iPhone 12 mini and SE 2020: differences from Apple's little ones — 2022

Two of the smallest mobiles on the market belong to Apple and the 2nd generation iPhone SE and the iPhone 12 mini are two extremely compact devices. They have many similarities between them, beyond sharing an operating system and being developed by the same brand. However, they have many differences that tip the balance in favor of one or the other, thus having a very different target audience. In this article we review one by one all the differences between the two so that, if you do not know which one to choose, you can find out.

Specifications iPhone SE 2020 and iPhone 12 mini

At La Manzana Mordida we are of the opinion that simple data does not say everything about a product, and even less so when we are talking about a device such as an iPhone, from which many nuances can be appreciated. However, we believe it is convenient to see first of all a table of pure and hard specifications and that already serves to anticipate many of the differences that we find in both devices and of which we will speak in more depth in the corresponding sections that will follow.

iphone se 2-generation iphone 12 mini

CharacteristiciPhone SE (2nd gen.)iPhone 12 mini
Dimensions-Height: 13.84 cm
- Width: 6.73cm
-Thickness: 0.73cm
-Height: 13.15 cm
- Width: 6.42cm
-Thickness: 0.74cm
Weight148 grams133 grams
Screen4.7-inch Liquid Retina HD (LCD)5.4-inch Super Retina XDR (OLED)
Resolution1,334 x 750 pixels at 326 pixels per inch2,340 x 1,080 pixels at 476 pixels per inch
Brightness625 nits (typical)625 nits (typical) and 1,200 nits (HDR)
ProcessorA13 Bionic with third generation Neural EngineA14 Bionic with fourth generation Neural Engine
Internal memory-64 GB
-128 GB
-256 GB
-64 GB
-128 GB
-256 GB
Speakerstwo stereo speakerstwo stereo speakers
Autonomy-Video playback: 13 hours
-Video streaming: 8 hours
-Audio playback: 40 hours
-Video playback: 15 hours
-Video streaming: 10 hours
-Audio playback: 50 hours
Frontal camera7 Mpx lens with f/2.2 aperture12 Mpx lens with f/2.2 aperture
Rear camera12 Mpx wide angle with f / 1.8 aperture-Wide angle: 12 Mpx with opening f / 1.6
-Ultra wide angle: 12 Mpx with f/2.4 aperture and 120º field of view
Face IDDo notYes
Touch IDYesDo not
price on AppleFrom 489 eurosFrom 689 euros

And although in the following sections we will carry out a more in-depth analysis of their differences, based on this table we can already anticipate those that are their most notable differences:

    Colors:Although it is somewhat subjective, the truth is that if what you want is to have a greater range of possibilities for choice, the iPhone 12 mini offers more alternatives with up to 6 colors for the only 3 offered by the 'SE'. Dimensions:They are Apple's smallest smartphones along with the iPhone 13 mini, but despite this they have their differences. The iPhone SE is taller and wider, although in thickness it wins the '12 mini', but only by almost negligible 0.01 centimeters. Screen:Beyond the size (4.7 and 5.4 inches), the OLED technology used in the '12 mini' is far (for the better) from the LCD of the iPhone SE, which responds more to the technology that Apple has traditionally used in its mobile devices. Processor:The jump from one generation to another is not scandalous, but objectively it is true that there is a difference in the case of the A14 Bionic of the '12 mini' over the A13 Bionic of the 'SE'. 5G connectivity:We will talk more about it and its implication, but first you should know that this is an outstanding difference and it is in favor of the iPhone 12 mini. Autonomy:Another point to highlight later, but on paper we see that it leaves the iPhone SE in inferiority. Biometric sensor:we cannot say that one is better than another, but different. The iPhone SE has a fingerprint reader and the iPhone 12 mini with facial recognition. Price:Beyond offers in other stores or special promotions, officially the prices at Apple show a difference of 320 euros that increase in the case of the '12 mini'.

About the RAM and battery of these iPhone

You will have noticed that there are two data that are usually important in most phones and that is the capacity of RAM memory and that of the battery. This data is never provided by Apple when it comes to an iPhone or an iPad and the truth is that the argument they use for it can be understandable. One of the competitive advantages of the brand is that they are the ones who design all the equipment, from the software to the hardware, so they achieve a perfect integration that on many occasions allows them to implement lesser capabilities than the competition and yet the performance be the same and even better.

However, despite the fact that it is not Apple who gives this data, there have been numerous analyzes and tests through which it has been possible to establish what these data are. As far as RAM is concerned, the iPhone SE 2020 has 3 GB , while the ’12 mini’ has 4 GB. As far as battery capacities are concerned, they carry 1,821 mAh Y 2,227 mAh respectively.

iPhone SE 2 battery

Let's talk about design and its differences

Although in the end it may not be the main thing, it is undeniable that the design is important because in the end it is the first thing that is appreciated. In addition to the fact that no one (or almost no one) would buy something that, as good as it is, aesthetically horrifies them. Precisely what is related to the design we will talk about in the following sections.

