The iPhone 13 mini impressed reviewers and consumers with its powerful performance, excellent camera, and innovative design, but is it still worth buying in 2023? NextPit re-evaluated the 2021 compact and found out whether it’s still a good deal.
- Fantastic size for everyday use
- Good photo quality
- Very good video quality
- High-performance level
- Battery life could be better
- Display stuck at 60 Hertz
- No memory expansion options
- Lightning connector is annoying (to me)
iPhone 13 mini in a nutshell
The iPhone 13 mini has endured longer than any previous iPhone since it will remain without a replacement until at least 2023. Due to Apple’s emphasis on huge devices, the iPhone 13 mini is a great option for those who like compact handsets. Contrasted with Android 2021 flagships, the phone’s pricing is quite steady.
The iPhone 13 small, which retails for around $600 in 2023, is still a formidable device. The newest cellular standards including 5G, gaming-ready performance, and a solid operating system make this smartphone a compelling purchase. Even though the iPhone 13 small has a faster processor than its competitors, the display’s 60 Hertz refresh rate makes it seem antiquated. Even with its twin camera, this smartphone will be left behind by 2023’s offerings in terms of photo quality.
Design: Practical and compact
The iPhone 13 small weighs just 140 grams and measures 131.5 by 64.2 by 7.65 millimeters (HWD) because to its 5.4-inch screen. The smartphone has the standard iPhone mute button and a glass back, and it is waterproof according to its IP68 certification.
What I liked:
- Handy and space-saving thanks to the mini form factor.
- Comfortable to use with just one hand.
- The mute switch is nice to “fidget” with.
What I didn’t like:
- Very slippery without a cover.
- Microphones are easily covered during hands-free calls.
- Countless accidental screenshots due to the buttons’ positions.
I’ve previously written something that may be considered controversial on the size of modern smartphones. Small handheld devices are still not as common as larger ones, in my opinion. The iPhone is so little that it is unnoticeable in my pants and jacket pockets, and I can easily use it with one hand. The handset weighs in at just 140 grams, making it the lightest option available.
Apple’s iPhones are IP68 certified, meaning they are protected against dust and water. To rephrase, the smartphone has a 30-minute lifespan in water up to 6 meters deep. This means that if I am bored while swimming, I may indulge my habit of fiddling with the mute button in my (swimming) trousers pocket. The accurate vibrating motor makes this a fantastic substitute for a fidget spinner.
During my extensive evaluation, however, I found the placement of the microphones to be very grating. This is particularly true when using the phone with Apple’s silicone cover since resting the phone on your pinky finger during hands-free conversations would totally silence the other party due to the recesses in the case. The slick back makes it unusable without a case, so now we’re in quite a jam.
Finally, Apple’s button placement is quite frustrating. Apple’s screenshot motion involves pressing the large “on” button, which is the polar opposite of the “volume up” button. What do you get as a result?Nearly fifty pointless screenshots of my lock screen have accumulated, and it continues happening.
Display: High-end with a low refresh rate
Similar to the standard iPhone 13, the iPhone XR has a 5.4-inch Super Retina XDR OLED display from Apple. With a resolution of 2,340 by 1,080 pixels, the iPhone 7 Plus has a greater pixel density than any previous iPhone. However, it can only refresh at 60 hertz.
What I liked:
- Good one-handed operation.
- Sharpest iPhone display.
- Great color fidelity thanks to TrueTone.
What I didn’t like:
- Frame rate at only 60 Hertz.
- Notch design is no longer up to date…
- …and is still not software-optimized.
The screen of the iPhone 13 mini is like a premium mini-TV. It has the highest pixel density (476) of any iPhone screen, supports HDR content, and can reach a maximum brightness of 1,200 nits. The display is something I’d want to see in future iterations of the iPhone SE, which debuted in 2022 with a dated LCD.
TrueTone support, which automatically modifies color settings depending on the surrounding lighting, is a great addition for anyone working with photos and videos. Because my fingers are on the larger side, I have no trouble using only one hand. However, it is difficult to accurately target certain material, such as when I am copying text. After example, while working with a smaller screen, your fingers naturally cover more of the screen.
A 60-Hertz refresh rate isn’t great, especially when compared to comparable Android devices that cost less. After first finding the screen to be a touch slow, I rapidly adjusted to it in my daily life. I like how Apple reduces battery consumption by lowering the refresh rate on this iPhone. In this case, I believe that 120 Hertz would have resulted in even less battery life.
Apple’s front-facing camera, which is especially big due to Face ID, is located in an awkward spot. Even if the famous notch has dropped by a few millimeters, it is still quite noticeable while watching films.
Apps like YouTube, where the notch protrudes a few millimeters into the display when videos are not expanded to full screen, were singled out for mockery as soon as the reduced notch was released. It’s frustrating that Apple hasn’t fixed this after several iOS releases.
