If you’re in the market for a new phone and want one that won’t give you a chronic case of scroller thumb, or take up all the room in your bag – we love a tiny bag but the struggle is real – then you should seriously consider Apple's latest dinky option.
After trying it out for a week, we think the little iPhone 13 mini may just be the sleeper hit from this year’s Apple lineup – we’re loving its improved battery life, increased storage and revamped cameras. And the fact you can comfortably use it one-handed is a major plus (one that hopefully involves dropping your phone far less).
Who’ll love it
The appeal here is all about the size, so anyone wanting a smaller gadget is going to be thrilled with the form factor. It’s also the best value model from the new range, with all the same features but a price of £679 compared to the full-size 13’s £779. If you’re after other smaller phones from Apple’s range, you’re looking at either the cheap SE or the 12 mini – the SE looks outdated and last year’s mini battery won’t cut it. So, if you’re after flagship performance and a better screen in a tiny body – the 13 mini is the one to pick.
The new colours
At a glance, you’d be pretty hard-pressed to tell the difference between the new iPhone 13 and 13 mini and their 2020 counterparts. But we know if you’re on a contract you’ve probably still got an older iPhone XR or 11, so if you’re upgrading from one of those models you’ll notice the squared-edge design is back (just like the 2013 iPhone 4).
We’re not saying you should choose a phone for its colour, but how it looks out of its case still matters. You can pick the latest ones in red, blue, “Midnight” (a super dark blue that isn’t too different from black), a new pink shade, or what Apple calls “Starlight” (basically a bit of a silver/gold mix).
Whether it’s mostly for Instagram, capturing special moments or just documenting every mundane event in our lives, our phone cameras are in constant use and the biggest thing to consider when it comes to an upgrade. Apple’s added a few features to help you master the art of phone photography this time around, including bigger lenses that gather 40% more light, stabilisation to counteract shaky hands (no more blurry photos on nights out) and better performance in darkly lit places to leave you with better night-shot snaps.
Apple’s also thrown in a “photographic styles” feature that puts a pre-approved filter on your photos without the need to edit them, all while preserving skin tones. It’s ideal if you know you need a bit more vibrance or warmth in your shots for a consistent aesthetic. We put the camera to the test and found it’s possible to get some great shots, although there’s still a weird artificial halo around subjects shot in the soft background “portrait” mode.
Taking videos to the next level?
Cameras aren’t just for photos, and this year there are improvements to its video capabilities too. The new "cinematic" video mode is designed to make your movies look a bit more professional, whether you’re a TikTok obsessive or after that Hollywood-esque look. It’s basically a “portrait” mode for your videos that’ll give them soft blurry backgrounds and the ability to shift focus between people in the frame. It’s a fun effect, and we think it’ll make the most difference if you’re shooting TikToks or want to make your Instagram Stories stand out from the crowd.
Also, if you’ve found your phone quickly gets full of snaps and apps, you’ll be happy to see that the standard storage has doubled compared to last year, which means you’ve got a full 128GB and that’s a lot of room for the videos you’ll want to save – it now goes up to a 512GB size too, enough for over a hundred HD movies.
Bigger batteries are better
When it comes to usability, the one thing that matters above everything else is battery life. What’s the point of a phone if it can’t last for hours of Netflix, TikTok and YouTube, along with messaging and Spotify? Last year, the consensus was that the 12 mini simply didn’t have enough juice to last through a day of normal use. Apple only promised 15 hours of life with that phone, though, and this one has an increased 17 hours.
We’ve found it more than lasts for a day of regular use – including a lot of time on social apps – and found it typically drained to around 10% to 20% by bedtime. These days most of us are pretty used to carrying a little portable charger with us, and that may still be a good. idea. If you want a phone that can manage a lengthy binge-watch session, this won’t last as long as the standard iPhone 13.
Hold onto your charger – Apple doesn’t put one in the box anymore so you don’t want to be caught out without one. And it’s worth knowing that you can’t increase the storage with a memory card like you can on some Androids.
The bottom line
Rolling with an iPhone 12 or 12 mini? You can probably skip this year’s updates. But, if you held off on upgrading last year and want a smaller phone with all the latest features, we’d say this is the one to grab. We love how few compromises there are with the iPhone 13 mini and think it’s an ideal pocketable option for anyone finding their current phone just a little too big. That said, if you’re at all worried about the battery life and are concerned it won’t keep up with your several hours of scrolling TikTok every day, it might be best to go with the bigger iPhone 13.
iPhone 13 mini key info
Screen size: 5.4 inches
Resolution: 2340 x 1080
Cameras: 2 x rear cameras (12MP wide-angle and 12MP ultra-wide angle) 12MP (wide) front camera
Storage space: 128GB, 256GB or 512GB
Battery life: Up to 17 hours
Memory card slot: No
Colours: Red, blue, pink, “Midnight” and “Starlight”
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