If you’re an iPhone user who prefers small phones, you have better options than you had years. The iPhone SE was just updated in 2020, taking the smallest (at the time) iPhone and significantly increasing its specs. Then Apple surprised us during the launch of the iPhone 12 with a new fourth model, the iPhone 12 mini, which is about the same size as the SE. Now little phone lovers have two modern iPhones to choose from at opposite ends of the spectrum. So which one is best for you?
Features and specifications
Here are the main differences in features and specifications between them. There are many minor differences, but these features and specifications will give you an idea of how they fit together.
iPhone 12 mini
Size (H x W x D)
5.45 ″ x 2.65 ″ x 0.29 ″
5.18 ″ x 2.13 ″ x 0.29 ″
LCD (326 ppi)
OLED with HDR (476 ppi)
64/128 / 256GB
64/128 / 256GB
Wide 12MP f / 1.8 camera
Wide 12MP f / 1.6 camera, Ultra wide 12MP f / 2.4 camera
7MP f / 2.2 camera, 1080p
12MP f / 2.2 camera, 4K HDR
4G LTE, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC
5G, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, ultra broadband
It is quite obvious which is the “better” iPhone here. The iPhone 12 mini has a newer processor, an edge-to-edge HDR OLED screen, an extremely wide rear camera, a better front camera, 5G support and a larger battery. So, if you just want to get the “best” little iPhone no matter what the price, you can now stop reading: the iPhone 12 mini is where it is. But smart readers will look at the huge difference in price and consider how much these features actually have should.
Design and display
The iPhone SE continues the design of the iPhone 8, replacing the internal components with a more modern A13 Bionic processor. The iPhone 12 mini features a new iPhone 12 design, with flat sides and an edge-to-edge screen. It also comes in five colors: black, white and red iPhone SE plus green and blue. There is no doubt that the 12 mini phone looks nicer. It’s also just a little smaller and lighter, making it the smallest iPhone you can buy. But it’s not that the iPhone SE is nasty, and for a few hundred dollars you can probably manage without the option of green sea foam.
Michael Simon / IDG
It’s a screen a lot better for iPhone 12 mini. The fact that there are no large bezels above and below the screen means that, although technically a smaller phone, the iPhone 12 mini actually has more screen area of the iPhone SE (5.4 inches vs. 4.7 inches). It’s not just the size that matters. The iPhone mini also uses Apple’s best screen technology, OLED, which delivers awesome contrast with deep black and higher resolution (476 pixels per inch compared to 326 pixels per inch).
Our selection: When it comes to the screen, you really get what you pay for. Since you will be watching for an hour on the phone screen every day, the extra money is definitely worth it. However, the iPhone SE has a great LCD and a classic design, so if you still have a gentle place for the home button, you’re sure to be pleased.
Battery performance and life
The iPhone 12 mini has an A14 processor, which is of course faster than the A13 in the iPhone SE. To be honest, modern iPhone processors are so fast that you probably won’t notice a difference in everyday use. Unless you are such a person who he knows you need the absolute fastest thing, the iPhone SE will be fast enough to last for years.
No matter who you are, you can still appreciate the longer battery life. The battery in the iPhone 12 mini has about 25 percent more capacity than the iPhone SE. Combine that with a more energy-efficient processor and OLED display and you’ll probably get two or more hours longer battery life on a single charge. The iPhone 12 mini may have the shortest battery life of any iPhone 12 model, but it’s all relative; it is still a a lot longer than the iPhone SE.
Our selection: Even powerful users will struggle to spot the difference between the iPhone SE and the iPhone 12 mini when it comes to speed. Battery life is another story. Unless you’re a really heavy user, the iPhone 12 mini will probably last most days, but you’ll need to keep the charger with the SE.
5G, MagSafe and UWB
Thee iPhone 12 mini already has real big advantages with its screen and battery life, and that edge continues when you start looking at other features. However, unlike the screen, the other features of the iPhone 12 mini are more related to what you will need later. The most obvious difference is that the iPhone 12 mini supports 5G mobile networks, while the iPhone SE does not. Right now, that’s not a big deal for most people. Even if your operator has upgraded the towers near you to 5G, you probably won’t see a game-changing speed improvement.
