iPhone 11 vs iPhone 12 vs iPhone 12 mini: which one should you buy?

After a series of rumors, render leaks, and whatnot, Apple has finally unveiled its next-generation iPhones. The new lineup, iPhone 12, comprises of four new models, which is a step-up from the usual three model strategy from the past few generations. You now get two flagship models: iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini with powerful internals at an affordable price tag, which sit alongside the more expensive and feature-rich iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max.

iPhone 11 vs iPhone 12 vs iPhone 12 mini

This time around, the series starts at $699 for the entry-level iPhone 12 mini and goes all the way up to $1399 for the maxed-out iPhone 12 Pro Max. If you are planning to upgrade to the newer iPhones (or an upgrade) and your budget hovers around the $600-800 price bracket, you get a few options. You can either buy the all-new iPhone 12 for $799 or the iPhone 12 mini for $699 (Add $30 more for unlocked phones). Further, if you have an even lower budget, there is the last year’s entry-level offering, iPhone 11, which sits at just $599.

In India, the iPhone 12 mini starts at Rs 69,900 while the iPhone 12 starts at Rs 79,900 and the iPhone 11 has a new price tag of Rs 55,900. Considering the festive season is about to start, we are seeing prices as low as Rs 47,999 for the iPhone 11.

To clear the air and help you make an informed purchase decision, here’s our guide to help you decide which phone — among the iPhone 11, iPhone 12, and iPhone 12 mini — is the right choice for your requirements.

Before we get into the specifications of each of these devices and discuss the differences and similarities that they share, let’s first establish common ground by highlighting the differences between the iPhone 12 and the iPhone 12 mini.

iPhone 11 vs iPhone 12

Both iPhone 12 and 12 mini are pretty much identical when it comes to the internals. You get the same A14 Bionic chip running under the hood, the same dual-cameras and the front camera, and 5G connectivity. However, it is the exterior where the two devices differ, with the iPhone 12 coming having dimensions of 5.78×2.82×0.29 -inches and the 12 mini featuring a smaller package that sits at 5.18×2.53×0.29 -inches. The change in dimensions also translates to a difference in the screen size. With slightly taller and broader dimensions, the iPhone 12 accommodates a 6.1-inch display, while the iPhone 12 mini, with its smaller form factor, gets a 5.4-inch display — one of the smallest on a flagship device from Apple in a while. Moreover, aside from dimensions, there is also a difference in weight between the two devices — 135 grams (iPhone 12 mini) vs 164 grams (iPhone 12).

Now that the fundamental similarities and the differences between the iPhone 12 and 12 mini are out of the way, let’s stack them against the iPhone 11 to find out the better deal among the lot.

iPhone 12 vs iPhone 11: Design

One of the biggest differences between the iPhone 12 series and the previous generation is in terms of design. Across the board, all the iPhone 12 models feature a squared-off design, which Apple calls a “flat-edge design”. The new design language is reminiscent of the iPhone 4, from back in the day, as well as the 2020 iPad Pro. When compared to the dimensions of the iPhone 11, the iPhone 12 is around 11% thinner and 15% smaller, with the 12 Pro mini increasing the difference even further.

iPhone 12 and 12 mini design

Talking about cosmetics, the iPhone 12 series uses the same “aerospace-grade aluminum” material for its chassis as the iPhone 11. However, unlike the iPhone 11, which features a glass back, the latest Apple offerings come with a complete aluminum enclosure that adds to their durability. As a result, similar to the iPhone 11, the iPhone 12 and 12 mini are also IP68 certified, but they now offer better protection — 6 meters of water submersion (for 30 minutes) as opposed to 2 meters (for 30 minutes) on the iPhone 11. Needless to say, the choice of material on newer iPhones also helps in cutting down the weight. The iPhone 12 and 12 mini come in at 164 grams and 135 grams, respectively, whereas the iPhone 11 has more heft at 194 grams.

Furthermore, since the iPhone 12 series comes with 5G connectivity on board, it gets completely re-designed antennas on the frame to ensure the aluminum chassis does not hamper the connectivity.

iPhone 11 vs iPhone 12: Display

Aside from the difference in the design language and chassis, the all-new iPhone 12 series now offers a complete OLED experience across all the models. So now, you get an OLED display even on the entry-level device, which was not the case with the previous year’s offering, the iPhone 11. Stacking up both the devices against the iPhone 11, you see a definite upgrade in terms of the display technology. There is no longer a Liquid Retina HD display (or IPS LCD), similar to the iPhone 11, on the iPhone 12 or 12 mini. Instead, they feature a Super Retina XDR display — Apple’s version of OLED technology.

Talking about the screen sizes, the iPhone 12 still retains a 6.1-inch (2532×1172) display from the iPhone 11. However, it is the 12 mini that shrinks down the device with a 5.4-inch (2340×1080) display. Offering a package that has top-of-the-line specifications, without many trade-offs, on a smaller and compact form factor is something that a lot of consumers have been requesting for all these years.

iPhone 12 and 12 mini display comparison

To run through some numbers, the display on the iPhone 12 and 12 mini offers a 2,000,000:1 contrast ratio, which is stupendously high (on paper) compared to the 1400:1 ratio on the iPhone 11. In addition, the newer models also feature HDR that takes the peak brightness levels to 1200 nits — almost double that of the iPhone 11, which, obviously, lacks HDR.