The form factor of the frames changes a lot

Both phones stand out for being tremendously light, comfortable to use with one hand, being able to store them in any pocket without difficulty... However, they have notable differences such as the iPhone 12 mini being lighter despite having a larger screen. This is really due to a better use of the front, without buttons of any kind and if with the presence of the characteristic 'notch' in which the earpiece speaker, the front camera and the TrueDepth sensors that allow facial unlocking are housed. The iPhone SE carries a more classic design with the mythical Home button in which Touch ID (fingerprint unlock) is housed.

iPhone SE 2020 white

At the rear, although the construction is similar and they even share part of the color palette, we can find more than obvious differences in terms of the distribution of the cameras. The iPhone SE carries a single lens accompanied by the flash, while the 'mini' incorporates its dual camera and flash in a square module located in the upper left.

iPhone 12 mini

On the sides we also find more than obvious differences. The iPhone 12 mini brings back the classic aesthetics of models like the iPhone 4, with straight edges with curved corners. The iPhone SE for its part has a design identical to that of the iPhone 8 with curved edges. Both are very ergonomic and hold very well, although in the end it will depend on the mobile you had before the fact of getting used to them more or less quickly.

According to the endurance shockingly, you should know that both have similar materials in their casing, with largely recycled aluminum. Up front, if there is any more than interesting change in the iPhone 12 mini, having the one known as Ceramic Shield, a mixture of ceramic, glass and glass materials that guarantees greater resistance to bumps and scratches, although this does not mean that be unbreakable.

Good screens, but noticeable difference in quality

Removing the fact that they are smaller than the average smartphone today, a bump that should be overcome if you are interested in these compact devices, the truth is that both screens look really good. Of course, they use different technologies that, if we compare them, serve to observe that there is a big difference between the two.

iphone se iphone 12 mini screens

LCD panels like the ones on the 'SE' have been the standard for many years, rendering good color rendition and looking good in different lighting conditions. However, when compared to OLED or coming from a phone with this technology, the negative points come out. This other technology that the iPhone 12 mini incorporates shines brighter, both literally and metaphorically. The colors are more vivid, with a good calibration of them that makes them not lose naturalness, with black tones that really are when turning off the pixels in which it is located, giving a more realistic feeling. It also serves to see better when there is a lot of light, so at this point there is a clear winner.

Face ID vs Touch ID, which is better?

Okay, it's something related to hardware, but in the end it's also in a certain way of design. And it is also a really subjective question, since even the same person can answer one or the other depending on the time of day. For technical purposes, Face ID is more secure and even faster, which does not mean that Touch ID is not. For everything else we believe that it is ultimately a question of taste and customs, but there are several noteworthy points in any case.

Face ID y Touch ID

Face ID y Touch ID

The Touch ID works very well in all kinds of situations, positions of the phone and others. However, it cannot be used with gloves or with a wet or dirty finger, which prevents the fingerprint from being recognized correctly. Face ID also works in many conditions, whether there is light or not, wearing glasses, a hat... But its Achilles heel arrives with its mouth covered, since its operation during the COVID-19 pandemic has been very controversial with the use of masks, since it is not able to recognize you. It should also be borne in mind that, even with your face uncovered, you must put the iPhone in a frontal position so that it falls within the angle of vision of the sensors.

Which one are we left with then? Well honestly with both and neither. An excellent solution would be to combine both in a single device, but this is more for future iPhone than for these, for which there is no remedy and they only choose to have one of the two systems.

Hardware of these two little ones, do they fulfill their mission?

Once the design shock has been overcome, whether for better or worse, it's time to delve into more relevant differences in everyday life. And that's the hatdware thing. We analyze how different these devices are and, above all, their involvement in everyday life.

In performance there is (almost) a technical tie

A13 vs. A14. The two Apple chips belong to different but consecutive generations. Although innovation in this field is highly undervalued and the leap made by the A14 Bionic is truly outstanding, the truth is that for practical purposes it is almost negligible . A normal person who uses the phone to surf the internet, enter social networks or enjoy the cameras is not going to find a noticeable difference.

Perhaps it is more noticeable in a slight improvement in times when processing certain heavy tasks such as photo or video editing, but the truth is that none of these phones is designed for this given their size.

A13 Bionic vs A14 Bionic iPhone 11 vs iPhone 12

In battery there is a world of difference

As a starting point, it must be said that neither of the two is characterized by having the best autonomy. Now, it must be recognized that their battery capabilities mentioned in a previous point do not do them justice. Measuring this is complicated despite the fact that Apple has a series of guides in certain situations, since in the end each user uses his devices in a certain way and therefore it cannot be said that there are two equal cases.

