Apple iPhone 12 mini vs iPhone SE (2020): Preliminary comparison – PhoneArena

The iPhone 12 event is finally coming (October 13th) and this year Apple will unveil four new phones. That’s right, there’s a mini among them, and fans of compact phones should bask in the joy. What about the iPhone SE (2020) you may ask? Well, it seems like compact phones are returning in one form or another, which means more freedom of choice. Good, right?

Now, let’s say you really like to own a compact phone from Apple but you’re not sure which one. Instead of making rash decisions or staying firmly locked in a technological stalemate, you should take a deep breath and check out our detailed comparison between the two compact phones – the iPhone SE (2020) and the iPhone 12 mini.

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Main differences between the iPhone 12 mini and the iPhone SE (2020):

  • 5.4″ 960 x 2079 pixels OLED vs 4.7″ 1334 x 750 pixels LCD display
  • Apple A14 5nm vs Apple A13 7nm chipset
  • 4GB of RAM vs 3GB of RAM
  • 5G vs 4G LTE modem
  • 12MP main + 12MP ultrawide dual-camera system vs 12MP single camera
  • 2227mAh vs 1,821mAh battery
  • 130.8 x 63.8 x 7.4 mm vs 138.4 x 67.3 x 7.3 mm
  • $699 vs $399

Apple iPhone 12 mini vs iPhone SE (2020) display

  • 5.4″ 960 x 2079 pixels OLED vs 4.7″ 1334 x 750 pixels LCD display

There’s one striking difference between the two compacts. The display. The iPhone SE (2020) relies on a 4.7″ LCD screen and while it’s a bright and overall very pleasant panel, it’s not an OLED, and the PPI is just 326, fairly low by modern standards. The iPhone 12 mini on the other hand will hop on the OLED train with a bigger 5.4″ panel and will also up the pixel count which will bring the pixel density to around 424 PPI. That’s a much more respectable result.

The iPhone SE (2020) was criticized for its outdated design, sporting two huge bezels above and below the display. That’s another big difference between the two devices. The iPhone 12 mini will use the notch design, and while it’s a smaller notch than what its bigger siblings have, it will still be there. This means that if you want the modern iPhone design, you’re going to be better off with the iPhone mini.

Sizewise, the new iPhone 12 mini will be even more compact than the iPhone SE (2020), despite boasting a bigger screen size. The latest leaks show that the mini will be almost a centimeter shorter and half a centimeter narrower than the iPhone SE (2020). So, brace yourself for one of the smallest modern smartphones in the world.

Apple iPhone 12 mini vs iPhone SE (2020) specs

  • Apple A14 5nm vs Apple A13 7nm chipset
  • 5G vs 4G LTE modem
  • 3GB of RAM vs 4GB of RAM

The A13 Bionic chipset inside the iPhone SE (2020) is a beast, especially considering the display resolution of the phone. Everything just flies and you would think that nobody needs more power in a compact phone. Well, Apple disagrees with you on this one. The iPhone 12 mini will use the state-of-the-art A14 Bionic chipset, just like its bigger siblings. Apple announced the 5nm A14 together with the iPad Air 4 on September 15, and tipped that it is better in every way than the 7nm A13 Bionic that’s in the iPhone 11.

There are some numbers coming from the TSMC – the company that manufactures the new chips. According to the fabrication data, this 5nm technology is 15% faster and 30% more energy-efficient than the previous 7nm chips (Snapdragon 865+ or Apple A13). If you want speed, you’ll get it in the new iPhone 12 mini, actually, it will probably take the “fastest phone in the world” crown along with its bigger brothers.

The iPhone SE (2020) isn’t exactly slow (it’s insanely fast) but if you want the fastest of them all, probably the iPhone 12 mini is the way to go. The mini will also have slightly more RAM than SE (2020) which is another thing to consider.

Another big difference is the 5G support. You know, that crazy network speed everybody’s talking about. The 5G modem inside the iPhone 12 mini will support both Verizon’s mmWave network, and the low- to mid-bands of the other 5G-ready carriers. It’s a huge benefit and makes the iPhone 12 mini future-proof. The iPhone SE (2020), on the other hand, sports only a 4G LTE modem, which means slower network speeds.

Apple iPhone 12 mini vs iPhone SE (2020) cameras

  • 12MP single camera vs 12MP main + 12MP ultrawide dual-camera system
  • 7P vs 5P lenses
  • Bigger sensor/pixels for better low-light shots
  • Larger F/1.6 vs F/2.4 ultrawide angle lens aperture

The iPhone SE (2020) has a 12MP main camera on the back and it features optical image stabilization, while on the software side it supports the Smart HDR option for rich colors in photos. It’s an old-school approach when smartphones try to slap as many cameras as they can on their backs. Apple calls it “the best single-camera system ever in an iPhone” and it produces some decent images. The iPhone 12 mini will have a dual-camera system on the back which is a substantial upgrade.

Furthermore, Apple has decided to switch to 7-layer lenses (7P) in the iPhone 12 series and the iPhone 12 mini will be getting one of those too. It will sport two 12-megapixel shooters on its back: a 12MP wide-angle main camera, and a 12MP ultra-wide-angle snapper. No matter how good is the single-camera of the iPhone SE (2020) is, it safe to expect better performance and flexibility from the dual-camera system of the iPhone 12 mini. The telephoto camera and the LiDAR sensor are reserved for the iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max models, so no zooming and laser love here, sadly.

Apple iPhone 12 mini vs iPhone SE (2020) battery life

  • 1,821mAh vs 2,227mAh battery

The iPhone SE (2020) received heavy criticism for its modest battery capacity. It has a 1,821mAh battery and when you factor in the new A13 beast of a chipset, battery life concerns start to emerge. Our iPhone SE (2020) battery test confirmed these worries with battery life ranging from just okay to simply bad.

The iPhone 12 mini, on the other hand, will sport a 2,227mAh battery which is a significant increase over the SE (2020). What’s more, the OLED display in the iPhone 12 mini will be more efficient than the LCD found in the SE (2020). The new A14 chipset power efficiency should also contribute to a better battery life results from the iPhone 12 mini.

Apple iPhone 12 mini vs iPhone SE (2020) price

If you feel that the iPhone SE (2020) is loosing in this comparison up to this point, you may well be right. The iPhone 12 mini is shaping up to be the perfect compact phone – powerful, even smaller than the SE (2020), with an OLED display, better camera system, more RAM, newer chipset, etc. However, there’s one area where the iPhone SE (2020) strikes back hard, and it’s the price.

At $399 the iPhone SE (2020) is your cheapest A13 Bionic option out there. You can have an amazingly fast phone for a great price, really. The iPhone 12 mini is expected to cost $699 at launch which is substantially more expensive. If you like compact phones and want a no-compromise Apple device, though, with a modern design, a better display, a bigger battery, and the fastest chipset out there, the iPhone 12 mini is the one to get.

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