apple made subtle changes to the different lenses used by the iPhone 12 Pro models, which produces some differences on shots that use the telephoto lenses. But there's no such distinction with the iPhone 12 and iPhone mini.
The iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini each feature two rear cameras — a 12MP wide angle lens with a larger f/1.6 aperture and a 12MP ultrawide angle lens. Along with the f/1.6 aperture on the main camera, Apple now uses a 7-element lens, and those changes should improve low-light performance by 27%.
Software changes are the same across both phones as well. Both the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini support the enhancements Apple's made to Deep Fusion and Smart HDR for more detailed images than previous iPhones could capture.
Displays: Ignore the size difference for a moment, and focus on the fact that Apple now uses OLED panels across its entire iPhone lineup. That's a change from past years when phones like the iPhone 11 and iPhone XR still made do with an LCD screen.
Both the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini offer a 60Hz refresh rate — a similarity you probably wish they didn't have in a world where a growing number of phones offer faster refresh rates for smoother scrolling. (Our Samsung Galaxy S21 vs. iPhone 12 face-off reveals what a difference a faster refresh rate makes.)
Lab results from display testing revealed two essentially identical devices. The iPhone 12 captured 114.5% of the sRGB color spectrum to 117.8% for the iPhone 12 mini. About the biggest difference is brightness, with the iPhone 12 just a bit brighter when we measured it using a light meter. We tallied 569 nits on the iPhone 12, versus 505 nits for the iPhone 12 mini.
Design: Apple didn't skimp on the design flourishes for the less expensive iPhone 12 mini. It's made out of the same materials as the iPhone 12, including the Ceramic Shield display which Apple claims is four times more likely to survive a drop than previous phones. The iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini both have Apple's improved IP68 water resistance rating, allowing them to survive in up to 6 meters of water for 30 minutes.
iPhone 12 vs. iPhone 12 mini: What's different
As much as the two phones have in common, there are some noteworthy differences between the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini.
Price: The larger screen and bigger battery translate to a $100 price difference for the iPhone 12, which is currently available for $799 (or $829 if you buy the phone unlocked). The iPhone 12 mini matches the iPhone 11's old starting price of $699 ($729 for an unlocked iPhone 12 mini).
Both phones are available now from Apple as well as wireless carriers and retailers. We're tracking the best iPhone 12 deals, which include savings on both the 5.4- and 6.1-inch phones.
Screen Size: As we've noted, the iPhone 12 features a 6.1-inch display, and the iPhone 12 mini goes small with a 5.4-inch display that will surely appeal to compact phone fans. In fact, Apple pulled off a neat trick with the iPhone 12 mini: even though it's got a bigger display than the iPhone SE, the mini is both shorter and not as wide as that latter phone.
As you might imagine, the different screens require different-sized phones to accommodate them. The 5.8 x 2.8 x 0.29-inch iPhone 12 is noticeably taller and wider than the 5.2 x 2.5 x 0.29-inch iPhone 12 mini. The iPhone 12 also outweighs the mini by more than 1 ounce.
Battery size: Here's one difference that's not visible to the naked eye — the iPhone 12 mini has a smaller battery than the iPhone 12. That's not official, as Apple doesn't announce battery sizes. But again teardowns have come to our rescue, confirming that the mini uses a 2,227 mAh power pack to the iPhone 12's 2815 mAh battery.
As you'd imagine, that doesn't translate to much battery life for the iPhone 12 mini. In our tests, it lasted a meager 7 hours and 28 minutes. Not only was that 2.5 hours less than the average smartphone, it also trailed the iPhone 12's time of 8 hours and 25 minutes.
We should note that battery life improves when you turn off 5G connectivity. Retesting the iPhone 12 with 5G disabled, the phone turned in a better-than-average time of nearly 10.5 hours. Of course, 5G is a major addition to all the iPhone 12 models, so we can't imagine too many people going so far as to turn off 5G connectivity for better battery life, unless they live somewhere without much 5G coverage.
MagSafe charging speed: One change that Apple has confirmed, via a support document, is that the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini charge at different speeds when using the new MagSafe accessories. While MagSafe has a top speed of 15 watts, the iPhone 12 mini tops out at 12 watts.
There's no official reason given for the difference, but we suspect it has something to do with preventing the smaller phone from overheating when charging.
iPhone 12 vs. iPhone 12 mini: Which one should you get?
Our iPhone 12 vs. iPhone 12 mini face-off finds two phones so evenly matched that the device you buy will ultimately come down to your personal preference. If you like phones with small screens or you want to pay the least amount possible and still walk away with all the key upgrades, the iPhone 12 mini model is for you. But fans of larger screens will find the 6.1-inch display on the iPhone 12 more to their liking.