The iPhone SE is the most disappointing in this regard and all this despite the fact that it manages wonderfully thanks to the processor and the software. If you make moderately intensive use, it is likely that you will have to go through the plug before the end of the day. The iPhone 12 mini, for its part, is a phone more suitable for day-to-day use and even with intensive use, although the percentage at the end of the day will be low.

Very decent storage capabilities

Both phones share the same storage capacities. The base 64 GB can be a drawback for many, since in these times it is a very low capacity. However, there are those who can put up with it, either by optimizing its capacity to the maximum or by resorting to systems such as cloud storage like the one that Apple itself offers with iCloud (even if it's going through the box).

In what perhaps there should be no problem is in the 128 and 256 GB that are offered in their other versions, since they are already enough capacities to not depend on juggling to not occupy everything. Perhaps the most demanding will miss the 512 GB, but in addition to the fact that it would increase the price substantially, it must be said that neither of the two phones is focused on heavy users.

Differences and similarities in cameras

As we did at the beginning with the gross specifications of each terminal, let's see what they are capable of doing in both photography and video in this table:

iphone 12 mini and iphone se cameras

specsiPhone SE (2nd gen.)iPhone 12 mini
photos front camera-Retina Flash (with screen)
-Auto HDR
-Portrait mode
-Portrait lighting
-Depth Control
-Retina Flash (with screen)
-Smart HDR 3
-Portrait mode
-Portrait lighting
-Depth Control
-Night mode
-Deep Fusion
Videos front camera-Cinema quality stabilization in 1080p and 720p
-Recording in 1,080p HD at 25 or 30 frames per second
-QuickTake Video
-Extended dynamic range for video at 30 frames per second
Cinema-quality video stabilization in 4K, 1080p and 720p
-Recording in 4K at 24, 25, 30 or 60 frames per second
-HDR recording with Dolby Vision up to 30 frames per second
-Recording in 1080p at 25, 30 or 60 frames per second
-Slow motion recording in 1080p at 120 frames per second
-Night mode
-Deep Fusion
-Video QuickTake
Photos rear cameras-Optical Image Stabilization
-Close-up zoom x5 (digital)
-Flash True Tone with slow sync
-Portrait mode
-Portrait lighting
-Depth Control
-Smart HDR
-Optical Image Stabilization
-Close-up zoom x5 (digital)
-Zoom out x2 (optical)
-Flash True Tone with slow sync
-Portrait mode
-Portrait lighting
-Depth Control
-Smart HDR 3
Videos rear cameras-Recording in 4K at 24, 25, 30 or 60 frames per second
-Recording in 1080p at 25, 30 or 60 frames per second
-Extended range up to 30 frames per second
-Optical Stabilization
-Close-up zoom x3 (digital)
-QuickTake Video
-Slow motion in 1080p at 120 or 240 frames per second
-Video in time-lapse with stabilization
-Stereo recording
-Recording in 4K at 24, 25, 30 or 60 frames per second
-Recording in 1080p at 25, 30 or 60 frames per second
-HDR recording with Dolby Vision up to 30 frames per second
-Extended dynamic range up to 30 frames per second
-Optical Stabilization
-Close-up zoom x3 (digital)
-Zoom out x2 (optical)
-Audio zoom
-QuickTake Video
-Slow motion in 1080p at 120 or 240 frames per second
-Time-Lapse with Night Mode
-Time-Lapse with stabilization
-Stereo recording

If you are extremely interested in the field of photography, perhaps none of them is the most suitable, especially if we take into account the existence of iPhone 12 Pro models that add a telephoto lens and a LiDAR sensor that further improve the '12 mini' . If what you are looking for is a good camera that defends itself well in many situations, that is one of the best in video recording and that has very good photographic processing: the iPhone 12 mini.

The iPhone SE surprises with its good performance and available features even though it has a single rear lens very similar to the one we had in older generations. It takes good photos, good videos, but it does not stand out among the best. Therefore it would be a good option if this is not one of the most important points for you.

Other highlights of these iPhone

In the following points we analyze other issues of great interest of these iPhone and that, to a greater or lesser extent, could serve in the end to tip the balance between one and the other, in addition to continuing to set the target audience to which each one is directed.

Are they waterproof?

Yes, and to the dust too. However the big question is, what happens if it gets wet? Does Apple fix it? Well, yes, the company will repair it without any problem, but demanding payment for said repair. Like so many others, Apple not included in the guarantee of your iPhone for repairs that are caused by liquid or moisture damage. Therefore, it is more than advisable to be careful with them because of the risk that a misfortune ends up happening in the end.

