A high-quality iPhone in a small package: that is the iPhone 13 mini. In this iPhone 13 mini review we put the smallest iPhone of this year in the spotlight. How did we get through the first weeks with the compact device?
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This is the iPhone 13 mini review
On the iPhonededitors are the complete iPhone 13 series: four iPhones in various shapes, sizes and colors, each even more beautiful than the other. The iPhone 13 Pro, with the super-smooth screen and a camera that you can even take macro photos with, and the iPhone 13 in a cool shade of pink. Or the 6.7-inch iPhone 13 Pro Max, for people who want the largest possible iPhone. At the other end of the spectrum is the 5.4 inch iPhone 13 mini. This is the iPhone for everyone who wants it as small as possible.
As a result, you sometimes miss some functions that are exclusive to the larger models. But a compact iPhone that can be operated with one hand, where you don’t have to stretch your thumb to touch the other side of the screen, and that you can easily put in your pocket: you make some concessions for that, don’t you? Time for the review.
Table of contents iPhone 13 mini review
Would you rather watch? Check out the video review above!
The design is slightly different
The iPhone 13 mini feels largely identical to the iPhone 12 mini. That is not surprising, because the design and size are the same. There are some differences, but at the level of detail. The biggest difference is in the camera: the two lenses are now arranged diagonally, previously they were placed under each other.
If you’re hoping you can reuse a case from your 12 mini for the 13 mini, we’ll have to disappoint you. Despite the identical size, it does not fit. The case sways in the corner where the camera is. That is also because the camera island is a bit coarser, just like the lenses. When we peel the iPhone out of its case again, it creaks terribly – but it’s going well, it’s a robust device.
The other difference is the notch: the notch at the top of the screen is twenty percent smaller. In practice this turns out to be negligible. Apple could have saved itself the trouble: people who don’t appreciate the ‘snack’ will not give in.
What a camera
It’s the biggest change in appearance from the iPhone 13 mini: the camera lenses (a wide-angle and an ultra-wide-angle camera) are larger and in a diagonal arrangement. There are new sensors in it, which ensure that more light and details are captured. But let’s be honest: if the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 photos end up side by side in your photo library, it’s a bit of searching for the differences.
More notable are the new ‘Photographic Styles’. These are like filters, but more subtle: they adjust the hue and warmth of the photo, but leave specific areas of the photo untouched. This keeps the sky and skin tones looking natural. The default settings are ‘Rich Contrast’, ‘Vivid’, ‘Warm’ and ‘Cool’.
Via the sliders at the bottom you can still adjust the hue and the warmth, resulting in hybrids such as ‘Lively cool’ and ‘Rich warm’. The problem with the filters is that you have to activate them beforehand and cannot undo them afterwards. The effects are nice, but sometimes you might want to go back to the default setting.
Movie mode is a gimmick
The gimmick of the new iPhone 13 series is the Movie Mode (Cinematic Mode). It is similar to portrait mode, but for video. The object or person in the foreground comes into focus, the background is blurred. Does something important happen in the background? Then that comes into focus and the foreground is blurred. This happens almost automatically. If it is not correct, you can adjust the focus yourself afterwards.
The Movie mode is impressive at times, especially if there is only one main subject in the video. Shifts in focus are sometimes a bit abrupt, especially if there are more. Then you sometimes have to deal with artifacts in the image. What doesn’t help is that you record in 1080p at 30 frames per second. All in all, it is reminiscent of the Portrait mode in 2016: the Movie mode is especially promising, but not necessarily a big addition.
The screen of the iPhone 13 mini has been renewed. It has a maximum brightness of 800 nits, compared to 625 nits last year. You will definitely notice the difference outside in the sun. One aspect of the display shines through its absence. The iPhone 13 Pro (Max) now has ProMotion technology: an adaptive refresh rate of up to 120Hz. The iPhone 13 mini ‘just’ has an OLED screen with a refresh rate that gets stuck at 60Hz.
On the Pro models, the visuals should be smoother and the iPhone should be more responsive. But if we put the mini and the Pro side by side and perform the exact same actions, we notice little difference at first glance.
Only when we scroll through a piece of text on both devices, you see it clearly. On the Pros, the text remains intact while scrolling, on the Mini it gets blurrier and some jumps. You have to scroll so fast that the text is unreadable anyway.
If you’ve never used a ProMotion screen, you won’t miss it on the 13 mini either. Just like with the Apple Watch perhaps: even if you never needed an always-on screen, after a while you miss it enormously. In that regard, Apple does not make it attractive for Android switchers, where 120Hz is already much more common.
A much better battery
We have little to complain about the performance of the iPhone 13 mini. We set up new focus notifications, open apps in quick succession and edit a video. That all goes quickly and smoothly, because the A15 Bionic chip (which is also present in its more expensive Pro brothers) is super fast. Yet we notice very little difference with the previous model, because the A14 of the iPhone 12 mini is still powerful enough.
Apart from the camera, there is not much exciting and news to discover about the brand new iPhone. There is much more difference between an iPhone 12 with iOS 14 and the same iPhone 12 with iOS 15 than between the iPhone 12 (or even the iPhone 11) and iPhone 13. There is much more to experiment with the new software than with the new hardware. If Apple has a budget for innovation, the majority of that went to team iOS this year, and team iPhone comes out on top.
Yet at the end of the day there is still one big difference compared to the predecessor: the battery life has improved considerably. With normal use, we often had tens of percent left when we went to sleep. That’s good news, because last year’s iPhone 12 mini had a very poor battery life. That is why this is secretly one of the most important improvements of the iPhone 13 mini.
Conclusion iPhone 13 mini review
Compared to the iPhone 12 mini, the iPhone 13 mini is not very innovative. Apple might as well have called the device the iPhone 12s mini. However, the iPhone 13 mini is a bit better: the camera has some nice functions and the battery is now perfectly fine. If you have an iPhone XS or older and are ready for something new, a switch is definitely worth it. The size and price also mean that you literally and figuratively do not need deep pockets for this device.
Buy iPhone 13 mini
Do you want the iPhone 13 mini after reading this review? The device has a suggested retail price of 809 euros. That is for the model with 128GB of internal storage. Variants with 256GB (929 euros) and 512GB (1159 euros) are also available. The best offers can be found via the price comparison below: