iPhone 12 mini vs. 2020 iPhone SE (Which One Should You Get?)

iPhone 12 mini vis iPhone SE 2020 Credit: Pickaxe Media / Hadrian / Shutterstock
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Apple recently cast its net to attract a much wider audience – for the first time in years, we saw a new iPhone SE. This second-generation iPhone SE is small but just as powerful as the iPhone 11. Not only that, but the iPhone SE costs almost half of what the iPhone 11 had cost last year. When the iPhone SE was first introduced at the beginning of this year, it was a winner. It’s a tiny phone, which some people love, with the power to outperform even Samsung’s most expensive phones, for a fraction of the price.

To this day, the iPhone SE remains the best budget smartphone on the market. But Apple decided to raise the bar one more time when they introduced a tiny iPhone 12 this year.

The iPhone 12 mini is meant to give you the same power as the other iPhone 12 models while being incredibly compact (and slightly cheaper). So this begs the question: if you’re into smaller iPhones, which one should you get?

Now, I’m not trying to sugar coat this and tell you that both are the same. The iPhone 12 mini outshines the iPhone SE in almost every department.

Spoiler alert: The iPhone 12 mini is the iPhone most people should get. It’s better in every specification, has more features, and is compatible with more accessories thanks to MagSafe. The iPhone 12 mini’s display is bigger, it has a better battery and even better cameras. But it’s also more expensive.

For the price of an iPhone 12 mini, you could almost buy two iPhone SEs. So instead of comparing both devices, let’s talk about why you should pick over the other. Sometimes less is more, and this might be one of those cases. 

If Screen Size Doesn’t Matter to You, Go for the iPhone SE

With only a 4.7-inch Retina display, the iPhone SE has the smallest display Apple offers. The 5.4-inch Super Retina Display of the iPhone 12 mini makes the 2020 iPhone SE look like a toy phone in comparison. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

There are many people that love to use smaller devices, who haven’t upgraded their old iPhone SE or iPhone 6s because of that very reason. If you’re one of those people, and you really don’t mind the lower quality in the screen resolution, the 2020 iPhone SE is definitely the device for you. It’s got everything you’d expect from a high-end iPhone, in such a small package you could forget you have it in your pocket.

Keep in mind though, this size comes with a few compromises. I’m mainly talking about battery life. But the difference is not that big, at least according to Apple.

The iPhone SE can withstand up to 10 hours of video playback and up to 40 hours of audio playback, whereas the iPhone 12 mini lasts up to 15 hours and 50 hours of video and audio playback respectively.

While you would get a smaller battery with the iPhone SE, there isn’t a huge difference between both devices. Plus the iPhone SE supports fast charging, and it comes with a charging brick in the box.

Overall, if you’re looking for the smallest phone with stellar performance, a classic design, an ultra-affordable price, and Touch ID, the iPhone SE is the way to go.

If You Care About the Camera, You Need the iPhone 12 mini

If there’s one area the iPhone 12 mini shines is in the camera department. Since it’s got the same wide and ultrawide cameras as the iPhone 12, you can expect its pictures to look clear and beautiful, even for objects that are far away.

Not only that, but Apple added Night Mode to all of the cameras on the iPhone 12 mini. This means that low light pictures will look better than they ever did on previous iPhones. Even your selfies will look like you took them with a flash.

The camera on the second-generation iPhone SE, on the other hand, is not as good. You’ll get a 12MP wide camera on the back, which takes great photos in well-lit environments.

For the most part, the iPhone SE camera will take good pictures, but if you’re serious about photography, or you want to take the best pictures possible, the camera in the iPhone 12 mini is the obvious choice for you. No questions asked.

If You Want the Best Deal, the iPhone SE Is the Way to Go

If you’re on a budget, the choice is fairly obvious. As mentioned before, the second-generation iPhone SE is much, much cheaper than the iPhone 12 mini. You could almost buy two iPhone SEs for the price of one iPhone 12 mini.

Sure, the iPhone 12 mini is superior in almost every aspect, but the iPhone SE is good enough, especially for the price. For $400, the iPhone SE comes with the A13 Bionic chip, which was the best chip on any iPhone until the iPhone 12 arrived; the same 64 GB of storage the iPhone 12 mini comes with, a decent camera, and a nice display.

Plus, the iPhone SE is the only 2020 iPhone that comes with a charger inside the box – another aspect that will save you some money.

People on a budget, minimalists, or extremely casual users will love what the iPhone SE has to offer for such a low price.

Although, keep in mind that you can find some amazing deals on the iPhone 12 mini, and the other iPhone 12 models for that matter. So make sure to shop around.

If You Care About Design, the iPhone 12 mini Won’t Disappoint

Probably the biggest downside to getting an iPhone SE is that you’re actually getting the body of an iPhone 8, but with better performance.

There’s really nothing about the iPhone SE that screams “new iPhone”. That’s especially true if you’re planning to upgrade from an old iPhone 8. That doesn’t mean it’s bad. The iPhone 8 had many great things going for it, especially Touch ID.

The iPhone 12 mini, on the other hand, feels and looks like a brand new iPhone. The flat design is sleek and elegant, and that’s what most of us want future iPhones to look like.

Plus, you get an almost bezel-less display with the exception of the notch that helps you unlock your iPhone with Face ID. The iPhone SE has big bezels on the front that, although they may be necessary, don’t immerse you as much as the iPhone 12 mini does.

Which One Should You Get?

As I mentioned at the beginning, if you’re open to either of these iPhones and money isn’t really an issue, you should definitely go for the iPhone 12 mini.

Although it’s not as small as the iPhone SE, you’ll get better performance, an amazing display, (nearly) top-of-the-line cameras on the front and back, and an overall better experience.

If you’re on the market for something small, yet powerful; something cheap, but will last for the next five years, you should consider the iPhone SE. The advantages outweigh the compromises you make and it’s the most powerful and cheapest iPhone Apple currently makes.

Plus, the iPhone SE is a great gift for kids or parents this holiday season. It’s the cheapest way to ease their way into the Apple ecosystem.

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