Software: Future-proof & well-integrated
If you’re interested in learning more about iOS 15, a comprehensive summary can be found on NextPit. The system runs smoothly and efficiently on the iPhone 13 mini. There were no scaling or display issues that I could see on the smaller screen. Considering the relatively high initial cost of the phone as a long-term investment, the software support period of six to seven years makes the phone more financially viable.
Those who own several Apple products will benefit from the industry’s most seamless cross-platform connection. Also, with a simple right-click on the desktop, you can scan documents using the iPhone camera, and you can take and make calls directly from your MacBook.
In many ways, Apple’s interconnected ecosystem is both the company’s greatest strength and its greatest weakness. That’s because it’s hard for other services to get access to the “walled garden” system. This might lead to a significant preference for Apple products, which can quickly become prohibitively costly.
Power: A tiny powerhouse
As of 2021, Apple has released the A15 Bionic, which drives the iPhone 13 mini. In 2022, only the Pro variants of the new iPhone series utilised its replacement, the A16 Bionic. There are just two more GPU cores available as an update to the iPhone 14. Because of this, the tiny model is virtually as powerful as the most recent base model.
What I liked:
- Very high-performance level.
- Never experienced problems with overheating up or thermal throttling.
- 128 GB of storage in the base model.
What I didn’t like:
- Memory is not expandable.
In 2022, Apple’s Pro models are the only ones getting the performance boost. In this sense, the 13 mini has almost no functional limitations; just a few camera functions are saved for versions with more graphics processing capability, which won’t arrive until 2022. The enhanced performance is seen in the following benchmark. obtainable for purchase or sale. That’s great news for benchmark scores, but it also provides the kind of productivity gain that matters in the real world.
Apple iPhone 13 mini performance benchmarks
|Benchmark||Apple iPhone 13 mini||Apple iPhone SE 2022||Samsung Galaxy S22||Oppo Find X5||Oppo Find X5 Pro||Asus Zenfone 8||OnePlus 9||Xiaomi Mi 11|
|3D Mark Wildlife||9292 at 55,6 fps||9214 at 55,2 fps||735 at 42,10 fps||5830 at 34,9 fps||9300 at 55,7 fps||5753||5683||5702|
|3D Mark Wildlife stress test (best / worst)||8968 / 7168||8173 / 6762||5581 / 3537||4723 / 3217||9192 / 6069||5825||5716||5697|
|Geekbench 5 (single / multi)||1742 / 4792||1737 / 4690||1158 / 3414||1097 / 3155||846 / 3324||1124 / 3738||1119 / 3657||1085 / 3490|
The A15 Bionic in the iPhone 13 mini enables seamless editing of 4K video at 60 frames per second, editing of acquired RAW photos, and the enjoyment of all the newest mobile games at maximum quality. Apple is a trusted name in the creative community since the company itself does not skimp on quality. At MWC 2022, for instance, the 13-inch iPhone mini was shown to be a functional voice-over microphone.
However, when put to practical use, the company’s beliefs (or pride?) might become a source of irritation. To edit films I took with the phone, for instance, I can’t just pop out the microSD card as I can with Sony’s Xperia Pro-I but rather must connect the phone to a computer via cable, import the videos into the Photos app, and then export them as video files twice inside the Photos app. Too many hurdles must be overcome!
It’s inconvenient that there is no way to increase capacity, even if this isn’t as big of a problem in 2022 as it was in 2018, due to advancements in storage technology. I also applaud Apple for making the base storage capacity for the iPhone 13 series 128 GB. As a result, the cost-effectiveness ratio is better than it was a year ago.
Photos & Videos: A dream for video fans
Apple claims that it needs more powerful graphics processors to integrate its newest camera functionality to older devices. So, the cinema mode is limited to Full HD, and on earlier devices, there is no action mode at all. The image just cannot compete with the best of today.
What I liked:
- Solid image quality with all three cameras
(selfie cam included).
- Very good video quality.
- Sensible software features (photographic styles, portrait modes and Cinematic Mode).
What I didn’t like:
- Fingers appear frequently in ultra-wide-angle pictures due to the small size.
- Comes without Apple’s 2022 camera features (action mode and 4K cinema mode)
- No longer impressive in 2023.
Although Apple’s camera system isn’t very impressive when compared to competitors, it does have some intriguing features. The primary camera has a fast f/1.6 lens and sensor-shift technology for stabilizing your shots. In the previous version, only the iPhone 12 Pro Max had this capability. The 13-inch tiny iPhone also functions as a high-quality camcorder.
Both of the rear-facing cameras can capture 4K video at 60 frames per second. It’s worth noting that even the Pixel 6 Pro, which I formerly compared favorably to the iPhone 13 Pro and which is widely regarded as having one of the greatest camera phones, switches to Full HD when using the ultra wide-angle lens. Video enthusiasts may now film without worrying about upscaling or varying video quality.
