iPhone SE vs iPhone 12 mini: Which One Should You Buy?

iPhone SE (2020) vs. iPhone 12 mini

While most people prefer to have a smartphone with a large display, there are still many people who like the idea of a compact phone. Apple launched the iPhone SE (2020) last year. This smartphone is much compact compared to other phones in the market. That and its affordable price tag made the iPhone SE (2020) an immediate hit in the market.

Yesterday, Apple unveiled the iPhone 12 series. And the new lineup of smartphones brings with it an all-new device, the iPhone 12 mini. As the name suggests, it is a smaller and more affordable version of the iPhone 12. With this smartphone, Apple is targeting people who want a compact iPhone that is light on pocket and offers all the modern features.

If you are in the market for a compact and affordable iPhone, you now have two choices, the iPhone 12 mini and the iPhone SE (2020). The iPhone 12 mini starts at $729, whereas, the iPhone SE (2020) starts at $399. The iPhone 12 mini is almost twice as costly as the iPhone SE (2020) but for that premium, it offers a bunch of additional features.

So, the question is, is it worth spending the extra money on the iPhone 12 mini? Or will do just fine with the iPhone SE (2020)? Read this comparison to find out.

iPhone SE (2020) vs iPhone 12 mini

Design

  • iPhone SE (2020): Size – 138.4mm x 67.3mm x 7.3mm; IP68 water and dust resistant up to 1 meter
  • iPhone 12 mini: Size – 131.5mm x 64.2mm x 7.4mm; IP68 water and dust resistant up to 6 meters

The main drawback of the iPhone SE (2020) is that it looks extremely outdated due to its thick bezels around the screen. The iPhone 12 mini, on the other hand, features a modern look, thanks to thin bezels, flat sides, and a glass panel on the back. The iPhone 12 mini also has a smaller footprint compared to the iPhone SE (2020) even though it offers a larger screen. What is even more interesting is that the iPhone 12 mini is water and dust resistant up to 6 meters compared to the 1-meter water and dust resistance of the iPhone SE (2020).

So, there is no doubt that the iPhone 12 mini clearly takes the crown in the design department.

Display

iPhone 12's Ceramic Shield display protection
  • iPhone SE (2020): 4.7-inch, IPS LCD, 1334 x 750 pixels resolution, Ion-strengthened glass, 625 nits typical brightness
  • iPhone 12 mini: 5.4-inch, OLED, 2340 x 1080 pixels resolution, Ceramic Shield, 625 nits typical brightness (1200 nits peak brightness), HDR10, Dolby Vision

The display of the iPhone 12 mini is superior to that of the iPhone SE (2020) in every manner. It is larger, sharper, and brighter. More importantly, the display of the iPhone 12 mini uses OLED technology as opposed to the IPS LCD of iPhone SE (2020), which offers much better visibility under direct sunlight, more vibrant colors, and better blacks. That is not all, the display of the iPhone 12 mini also supports HDR10 and Dolby Vision, which means that it will offer a better viewing experience while watching movies and TV shows.

The display is one of the most important aspects of a smartphone as it is something that you look at every time you use your smartphone. And even a small difference in display quality makes a significant impact on user experience. And considering that iPhone 12 mini’s display is significantly better than that of iPhone SE (2020), it offers a much better user experience in day to day usage. It is not that the display of the iPhone SE (2020) is bad. But the display of the iPhone 12 mini is the one you would want.

Camera

iPhone 12 mini camera
  • iPhone SE (2020): 12MP primary camera with f/1.8 aperture, PDAF, OIS; Quad-LED flash; 4K60FPS video recording; 7MP selfie camera
  • iPhone 12 mini: 12MP primary camera with f/1.6 aperture, dual-pixel PDAF, OIS; 12MP ultrawide camera with f/2.4 aperture; Quad-LED flash, 4K60FPS video recording; 12MP selfie camera

The primary camera of the iPhone 12 mini is significantly better compared to the one in the iPhone SE (2020). It can capture brighter, sharper, and more detailed images with a better dynamic range. It also offers faster focusing so that you don’t miss any moment. The iPhone 12 mini also comes with Night Mode, which, the iPhone SE (2020) misses out on. Night mode is a very important feature; it helps you to capture significantly better images in low-light conditions.

Moreover, the iPhone 12 mini has one additional camera over the iPhone SE (2020). It is an ultrawide camera and it will come in handy when you need to capture wider scenes. The selfie camera of the iPhone 12 mini is also better than that of the iPhone SE (2020). Although, not by a huge margin. The iPhone SE (2020) is still among the best phones for selfies.

If you are a photo-buff, you should definitely go for the iPhone 12 mini. However, if you are someone who captures images occasionally, you will do just fine with the iPhone SE (2020).

