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iPhone 12 mini vs iPhone 13 mini: Does it make sense to upgrade?


August 26, 2022
Apple iPhone 12 mini vs iPhone 13 mini: Does it make sense to upgrade?

Apple’s iPhone minis has been a familiar sight in the iPhone series unveilings of late. In back-to-back years, Apple decided to invest in the compact premium phone segment with the introduction of the iPhone 12 mini (2020) and the iPhone 13 mini (2021).

This however was to no avail, as reports have suggested that both the minis underperformed in their respective years. But whether or not they were a success is not for us to judge.

Here, we are simply going to discuss the differences between the Apple iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 13 mini, and determine if the upgrade is worthwhile.

iPhone 12 mini vs iPhone 13 mini: Head-to-Head

iPhone 12 miniiPhone 13 mini
Capacity64GB, 128GB, 256GB128GB, 256GB, 512GB
ChipA14 Bionic chip, 6-core CPU and 4-core GPUA15 Bionic chip, 6-core CPU and 4-core GPU
Display5.4-inch Super Retina XDR display, 2340x1080px at 476ppi, max 625nit brightness5.4-inch Super Retina XDR display, 2340x1080px at 476ppi, max 800nit brightness
Camera12MP (f/1.6) Wide, with OIS
12MP (f/2.4) Ultra Wide, 120° field of view
12MP (f/1.6) Wide, with Sensor-shift OIS
12MP (f/2.4) Ultra Wide, 120° field of view
TrueDepth12MP (f/2.2)12MP (f/2.2)
Battery15 hours video playback, 50 hours audio payback17 hours video playback, 55 hours audio playback
Dimensions 131.5 (height) x 64.2 (width) x 7.4mm (depth) 131.5 (height) x 64.2 (width) x 7.65 (depth)
Weight133g140g
ColoursBlack, White, Red, Green, Blue, PurpleRed, Starlight, Midnight, Blue, Pink Green



Design

The Apple iPhone 13 mini (left) and Apple iPhone 12 mini (right)
The iPhone 13 mini (left) and iPhone 12 mini (right)

The first noticeable difference in hardware is the camera arrangement at the back of the iPhone minis. Both the Apple iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 13 mini sport a dual camera system, but the iPhone 12 mini’s camera sits vertically next to each other, where else the iPhone 13 mini’s are diagonal.

When it comes to dimensions, the iPhone 13 mini is slightly thicker at 7.65mm as compared to the iPhone 12 mini’s 7.4mm depth. The iPhone 13 mini’s thicker depth also means it weighs heavier at 140g, just marginally above the iPhone 12 mini’s 133g. The difference in dimensions and weight is quite minimal. But nevertheless, it would affect the overall ‘feel’ of the iPhone and should therefore be considered.

Capacity

Colour choices for the Apple iPhone 12 mini 
(From left) Black, White, Red, Green, Blue, Purple
Colour choices for the iPhone 12 mini
(From left) Black, White, Red, Green, Blue, Purple

Storage capacity options is one factor you have to keep in mind. The iPhone 12 mini has options of 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB. For the iPhone 13 mini, Apple has done away with the 64GB option and instead gave it a larger 512GB option, giving users a choice of 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB.

Most retail prices will see the iPhone 12 mini (128GB) sold at RM3,099 and the iPhone 13 mini (128GB) at RM3,399. There are cheaper options out there, and you can find the iPhone 12 mini (128GB) for as low as RM2,899 and the iPhone 13 mini (128GB) at RM3,099.

Display

(From Left) The Apple iPhone 13 mini and the Apple iPhone 12 mini
(From Left) The iPhone 13 mini and the iPhone 12 mini
Image Credit: GeekyFlame

There isn’t too much that separate the iPhone 12 mini an iPhone 13 mini when it comes to display. In fact, the only real mentionable difference is in the brightness. The iPhone 12 mini’s max brightness is up to 625nits. The iPhone 13 mini’s on the other hand goes up to 800nits, giving you better visibility under harsh daylight conditions.

Other than that, most of the display specifications remain largely similar. Both the iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 13 mini flaunts a 5.4-inch Super Retina XDR all-screen OLED display. Both displays have 60Hz refresh rate with 2340 x 1080px resolution at 476ppi.

Chipset

As with any new Apple launches, the iPhone 13 mini receives an upgrade in its chip in the form of the A15 Bionic. It’s somewhat obligatory for Apple to claim that their newest A15 Bionic performs better and quicker than its predecessor. Which is perhaps true, but here’s the thing. The A14 Bionic is no flop. It still remains one of the more powerful chipsets out there despite it being 2 years old.

So in essence, the upgrade to the iPhone 13 mini would definitely be an improvement, but an improvement that you might consider non-essential seeing that the A14 Bionic already performs exceedingly well.

Camera

The iPhone 12 mini and the iPhone 13 mini shares pretty much the same camera specs. The dual cameras consists of a 12MP (F/1.6) wide camera and a 12MP (F/2.4) ultra wide camera with 120-degree field of view.

One of the key differences between the dual cameras is in the stabilization technology. The wide camera on the iPhone 12 mini is assisted by Optical Image Stabilization (OIS), while the iPhone 13 mini utilizes a newer form of stabilizing technology known as Sensor-shift Optical Image Stabilization. In layman terms, Sensor-shift OIS “stabilizes a camera’s sensor instead of its lens, offering better photo quality and improved stabilization.”

Besides that, there is also a difference in sensor size. The iPhone 13 mini is fitted with a larger sensor than the iPhone 12 mini, allowing it to capture 47% more light. This will hand users greater capability in photography, especially under low light conditions.

Another key difference is the addition of Cinematic mode for videos which is available on the iPhone 13 mini, and not on the iPhone 12 mini.

The bigger sensor size, upgraded stabilization, and Cinematic mode options might be enticing to shutterbugs. Otherwise, these are simply added benefits that are nice to have, but not necessary.

Battery

Image Credit: GSMArena

A lot of criticisms about the iPhone 12 mini were directed towards its battery life, with many users expressing dissatisfaction. On Apple’s website, the iPhone 12 mini should last up to 15 hours video playback. To Apple’s credit, they improved the battery performance on the iPhone 13 mini, where it now lasts 17 hours of video playback according to their website.

Lab tests by PhoneArena sees quite a major boosts in battery life for the iPhone 13 mini, with 6 hours and 20 minutes of video streaming. The iPhone 12 mini only recorded 5 hours and 10 minutes of video streaming.

Battery performance between the Apple iPhone 12 mini vs iPhone 13 mini
Battery tests results by PhoneArena

The extension of battery life is a welcome upgrade, and is perhaps the most significant upgrade of the iPhone 13 mini. Both the iPhone mini support wireless charging, and charges 50% in 30 minutes with a 20W adapter. Unfortunately, the 20W adapter does not come in the box for either these phones.


Apple iPhone 12 mini vs iPhone 13 mini: The final decision

Image Credit: PhoneArena

The overall consensus on the debate between the Apple iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 13 mini is that the upgrades on the iPhone 13 mini are evident, but does not overly improve it so far beyond the iPhone 12 mini. Which is why this discussion exists in the first place.

One can purchase the iPhone 12 mini (256GB) at a price of RM3,599, and the iPhone 13 mini (256GB) at RM3,899. But is the upgraded iPhone 13 mini worth coughing up extra cash for? As all things goes, it’s a matter of personal preference.

Our weigh-in is that if you view the extra battery life on the iPhone 13 mini as a necessary quality, then cash in on the 13 mini. If not, stick to the iPhone 12 mini as it more than surpasses every detail needed for a premium compact phone.