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In search of the perfect compact phone: iPhone 12 mini

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Most of you are already familiar with my obsession with compact smartphones. Whether or not you share the same sentiment it’s a completely different matter. One thing is certain, though. In the year 2020, if you’re looking for a compact flagship phone, your choices are severely limited. There’s the Galaxy S10e and you can still buy it, even though it’s technically a 2019 model. I spent some time trying to decide if the Samsung Galaxy S10e is compact-worthy but the size just wasn’t right. Also Read:

Opinion: Give me back my compact Android phone!Then we have the iPhone SE (2020). I took this one for a spin as well. Only to find that yes – it was compact enough in size but the bezels were huge and the battery life – appalling. Fast forward to the iPhone 12 mini announcement. I was thrilled, to be honest. As an avid Android user, I was kind of looking for an excuse to delve deeper into the iOS experience. The iPhone 12 mini was looking very promising, at least on paper – powerful, small, stylish, and not costing an arm and a leg.

So, I took it for a ride, finally. Switched full-time and all-the-way. Here’s what I found!


First impressions

We got the Product RED color variant in the office and that should’ve been a huge bonus for me. I’ve always wanted a red phone. There’s a sense of urgency and importance when you pick up a red phone and put it against your ear. It’s a bit silly, I know – but colorful phones are a bit rare nowadays – manufacturers seem to play it safe with all the black/gray/silver color options.

The iPhone 12 mini Product RED is not quite red, to be honest. The metal frame is orangey and the back is pinkish, especially on a bright and sunny day. But it’s okay, pink phones are as rare as red ones. Moving on to the size – it’s awesome! The design clearly draws inspiration from the iconic iPhone 4 and 5 models. Even though I never owned an iPhone, the closest I came to buying one was when the iPhone 5 came out, based solely on the design.

I like the flat screen a lot! It’s a better design on so many levels. Going for a flat screen allows the frame to be uniform and not thinner around the display. So it won’t cut into your hand when you hold the phone. There are no image distortions, the panel itself is more durable and won’t shatter to pieces on the first drop. Plus, it looks better – symmetrical, like a nicely cut piece of precious metal.

Weight and Pocketability

How compact it really is? Well, put next to my Huawei Mate 20 Pro (don’t go mad, it was a gift) the iPhone 12 mini looks ridiculously small. The mini is smaller and lighter than both the SE (2020) and Galaxy S10e. In fact, it’s the most compact phone I’ve seen in a long time. The last compact Android flagship was the Xperia XZ2 Compact and it is still heavier and bulkier than the iPhone 12 mini. Well done, Apple!

Funny thing, though. At 135 grams the mini doesn’t feel feather-weight. It feels substantial, probably because the weight is distributed across a smaller volume. It doesn’t feel heavy, it actually feels nice and premium. It’s also so pocketable! I even thought I’ve lost the damn thing a couple of times. Nothing more to report, 10 out of 10.

(My) Thumb comfort, one-hand operation

Now, my iOS experience has been far from perfect in the past few days. However, I won’t complain or make this article into the run-of-the-mill iOS vs Android stuff. I acknowledge the differences, the learning curve, and the potential too. What I can say for sure is that iOS feels snappy and smooth, even when it refuses to do the things I want it to do.

When you rest the iPhone 12 mini on your fingers, it’s really easy to reach all parts of the screen with your thumb without any hand gymnastics. My hands are of average size, so the above statement should apply to most of you, too. If you grip it more tightly, reaching the corners becomes a bit of a stretch but nothing to complain about.

The Volume buttons are placed perfectly but I wish the power button was a bit higher on such a small device. My thumb often lands above it when I hold the phone but that’s just nitpicking. One-hand operation is not only a possibility with the mini but the only way you would use the phone. Correction, the only time I need to use both my hands is when I play a game in landscape mode.

Typing and media consumption

Typing on such a small phone is not as bad as I thought it would be. It’s actually decent even in portrait mode. The only gripes I have with the keyboard is that some of the most commonly used symbols are stuck on the second sheet. I need to go switch between letters and numbers every time I want to use a comma, question mark, or exclamation. This slows down my writing process significantly. Again, nothing you can’t cure with a third-party keyboard if you can’t bear it.

I’m currently binge-watching The Crown on Netflix, so I gave this one a go and watched a whole episode on the mini. Not bad but the screen is kinda small, no way around it. And to make matters worse, the notch is really obtrusive on such a compact device. If you want a clean video experience you need to shrink the active screen area further to hide the notch and that’s a 2010 experience right there. I won’t count this as a con, though – it’s the laws of physics – small phone, small screen (foldable phones far from ready, sorry). 

I played some GWENT on the iPhone 12 mini (a Hearthstone-like card game) and surprisingly, the experience was great. It was actually better than gaming on the Mate 20 Pro with its 6.39-inch touchscreen. Maybe it’s the curved edges on the Huawei or better optimization and touch sensitivity on the mini, I really don’t know. One last thing – the sound is also very good – loud and clear. I mean really loud – for such a compact device. I had to turn it down and keep it at 50%.

Battery life

We’re onto the sensitive stuff now, right? After reading so many reports on the “less than stellar” battery life of the iPhone 12 mini, I was prepared for the worst. How was it, then? Well, not as bad as I thought it would be. I used the phone as a daily driver and got 19 hours out of the battery with 3 hours screen-on time. I probably spent more time on the phone too, as with any new gadget. 

Would I call the battery life on the iPhone 12 mini good? Probably not. But it’s not that bad either, it’s passable. If charging every day is the price to be paid for owning a compact flagship, I will pay it, gladly. Charging itself is still a disappointment, though. I come from a device that supports 40W fast charging and can fill 80% of its big 4,000mAh battery in 30 minutes. It takes 2 hours to fully charge the tiny 2,227 battery in the mini, and 30 minutes of charging will only get it to 40%. Apple needs to up its charging game, clearly.

What I like about the iPhone 12 mini

  • It’s the right size, finally!
  • Loud and clear sound for such a small chassis
  • Fast and smooth experience
  • Pocket and one-hand friendly
  • Not awfully expensive

What I don’t like

  • The notch feels bigger on such a compact phone
  • Barebone retail box
  • Battery life is mediocre at best
  • Ancient fast-charging technology

Conclusion

I’m happy with the iPhone 12 mini. It’s not perfect by any means, but it’s a compact flagship done right. There’s nothing quite like it on the market at the moment. The iPhone 12 mini does exactly what it says on the tin. If you really want a compact phone, you probably won’t complain about the smaller screen and the mediocre battery life. It’s a tradeoff you’ve already made in your head.

My search is over, at least for now. I’m really curious about next year, though. Will we see “mini” phones from other manufacturers too? Or the compact phone is just a failed experiment and nobody actually needs it. What about foldable phones? Can they offer the perfect solution – a compact phone with a huge screen? Time will tell. Thanks for making it to the end of this highly subjective article. Happy holidays and stay safe!

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Hi guys, this is Kimmy, I started LicensetoBlog to help you with the latest updated news about the world with daily updates from all leading news sources. Beside, I love to write about several niches like health, business, finance, travel, automation, parenting and about other useful topics to keep you find the the original information on any particular topic. Hope you will find LicensetoBlog helpful in various ways. Keep blogging and help us grow as a community for internet lovers.