The iPhone 13 Mini and iPhone 12 Mini may look nearly identical at first glance, but under the hood these two compact iPhone models have some notable differences. While the 12 Mini impressed users with its small size paired with flagship features when it launched in 2020, the 13 Mini brings upgrades across the board, making it the best option for users wanting a powerful but pocket-sized smartphone.
In this in-depth comparison, we’ll explore all of the differences between the iPhone 13 Mini and iPhone 12 Mini to help you decide which small iPhone best fits your needs.
Overview of the iPhone 13 Mini and 12 Mini
First, let‘s provide some background on these two pint-sized iPhones.
The iPhone 12 Mini was announced in October 2020 and released later that month. When it launched, it was the smallest 5G iPhone available.
The iPhone 13 Mini was announced in September 2021 and released shortly after. It retains the same compact form factor but includes improved internal specs and new features compared to its predecessor.
Both phones have a 5.4” Super Retina XDR OLED display with a nearly bezel-less design and sleek flat edges. They share a similar size and weight, though the 13 Mini is slightly heavier at 141g vs. 135g for the 12 Mini.
While these two devices may look very much alike, the iPhone 13 Mini has received several hardware and software upgrades that set it apart from the 12 Mini and make it the better overall choice for most users.
iPhone 13 Mini vs. 12 Mini: Key Specs
|Feature||iPhone 13 Mini||iPhone 12 Mini|
|Launch Date||Sept 2021||Oct 2020|
|Dimensions||131.5 x 64.2 x 7.7mm||131.5 x 64.2 x 7.4mm|
|Display||5.4” Super Retina XDR OLED, 120Hz ProMotion||5.4" Super Retina XDR OLED, 60Hz|
|Camera||Dual 12MP (Wide and Ultra Wide), Photographic Styles, Cinematic Mode||Dual 12MP (Wide and Ultra Wide)|
|Chip||A15 Bionic||A14 Bionic|
|Battery Life (Video Playback)||Up to 17 hours||Up to 15 hours|
|Dust/Water Resistance||IP68, 6m for 30 mins||IP68, 1.5m for 30 mins|
As you can see from the table above, while the overall size and design remains consistent between generations, the iPhone 13 Mini has received meaningful upgrades across the board internally when compared to the iPhone 12 Mini. Next, we’ll dive into the details on how the cameras, performance, display, and other features differ.
Camera Upgrades in the iPhone 13 Mini
One of the most significant areas of improvement in the iPhone 13 Mini is to the camera system. The iPhone 12 Mini already had excellent cameras, but Apple built on that foundation with the 13 Mini.
Both phones have dual 12MP camera arrays with a wide and an ultra wide lens, but the iPhone 13 Mini pushes the photography capabilities even further.
The improvements include:
- Larger sensors – The sensors on the iPhone 13 Mini‘s wide and ultra wide cameras are larger, allowing for better low light photos by capturing more light.
- Wider apertures – The lenses have been upgraded to f/1.6 apertures, versus f/2.4 in the 12 Mini. This also contributes to better low light performance.
- Sensor-shift OIS – The wide camera adds sensor-shift optical image stabilization (OIS) for steadier photos and videos, even in motion. This was previously only found in the iPhone 12 Pro Max model.
- Night mode – While the 12 Mini had Night mode on the wide lens, the 13 Mini adds this low light feature to the ultra wide lens too.
- Photographic Styles – A new feature that lets you customize the tone and warmth of your photos while maintaining accurate colors.
- Cinematic mode – Video can achieve a depth effect and automatically shift focus between subjects, like Portrait mode for video.
In real world usage, these camera advancements make a visible difference in image quality. Photos from the iPhone 13 Mini display better contrast, more detail, and less noise, especially in challenging lighting. The expanded Night mode and sensor-shift stabilization allow you to capture clear, steady shots in scenarios where the iPhone 12 Mini would struggle.
For video, Cinematic mode stands out as an easy way to make your home movies look more professional and artistic. Overall, the iPhone 13 Mini is the clear winner when it comes to cameras and should satisfy mobile photographers seeking quality shots from the convenience of their pocket-sized smartphone.
Faster Performance with the A15 Chip
In addition to the camera, the other marquee upgrade in the iPhone 13 Mini is the faster A15 Bionic processor.
The A14 Bionic chip already delivered excellent performance in the iPhone 12 Mini. But the A15 takes speeds to the next level with even better processing power and efficiency.
Some key advantages of the A15 over the A14:
- 6-core CPU – 2 high-performance cores and 4 efficiency cores vs. 4 cores total in the A14.
- 5-core GPU – Provides up to 30% faster graphics rendering.
- 16-core Neural Engine – Doubles machine learning capabilities for tasks like Live Text in photos.
- 5nm process – More transistors packed tighter together enables greater performance per watt.
