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Review | iPhone 13 Mini: it is compact and very strong, as it should be

For the second time in a row, Apple has shown the world that the iPhone Mini can be a good gateway for anyone who wants a company smartphone, but without putting their hand in their pocket until the end. The iPhone 13 Mini remains a pleasant surprise for its market, mainly because it makes me have fond memories of when cell phones didn't have a tablet-sized screen.

It has a small body by the standards of a 2021 smartphone, the year it was released, displays a 5.4-inch OLED screen, has a smaller notch at the top and a more sober-looking body, basically the same look as the iPhone 12 Mini. Water protection is also present, but now the Apple A15 Bionic chip promises plenty of performance for a long time.

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Is he all that? Is the iPhone 13 Mini the best choice for anyone who wants a super powerful smartphone that they can use with one hand? I spent the last few weeks with it in my pocket, walking around São Paulo, always wearing a mask, to tell you, in the next paragraphs, if it's worth it or not.

iPhone 13 Mini review video

design and screen

If you've already seen our review of the iPhone 13 Pro Max, at least in terms of looks, little changes for the 13 Mini. There are two major changes, the main one being the physical size and the second being the material, which is matte aluminum on the iPhone 13 Mini and stainless steel on its bigger – and more expensive – sibling.

The size is really what caught my attention. Using the iPhone 13 Mini has given me the comfort I haven't had on smartphones for a long time. It is still not possible to use the phone with one hand and access the entire screen, but it is already possible to get very close to that. On the other hand, the smaller size of the display made me go through a learning curve to stop getting the letters wrong on the keyboard. It took about three days to look carefully to get everything correct.

iPhone 13 Mini (Image: André Fogaça/Olhar Digital)

The folks at Apple clearly know that people buy a smartphone and put on a case, erasing every pretty look for the company. To get around this situation, the iPhone 13 Mini made the rear cameras stay in a different layout than the previous model. Instead of lenses one above the other, they are now on a diagonal.

iPhone 13 Mini (Image: André Fogaça/Olhar Digital)

Apple says the change was to accommodate the larger sensors, which you can tell from the extra space in the bump, but changing the position of the lenses also created a visual identity that doesn't exist so well on the front, as many Android phones do too. It has a screen with a mustache-shaped notch.

iPhone 13 Mini (Image: André Fogaça/Olhar Digital)

This location has decreased by 20%, but as with the iPhone 13 Pro Max, the user does not receive any extra information from the sides that have gained more space at the top. So the change is more aesthetic than practical. It turned out nice, but if no one told you that, you wouldn't even notice the difference.

iPhone 13 Mini (Image: André Fogaça/Olhar Digital)

The 5.4-inch screen is one of the best I've ever used on a smartphone, basically working with the same results as the regular iPhone 13. The maximum brightness on the Mini model is higher than on the previous generation, hitting 800 nits and all this is more than enough to see any content on the display, even in very sunny environments.

Dolby Vision's HDR support also takes advantage of this high brightness, ensuring optimal reproduction of color, contrast and detail at 2340 x 1080 pixel resolution. Couple that with stereo speakers and the result is quite immersive. I didn't find any distortions or squeaky moments, even at high volumes.

iPhone 13 Mini (Image: André Fogaça/Olhar Digital)

Ah, that ProMotion and its 120Hz are exclusive to the iPhone 13 Pro and its brother iPhone 13 Pro Max. Here the screen has 60 frames and that I think is a mistake. For the price of the iPhone 13 Mini, virtually any competitor already delivers much more than 60Hz. Going to 120Hz is an interesting visual comfort and I miss it here.

Closing the outside, the IP68-certified protection promises water and dust resistance. Apple says the iPhone 13 Mini can withstand up to six meters in fresh water for half an hour. I prefer not to test all this sealing, but I really like knowing that I can clean the screen and the whole phone with tap water, without fear of being happy.

hardware and software

Inside, the Apple A15 Bionic does the work of the processor, inside the chip that brings 4 GB of RAM. It may seem like little if you make a direct comparison with Android numbers, but there is no app or game available on the App Store that makes the hardware tremble. Nothing, little girl.

Anything runs with its feet behind its back, even when many apps are open in the background. iOS 15, installed out of the box, knows very well how to deal with them and bring performance to where it needs to be, which is the app at the front. This goes for games and all tested ran very well, whether it's Asphalt 9, Pokémon Unite or the heavy and recent Genshin Impact.

iPhone 13 Mini running Asphalt 9 (Image: André Fogaça/Olhar Digital)

In memory, the iPhone 13 Mini already starts with 128 GB and this is an acceptable minimum amount, even for those who live in zap groups with videos and more videos, making the backup of conversations take up considerable space on the device.

On the software solutions side, iOS 15 brings everything that is present on other iPhones. In short, it allows you to read text from images within the native app for the gallery, handles focus mode well to suppress notifications at times of day, the alerts are prettier and even though the operating system is actually more closed than Android , it tends to please users.

iPhone 13 Mini (Image: André Fogaça/Olhar Digital)

If you have a Mac at home, or even an iPad, you still take advantage of Apple's ecosystem that works perfectly. A file can be quickly sent between devices, notifications appear on another device, and even an iPhone 13 Mini call can be answered on a tablet or even a desktop computer. Everything working natively, without having to download anything.

This path has been trodden by Android very slowly and Samsung is taking the biggest steps. It has been removing the edges that still persist between Windows and Galaxy, but Apple's solution is still far ahead and enviable.

iPhone 13 Mini (Image: André Fogaça/Olhar Digital)

Oh, the iPhone 13 Mini is also compatible with AirTags. The idea of this accessory is to be able to find other products around the house, even far from you. Just an iPhone passes by and you're warned. In Brazil, the Apple cell phone is not as popular as in the United States, so here I use it more to know where the house key went.

