The first iPhone had a 3.5-inch screen. Meanwhile, everything has gotten terribly out of hand and there are monstrous iPhones with a screen diagonal of 6.7 inches. For many consumers, bigger is better. What if you just want a small iPhone? Fortunately, you still have a choice. But what is the best small iPhone?
What small iPhones are there?
Gone is the dollhouse format of yesteryear, but in 2022 there’s still plenty to choose from if you want a small iPhone. You can currently buy three small Apple iPhones. Recently, a small iPhone has disappeared from the range, and we will continue to include it in this article. Because many web stores still sell it. We list the main similarities and differences between the following models:
The iPhone SEs look almost identical: they have the classic (or old-fashioned) iPhone design. An angular screen with a wide border around it, a home button below the screen. The edges are rounded. Color-wise, the SEs aren’t very spectacular: white, black, and red are the options.
The iPhone 12 and 13 mini also look the same. They have the modern design of the iPhone: an all-screen front, with a narrow border around it. The home button is missing. The edges are flat and robust. Both devices have a notch: with the 13 mini it is somewhat more subtle than with the 12 mini.
The iPhone 12 mini is available in blue, mint green, red, white, purple, and black. The 13 in dark green, pink, blue, black, white and red.
How small are these iPhones exactly?
The iPhone SE 2020 and 2022 look exactly the same. They have a screen diagonal of 4.7 inches. The iPhone 12 mini and 13 mini also have practically the same case, only the thickness differs slightly. The minis have a screen diagonal of 5.4 inches.
Despite the larger screen size, the minis are smaller than the SEs. That’s because the SEs have much thicker bezels around the screen. It even contains a full home button, and that takes up a lot of space.
In the following table you can see the dimensions and weight.
|iPhone SE 2020||iPhone SE 2022||iPhone 12 mini||iPhone 13mini|
|Weight||144 grams||144 grams||133 grams||140 grams|
Therefore, the iPhone SE models have a smaller screen in a larger device. Both SEs have a 4.7-inch right-angle LCD screen with screen resolutions of 1334 x 750 pixels (326 ppi).
Both minis have a 5.4-inch OLED screen with rounded corners. Oled looks a bit quieter, has deeper blacks and is more energy efficient. The resolution is 2340 x 1080 pixels (476 ppi). The minis have a notch, a bite out of the screen. Whether you like it is a matter of taste.
With or without start button
SEs have an old-fashioned home button, although ‘old and familiar’ could just as well be called ‘old-fashioned’. Some people swear by a home button because it’s so intuitive. The iPhone 12 and 13 mini don’t have a home button, so you’ll need to master a few swipe gestures first. For most people, this takes some getting used to, but it is doable. You also have Face ID (facial recognition) on these devices.
Both the iPhone SE 2022 and the iPhone 13 mini are equipped with the fastest chip at the moment, the A15 chip. So the iPhone SE 2022 looks a bit like an old man with a super-fast engine. The iPhone 12 mini has the chip from the previous year, the A14. And the 2020 SE is another year behind the A13.
You won’t immediately notice the difference in everyday use, because the A13 chip is also very fast. That will probably change in a few years. So you miss, for example, certain functions of the current version of iOS. And at a certain point you can no longer upgrade at all, while you can still move forward a year or two with the A14 and A15.
With 5G, you have super fast internet on your mobile phone (as long as you have the right subscription). Also, in places where there is a lot of movement, you have a more stable connection than before. Of the small iPhones, three have 5G support: the iPhone 12 mini, the iPhone 13 mini, and the latest SE. In the iPhone SE 2020 you have to settle for 4G.
The smaller iPhones have a significant downside: the battery is smaller, and it shows immediately in runtime. With all the small iPhones you get through the day, but with heavy use it doesn’t last long. These are the differences between the batteries of the different models. You see: the iPhone 13 mini takes the victory.
|iPhone SE 2020||iPhone SE 2022||iPhone 12 mini||iPhone 13mini|
|play the video||13 hours||15 hours||15 hours||17 hours|
|video transmission||8 o ‘clock||10 hours||10 hours||13 hours|
|play sound||40 hours||50 hours||50 hours||55 hours|
As for the camera, there are big differences. In any case, both SEs are equipped with a single (wide-angle) camera. You take good pictures with it, but no more than that. Both minis have a dual camera: this one also includes an ultra wide-angle lens with which you can capture beautiful landscapes. You’ll also find a night mode on these devices, ensuring that you take good photos in the dark too.
Regardless, you’ll find the best camera in the iPhone 13 mini. It’s even slightly better than the iPhone 12 mini. You can apply photo styles (kind of subtle color filters). And with the new Movie mode, you can create cinematic videos with a depth-of-field effect. These are niche features, so maybe it’s too good.
There are significant price differences between the small iPhones. These are the prices as used by Apple. Please note: they no longer sell the 2020 iPhone SE, you can probably get it cheaper elsewhere.
- iPhone SE 2020: from €489 (64 GB)
- iPhone SE 2022: from €529 (64GB)
- iPhone 12 mini: from €689 (64GB)
- iPhone 13 mini: from €809 (128GB)
In terms of price, you could actually compare the iPhone 13 mini better with the iPhone 12 mini, which also has 128GB of storage: you’ll lose €739 for this.
Best small iPhone: Which one is better for you?
The question ‘which is the best small iPhone’ can be answered very easily: that is the iPhone 13 mini. It has the best specs: the fastest chip, the best camera, the coolest design, the strongest battery. And all this in the smallest device.
Still, the iPhone 13 mini doesn’t have to be the best small iPhone for you. It’s nice that it has the best performance, but the price is also worth it. The iPhone 12 mini has many of the advantages of the 13 mini (modern design, 5G dual camera and OLED screen) and still falls into a better price category.
Do you think it’s still too expensive, or do you want an iPhone with a home button anyway? Then the iPhone SE 2022 is right for you. In terms of design, you don’t have the latest of the latest, the camera is there for everyday snaps. But the price is good. And because it has the chip from the iPhone 13 mini and 5G, this device is particularly future-proof.
Finally, the iPhone SE 2020 is starting to look a bit dated. This one is suitable if you’re just looking for the cheapest small iPhone and don’t do much else. At the moment, it’s still a pretty good device, but keep in mind that the chip is a bit older. This device will no longer receive updates from the small iPhone.
iOS 15 Edition + iPadOS 15