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iPhone 13 mini review: The best small phone just got better

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The iPhone 13 mini shows that you don’t necessarily need a large phone to have big power. It’s smaller than most phones, but still has the best performance and cameras in the industry.

Although you don’t get Apple’s Pro-level features such as a 120Hz refresh rate and a telephoto lens, the iPhone 13 still offers the same experience, including the A15 Bionic processor, top-quality display, and all of the new iOS features, like Cinematic mode.

This iPhone 13 mini review will show you how this best-selling small phone compares to the competition. The iPhone 14 rumors suggest that there won’t even be a mini iPhone this year. This makes it the most popular small iPhone in a while.

Also, be sure to check out our iPhone 13Pro Max review, iPhone 13Pro review, and iPhone 13 Review.

iPhone 13 mini review: Release date and price

The iPhone 13 mini can be purchased now. The 128GB model is available for $699. The 256GB model goes up to $799 while the top-end, 512GB model goes for $999. Apple has doubled the storage base this year, while maintaining the same price. The iPhone 13 mini is an amazing deal, considering all the power that it packs. It costs $699. For the most current discounts, make sure to check out our Apple Store coupon page.

The iPhone 13 mini starts at PS679 in the U.K., with the 256GB model costing PS779 and the 512GB model starting at PS979.

To make sure you are getting the best deal, check out our iPhone 13 best iPhone 13 deals page. If you are looking for a less expensive iPhone, the iPhone SE is a good option. However, still considers the iPhone 13 mini to be the best small iPhone.

You may decide to wait for the iPhone 14 to arrive before upgrading from your Apple phone. If so, take a look at the seven most important upgrades that we expect to see on the iPhone 14.

iPhone 13 mini review: Design

The iPhone 13 mini is very similar to the iPhone 13 plus, with one noticeable difference: the notch. According to Apple, it is about 20% smaller than last year and clearly noticeable. Even though the notch is still present, it’s nice to have more screen space.

The iPhone 13 mini has the same squared-off edges. It is small enough to be easily carried around in one hand. The iPhone 13 mini is IP68 certified, which means it can be submerged for up to 30 minutes at six meters.

At launch, the iPhone 13 mini did not have mask-friendly authentication. With iOS 15.4 now available, you can use FaceID with a mask.

You should note that Apple’s new iPhone Self Service Repair Kit allows you to perform your own repairs. However, technical skills are required.

iPhone 13 mini review: Display

Although the iPhone 13 mini’s OLED display of 5.4 inches is largely unchanged, there is a significant increase in brightness.

The OLED panel makes colors vibrant and vivid with deep blacks. Genshin Impact was an interesting game that I had to play on a tiny phone. The phone did a great job rendering the saturated colors. With a rich contrast between the orange fogs and shadows, the iPhone 13 mini accurately represented the third act of Blade Runner 2049.

Here is a breakdown of how our display testing was performed compared to the Galaxy S21 or iPhone 12 mini.

iPhone 13 Mini Galaxy S21 – Natural iPhone 12 Mini sRGB 117 110 118 DCI-P3 (%) 83 77 83 Delta-E 0.27 0.29 Tested but not yet Nits 788 703 505

The iPhone 13 mini is quite comparable to the iPhone 12 mini, Galaxy S21, and has a slightly higher saturation than Samsung’s. The S21 has a slightly higher Delta-E color accuracy score (where 0 is perfect).

The iPhone 13 mini’s maximum brightness was 788 nits, which is bright enough to be visible outdoors. This is great for photography as you can see your photos even when you are standing in direct sunlight.

iPhone 13 mini review: Cameras

This year, the iPhone 13 mini received several camera upgrades. The 12MP main camera has a larger sensor, which allows in more light. This improves photos in low-light conditions. Apple’s iPhone 12 Pro Max also features sensor-shift optical imaging stabilization. This will make things more stable than traditional OIS.

The 12MP ultrawide camera also features a larger sensor. Autofocus is also available, which can help ensure sharp ultrawide shots.

The Galaxy S21 was brought along to compare Samsung’s best with Apple’s new flagship.

The phones were required to capture the blue chairs and vibrant red doors, white walls, and cloudy sky in this first outdoor shot. The iPhone 13 mini produces a richer image, with brighter colors and a greater sense of depth. The Galaxy S21 appears a little flat and washed out. The images look very similar. However, I believe the iPhone’s image is more true to life.

The iPhone didn’t — there is some lens flare in S21’s photo.

