The iPhone 13 Mini is the smallest device under the 15th-generation iPhone or iPhone 13 line of iOS smartphones from Apple. Both the company and several reviewers have claimed that it is the most powerful small phone launched in 2021 and remain one of the most capable devices in 2022. There are some truths to this claim.
Pros of iPhone 13 Mini: Reasons Why You Should Buy
1. Equipped with the Apple A15 Bionic Chip
The A15 Bionic system-on-chip powers the entire iPhone 13 line of smartphones, as well as the 6th-generation iPad Mini or the iPad Mini 6, and the 3rd-generation iPhone SE or iPhone SE 2022. It is one of the fastest and most efficient integrated chips introduced in 2021.
Apple designed the A15 Bionic based on the 5nm fabrication process to increase its transistor density to improve the performance of the central processing unit or CPU, the integrated graphics processing unit or CPU, and other hardware components such as the Neural Engine, image signal processor. It specifically has 15 billion transistors.
Hence, performance is one of the major advantages of the iPhone 13 Mini, especially when compared to other the previous iPhone 12 Mini and the iPhone 11, as well as mid-range to flagship-grade Android smartphones from other manufacturers.
This device has a 6-core CPU with two high-performance “Avalanche” cores and four power-efficient “Blizzard” cores. It also has a 4-core integrated GPU, as well as a 16-core Neural Engine capable of performing 15.8 trillion operations per second.
Results from AnTuTu benchmark test showed a score of 839366. This score is somewhat higher than the mid-range Meizu 18s Pro and Xiaomi 11T Pro Android smartphones. It also has a single-core score of 1758 and a multi-core score of 4859 via GeekBench 5. These figures are higher than the single-core and multi-core scores of the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro.
2. Capable Device for Above-Average Mobile Gaming
Remember that one of the notable strengths of the iPhone 13 Mini is the A15 Bionic chip. The combined capabilities of the 6-core CPU and 4-core integrated GPU make it a decent smartphone for an above-average mobile gaming experience.
The system-on-a-chip enables this phone to run popular game titles such as Mobile Legends, PUBG, Call of Duty Mobile, and Genshin Impact, among others, as well as premium game titles from Apple Arcade such as NBA 2K21 Arcade Edition and Star Trek: Legends, with relative ease compared to most mid-range Android smartphones.
It can also run most game titles from gaming streaming services such as on-the-cloud titles from Apple Arcade and Xbox Cloud Gaming. This capability comes from both the CPU and GPU, as well as the decent wireless technologies used in this smartphone.
Note that the battery life is better than the iPhone 12 Mini and the iPhone SE 2022. Longer battery life translates to longer mobile gaming time. The phone can last an average of about three hours on a single charge under medium or average game settings.
The base model also starts at 128GB and the highest-end model has a storage capacity of up to 512GB. Apple has upped the base capacity of its iPhone to cater to the growing needs of consumers and the prevailing norms in standard application size. A higher storage capacity allows users to store more apps and game titles.
3. Advanced Camera Features and Functionalities
The device has two 12-megapixel rear cameras and one 12-megapixel front camera. The main camera on the rear has a sensor-shift stabilization for stabilizing photos and a larger sensor that uses technology from Sony. The secondary 12-megapixel rear camera has 14mm and 2.4 f-stops designed for taking ultrawide photos.
Regarding the front camera, it is identical to the one found on the iPhone 12 Mini. It has a 23mm lens with a 2.2 f-stop. It also functions as a three-dimensional scanner to support the Apple Face ID unlocking the phone and biometrics security through face recognition.
All three camera systems support recoding of video of up to 4K at 60 frames per second. They also support built-in video recording features such as the Expanded Dynamic Range and Dolby Vision HDR. Note that the Cinematic Mode feature is available only for both the main rear camera and the front selfie camera.
Cinematic Mode is a new feature introduced in the iPhone 13 line of iOS devices that uses computational photography that allows recording of video with a shallow depth of field and automatically adds elegant focus transitions between subjects.
The three cameras also take advantage of the built-in image signal processor of the A15 Bionic Chip. Hence, it supports legacy camera features such as Smart HDR for taking clearer and vibrant photos, Night Mode for use during low-light situations, and Deep Fusion.
4. Small Size Perfect for A Particular Segment or Niche
Smartphones have become bigger due to the demand for larger screens for a more immersive user experience and content consumption. But the fact remains that there are people who struggle with using and carrying around big devices.
The smaller form factor of the iPhone 13 Mini is definitely one of its advantages and unique selling propositions. This device is ideal for individuals who have smaller hands or those who seldom carry a relatively large bag. In addition, for nearsighted individuals, the smaller screen 5.4-inch Super Retina display based on OLED remains viewable.
