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iPhone 13 Mini: Apple's latest pocket rocket promises to be small but mighty

The smaller sibling to the iPhone 13 packs the A15 Bionic chip and Apple's latest dual-camera system.

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The iPhone 13 and 13 Mini offer the same specs despite their size difference.

Apple

Big, bold phone screens are a must-have on many people's dream-phone wish list, but they aren't for everyone. In recognition of this, Apple unveiled the iPhone 13 Mini alongside its larger flagship phones, updated iPads and Apple Watch on Tuesday during its annual September launch event. With a 5.4-inch display and Apple's A15 Bionic chip, this phone may be the perfect option for those looking to upgrade from an iPhone SE, or perhaps anyone wanting to switch to a more compact device.

When Apple announced the iPhone 12 Mini last year, it showed us that the company can make smaller phones without compromising on specs -- truly tucking excellence into a tiny package. It's a strategy Apple seems determined to continue pursuing, even as it upgrades the phone's internal tech. The iPhone 13 Mini is a testament to this.

Read more: CNET's iPhone 13, 13 Mini, 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max reviews

The smallest of Apple's 2021 handsets will offer users an almost identical experience to the iPhone 13, with matching chipset, screen and camera. That means the same A15 Bionic chip and same dual-camera system on the rear, now with the cameras arranged diagonally. The notch that houses the TrueDepth camera system on the front of the phone is 20% smaller than it was on last year's model too.

According to Apple, that A15 Bionic chip is the fastest CPU in any phone. With 15 billion transistors and a 6-core CPU, we're excited to see whether it turns the iPhone 13 Mini into the true pocket rocket it appears to be on paper.

Many people on the hunt for a new phone will be keen to know whether they can expect the device's camera to deliver results, and it looks like in the case of the iPhone 13 Mini it will. This generation's imaging system includes an improved 12-megapixel camera with a better ultrawide lens and a sensor that can gather 47% more light for less noise and brighter results. Sensor-shift optical image stabilization, a feature we first saw on last year's iPhone 12 Pro Max, will now also be built into the Mini's camera and should ensure shots are more steady.

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It's likely the iPhone 13 Mini will be set apart from its larger sibling only in terms of battery capacity -- though Apple doesn't disclose official battery specs, so it's hard to know for sure. But the company has confirmed the battery is bigger on these latest iPhones than their predecessors, promising an extra 1.5 hours of battery life on the iPhone 13 Mini than on the iPhone 12 Mini.

As with the iPhone 12 Mini, the iPhone 13 Mini also offers support for MagSafe charging and 5G. The phone will ship with the latest version of Apple's mobile operating system, iOS 15, which was announced at the company's WWDC event earlier this summer and will be available to everyone starting Monday.

When it comes to storage, the iPhone Mini 13 will be available in 128GB, 256GB and 512GB versions. This marks an end to the 64GB storage option, which no longer meets the requirements of phone users in 2021. Prices for the iPhone Mini 13 will depend which storage capacity you opt for, but will start at $699. You'll also be able to choose from five new colors: pink, blue, midnight (black), starlight (white) and red.

If you're keen on smaller phones, it's worth noting now that this could be the last Mini we see from Apple. According to a July report from Nikkei Asian Review, Apple won't be introducing an iPhone 14 Mini next year due to the lower demand for its smaller models than its bigger phones. This is definitely something to bear in mind if you're wondering whether to upgrade this year or wait for next year's lineup. You'll be able to preorder the iPhone 13 Mini starting Friday, and it'll be available beginning Sept. 24.