The iPhone 13 mini captured the scene well as it was taken from inside. The iPhone 13 mini was able to handle both natural and artificial lighting while maintaining contrast and shadows. This image captures the mood of the room and gives it an artistic vibe. The Galaxy S21 produced a brighter image than the iPhone’s. However, the Galaxy S21 increased the highlights too much and lost much of its contrast. Although the final image looks somewhat flat, it is not what I saw in that room.

Both phones look almost identical in this indoor shot. The iPhone’s image is warmer, while the S21’s shot is slightly brighter. Both phones captured the scene’s vibe with sharp focus on tree decorations. The iPhone’s photo shows the bright red books at the top of the S21’s picture, but they look more muted in the iPhone’s.

Both phones can be used for portraits. To complement the day’s lighting, the iPhone 13 mini chose a warmer tone. The Galaxy S21 brightened and coolened the final image. The iPhone’s photo is richer and the orange car behind me is more striking. The portrait of the same car in S21’s picture looks a little faded. Both phones achieved near perfect blur radius, even though the S21 used too much face smoothing.

This cool scrap pile of vintage Beetles is perfect for the ultrawide test. The iPhone’s photo has a sharper focus than the S21’s. The color difference is also noticeable. While the iPhone’s photo looks richer, the S21 has a more washed-out look. The iPhone’s photo shows the yellow Beetle looking more alive, while the S21’s pictures show it looking a little too faded. All of this is related to the outdoor section.

As you can see, night mode was quite interesting. The Galaxy S21’s attempt to photograph this smoker in the dead of the night was brighter than that of the iPhone 13 mini. The smoker is clearly visible in the background and you can see more detail. The iPhone’s Night mode, which is very effective in most cases, was not what I expected.

The front-facing cameras of the two phones were compared. The iPhone 13 mini chose a warmer, more gentle tone that highlighted the reds in my clothes and face. The Galaxy S21 coolly brightened my eyes and made them appear brighter. However, it also applied too much face smoothing.

Standard

Rich Contrast

Vibrant

Warm

Cool

Standard

Rich Contrast

Vibrant

Warm

Cool

Standard

Rich Contrast

Vibrant

Warm

Cool

Apple’s new Photographic Styles are now available. These are like real-time filters that come in four presets. You can choose something that suits your taste and then see how it looks when you line up your shot. You can adjust the settings to match your style. This cool feature adjusts the camera settings automatically, instead of waiting for a filter to be applied.

Below is a sample gallery showcasing the standard option as well as the various Photographic Styles.

iPhone 13 mini review: Video

Apple is the leader in video recording on smartphones, and the iPhone 13 series continues that trend. Cinematic mode is the true star of this year’s show. This feature, which is possible thanks to the A15 Bionic’s upgraded Neural Engine, is portrait video on steroids.

Cinematic mode can apply a bokeh effect in your video. It can also dynamically shift focus depending on where your subject or viewer is looking. It is quite impressive to watch in action, and offers a professional and artistic way to record video. The maximum resolution is 1080p at 30 frames per second and all work is done on the device.

Cinematic mode’s true purpose for the average user remains a mystery. I don’t believe you should rush to buy an iPhone 13 mini to access this feature. Although it’s impressive and neat, as well as a great use for the Neural Engine, it does not sell any iPhone 13 models. Apple’s solid strength is still regular video recording.

iPhone 13 mini review: Performance

The iPhone 13 mini has the A15 Bionic system on-chip and a quad-core GPU. It is very powerful. It actually destroys all Android’s best, even the most powerful gaming phones.

The Snapdragon 888 is the fastest Android chip and has struggled to keep up with the A14 Bionic last year.

Below are some benchmarks we ran.

iPhone 13 Mini Galaxy S21 iPhone 12 Mini Geekbench 5 (single / multi-core) 1733 / 4643 1048 / 3302 1602 / 4123 Adobe Premiere Rush (Mins:Secs) 0;27 1:03 0:28 3DMark Wild Life Unlimited (Score/FPS) 10231 / 61 5805 / 35 9804 / 54

The iPhone 13 mini is a long way ahead of the Snapdragon 808-equipped Galaxy S21. The iPhone 12 mini is even better than the iPhone 13 mini, which I would expect from a next-generation chip at this point.

Take, for example, the Adobe Premiere Rush benchmark. This is where a phone can transcode a 4K video file into 1080p as fast as possible. It took the iPhone 13 mini 27 seconds to complete the task, while the Galaxy S21 took more than twice that time.

Other benchmarks, such as the 3DMark Wild Life graphics testing, stress test hardware. The iPhone 12 mini shows a significant improvement, as well as the leap over the Galaxy S21. Geekbench, which measures CPU performance shows a marked difference between Apple devices and Samsung.