It is also important to reiterate the fact that the A15 Bionic chip means that consumers do not need to opt for a big smartphone for big power. The central processing and graphics processing capabilities, as well as the camera feature, Neural Engine, and image signal processor make this device one of the best compact smartphones in the market.
This device is also relatively more affordable than the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Max. It falls under the mid-range to high-end smartphone category. But its impressive hardware specifications make it a more powerful device than the iPhone SE and mid-range Android devices.
Cons of iPhone 13 Mini: Reasons Why You Should Not Buy
1. Underwhelming Compared With the iPhone 13 Pro
The disadvantages of the iPhone 13 Mini will surface once it is compared to the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max, as well as flagship-grade Android smartphones such as the Samsung S21 Ultra and the Xiaomi Mi 11 Pro and the mid-range Samsung Galaxy S21 FE.
Results from GFX Manhattan ES 3.1 showed that it scored 150 points compared to the 181 points of the iPhone 13 Pro. It also scored 107 points from GFX Car Chase ES 3.1 compared to the 119 points of its Pro counterpart. These differences in scores are not far apart from each other. But they also define certain real-world applications.
For example, while it is true that this device can decently run popular mobile game titles, playing these games at maximum stings can result in noticeable frame drops, stutters, and heating issues. The iPhone 13 Pro and top-tier Android smartphones, as well as dedicated gaming smartphones, are more capable and stable mobile gaming devices.
Hardcore gamers would find this device unideal because of the limits of its overall processing capabilities. Tests on resource-intensive titles such as Genshin Impact revealed noticeable frame drops. Players would not be able to run the game at maxed-out settings
The somewhat underwhelming performance of the iPhone 13 Mini, especially when compared to its Pro siblings, comes from the fact that it only has a 4-core GPU. Note that both the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max sport a 6-core integrated GPU.
2. Disadvantages of the Small Form Factor and Display
It is true that a small smartphone is ideal for a certain segment of the market or niche. However, more people still prefer bigger phones with bigger screen displays. Bigger devices provide a more immersive content consumption experience. Hence, they are ideal for streaming videos, reading articles or text-based content, or playing mobile game titles.
The small form factor of the iPhone 13 Mini can feel cramped at times. This issue is similar to the disadvantage of the iPhone SE 2022. Reading texts or browsing through social media and websites can be a problem for people with vision problems.
Furthermore, it will also be difficult to accomplish productivity-related tasks on this device because of its small 5.4-inch screen. Examples include writing long texts such as documents and even short-form articles, editing photos or images, and editing videos, among others.
The aforesaid issues are critical for people who are farsighted or have hyperopia. These individuals see clearer and better at a relatively long distance. They would have a hard time reading texts or viewing content on smaller phones or devices with smaller screens. The overall user experience can also be taxing for them.
3. Other Issues and Limitations of the iPhone 13 Mini
Another disadvantage of the iPhone 13 Mini is that it has a limited battery life, especially when compared to the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max, as well as most mid-range to flagship-grade Android smartphones. It has a battery capacity of 2406mAh.
The battery capacity might sound enough but this is only true for devices manufactured and introduced six to seven years ago. Apps have become resource-intensive and the use-cases of smartphones have evolved. In addition, the A15 Bionic is a powerful system-on-chip that requires power to maximize its performance advantages.
Note that mid-range Android smartphones have between 400mAh to 5000maAh or more battery capacity. They can last on an average of 10 to 12 hours of screen time under a single charge. Considering the price tag of the iPhone 13 Mini in comparison to its battery performance, it is safe to say that it remains a relatively expensive product.
It Is also important to highlight the fact that the normal refresh rate of mid-range to flagship-grade smartphones is between 90Hz to 120Hz. Note that the Pro line of the iPhone 13 has an adaptive screen using the ProMotion technology.
Those who have shifted from Android devices with a higher refresh rate would definitely find the 60Hz refresh rate of the iPhone 13 Mini a deal-breaker. Smartphones running at below 90Hz refresh rate feel slow, and the overall user experience will feel outdated. This might be a notable reason why people should not buy this device.
iPhone 13 Review Verdict: Reasons Why You Should or Should Not Buy
Individuals who want to get the full iOS experience and maximize the power and capabilities of the A15 Bionic chip on a small device would find the iPhone 13 Mini appealing. Both the hardware and software features of this device provide enough reasons to buy it.
However, power-users, especially those who are into hardcore gaming or use their smartphones in productivity-intensive use cases might find this smartphone underwhelming. The small form factor is also a deal-breaker for those with vision problems.