The Cinematic Mode is only available in Full HD, so you’ll have to make do with less detail if you want to use it. Apple’s bokeh effect in videos is really convincing. Apple’s 14-series is the only option if you want the best possible image quality. And the same goes for action mode, which is missing on the 13 minis. But the stability is enough for most uses. Check out NextPit’s video review of the iPhone 14 for more thoughts.
The iPhone 13 mini may not have the finest smartphone camera of the year, but its performance is flawless regardless of the conditions. The phone’s tiny form factor makes it an excellent companion for spontaneous photography. When using an ultra-wide-angle lens, it’s easy to accidentally include your finger in the shot. With such a compact body, taking a picture requires touching the phone at least once.
Battery & Quick-Charging: The only real drawback of the iPhone 13 mini
Even if Apple does not officially confirm it: the iPhone 13 mini has a particularly low capacity battery at 2,406 mAh. Even though Apple ekes many hours of battery life out of the device with the energy-efficient A15 Bionic chipset, the battery life continues to remain at a disadvantage in a small phone. However, fast charging works rather well despite a maximum charging speed of 25 watts.
What I liked:
- Short charging times thanks to the small battery.
- MagSafe support (an advantage over the iPhone SE 2022).
- Wireless charging is also possible without using a proprietary Apple charger.
What I didn’t like:
- Battery life is less than a full day under heavy usage.
- Lightning connector is becoming increasingly rare.
After a few months of usage, I can say that the iPhone 13 mini’s battery life is its worst flaw. But it wasn’t unexpected, and it was pointed out in the assessment of the iPhone 12 mini. As for me, I listen to music while doing light web browsing, check my instant messengers, peruse Instagram, take photographs, make phone calls, and even engage in video chats all throughout the day on my smartphone. Mobile gaming and Netflix streaming, which both need a lot of battery life, are not typical activities for me.
hence, the battery life was enough for my needs. Leaving Berlin for Freiburg by vehicle at the end of January with the iPhone 13 mini gave me a bad feeling, so it would have been wonderful to have some juice left over at the end of the day. An almost nine-and-a-half-hour journey during which I was unable to use my phone as a navigation device without plugging it into the car’s power outlet at regular intervals.
Sadly, I was unable to utilize my charging cable for the only reason that Apple stubbornly continues to use its Lightning connector in 2022. Even if the charging port is a little more secure, it is already a rarity in my home and the Apple ecosystem at large. USB-C can be used to charge practically all modern smartphones, tablets, and headphones. As an organization, Apple finds it challenging to transition. Given that the Lightning connector is universally used by AirPods, there comes a point at which switching between the two connection types becomes unnecessary.
If I decide to keep using my iPhone 13 mini, I will have to invest in a portable charger that is compatible with MagSafe. Since Apple supports the Qi wireless charging standard in addition to its own MagSafe standard, this is necessary, and thankfully I have a backup option in the form of a third-party model.
The first test involves simply opening websites at regular intervals, scrolling through them, and then moving on to the next site while keeping the brightness of both phones constant. Compared to the iPhone 13, the iPhone 13 mini lasted for an extra hour and 37 minutes in our test.
We all simply watched YouTube videos continuously until one of our phones died. The iPhone 13 mini has a 1 hour and 10-minute advantage over its predecessor.
Finally, we have an outstanding result for gaming: the iPhone 13 mini outperformed the iPhone 12 mini by 1 hour and 34 minutes, as promised by Apple.
What about in reality? It’s true that the iPhone 13 mini isn’t exactly a powerhouse in terms of its battery life. Even though I normally don’t switch to Low Power mode until after dark, I often find myself doing so. Well, it would be the case if I went the whole day without access to a wireless charger. More and more of us get by with simply a charging puck on our desks these days.
So, the iPhone 13 mini gets my praise for being both compact and powerful. It won’t last for two days on a charge, but it should be able to carry you through a typical day without a hitch.
There was no successor to the iPhone 13 small when the 14 lines was announced in September 2022, making a purchase in 2023 more beneficial than for any other model in the same 2021 range. Therefore, the Apple 13 mini is an excellent choice if you want a little smartphone from Apple. The only other options are the older model (click here to see a comparison of the iPhone 13 mini and the iPhone 12 small) and the iPhone SE 2022. The two variants share a lesser price and a reduced set of features. The 2022 SE in particular seems antiquated next to the 13-inch iPhone mini.
However, the fact that Apple has discontinued the iPhone mini and replaced it with the iPhone 14 Plus (review) suggests that compact smartphones are not popular. Is an Android phone a viable option, and do you plan to keep looking? Then, we’ll demonstrate the 2023 equivalents of the greatest pocketable smartphones.