The Pro models are more efficient across the board due to their larger GPUs and 50% more RAM. However, the $699 mini is a serious machine and delivers the most bang for your buck.

To see how the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Mini compare, visit our iPhone 13 benchmarks page.

iPhone 13 mini review: Battery life, charging

Apple does not disclose iPhone battery capacities. However, the company did claim that the iPhone 13 mini has a longer battery life than its predecessor. This proved to be true in our testing.

We set the display of a phone to 150 nits, and then asked it to reload pages endlessly over a 5G connection. This is how we tested its battery life. This is how the iPhone 13 mini compares with the Galaxy S21 or iPhone 12 mini.

iPhone 13 Mini Galaxy S21 Adaptive / 60Hz iPhone 12 Mini Battery life (Hrs.Mins) 8:54 6:31 / 9:54 7:28 Recharge percent (15 minutes) 29 30 33 Recharge percent (30 minutes) 58 55 60

An improvement of less than an hour can be seen year-over-year. Still, the iPhone 12 mini’s battery life of seven and a quarter hours is superior to its eight-and-a-half hour battery life.

To see how the iPhone 13 mini compares with other new iPhones, and the best Android phones, visit our iPhone 13 Battery Life results page.

Apple didn’t include a charging cable, which is not surprising. The company did not upgrade the iPhone 13 mini’s charging speed. This kept the phone at 20W maximum wired. MagSafe is still available, and it can charge up to 15W. The iPhone 13 mini should have been more competitive in its charging performance, especially considering other phones push the boundaries of what is possible.

iPhone 13 mini review: Software

The iPhone 13 mini comes with iOS15. This is a major update. The new features include tweaked notifications and FaceTime improvements, Focus mode and FaceTime enhancements, as well as upgrades to core apps like Safari and Notes. We have excellent coverage of iOS 15 already, which I encourage to go over so you can see what’s new.

Apple wants iOS to be as universally accessible across devices as possible. Some older devices may not be able to do certain new features due to hardware limitations. However, iOS 15 on an iPhone 13 mini will work just as well as iOS 15 on an iPhone 12 mini. You can use Face ID with a mask with iOS 15.4.

The iPhone 13 mini’s software experience is pretty much the same as the iPhone 13 version, except for some iPhone 13-specific features such as Cinematic Mode and Photographic Styles. Developers continue to create great apps for Apple’s iPhones. If you’re new to Apple’s iPhone, we recommend downloading the top apps for your new iPhone.

Now that iOS 16 has been officially announced, there’s a lot more to come. Apple has announced many changes to the lock screen, Messages, and other areas. An update to enable Face ID is available to unlock your iPhone 13 mini in landscape view.

iPhone 13 mini known issues

iPhone 13 owners have had to deal with some issues, as is the norm when using a new device. The iPhone 13 models have a problem unlocking the Apple Watch. However, this problem doesn’t seem to affect all users. Apple has acknowledged the issue and a solution is allegedly on the way.

The touch display is also reported to not be responsive in certain cases. However, this could be an iOS 15 issue.

There are a few other issues with the iPhone 13 Pro models. The cameras switch between lenses automatically without warning. Also, the ProMotion display on the iPhone 13 Pros isn’t running at 120Hz when paired with some apps. Apple claims to have addressed both of these issues in an update.

For more information, see our iPhone 13 Problems Roundup (opens in new window)

iPhone 13 mini review: Verdict

The legacy of the iPhone 12 mini is carried on with the iPhone 13 mini. This is the most compact phone that you can buy and surpasses anything Android has to offer. This phone is great for those who prefer smaller handsets. It would be appreciated by a few people, I’m sure.

(Image credit: Tom’s Guide)

The iPhone 13 mini’s design isn’t much different, but it’s still an attractive device. Even though Apple doesn’t make the most of the extra screen space, I like the smaller notch.

What I don’t like is the inability to get fast, competitive charging or biometric authentication that works with facial masks. This is a huge missed opportunity. Despite all the improvements to the iPhone 13 mini, they don’t eliminate the inconvenience of having to type my PIN in public and then again for Apple Pay.

The iPhone 12 mini is the best phone for you. I do not recommend upgrading to the iPhone 13 mini. If you are coming from an older model and need a smaller phone, this is the best option.

According to rumors, the iPhone 14 won’t get another mini model. Instead, we will be getting an iPhone 14 Max that is the same size and specs as the iPhone 13 Pro Max. The iPhone 13 mini is likely to remain the best-selling small iPhone in the future.

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