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iPhone 12 Mini vs. iPhone 12: Inside that $100 price difference

The smallest member of the new iPhone 12 family will appeal to value-minded buyers.

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Marguerite_Reardon.jpg
Marguerite Reardon Former senior reporter
Marguerite Reardon started as a CNET News reporter in 2004, covering cellphone services, broadband, citywide Wi-Fi, the Net neutrality debate and the consolidation of the phone companies.
Marguerite Reardon
2 min read
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Apple introduced the iPhone 12 Mini at its Tuesday event.

Apple; screenshot by CNET.

At a virtual event last week, Apple unveiled four models in its iPhone 12 lineup, including the iPhone 12 Mini, a new member of its flagship iPhone family that's smaller and less expensive than its siblings. The Mini screen measures 5.4 inches, with a price starting at $699 (£699, AU$1,199). The regular iPhone 12, meanwhile, features a 6.1-inch display and costs $100 more, starting at $799. Preorders for the iPhone 12 (and iPhone 12 Pro) have already begun, with the Pro Max and Mini going on presale Nov. 6.

The Mini is a new variant in the growing iPhone product line, which in the last few years has added the Pro and Max monikers to better differentiate the options. Apple has been steadily expanding its core iPhone franchise to address a wider variety of consumers, from the enthusiast with loads of disposable income to someone looking for a more budget-friendly choice. 

Read more: All 4 iPhone 12 models compared: Differences between iPhone 12, Pro, Pro Max and Mini

The iPhone 12 Mini could prove to be a popular option during the coronavirus pandemic, a time when millions of Americans are out of work and the uncertain economy has fewer people willing to spend nearly $1,000 on a new phone. 

Though this is a first for the iPhone line, Apple has previously used the Mini name for its iPad Mini, Mac Mini and iPod Mini (when standalone MP3 players were still a thing). 

The likely appeal of the iPhone 12 Mini will be its compact size -- though it's not quite as small as the iPhone SE (2020), which measures 4.7 inches -- and the fact that the device still manages to pack in much of the functionality of its bigger iPhone 12 siblings. 

The $100 savings could make it a hit among value-oriented consumers, who can get much of the same functionality of a new iPhone 12, including 5G, an OLED display and a faster processor, without the hefty price tag. What's more, the compact size is a design that slips easily into your pocket. 

Still, the iPhone 12 Mini doesn't have everything some of the bigger and more expensive new iPhones offer. Those wanting a bigger device with advanced features, such as an improved telephoto camera, a larger sensor for better low-light performance, and new abilities to fuse multiple frames into one shot, will go for the iPhone 12 Pro or the iPhone Pro Max, also announced on Tuesday.

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Watch this: iPhone 12 Mini: Small phone, big potential

But the iPhone 12 Mini's size, price tag and features, put it in direct competition with other value-friendly smartphones, such as the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE, the Google Pixel 5 and Pixel 4A 5G

Preorders for the iPhone 12 Mini begin on Friday, Nov. 6, with a release date of Nov. 13.

iPhone 12, 12 Mini, 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max specs


Apple iPhone 12Apple iPhone 12 MiniApple iPhone 12 ProApple iPhone 12 Pro Max
Display size, resolution 6.1-inch OLED; 2,532x1,170 pixels5.4-inch OLED; 2,340x1,080 pixels6.1-inch OLED; 2,532x1,170 pixels6.7-inch OLED; 2,778x1,284 pixels
Pixel density 460ppi476ppi460ppi458ppi
Dimensions (inches) 5.78 x 2.82 x 0.29 in.5.18 x 2.53 x 0.29 in.5.78 x 2.82 x 0.29 in.6.33 x 3.07 x 0.29 in.
Dimensions (millimeters) 146.7 x 71.5 x 7.4mm131.5 x 64.2 x 7.4mm146.7 x 71.5 x 7.4mm160.8 x 78.1 x 7.4mm
Weight (ounces, grams) 5.78 oz.; 164g4.76 oz.; 135g6.66 oz.; 189g8.03 oz.; 228g
Mobile software iOS 14iOS 14iOS 14iOS 14
Camera 12-megapixel (wide), 12-megapixel (ultra-wide)12-megapixel (wide), 12-megapixel (ultra-wide)12-megapixel (wide), 12-megapixel (ultra-wide), 12-megapixel (telephoto)12-megapixel (wide), 12-megapixel (ultra-wide), 12-megapixel (telephoto)
Front-facing camera 12-megapixel12-megapixel12-megapixel12-megapixel
Video capture 4K4K4K4K
Processor Apple A14 BionicApple A14 BionicApple A14 BionicApple A14 Bionic
Storage 64GB, 128GB, 256GB64GB, 128GB, 256GB128GB, 256GB, 512GB128GB, 256GB, 512GB
RAM UndisclosedUndisclosedUndisclosedUndisclosed
Expandable storage NoNoNoNo
Battery Undisclosed; Apple lists 15 hours of video playbackUndisclosed; Apple lists 15 hours of video playbackUndisclosed; Apple lists 17 hours of video playbackUndisclosed; Apple lists 17 hours of video playback
Fingerprint sensor No (FaceID)No (FaceID)No (FaceID)No (FaceID)
Connector LightningLightningLightningLightning
Headphone jack NoNoNoNo
Special features 5G enabled; MagSafe; water resistant (IP68); wireless charging; dual-SIM capabilities (nano-SIM and e-SIM) 5G enabled; MagSafe; water resistant (IP68); wireless charging; dual-SIM capabilities (nano-SIM and e-SIM) Lidar scanner; 5G enabled; MagSafe; water resistant (IP68); wireless charging; dual-SIM capabilities (nano-SIM and e-SIM) Lidar scanner; 5G enabled; MagSafe; water resistant (IP68); wireless charging; dual-SIM capabilities (nano-SIM and e-SIM)
Price off-contract (USD) $829 (64GB), $879 (128GB), $979 (256GB)$729 (64GB), $779 (128GB), $879 (256GB)$999 (128GB), $1,099 (256GB), $1,299 (512GB)$1,099 (128GB), $1,199 (256GB), $1,399 (512GB)
Price (GBP) £799 (64GB), £849 (128GB), £949 (256GB)£699 (64GB), £749 (128GB), £849 (256GB)£999 (128GB), £1,099 (256GB), £1,299 (512GB)£1,099 (128GB), £1,199 (256GB), £1,399 (512GB)
Price (AUD) AU$1,349 (64GB), AU$1,429 (128GB), AU$1,599 (256GB)AU$1,199 (64GB), AU$1,279 (128GB), AU$1,449 (256GB)AU$1,699 (128GB), AU$1,869 (256GB), AU$2,219 (512GB)AU$1,849 (128GB), AU$2,019 (256GB), AU$2,369 (512GB)