I pick up the latest iPhone every year, just like I do with the iPad Pro. One could argue the necessity of that, but my excuse is that I work with these things. In pre-pandemic times, that was extra true because I did a lot of video with a setup centred around my iPhone 11 Pro. These days, not so much…
Which suits me fine because when the iPhone 12 models dropped, I could easily go for the one I wanted, namely the iPhone 12 mini.
Here’s the thing: Phones are too big. They’ve been too big for too long. I want a small phone in my pocket, not a brick that are pushing the limits of my jeans. It’s been a bit of a journey getting to that conclusion. When iPhone 7 launched, I picked up one of each, and ended up using the Plus (larger) version because of it being such a great device for reading. It’s the only phone (thus far) that I’ve dropped and cracked the screen on, so when I swapped it, I swapped it to the regular size, and though I was done with big slippery slabs of glass.
Not so. The iPhone XS Max seemed like a promising tool. Smaller in size than the previous Plus sized models, but with a larger screen, it had everything I liked from the iPhone 7 Plus, but better. And it was — is — better in every way, just not good enough. Too big, too bulky, and I guess my habits had changed because a lot of the reading I used to do on the iPhone 7 Plus now lived in a Kindle (Oasis, nicer on the eyes in the dark) or an iPad. I did use it a lot, the XS Max, for things that it did better than smaller models due to its screen size.
Who am I kidding, I literally picked the Max size because I hoped The Elder Scrolls: Blades wouldn’t suck. (It didn’t, but it wasn’t particularly fun either.)
The iPhone 11 Pro has been an amazing device. My only gripe with it is its size.
Enter the mini
There are many of us that think that iPhone design peaked with the iPhone 5/5S form factor. Sharp edges, cold to the touch, small and light. I think if they launched an iPhone of that size today, many would think they’d want it, but soon come to realize that the screen is a bit on the small side.
Enter the iPhone 12 mini, a brilliant compromise. Thanks to the new form factor of screens, covering most of the body, you can get a lot of pixels on a smaller device. That’s what we’ve got here, a smaller body compared to the normal-sized iPhones, and that’s all I really wanted.
But then they went and adopted the sharp edges of the iPad Pro (and the new iPad Air), which in turn is akin to the iPhone 5/5S form factor, and it just feels perfect to me. Muscle memory messed with my head for a bit though because I reached for the top button (from the iPhone 5/5S) multiple times, even though the iPhone 12 mini is larger than the 5/5S by far. It’s how it feels in the hand. I couldn’t be happier.
This is not a review
I think the iPhone 12 mini feels like the perfect phone. It’s fast, has a nice screen size (I could go even smaller though), sits well in my admittedly huge hands. I can type on it with one hand, but it’s large enough to work for dual-thumbs too, which is something I use when having to type large amounts of text. I could write a novel on this one, too.
The cameras are snappy and good. I miss the Pro setup though, and if I’ll be working with those sorts of things after the pandemic is over, I’ll have to get another device. The screen size makes the 12 mini less ideal for reading, it’s noticeable coming from 11 Pro. I read less on it, but I was moving that to the iPad anyway.
The iPhone 12 mini makes me wish for a new iPad mini with the Pro/Air form factor. That’d put my setup at:
- iPhone 12 mini (everyday carry)
- iPad mini (reading, entertainment)
- iPad Pro 12.9” (production, entertainment)
I’d like that a lot. A variation of it would be to slot in an iPhone 12 Pro Max instead of the iPad mini, but even I think that’s pushing it, financially. It’d be a helluva overpowered pocketbook though…
Which iPhone 12 should you get?
For once, this is pretty easy:
- If you, like me, think that iPhone design peaked with the 5/5S form factor, and you want a small phone, then get the iPhone 12 mini.
- If you want a normal-sized phone but don’t feel like paying for premium cameras, get the regular iPhone 12.
- If you want a kick-ass camera but still a reasonably sized phone, get the iPhone 12 Pro.
- If cameras is everything, get the iPhone 12 Pro Max — and a bigger pair of pants.
Or don’t bow down to consumption and stick with the phone you’ve got, because chances are it’s more than enough to keep you mesmerized by cat videos.