Apple’s iPhone SE vs. iPhone 12 Mini: What’s the difference?

It's closer than you might think.

Image via Apple

Apple recently held its “Peek Performance” showcase on Tuesday, March 8, a long-awaited event to get an idea and look at the current products Apple is developing and when they’ll be released to the public. The showcase included updates on the iPad Air, the M1 Ultra processor, and Mac Studio. These are all deserving of spotlights of their own, but one product is stealing the show in the public’s eye.

The newly announced update to the iPhone SE is a welcome one in the cellular and Apple communities. With the most recent iPhone SE generation released in 2020, many have wanted an updated version of Apple’s budget option that comes with a classic design. Apple delivered with the launch of the iPhone SE 2022. The third generation of this line has the dimensions of an iPhone 8, but some of the insides of the current iPhone 13s on the market. This has much to do with the iPhone SE receiving the A15 Bionic chip, an incredibly fast processor for a phone. With this processor, the new iPhone SE can launch applications faster and complete tasks with relative ease. When comparing the new iPhone SE to previous generations, it blows them out of the water. Apple claims that the new iPhone SE can run at speeds up to 1.8 times faster than the iPhone 8, and even faster compared to older generations.

While it’s great to see this kind of speed anywhere in electronics compared to older generations, many users want to know how it stacks up to the current line of iPhones that Apple has on the market.

Image via Apple

iPhone SE 2022 vs. iPhone SE 2020

When physically comparing the two devices, there isn’t much to comment about. Aside from Apple adding its strongest protective glass to the new 2022 model, both phones have the same iPhone 8 design. Both devices have a TouchID home button but do not come with FaceID. The camera hardware is also the same between the two phones, with the 12MP rear-facing and 7MP front-facing cameras returning to the phone.

The A15 Bionic, Apple’s newest top-of-the-line powerful processor, allows the new iPhone SE generation camera to match some of the capabilities of the more premium iPhones in Apple’s lineup. Some of these include support for Smart HDR 4, portrait mode, portrait lighting, and more. The inclusion of this chip is the largest and most meaningful difference between the two generations. This will improve the overall iPhone experience by increasing the launch speed of applications, motion effects, and completing tasks. Apple discontinued the iPhone SE 2020 on March 8 and no longer sells the phone on its website.

iPhone SE 2022 vs. iPhone 12 Mini

With the launch of the newest generation iPhone SE, many are wondering how it compares to the newer phones in Apple’s more premium lineup. One of the phones in question is the iPhone 12 Mini. While it’s an older generation of iPhone and now at a lower price, this 2020 generation iPhone isn’t something to brush off to the side with the release of a newer iPhone SE. There are a lot of differences between these two devices, but here are the most important aspects to consider.

Image via Apple

Physical comparison

Both devices will have no trouble fitting in pockets or small spaces. Unsurprisingly, the iPhone 12 Mini is a smaller phone, coming in with a height of 5.18 inches and a width of 2.53 inches. The iPhone SE is a larger phone at 5.45 inches tall and 2.65 inches wide. But the iPhone 12 Mini has a larger and better display. It has a 5.4-inch OLED screen compared to the iPhone SE’s 4.7-inch LCD display. With these dimensions, the iPhone 12 Mini has a 30-percent higher screen-to-body ratio than the iPhone SE. The iPhone SE does have a more protected screen and uses the same tempered glass that comes with the iPhone 13. Apple claims this glass to be the toughest of any smartphone and includes it on the front and back of the iPhone SE 2022. 

The iPhone 12 Mini has a better waterproof rating at IP68, one point above the iPhone SE’s IP67 rating. The iPhone 12 Mini has a screen resolution of 2340 x 1080 and a pixel density of 476 ppi compared to the new iPhone SE with its screen resolution of 750 x 1334 and a pixel density of 326 ppi. One valued aspect to many existing and new iPhone users is that the iPhone SE has the TouchID home button at the bottom of the phone while the iPhone 12 Mini only has FaceID capabilities and no home button.

Image via Apple

Performance

Here is where the iPhone SE will have an edge on the iPhone 12 Mini. The iPhone SE comes with Apple’s latest and most powerful processor, the A15 Bionic chip. This improves the iPhone experience ranging from scrolling through photos and launching different apps to processing depth information and handling complex tasks. The new speeds of the A15 bionic make the iPhone SE a more powerful device than the iPhone 12. While the A14 Bionic in the iPhone 12 Mini is no pushover, the power that the A15 provides is greater. The A15 Bionic offers about 50-percent more CPU performance and roughly 30-percent more GPU performance than the iPhone 12 Mini. All of this is based on averages in testing, but that is a significant difference between the two devices. Overall, the iPhone SE will be the faster device with the updated and newest generation processor.

Camera

Both phones have a wide 12 MP rear camera with digital zoom, quad-LED flashes, optical stabilization, and 4290×2800 image resolution. But the iPhone 12 Mini has a second, ultra-wide lens, putting it a cut above and allowing for even more photographic capabilities than the iPhone SE. The iPhone 12 Mini can produce high-quality images even in low-light settings using Night Mode.

The front-facing cameras are different between the two devices, and the iPhone 12 Mini takes the cake here as well. The iPhone SE has a 7 MP lens, while the iPhone 12 Mini has a 12 MP lens. The iPhone 12 Mini’s front-facing camera has 4k, 60 FPS recording capabilities, whereas the iPhone SE only offers 1080p HD at 30 FPS.

Image via Apple

Battery life

One of the most important attributes to look for when selecting a device is its battery life. Here, both devices seem to be very comparable in usage testing. The iPhone 12 Mini has roughly a 15-hour battery life for video playback, and the iPhone SE is reported to have the same. But compared to the previous generation of iPhone SE, it’s an improvement. Both devices have fast charging and wireless charging capabilities.

Price

The iPhone SE delivers the iPhone experience at an incredible price compared to the other devices in Apple’s iPhone lineup. Available for pre-order on March 11, this newly updated device starts at $429 for the 64GB model and progressively increases with more storage capacity. The additional prices are $479 for the 128GB device and $579 for the 256GB device. The phone will be released on March 18.

With the release of the new iPhone SE, prices for the iPhone 12 Mini have decreased from their original prices when released in 2020. The iPhone 12 Mini now starts at $599 for the 64GB device, $649 for the 128GB device, and $749 for the 256GB device. 

Image via Apple

Final conclusions: iPhone SE (2022) vs. iPhone 12 Mini

The new iPhone SE provides incredible value at its starting price tag. The A15 Bionic alone is something that could tilt the scales in its favor. This processor brings a lot to the table like incredibly faster CPU and GPU speeds compared to the iPhone 12 Mini and even more compared to older generations. Because it’s a new generation iPhone, it will likely have longer support and receive iOS updates for a longer period. With the iPhone 12 Mini coming up on two years old, it isn’t outside of Apple’s strategies to stop offering support for older generations of iPhones.

The iPhone 12 Mini offers users a higher quality experience with a larger and better OLED display. It also has a much better camera that offers users a lot more options and ways to get that perfect shot. Users that care a lot about the viewing experience would be better off choosing the iPhone 12 Mini over the iPhone SE.

For those that are on more of a budget or are new to Apple and are looking for a reasonable starting product, the iPhone SE offers current generation internals without the bulkiness. If speed and performance are the names of the game, then the better choice is the iPhone SE. But if the camera is a dealbreaker, then the iPhone 12 Mini is the go-to at this price point. Both devices are strong options and offer great value to users at their current price and would even make a good smartphone device for kids based on the protection they offer.

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