What does this all mean in real world use? You‘ll notice apps open quicker, games run more smoothly, and the interface feels extremely fast and fluid when navigating or switching between apps. The iPhone 13 Mini simply feels snappier thanks to the blazing-fast A15 chip.
While the A14 Bionic still holds its own in terms of speed, the boosted capabilities of the A15 give the iPhone 13 Mini a definitive edge when it comes to performance.
Battery and Charging Improvements
Battery life is always a priority for smartphone shoppers. Overall battery capacities in these small phones can‘t compete with the larger Max or Pro models. However, Apple did manage to squeeze some additional battery life out of the iPhone 13 Mini compared to its predecessor.
- The iPhone 13 Mini has a 2438 mAh battery rated for up to 17 hours of video playback.
- The iPhone 12 Mini has a 2227 mAh battery rated for up to 15 hours of video playback.
While the increase is minor, every extra minute of battery you can get in a compact phone like this is meaningful. The more power efficient A15 Bionic chip also helps optimize battery life.
For charging, the iPhone 13 Mini supports slightly faster wired charging at 20W, versus 18W in the 12 Mini. Both models offer fast wireless charging as well. So you can juice up quickly when needed.
If you want the best battery life possible in a small iPhone, the 13 Mini is the better pick. But the iPhone 12 Mini still provides solid battery life for a phone of its size.
Brighter Display with ProMotion in the iPhone 13 Mini
The OLED display itself on these two phones is the same 5.4” size and resolution. So watching videos and scrolling web pages looks very similar.
However, Apple did make a few improvements to the display on the 13 Mini:
- Brighter – Peak 1200 nits brightness vs. 625 nits in the iPhone 12 Mini, for better visibility in sunlight.
- ProMotion – Adaptive 120Hz refresh rate enables smoother scrolling animations.
- HDR – Supports Dolby Vision HDR in addition to HDR10 for a wider color range.
While you can‘t go wrong with either display, the bump up in max brightness and silky smooth scrolling from ProMotion give the iPhone 13 Mini a bit more wow factor.
More Durable Design
You can‘t judge a phone‘s toughness from looks alone. Both the iPhone 13 Mini and 12 Mini appear nearly identical from the outside, featuring a flat-edge aluminum frame sandwiched between front and back glass.
But upon closer inspection, Apple made several subtle improvements to make the iPhone 13 Mini more durable over daily use:
- Ceramic Shield Front Glass – Made in collaboration with Corning, the glass on the 13 Mini is infused with nano-ceramic crystals to improve scratch resistance by 4x.
- Better Water Resistance – With an IP68 rating, the iPhone 13 Mini can withstand submersion for 30 minutes at depths up to 6 meters. The iPhone 12 Mini is only rated for 1.5 meter depths.
- Flat sides – The straight edges disperse a drop impact away from the display glass better than curved sides.
So while both models are impressively rugged for their size, the iPhone 13 Mini inches ahead as the more durable option. It’s built to better withstand real world scrapes, splashes, drops and dings.
More Storage Options in the iPhone 13 Mini
With improving camera tech and larger file sizes, storage space is always helpful to have.
The iPhone 13 Mini offers more flexibility when it comes to choosing your ideal capacity:
- iPhone 13 Mini: 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB options
- iPhone 12 Mini: 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB options
Having those higher storage configurations up to 512GB allows power users to store substantially more photos, videos, apps and offline content.
Both offer a minimum of 64GB, which is manageable for light users. But you’ll appreciate the extra breathing room of the higher capacities offered in the iPhone 13 Mini.
Which Should You Choose?
Now that we’ve compared the iPhone 13 Mini and iPhone 12 Mini in depth, let’s summarize the key differences:
- Cameras – Significantly upgraded in the iPhone 13 Mini with better lenses, sensors, OIS, Night mode, and new features like Photographic Styles and Cinematic mode.
- Performance – Faster A15 Bionic chip provides better processing power and efficiency versus A14 Bionic in iPhone 12 Mini.
- Battery life – Slightly improved battery in 13 Mini, plus more efficient chip allows for up to 2 more hours of video playback.
- Display – Brighter with ProMotion adaptive refresh rate makes the 13 Mini screen more vivid and fluid.
- Durability – Tougher Ceramic Shield front, better water resistance, and flat edges give the 13 Mini an edge.
- Storage – More configurable storage options up to 512GB in the iPhone 13 Mini.
The iPhone 13 Mini is the clear winner in this matchup. The upgrades across the board make it undoubtedly the best small iPhone you can buy today.
However, don’t count the iPhone 12 Mini out either. It still packs quite a punch for its size. The 12 Mini remains an excellent value, especially if you find discounted pricing. It‘s a great option if budget is your primary concern.
For most buyers though, the improved camera, performance, battery life, and features like ProMotion make the iPhone 13 Mini the petite powerhouse to pick. If you want a compact yet capable iPhone, choosing the latest 13 Mini is a smart bet that you‘ll remain satisfied with for years to come.