Moreover, another major addition to the display on the iPhone 12 series is the use of Ceramic Shield. In a nutshell, Ceramic Shield is a tougher alternative — with four times better protection — to the protective glasses found on other smartphones. It is built by Apple, in collaboration with the popular glassmaker Corning. To improve toughness, the glass is passed through a high-temperature crystallization process, which gives rise to nano-ceramic crystals that help in improving the material’s strength.

iPhone 12 vs iPhone 11: Performance

On the inside, the iPhone 12 runs on the latest Apple silicon, the A14 Bionic. The SoC is built on the 5nm process, making it one of the smallest smartphone chipsets in the market. On the other hand, the iPhone 11 has the A13 Bionic under the hood. The A13 is still a solid offering in 2020, but it falls short of some of the processing prowess when stacked against the A14. Talking in specifics, the newer SoC includes a total of 1.8 billion transistors with a six-core (2 performance and 4 efficiency cores) CPU and a four-core GPU. Combined together, the A14 Bionic should offer better CPU and GPU performance along with improved efficiency than the A13 Bionic.

Apple A14 Bionic

Similarly, the Neural Engine also doubles up with a total of 16 cores that allow for 11 trillion operations per second, as opposed to only 8 cores found on the A13 Bionic. With faster processing speeds, the newer chipset should significantly improve the ML performance on the newer iPhones. In addition, the A14 also features a new ISP, which combined with improved computational photography, should enhance the camera performance on the iPhone 12 series.

Moving on to the battery, which is another crucial factor when buying a smartphone, the iPhone 11 packs in a 3110mAh battery that is said to offer 17 hours of video playback. On the other hand, while the battery capacities of the iPhone 12 series are not publicly available, the company does claim 15 hours of video playback on the iPhone 12 mini and 17 hours on the iPhone 12. Moreover, to top up the battery, the newer iPhones get support for MagSafe charging, in addition to the regular Qi standard, which allows for up to 15W wireless charging as opposed to just 7.5W with the Qi standard.

As already mentioned, the iPhone 12 series comes with 5G connectivity, and that makes the iPhone 12 mini the smallest smartphone to support 5G. Theys offers support for sub-6GHz waves, as well as, millimeter waves, with up to 3.5Gbps of max speeds. On the other hand, the iPhone 11 employs 4G connectivity. But, to be honest, even though you might feel having 5G connectivity on a device makes it future-proof, the truth is not every country will see 5G available to the masses for at least the next 2 years.

iPhone 12 vs iPhone 11: Camera

Lastly, comparing the camera prowess on the iPhone 11 and iPhone 12 (and 12 mini), which is, again, one of the major deterrents for some when buying a phone, all three models come with a twin-camera setup on the rear. The setup comprises of a wide-angle and an ultra-wide-angle lens, coupled with an LED flash, within the square camera housing.

iPhone 12 and 12 mini rear camera

With the iPhone 11, you get a 12MP (f/1.8) wide-angle lens along with a 12MP (f/2.4) ultrawide lens. On the other hand, the iPhone 12 and 12 mini also sport a 12MP wide and 12MP ultrawide lens, with the same f/2.4 aperture size ultrawide, but a wider wide-angle lens with an f/1.6 aperture. Apple suggests that the sensors on the newer iPhones suggest up to 27% better low light performance compared to its predecessor. Talking about other features, you get OIS on all three models, along with 2x optical and 5x digital zoom, portrait mode, and night mode. However, the iPhone 12 and 12 mini get an upper hand over the iPhone 11 with Smart HDR 3. Smart HDR 3 uses the improved processing power of A14 Bionic to adjust the white balance, contrast, texture, and saturation of a photo to give it a more natural appearance. The A14 Bionic also takes computation photography to a new height, and it now allows all sensors on the iPhone 12 to use the night mode along with faster and improved Deep Fusion performance

On the front, all three models come with a 12MP (f/2.2) lens, with the iPhone 12 and 12 mini extending support for night mode and deep fusion to the front cameras as well.

As for other video shooting capabilities, you get 4K at 24fps, 30fps, and 60fps and 1080p at 30fps and 60fps on all three models. However, the cameras on the iPhone 12 can shoot HDR video with Dolby Vision with both front and rear cameras, making the iPhone 12 the world’s first smartphone with the ability to capture, edit, and experience Dolby Vision content. Moreover, they also support night mode timelapse to give you longer exposure times.

iPhone 12 vs iPhone 11: Pricing

All three models: iPhone 11, iPhone 12, and iPhone 12 mini come with three storage configurations: 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB.

iPhone 11

  • 64GB: $599 (Rs 54,900)
  • 128GB: $649 (Rs 59,900)
  • 256GB: $749 (Rs 69,900)

iPhone 12

  • 64GB: $799 (Rs 79,900)
  • 128GB: $849 (Rs 84,900)
  • 256GB: $949 (Rs 94,900)

iPhone 12 mini

  • 64GB: $699 (Rs 69,900)
  • 128GB: $749 (Rs 74,900)
  • 256GB: $849 (Rs 84,900)

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