Last year we set out to investigate just who the iPhone 12 Mini and iPhone 12 Pro were for. What we discovered was a laundry list of things we’d like to see changed on the new iPhone 13 series. Well, we’ve been using these new phones or over half a year now, are they finally worth buying?
The gist of it
Battery life on the iPhone 13 Mini was one of the things I was most curious about. While I loved the size and performance of its predecessor, the battery left a lot to be desired. By the end of my review period it was barely getting through a day, and I suspected that it would only get worse as we transition out of lockdown.
As a result, I was hoping for a noticeable improvement in battery for the iPhone 13 Mini…but that was simply not the case. I would only be able to get 4-5 hours of screen on time with the phone barely making it through a full day before needing a charge. And as I started to cover in-person events again, this was simply not what I was hoping for in a generational update.
In Ray’s case, the iPhone 13 Pro has at least maintained battery performance, though her usage habits have become heavier since she got on TikTok. Still, it was putting up solid numbers with about 7 hours of screen-on time and a full day on a single charge.
Thankfully, performance on these smartphones are unaffected. I’m not sure what Apple feeds their processors but the A15 Bionic absolutely flies through every task I throw at it.
Of course, this smoothness was even more apparent on Ray’s iPhone 13 Pro thanks to its 120Hz display. We’ve finally converted another to the church of high refresh rate displays, but the cost of that was the fact that my iPhone 13 Mini was still 60Hz. C’mon Apple, even super affordable Redmi smartphones have 90Hz OLED displays, why does the flagship iPhone 13 Mini still not have that.
That being said, the display itself from a colour, contrast and sharpness standpoint is very good. Plus the Mini is a little brighter now so it’s easier to view outdoors. And when you combine that with the excellent speakers it’s kinda hard to argue with the multimedia experience.
Perhaps to nobody’s surprise, the camera systems are also excellent. They take nice, well-saturated images while still looking natural with plenty of detail and contrast. This makes it easy to bring them into post and edit it to your own style.
Image quality aside, my favourite thing about the iPhone is how often it is the perfect point and shoot camera. For most of the kind of photos everyone wants to take, you can just point the iPhone at your subject, hit the shutter and you’ll usually get a really nice shot. There’s no excessive lag, no complicated functions. Just point and press for a nice photo.
Yes, the downside is that pros don’t get a tonne of settings to tweak and adjust, but for regular folk like you and me, this is the kind of experience I think you’ll appreciate on a smartphone. The only thing I don’t like is how the telephoto camera still isn’t standard across the range. Honestly, even cheap Redmi devices have better zoom ranges than the iPhone 13 Mini. It’s 2022, what are you doing Apple?
Fit and finish is also a strength of the iPhone 13 Mini and iPhone 13 Pro. Everything feels nice and expensive, though I do wish the Mini had a stainless steel band too for that extra touch of premium feel. Ray, on the other hand doesn’t like the stainless steel band because it is a huge fingerprint magnet. That said, these devices don’t look particularly interesting, and after seeing it for several years in a row, it’s starting to get really boring.
At the end of the day, I was quite disappointed with the iPhone 13 Mini. It just didn’t have the updates that I wanted to see, and that’s quite disappointing because I’m a huge fan of the form factor. The iPhone 13 Pro also didn’t feel like a generational update compared to the iPhone 12 Pro. And that means at the end of the day, the iPhone we would recommend getting is the regular iPhone 13. It’s the phone I switched to after I gave up on the iPhone 13 Mini’s battery life.