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Apple Finally Gave Us Baby-Handed Bastards What We Want

Illustration for article titled Apple Finally Gave Us Baby-Handed Bastards What We Want
Photo: Alex Cranz/Gizmodo, Image: Andrew Liszewski/Gizmodo, Apple

My great lament since I ripped the open the box to my iPhone 6 and found a giant and unpocketable beast resting in my tiny hands was that the era of the small phone was no more. It felt like we baby-handed people had been forced to pay some kind of small-hand tax: either we had to go with something cheaper and significantly less powerful and futuristic like the iPhone SE, or we chose something more pleasantly sized but prohibitively expensive, like the iPhone 11 Pro. With the iPhone 12 Mini, we’re finally winning!

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Our brethren in the Android camp continue to struggle. Phone makers like Samsung, LG, and OnePlus have never met a telephonic device they couldn’t slap an even bigger display on. The rare small Android phones usually have to reckon with the same problems as the iPhone SE (outdated tech and wimpier hardware), are typically marketed poorly, or are whatever that tiny Palm was.

But finally! Finally! iPhone fans have a well and truly smol phone that seems like it’s a nice balance of new hardware and design and price. Finally, we will have a phone we can shove in a pocket without seeking out an entirely new brand of pants to do it. The $700 iPhone 12 Mini costs about the same as phones used to cost before all the hardware makers got greedy a few years back. But it’s also smaller than those phones.

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At 5.18 by 2.53 by 0.29 inches, the iPhone 12 Mini is more than half an inch shorter than both the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro (5.78 by 2.82 by 0.29 inches) and 0.3 inches narrower. It’s nearly an inch shorter than the iPhone 12 Pro Max, which is a whopping 6.33 by 3.07 by 0.29 inches, and it’s shorter than the current generation iPhone SE too, as that one’s 5.45 by 2.65 by 0.29 inches. Seeing as the second-generation iPhone SE has the same dimensions as the iPhone 7 and 8, that means the new Mini is smaller than them as well. It is even smaller than the iPhone 6 and 6s! Those were both 5.44 by 2.64 by 0.28 inches.

In fact, you have to look to the original iPhone SE or the iPhone 5 and 5S to find a phone as small as the iPhone 12 Mini. Those were all 4.87 by 2.31 by 0.30 inches, and they all also offered much smaller 4-inch displays. This thing’s display is nearly an inch and a half larger!

The iPhone 12 Mini has a 5.4-inch display with 2340 x 1080 resolution and a whopping 476 pixels per inch. By comparison, the 6.1-inch display found in the iPhone 12 and Pro has 460ppi.

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Beyond the display and dimensions, there aren’t a whole lot of differences between the 12 and the 12 Mini. Both have the new A14 Bionic processor, both a wide and ultra-wide camera on the back, 2x optical zoom, Face ID, and the ability to shoot photos and video in the dark. It can even shoot fancy Dolby Vision HDR video at 30fps (you’ll need to go up in size and price to the iPhone 12 Pro if you want 60fps).

The only real downside I’ve seen so far after peeping the specs is that the 12 Mini promises 15 hours of battery life while the iPhone 12 promises 17 hours. So I get a cheaper phone, with a higher resolution display, nearly all the same accouterments of the pricier phone, and the ability to hold it one-handed without forming a callus, and all I lose is two hours of battery life?

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I’m pretty sure that if I needed a new phone right now, I would be completely OK with that trade-off. Finally, this baby-handed bastard is winning.

Senior Consumer Tech Editor. Trained her dog to do fist bumps. Once wrote for Lifetime. Tips encouraged via Secure Drop, Proton Mail, or DM for Signal.

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DISCUSSION

Remember when phones like the HTC EVO 4G and Motorola Droid X were HUGE PHONES, and Steve Jobs said no one wanted big phones like that?  Those were the days.  I’m still rocking an approximately 4-years-old OnePlus 3, and I can’t imagine trying to use something much bigger with just one hand on a routine basis.