Hands-On, Opinion, Smartphone

The iPhone 12 mini Is the Most Exciting iPhone This Year

The iPhone 12 series is quite a bit more exciting than its predecessors. For the first time in many years, Apple released a brand new iPhone in a compact form factor, the iPhone 12 mini. But unlike other phone makers, the Cupertino company isn’t compromising (too much) on the hardware of the compact phone.

Sporting the same processor, camera, and OLED screen as the bigger iPhone 12, the iPhone 12 mini is easily the most exciting 2020 iPhone to me. In a smartphone landscape dominated by much bigger devices, it’s refreshing to see such a compact phone that doesn’t sacrifice on processing power, among other aspects.

Plus, the iPhone 12 mini is also the most affordable 2020 iPhone.

Why Is the iPhone 12 mini So Exciting?

The biggest reason is definitely its compact form factor. Not only can I easily operate the iPhone 12 mini with only one hand, it just feels incredibly comfortable to hold. It’s lightweight, it feels proportionate to my hand, and I love the squared-off aluminium sides of the iPhone 12 mini, which makes it easy to get a good grip on the phone.

What about the iPhone 12 mini’s display? Is it too small for practical use? Of course, a small screen is one of the major shortcomings of a compact phone, but in the case of the mini, its 5.4-inch 2340 x 1080 OLED panel is completely usable. Sure, it’s not the most ideal display size for content consumption or gaming, but it’s certainly big enough without feeling too cramped or cumbersome to use.

As for the quality of the screen itself, it’s befitting of a premium phone like the iPhone 12 mini. It’s an OLED panel, so it has inherently deep blacks, vibrant colours, and wide viewing angles. On top of that, this display can get very bright as well, so outdoor visibility will not be an issue at all. Basically, it’s a high quality screen through and through, and I love that the bezels surrounding the screen are so minimal.

When it comes to processing power, you get the same level of performance as any other 2020 iPhone – yes, even the top-of-the-line iPhone 12 Pro Max – with the iPhone 12 mini. The A14 Bionic is one of the fastest (if not the fastest) mobile processors in the market now, and the fact that a compact phone like the mini is powered by this chip is very…exciting. How often do you see a phone this pocketable that packs so much power under the hood?

And then there’s the camera performance of the iPhone 12 mini. Just like the iPhone 12, the mini features a dual camera system made up of a 12MP f/1.6 primary sensor and a 12MP f/2.4 ultra-wide angle lens. Not a super sophisticated camera system – and it would’ve been great if it had the telephoto shooter of the Pro models – but it can still take some good-looking shots.

In my brief time photographing with the iPhone 12 mini, it feels very competent with a fuss-free shooting experience; this is what we’ve come to expect of any modern iPhone. Granted, I haven’t put the camera through its paces yet – especially in more challenging lighting situations – but I’m confident the mini will not disappoint.

Surely the iPhone 12 Mini Has Some Shortcomings?

Of course. There’s only so much space to work with for a compact phone like the iPhone 12 mini, so naturally, it has a smaller battery capacity than the rest of its siblings. This means its battery life won’t be quite as good as other 2020 iPhones, which can be a dealbreaker to some folks. I haven’t had the chance to use the iPhone 12 mini as my daily driver yet to get a feel for its battery life, but I’ll do so in the near future.

Aside from that, the iPhone 12 mini – as well as the rest of the 2020 iPhones – still has the wide notch at the top of the screen for Face ID. This doesn’t give the phone a particularly modern aesthetic, not to mention the fact that the screen’s refresh rate is still limited to 60Hz.

Last but definitely not least is the asking price of the iPhone 12 mini. Even though it’s the “most affordable” 2020 iPhone, it still starts at RM3,399 for the base model; that’s a lot of money for a phone with only 64GB of storage. If you want the 128GB or 256GB variant instead, it will cost you RM3,599 and RM4,099 respectively here in Malaysia.

Is the iPhone 12 mini Worth It?

If you like the idea of a compact smartphone with class-leading performance, competent camera, and vibrant OLED screen, the iPhone 12 mini is absolutely worth it. It may not have the more sophisticated camera setup of the Pro models, but its compact form factor easily makes it the most exciting iPhone this year. Well, to me at least.

Yes, retailing from RM3,399, the iPhone 12 mini is still not exactly an affordable smartphone, but this has always been the case with the latest and greatest iPhones. If given the choice, I’d happily go with the iPhone 12 mini over the rest of the iPhone 12 models – it’s not so hard on my pocket, and it can fit into my pocket much more comfortably.