The iPhone 12 lineup is missing one big thing — and Samsung has it

iphone 12 vs. iphone 12 mini
(Image credit: Apple)

The iPhone 12 lineup is better than the iPhone 11 family in several ways. There are four models now instead of last year’s three for more choice, and you get 5G, Apple's fastest A14 Bionic chip and OLED displays across the board. The cameras are improved, too.

The new $699 5.4-inch iPhone 12 mini gives shoppers an option for those who prefer small phones, while the $1,099 6.7-inch iPhone 12 Pro Max is the biggest display ever in an iPhone.

However, the standard $799 iPhone 12 and $999 iPhone 12 Pro are both 6.1 inches, which leaves very little choice for those who like big phones without spending big.

Meanwhile, Samsung’s value-oriented Galaxy S20 FE sports a 6.5-inch screen, which at $699 is the same price as the tiny iPhone 12 mini. The S20 FE does make some trade-offs for its lower price, including a plastic back and less RAM than other Galaxy S20 phones. But the display positively dwarfs the iPhone 12 mini, and you get other benefits Apple doesn’t offer. 

The S20 FE’s larger display doesn’t just make for more immersive video playback. You get a larger viewfinder for taking photos, a bigger keyboard for typing out messages and more room for viewing documents. Plus, unlike the iPhone 12 mini, you get a 120Hz refresh on the S20 FE, which enables smoother scrolling and gameplay. 

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE review

(Image credit: Future)

It gets better. The Galaxy S20 FE starts with 128GB of storage, which is double what you’ll find in the iPhone 12 mini. And while the S20 FE has a list price of $699, you can easily find it on sale already for $599. 

To be fair, the iPhone 12 mini has several advantages over the S20 FE. You get a faster A14 Bionic processor and better image quality. In addition, the iPhone 12 mini benefits from a tougher Ceramic Shield display.

iPhone 12 lineup

(Image credit: Apple)

But having a bigger screen also means there’s room to fit in a larger battery. The S20 FE packs a 4,500 mAh battery, while the iPhone 12 mini reportedly features just a 2,227 mAh battery. The larger iPhone 12 has a 2,815 battery and it lasted only 8 hours and 25 minutes on our web surfing battery test. The S20 FE lasted a longer 8:58. 

If I were Apple, I would be working on an iPhone SE Plus, or some mid-range phone that offers a big screen for a reasonable price. Yes, the iPhone XR costs only $499 now, but these days 6.1 inches is on the small side. And while the iPhone 11 costs only $599 now that the iPhone 12 is out, it has the same size display. 

The Galaxy S20 FE isn’t perfect, but it is the best phone for the money right now. And Apple simply doesn’t have an answer for it. 

Mark Spoonauer

Mark Spoonauer is the global editor in chief of Tom's Guide and has covered technology for over 20 years. In addition to overseeing the direction of Tom's Guide, Mark specializes in covering all things mobile, having reviewed dozens of smartphones and other gadgets. He has spoken at key industry events and appears regularly on TV to discuss the latest trends, including Cheddar, Fox Business and other outlets. Mark was previously editor in chief of Laptop Mag, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc. Follow him on Twitter at @mspoonauer.