Processing Power

Apple A14 Bionic SoC
  • iPhone SE (2020): Apple A13 Bionic SoC (6-core CPU, 4-core GPU, 7nm transistors); 3GB RAM
  • iPhone 12 mini: Apple A14 Bionic SoC (6-core CPU, 4-core GPU, 5nm transistors), 40% faster CPU performance and 30% faster GPU performance than A13 Bionic; 3GB RAM

The processing power is the one criterion where you won’t feel any difference between the iPhone 12 mini and the iPhone SE (2020). Sure, the A14 Bionic processor of the iPhone 12 mini is more powerful than the A13 Bionic of the iPhone SE (2020). But the thing is, the A13 Bionic is already so powerful that it will get all your tasks done without breaking a sweat. So, even though the processor of the iPhone 12 mini is more powerful, you wouldn’t be able to feel it. No matter which smartphone you pick, you are going to get the same level of smoothness.

Storage

iPhone 12 mini storage
  • iPhone SE (2020): NVMe storage module; 64GB, 128GB, 256GB storage options
  • iPhone 12 mini: NVMe storage module; 64GB, 128GB, 256GB storage options

The iPhone 12 mini as well as the iPhone SE (2020) come with NVMe storage, which is much faster than UFS or eMMC storage technology, offering a blistering fast performance.

Both smartphones are available with the same storage options. If you are a light user, you can go with the 64GB option. If you are a heavy user, you can get the 128GB storage version. However, if you want to future-proof your smartphone, we recommend you to go with the 256GB storage variant of these smartphones.

Battery Life and Charging Speed

iPhone 12 mini charging
  • iPhone SE (2020): 1821mAh battery; 13 hours video playback (Offline), 8 hours video playback (Streamed), 40 hours audio playback; 20W charging speed; 50% charge in 30 minutes
  • iPhone 12 mini: Battery capacity unknown; 15 hours video playback (Offline), 10 hours video playback (Streamed), 50 hours audio playback; 20W charging speed; 50% charge in 30 minutes

Apple is yet to reveal the battery capacity of the iPhone 12 mini. However, the battery life numbers from Apple show that the iPhone 12 mini offers a significantly better battery backup. And that could is mainly because the iPhone 12 mini might have a larger battery and more importantly, it has a more power-efficient processor. If you are someone who is on the move frequently, you might want to go with the iPhone 12 mini. However, if you are a light user or stay indoors mostly, the battery backup of the iPhone SE (2020) will be enough for you.

Connectivity

iPhone 12 mini 5G
  • iPhone SE (2020): Dual-SIM with 4G, VoLTE, and VoWiFi; dual-band Wi-Fi ax with MIMO, Bluetooth v5.0, GPS with GNSS; Lightning port
  • iPhone 12 mini: Dual-SIM with 5G (sub-6 GHz and mmWave), VoLTE, and VoWiFi; dual-band Wi-Fi ax with MIMO, Bluetooth v5.0, GPS with GLONASS, Galileo, QZSS, and BeiDou; Lightning port

One of the highlights of the iPhone 12 mini is its 5G connectivity. According to the brand, it is the world’s smallest 5G phone. Having a smartphone with 5G connectivity is great as it offers extremely fast data speeds. However, the reach of the 5G network is very limited at the moment. And it might take a couple of years for it to spread to all major areas. So, it doesn’t make a lot of sense getting a 5G phone right now.

Moreover, 4G connectivity is already fast enough for you to stream high-quality videos without any delay. If you are going to use your phone for three to four years then you should definitely choose the 5G-equipped iPhone 12 mini as its 5G connectivity will benefit you. But if you are going to upgrade to a new phone in a year or two, you should be fine with the 4G-equipped iPhone SE (2020) as you can upgrade to a 5G phone when the network expands.

Security and Privacy

Log into Sites With Face ID in Safari
  • iPhone SE (2020): Touch ID (Fingerprint scanner)
  • iPhone 12 mini: Face ID (3D face recognition)

When the Face ID made its debut with the iPhone X, it seemed much more convenient than Touch ID as the new unlocking technique automatically scans the face and unlocks the screen.

However, the Coronavirus pandemic has forced everyone to wear a face mask. And the Face ID can’t scan your face if you are wearing a mask. Therefore, people will have to enter a PIN code to unlock their phones. So, in today’s situation, the Touch ID seems like a much better option.

If I had to choose between Touch ID and Face ID, I would definitely go with the former option. That being said, if you are someone who stays at home, where you don’t have to wear a mask, the Face ID will be ideal for you.

Price

  • iPhone SE (2020): $399 for 64GB storage, $449 for 128GB storage, $549 for 256GB storage
  • iPhone 12 mini: $729 for 64GB storage, $779 for 128GB storage, $879 for 256GB storage

The iPhone 12 mini clearly packs more features than the iPhone SE (2020) in each and every aspect. More importantly, the upgrades that the iPhone 12 mini offers over the iPhone SE (2020) are significant. The extra features that the iPhone 12 mini offers will come in handy on a regular basis and it will undoubtedly offer a better user experience.

In our opinion, the higher price tag of the iPhone 12 mini is justified by the features it offers. And if you have the money to spend, you should definitely go for the iPhone 12 mini instead of the iPhone SE (2020). However, if you are tight on budget, the iPhone SE (2020) should be your choice. Even though it looks old, it has all the power and features to get all your tasks done.