Finally, iOS on a new iPhone is backed by Apple's thinly-veiled warranty for many years of receiving updates. It's easy to bet on at least five years for the time when the iPhone 13 Mini will still receive a new operating system, along with security fixes.

cameras

Now, jumping to the cameras, the iPhone 13 Mini comes with two very large lenses on the back. There are two 12 megapixel sensors, with one for normal photos and another for ultrawide. In summary I can say that the photos are very good in any light condition and in many moments reaching something close to spectacular.

Photo with the main camera of the iPhone 13 Mini (Image: André Fogaça/Olhar Digital)
Photo with the main camera of the iPhone 13 Mini (Image: André Fogaça/Olhar Digital)

Detailing the moments I spent with the iPhone 13 Mini taking photos around the city, I noticed that it evolved well when compared to the previous model. The details stand out, there is a native tendency towards more saturated colors, which can be adjusted within the photography profiles, which I explained in the iPhone 13 Pro Max review, and I am delighted when the red becomes rich, when the green is evident…in short, when the colors are strongly present.

Photo with the main camera of the iPhone 13 Mini (Image: André Fogaça/Olhar Digital)
Photo with the main camera of the iPhone 13 Mini (Image: André Fogaça/Olhar Digital)

It more or less reminds me of Samsung's work on its best cameras, but without the exaggerated touch on saturation. On the iPhone 13 Mini everything is more balanced by default. The focus also caught my attention for being fast and efficient.

Photo with the iPhone 13 Mini's ultrawide camera (Image: André Fogaça/Olhar Digital)
Photo with the iPhone 13 Mini's ultrawide camera (Image: André Fogaça/Olhar Digital)

In images with the ultrawide lens, Apple continues to deliver results as good as the main lens, without distorting the edges too much. It is possible to see a pole more bent, but not as it would look in a GoPro of life.

Photo with the main camera of the iPhone 13 Mini (Image: André Fogaça/Olhar Digital)
Photo with the main camera of the iPhone 13 Mini (Image: André Fogaça/Olhar Digital)

At night, or in dark environments, the photos do not leave a burst of light even without the night mode. It is activated as a suggestion if the software notices that there is little light, resulting in even more defined photographs, with well-drawn skies, dark corners with more information and very little noise.

Photo with the main camera of the iPhone 13 Mini (Image: André Fogaça/Olhar Digital)
Photo with the iPhone 13 Mini's ultrawide camera (Image: André Fogaça/Olhar Digital)

Selfies use the front camera which also has 12 megapixels and the images look very good here. The colors are well represented and even at night the result is positive. It is within expectations for Apple's launch this year.

The cinematic mode is still present, as it is on the iPhone 13 Pro Max and there I explain how it works. In short, it does the portrait mode for the video, with intelligent control for who is in focus and with clips in Full HD, at 30 frames per second.

Photo with the front camera of the iPhone 13 Mini (Image: André Fogaça/Olhar Digital)
Photo with the front camera of the iPhone 13 Mini (Image: André Fogaça/Olhar Digital)

The same problems I noticed on the more expensive iPhone are still here, such as the difficulty of maintaining focus when there is a lot of movement or a high number of people in the scene.

In normal video mode Dolby Vision does a spectacular job with color, detail and dynamic range at up to 4K at 60 frames per second. The sensor stabilizer is present here and the result is very good, almost as expected for a simple gimbal.

Drums

Okay, this is all battery intensive and Apple is still thrifty at this point. The iPhone 13 Mini comes with just 2,500 mAh. It is more than in the last generation, but the increment could be greater.

Anyway, I managed to spend the whole day with my cell phone in my pocket, involving about two hours of video on YouTube in Full HD, another three hours of podcasts, Wi-Fi on all the time, along with Bluetooth and 5G activated in a few moments when the network was present, a few hours of browsing on social networks, less than half an hour in games and I ended the day with 30% of energy left in the tank.

You could still use your cell phone to go to the bar, if COVID-19 allowed that luxury.

Apple still doesn't include the charger in the box and the iPhone 13 Mini supports up to 18 watts. I took a Samsung adapter with 65 watts and put it in the Lightning port of the cell phone. In 23 minutes the battery recovered 50% of its charge, another 13 minutes made the component have 70% of its full capacity.

To fill the battery to 100%, I needed less than an hour and 30 minutes.

iPhone 13 Mini: Worth it

iPhone 13 Mini (Image: André Fogaça/Olhar Digital)

Yes, but first I know that Apple charges a lot and it hasn't hidden it from anyone since forever.

Well, it's worth it as long as you're coming from an older iPhone and know that this model is compact. The comfort in the hands captivated me and the exaggeratedly strong performance too, together with the cameras delivering such promising results in a cell phone with small dimensions.

I don't remember when was the last time I used such a powerful and small-sized smartphone, but it certainly happened on Sony's Xperia Compact. At first I struggled with the smaller buttons, but then I got the feeling that this is the ideal size for a cell phone.

iPhone 13 Mini (Image: André Fogaça/Olhar Digital)

It doesn't pack as much volume in your pocket, it fits easily in your hand, it stays firm even without two hands, but I repeat that all this only makes sense if you're coming from an older iPhone, because compared to the iPhone 12 Mini, the advances are shy. If you really want a small and very, very strong cell phone, with many years of update, the iPhone 12 Mini can be a good choice. If your wallet is fuller and the extra value is not missing, the iPhone 13 Mini is the best choice on the market in this size.

iPhone 13 Mini: data sheet

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