Reviews are out of the iPhone 12 Mini and while it is the smol phone to beat (Wired), the shortened battery life is a compromise. Which starts a whole new conversation.
Not all reviews have been worried by it, and not all reviews see it as more than a middling problem. It’s worth knowing about, but it’s part of the laws of physics to an extent: smaller area, smaller battery, less battery life:
- Joanna Stern: “I haven’t loved an iPhone size this much since the iPhone 5. It’s just too bad about that battery life.” (WSJ).
- Engadget says the same: “I love this phone, but I can’t trust its battery.”
- The Verge describes the battery life of the iPhone 12 Mini as below average: “I don’t want to sugarcoat it nor be overly dire about it, but the battery life on the iPhone 12 mini is noticeably worse than on the iPhone 12, which itself was a step down from the battery-champ iPhone 11. For me, it’s good enough, but it does mean I’m already using it differently than I use bigger phones.”
- And trying to offer a view is Daring Fireball: “Yes, I noticed battery life on the Mini wasn’t quite as good as on the 12 and 12 Pro (and the 11 Pro I used for a year, and the XS I’d used the year before that). But I wouldn’t hesitate for a second to buy a 12 Mini for this reason. Battery life on the Mini is, at worst, good enough.”
My take is that it’s probably going to be fine for people who want a small phone, but it’ll be a nightly charge. But the point I want to make here is that I might be wrong. I said this in the DGiT Monthly, looking at how the iPhone SE has driven Android to respond, and that the iPhone 12 Mini will as well:
People want flagships, but don’t always want the max specs to be the max sized phone. Why not great specs in the compact version, too?
- Well, the reason is battery life. It’s always been battery life.
- I now firmly believe that many Android makers have been going for bigger smartphones not because they think consumers are loving the creeping size increase, touching on the 7-inch size for phones like the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra and the S20 Ultra, at 6.-9 inch.
- The OnePlus 8 Pro is 6.78-inches, the Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro is 6.67-inches.
- Again, I bet these smartphone makers would love to offer a slightly smaller phone, but the engineers can’t feasibly do it. That leaves the problem to the marketers, to push the big-display-is-best-and-beautiful arguments.
- I mean, you just can’t buy an Android flagship with full-fat specs anywhere near the iPhone 12 Mini’s 5.4-inches that no doubt feels good in the hand. The Samsung Galaxy S10e was acclaimed for the 5.8-inch size, while the Pixel 4a is also that 5.8-inch.
- But none of these offer (nor the Pixel 5) the latest specs and 5G. Apple does.
- It’s possible only Apple, with uber-tight control of its hardware and software, can even offer full-day battery life, that leaves reviewers underwhelmed, but not slamming it at all.
- Until 2021, maybe, when the new flagship chipsets, like the Qualcomm Snapdragon 875, might be able to reduce compromises by integrating the modem, offering more power with more power efficiency, and give more internal space to phone makers to increase the battery size, without getting it done by simply increasing the size of the phone.
- The heat is on.