Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Hands-On With the iPhone 12 Mini and Pro Max

With orders for the iPhone 12 Mini and iPhone 12 Pro Max beginning early tomorrow morning, Pacific time, journalists were invited to Apple’s Manhattan penthouse today to get a hands-on impression of the new phones. Since the review embargo doesn’t drop until early next week, none of the pieces released today have much more information than you can find on Apple’s marketing webpages.

But what is new in these videos and articles is the clearer impression of just how small the Mini is compared to everything else in the lineup. It is still bigger than the 5-series hardware, but appears to be noticeably smaller than the 4.7-inch form factor that was introduced with the iPhone 6. That seems to be pretty close to a sweet spot.

If the iPhone 12 Mini sells especially well, I have to wonder if Apple would consider making a more compact Pro variant in the future.1 Of the people buying the Mini, how many are buying it because it is the lowest-cost iPhone, and how many are buying it because it is the smallest? And, of the latter, how many are compromising their desire for Pro-level features because the size is so desirable to them?

This year, the differences between the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro — excluding the Max — are so subtle that I think the two middle-sized models are for niche buyers and, in a way, the extreme ends of the model spectrum might actually be the easiest sell. On paper, if you just want an iPhone, you should just buy the Mini and get a little more storage. If you really care about camera features, you should probably buy the Pro Max, even though it is the size of an aircraft carrier. The 6.1-inch models seem to only be for people who wanted to get an iPhone 12 earlier, want a little more battery life than the Mini, or really care about the telephoto lens. Again, this is all on paper; we will find out early next week how this year’s deceptively simple lineup works in day-to-day use.

Update: Dan Ackerman of CNet also has a good size comparison video featuring a few shots of accessories announced earlier this year without a release date, namely the leather sleeve case and MagSafe Duo charger. While Apple’s leather case will be available tomorrow, there is no word yet on when those other accessories will be available. Also, I wanted to use this opportunity to point out that the MagSafe wallet is exactly as wide as the iPhone 12 Mini and follows the same corner radius.


  1. I suppose it is also worth speculating about a non-Pro version of the Max, but I think that is less likely. If you’re going to get the big phone, why not get all of the extra features its form factor allows? Also, it must be said, it encourages buyers committed to the bigger screen to spend at least $1,099 instead of the presumed $929 it might cost for a hypothetical iPhone 12 Max, and I am sure Apple is not unhappy about that. ↩︎