And it is that the iPhone SE offers a standard IP67 that would allow it to be submerged for up to 30 minutes at a maximum depth of 1 meter. The iPhone 12 mini incorporates the IP68 which allows it to be submerged for the same maximum time, but up to 6 meters deep. However, the main problem that exists in this regard is that in the end the seals that these terminals have to comply with that cataloging end up wearing out over time, making it easier for moisture, dust or liquids to enter the interior.

Therefore, the standards they have will only serve to gain peace of mind if they get slightly wet or if they fall for a few seconds into a container of water, but not to take photos in swimming pools, beaches or other related situations that you may imagine. And over time this is less, so you have to be very cautious with the treatment of the device with respect to these elements, despite the fact that the '12 mini' wins on paper in resistance to them.

iphone 12 mini water

The software life they have is amazing

The iOS operating system has many differences and similarities with Android and although it has traditionally always been described as the best software, the truth is that today choosing one or the other ultimately depends on personal taste. If you like the Apple system you can enjoy the same software on both devices and best of all, you can do it for years, since the company guarantees a minimum of 4 years of updates with visual and functional updates and security patches.

While there is no written rule really, in recent years we are seeing phones that even upgrade for 5 years. Therefore, these iPhones should follow that path at least, thus guaranteeing that the iPhone SE will have updates until 2024-2025 and the iPhone 12 mini until 2025-2026.

Only one has 5G, but it is not differential

The iPhone 12 mini, along with the rest of its series companions, debuted 5G connectivity for the first time on an Apple smartphone. Of course, there are certain things to highlight in it and that are not exactly minor aspects. The first one is that only iPhones sold in the United States have the mmWave antenna that allows you to connect to the fastest 5G networks, while it does not have it in the rest of the territories.

Another point to take into account and that in this case is not Apple's fault is the lack of infrastructure to connect to these networks. The best networks and higher speeds are in a few areas and usually always in large capitals, so although 5G is often shown on the screen, it is really an advanced 4G known as 4G+. Is this connection faster than 4G? If you are close to the transmitting antennas, yes, but without reaching the very high speeds that real 5G offers.

iPhone 12 mini with 5G

In any case, it is clear that at the level of connectivity any iPhone 12 mini is better than the iPhone SE 2020 because the latter reaches 4G networks at most. However, we cannot classify this point as one of the keys to deciding between one device and another, at least today.

Neither comes with headphones or a charging adapter.

Apple made a clear decision precisely with the departure of the iPhone 12 and it is remove these accessories from the box and not only from that new range but from the rest of the iPhone that it still sells, although at the time they were sold with those elements. Therefore, in both devices we will only find the phone, a charging cable (yes) and the typical user guides. Now, if you are lucky and find a store that still had stock of the iPhone SE since its release, it may come with that power adapter and the classic EarPods wired headphones.

Last conclusions

We are already advancing to the end of this comparison by asking two key questions that will place you at a starting point for your final decision, always depending on the situation in which you find yourself.

Having an iPhone SE, is it worth upgrading to the 12 mini?

If you have the money or think you can sell the iPhone SE at a good price to finance part of the purchase: go ahead. You're going to win in pretty much every way, without giving up a compact size that you must have already felt comfortable with on the 'SE' model. In fact, we could say that the feeling in hand is very similar, but on top of that you win by having a larger screen without so many frames.

Of course, if you consider that it is somewhat of a whim and you are not feeling significant limitations with your mobile, perhaps the appropriate thing to do would be to wait (even more so if it involves a significant financial effort). After all, and despite its weak points such as battery, the second generation iPhone SE will continue to be a more than valid device for many years and with software updates on a par with the iPhone 11.

iPhone 12 mini cameras

What if you don't have either phone?

In this case it will depend on what needs you have. If you make little intensive use of your mobile, you don't need the best of the best in cameras and you don't dislike Apple's classic design: the iPhone SE 2020. If you also have a limited budget, this phone will be considerably cheaper, since between both there is a difference of 200 euros that can be very important depending on the pockets.

Now, in general terms, we believe that the iPhone 12 mini is a much more up-to-date phone, both in design and in features. It beats the other device in practically everything and whoever likes to make more intensive use of the phone and even take advantage of its camera system will appreciate the choice. Of course, as we mentioned before, this device has a higher price that must be taken into account when making the decision.

Offer iPhone SE 2020

And in either case, you have to be clear that these are small phones, so if you come from a larger phone or you feel more like a fan of them, they are probably too small for you. Also that, despite everything, they are still phones that we would place in a medium-high range in the case of the iPhone SE and high range in the '12 mini', since if you want the most premium you would have to opt for the models 'Pro' with its consequent price increase.

On the other hand, you must not forget that there is Other options like the iPhone 13 mini, which although it is true that its price goes up and does not represent a radical change compared to the '12 mini', in the end it is a more advanced device and with which you will notice even more changes. In any case, that is in the end a separate comparison and what we recommend in the end is that you weigh everything that matters to you and based on that you make a decision.