iPhone 12 mini vs iPhone 12: Which should you buy?

Iphone 12 Mini
Iphone 12 Mini (Image credit: Apple)

When it comes to the iPhone 12 mini vs. iPhone 12, you'll notice that the two models are identical when it comes to features. 5G, the new camera setup, the ceramic shield glass on the front, and the new MagSafe are all on both the iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12. So which one should you buy? It comes down to size.

iPhone 12 mini vs iPhone 12: The specs you need to know

Before we dive into some of the advantages and disadvantages of a smaller device, let's look at the important specs — which are almost the same on both models — so you know what you can expect from the iPhone 12, regardless of which model you pick up.

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Header Cell - Column 0 iPhone 12 miniiPhone 12
ChipA14 BionicA14 Bionic
Screen5.4-inch OLED6.1-inch OLED
Resolution2340-by-1080-pixel resolution at 476 ppi2532-by-1170-pixel resolution at 460 ppi
Rear Cameras12MP Ultra Wide: ƒ/2.4 aperture + 12MP Wide: ƒ/1.6 aperture12MP Ultra Wide: ƒ/2.4 aperture + 12MP Wide: ƒ/1.6 aperture
Video recording4K up 60 fps4K up 60 fps
ChipA14 BionicA14 Bionic
Night ModeYesYes

The list of the exact same features between the iPhone 12 mini and the iPhone 12 goes on and on. However, if you looked closely, you'll notice that the size difference does make a bit of a difference in resolution — specifically the PPI.

The iPhone 12 mini has a slightly higher PPI, meaning the pixel density is greater, which makes sense with the smaller display. You'll notice the iPhone 12 has a 460 PPI, which is only very slightly worse than the 476 PPI on the iPhone 12 mini. Fortunately, in real-world use, I doubt you'll be able to notice the difference. The difference in PPI is likely not going to be a factor for anyone, but it's worth knowing about in case it's important to you.

iPhone 12 mini vs iPhone 12: What's in a size?

iPhone 12 Mini

Iphone 12 Mini (Image credit: Apple)

The biggest difference when asking comparing the iPhone 12 mini vs. iPhone 12 is the literal size difference. Yes, the iPhone 12 OLED screen is 6.1 inches, while the screen on the iPhone 12 mini is a mere 5.4 inches, but that doesn't tell the whole story.

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Header Cell - Column 0 iPhone 12 miniiPhone 12
Height5.18 inches5.78 inches
Width2.53 inches2.82 inches
Depth0.29 inch0.29 inch
Weight4.76 ounces5.78 ounces

As you can tell by the table above, the iPhone 12 mini comes in a significantly smaller chassis, which stands over half an inch shorter than the regular-size iPhone 12. The width is a less dramatic change but still noticeable, and the weight is surprising over a whole ounce lighter. What does it all mean?

The iPhone 12 mini starts $100 cheaper than the iPhone 12 and offers all the same features.

Well, it means if you've been waiting for a small iPhone that is as powerful as its bigger siblings, the wait is over. The iPhone 12 mini will be significantly easier to carry around, scroll through larger menus quickly, and, most importantly, touch every part of the screen only using one hand. This is a huge boon for people with smaller hands or people who like to save space. Since most flagship phones seem to get bigger and bigger each year, it's nice to see Apple offer something slightly different.

The other thing to keep in mind is the regular iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro have the same size and dimensions, meaning you can share the best iPhone 12 cases between those two models. Obviously, with the iPhone 12 mini being so small, it needs its own cases.

Of course, there are some things that a bigger screen does better. Watching movies or YouTube videos on a larger screen always feel nicer, and typing texts or emails will likely feel much less cramped. Still, it's good to know that whether you are okay with the standard 6.1-inch screen or want something smaller, the only thing you're sacrificing is size.

The iPhone 12 mini starts $100 cheaper than the iPhone 12 and offers all the same features, so the decision is up to you. Whether you go big or go small — you're getting a stellar phone either way.

Luke Filipowicz
Staff Writer

Luke Filipowicz has been a writer at iMore, covering Apple for nearly a decade now. He writes a lot about Apple Watch and iPad but covers the iPhone and Mac as well. He often describes himself as an "Apple user on a budget" and firmly believes that great technology can be affordable if you know where to look. Luke also heads up the iMore Show — a weekly podcast focusing on Apple news, rumors, and products but likes to have some fun along the way. 

Luke knows he spends more time on Twitter than he probably should, so feel free to follow him or give him a shout on social media @LukeFilipowicz.