Jason Cross / IDG
Over time, as networks upgrade, 5G support will become increasingly important. Not that your 4G LTE iPhone SE will stop working in the next few years, but all the efforts of mobile operators make 5G faster and more reliable, with better coverage. In two years, you’ll probably be glad you have a 5G iPhone.
MagSafe is another “maybe one day” feature, as is the ultra broadband network (UWB). You can buy some chargers and cases that support MagSafe today, but there’s not much out there. In the coming years, that ecosystem will surely grow. The same goes for Apple’s UWB wireless chip, which enables data transmission of wide bandwidth and short range, as well as very precise location tracking. It’s like room-scale GPS. Today it can be used to seamlessly transfer audio between your iPhone and HomePod mini, but not much more. It may be used in long-voiced AirTags personal tracking devices. It still seems like “nice to have” and not like “to have”.
Our selection: Although Face ID is really great, during the year we had a lot of trouble in the buttocks where we all wear masks all the time. But in the winter, those who have Touch ID iPhones always complain about taking off their gloves to use them. Face ID is a better and more secure technology (and allows for that great edge-to-edge display), but we wouldn’t mind you sticking to Touch ID fine.
Since these are both iPhones, you know you’re getting a great camera no matter what you buy. Although both have the 12MP main lenses that Apple uses since the iPhone 6, they are a little different in the way they take and process photos. The iPhone 12 mini has the same wide-angle camera as the larger models, so with night mode, which is not available on the SE without turning to third, you get an aperture of f / 1.6 for stellar shots in low light -party applications. The SE camera has an aperture of f / 1.8, so the shots will be a little darker and noisier.
Jason Cross / IDG
On the iPhone 12 mini, you also get another extremely wide 12MP camera, f / 2.4, which can record a field of view of 120 degrees, which also enhances the night mode. And while both cameras record in 4K at 60 frames per second, only 12 mini can record videos in Dolby Vision HDR. Although the SE has a single camera, it supports portrait mode and portrait lighting like 12 minis, although you miss Deep Fusion and Smart HDR powered by AI that compares images and optimizes photos for the scene and the granular level lighting included.
The front camera is also superior on the iPhone 12 mini. You get a 12MP camera that can record 4K video compared to the 7MP HD camera on the SE. The iPhone 12 mini also has a night mode on the front camera, which is missing from the SE.
Our selection: We were definitely impressed with the photos taken by SE, but if photography is more important than anything else, you should spend the extra money on 12 mines.
What to buy
You love small phones, and now you’re going to get a new iPhone. Are you buying an iPhone SE and saving hundreds of dollars or are you paying almost twice as much for the iPhone 12 mini? It all comes down to how much value you attach to three key areas:
Screen quality and design.
The importance of leading technology like 5G, ultra broadband and Face ID.
Whether you always want a longer battery life.
If you appreciate any of these things highly, you will opt for the iPhone 12 mini. There’s simply no competition with the iPhone SE when it comes to screen, battery and premium features, and it’s worth the extra money you’ll pay for the iPhone 12 There are other differences (like better selfies and an ultra-wide camera on the iPhone 12 mini), but for most users it There are three big reasons worth paying hundreds of dollars. If paying for a phone for more than $ 700 won’t fail you, or if you’re buying something you hope to keep for four or five years, we think you’ll be a lot happier with the iPhone 12 mini.
However, for all other fans of small phones, the iPhone SE steals $ 399. It’s not only the cheapest iPhone you can buy, it still brings some top-notch features like wireless charging and portrait mode, it has a great retro design and is almost as good as the latest iPhone. It will also be updated over the years, so whether you want to replace your iPhone in just a year or two or you’re particularly rude on your phone and don’t want to spend a lot of money on something that is sure to beat you up, go for iPhone SE.
I have written professionally about technology for my entire professional adult life – over 20 years. I like to understand how complicated technology works and explain it in a way that everyone can understand.