After years of ever-larger displays, Apple is now selling two different smartphones with small screens. The iPhone SE received a massive update in 2020 that significantly improved the specifications of the iPhone 8, and after that, the iPhone 12 Mini hit the market, which is roughly the same size as the SE. Now, fans of small devices have two modern iPhones to choose from, which are at opposite ends of Apple’s product portfolio. IPhone 12 Mini vs SE, which one is better.
But one of them could go away. For months, rumors have been circulating that the iPhone 12 Mini is selling more slowly than the other models and that Apple is suffering from poor sales of the tiny cell phone. Trendforce is now reporting that the iPhone 12 Mini has reached end-of-life status as Apple prepares for the iPhone 13. According to rumors, Apple will keep its smallest smartphone in the iPhone 13 portfolios. Apple will likely update the iPhone SE next year as well, so there will likely still be two small Apple smartphones to choose from in 2022.
But if the rumors are true, why is the iPhone 12 Mini doing so badly? Maybe it’s because the iPhone SE is so good. And does Apple really need a second small iPhone?
iPhone 12 Mini vs. SE: Features And Specifications
Read about the key differences in the features and specifications of the two devices here. There are tons of minor differences, but these features and specifications give you an idea of how the two devices compare to each other.
It’s pretty obvious which one is the “better” iPhone here. The iPhone 12 Mini has a newer processor, a borderless HDR OLED display, an additional ultrawide camera, a better front camera, 5G support, and a larger battery. So if all you want is the “best” little iPhone, no matter what the cost, stop reading now: the iPhone 12 Mini is for you. But the iPhone SE hardly feels like a budget smartphone. Savvy readers will look at the huge price difference and consider how many of these features they really need.
iPhone 12 Mini vs. SE: Design And Display
The iPhone SE continues the design of the iPhone 8 but replaces the internal components with a more modern A13 Bionic processor. The iPhone 12 Mini has the new design of the iPhone 12, with flat sides and a borderless display. It’s also available in five colors: the black, white, and red of the iPhone SE, and green and blue. There is no doubt that the 12 Mini looks better. 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 junk, and for a few hundred dollars you can probably do without turquoise as a color option.
However, the display on the iPhone 12 Mini is significantly better. The fact that it doesn’t have large bezels above and below the screen means that while the iPhone 12 Mini is technically a smaller device, it actually has more screen real estate than the iPhone SE (5.4 inches versus 4.7 inches). It’s not just about size, though. The iPhone 12 Mini also uses Apple’s best display technology, OLED, which offers tremendous contrast with deep blacks and a higher resolution (476 pixels per inch vs. 326 pixels per inch).
When it comes to the display, the surcharge for the iPhone 12 Mini is worth it. Since you will be looking at the smartphone screen for hours every day, the extra money is definitely worth it. However, the iPhone SE has an excellent LCD and a classic design. So if you still have a soft spot for the home button, you will definitely be satisfied with this device.
iPhone 12 Mini vs. SE: Performance And Battery Life
The iPhone 12 Mini has the A14 processor, which is of course faster than the A13 in the iPhone SE. If we’re honest, modern iPhone processors are just so fast that you probably won’t notice the difference in everyday use. Unless you know very well that you need the absolute fastest device, iPhone SE will be fast enough to last for years.
But no matter who you are, you can look forward to longer battery life. The battery in the iPhone 12 Mini has about 25 percent more capacity than that of the iPhone SE. If you combine that with a more energy-efficient processor and an OLED display, you can look forward to two or more hours of longer battery life on a single charge. The iPhone 12 Mini may have the shortest battery life of any iPhone 12 model but that’s all relative; it’s still a lot longer than the iPhone SE.
Tip: Even power users will hardly notice any difference between the iPhone SE and the iPhone 12 Mini when it comes to speed. Battery life is a different story. If you’re not a heavy user, the iPhone 12 Mini will likely last most of the day, but you’ll need a charger for the SE on the go.
iPhone 12 Mini vs. SE: 5G, Magsafe And UWB
The iPhone 12 Mini already has real advantages with its display and battery life, and that lead continues when you look at the other features. In contrast to the screen, the other features of the iPhone 12 Mini are more about the future. The most obvious difference is that the iPhone 12 Mini supports 5G cellular networks while the iPhone SE stays at 4G (LTE). Right now, that’s not a big deal for most users. Even if your network operator upgraded the masts near you to 5G, you probably won’t notice a phenomenal speed improvement.
Over time, as the networks continue to be upgraded, 5G support will play a bigger role. It’s not that your 4G LTE iPhone SE will stop working for the next few years, but all carrier efforts are aimed at making 5G faster, more reliable, with better coverage. Two years from now, you’ll likely be glad you have a 5G iPhone.
Magsafe is another feature with future potential, as is an Ultra-Wideband (UWB). You can buy some chargers, and cases today that support Magsafe, but there aren’t very many of them. This offer will certainly grow in the coming years. The same applies to the UWB radio chip from Apple, which enables data transmission with high bandwidth and short-range as well as very precise location determination. It’s something like an indoor GPS.
While Face ID is really great, in a year where we all wear masks all the time (and Apple’s solution requires you to buy an Apple Watch) it was no longer a benefit. But in winter, Touch ID users always complain that they have to take off their gloves to unlock the smartphone. Face ID is the better, more secure technology (and it makes the great borderless screen possible), but we wouldn’t blame you for sticking with Touch ID.
iPhone 12 Mini vs. SE: Cameras
Since both devices are iPhones, no matter what you buy, you are guaranteed to get a great camera. While both have a 12 MP main lens that Apple has been using 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 you get an f / 1.6 aperture for great low-light shots along with night mode, which isn’t available on the SE without a third-party app. The SE’s camera has an f / 1.8 aperture, so the recordings are a bit darker and also noisier.
The iPhone 12 Mini also has a second 12 MP ultra-wide-angle camera with f / 2.4 that can capture a 120-degree field of view, which is enhanced by night mode. And while both cameras record in 4K at 60 FPS, only the 12 Mini can record videos in Dolby Vision HDR. Although the SE only has one camera, like the 12 Mini it supports portrait mode and portrait lighting, but it lacks the AI-supported Deep Fusion and Smart HDR technology, which compares the images and optimizes lighting on a granular level for the respective scene.
The front camera is also better on the iPhone 12 Mini. You get a 12 MP camera that can capture 4K video as opposed to a 7 MP HD camera on the SE. The iPhone 12 Mini also has a night mode for the front camera, which the SE lacks.
We were definitely impressed with the photos on the SE, but if photography is more important than anything, then spend the extra buck on the iPhone 12 Mini.
Apple is already testing the iOS 15 public beta before it releases later this year, and both the iPhone 12 Mini and iPhone SE are compatible with it. While Apple has limited some features to certain processors (A12), both phones will have full functionality, with the exception of some 5G-specific features that are obviously only available on the iPhone 12 Mini. If you buy one of these smartphones now, you can download the iOS 15 public beta and check out the new features on Facetime, Share Play, and Live Text before they’re officially released.
iPhone 12 Mini vs. SE: Which Model Should You Buy?
You like small cell phones and now want to get a new iPhone. Buy the iPhone SE and Save Hundreds of Dollars, or Pay Almost Twice as much for the iPhone 12 Mini? It comes down to how much you value three key areas: