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