iPhone 12 Mini vs iPhone SE

Is the pint-sized flagship worth the extra cash?

Cheapest* iPhone 12 Mini Plan
iPhone 12 mini
Vodafone $40 Lite 36mth
4 out of 5 stars
  • pro
    From $68.30/mth
  • pro
    50GB of monthly data
Cheapest Telstra 12 Mini plan
iPhone 12 mini
Telstra $55 Small Plan
4.5 out of 5 stars
  • pro
    From $104.95/mth
  • pro
    40GB of monthly data
Cheapest* Optus 12 Mini plan
iPhone 12 mini
Optus $39 Choice 36mth
4.5 out of 5 stars
  • pro
    From $72.30/mth
  • pro
    10GB of monthly data
Georgia Dixon
Nov 08, 2020
Icon Time To Read3 min read

We may earn money when you click our links.

Quick verdict

Both the iPhone 12 Mini and SE are good budget-friendly options for Apple fans, but the 12 Mini's display, camera and battery life put it out on top. That said, the SE is still a fantastic iPhone for those on a budget.

There's no denying it - iPhones are expensive. They've always boasted high-end specs, and naturally, a high-end price tag to match. This year's iPhone 12 Mini, the cheapest in the new lineup, will still set you back a whopping $1,199. But is it really worth it when the smash-hit iPhone SE packs so much into such a neat, budget-friendly package? Let's find out.

iPhone 12 Mini vs iPhone SE: Price

At an RRP of $1,199, the iPhone 12 Mini comes in at almost double the cost of the iPhone SE, which starts at $679. However, some stores are slinging the base SE model for just $659, which makes the difference between the two even greater.

Yes, the iPhone 12 Mini is newer, shinier and boasts an extra camera, but when it comes to pure price, the SE has the win here.

Winner: iPhone SE

iPhone 12 Mini vs iPhone SE: Camera

Like last year’s models, the iPhone 12 Mini sports two snappers (excluding the selfie cam) - one primary 12MP lens and one 12MP ultra-wide lens. iPhone cameras have always been some of the best you’ll find on a smartphone, and the iPhone 12 Mini is no exception.

The iPhone SE, on the other hand, has just one 12MP primary lens, along with the 7MP selfie camera. That said, the photo quality is still great for a single-lens shooter, and if you can live without a wide-angle lens, the SE will do you just fine.

While both cameras are capable of taking some pretty spectacular photos, the iPhone 12 Mini’s extra lens gives it an extra edge.

Winner: iPhone 12 Mini

iPhone 12 Mini vs iPhone SE: Design

This is where things get interesting. The iPhone 12 Mini and SE are very similar in size, so those looking for a smaller, more pocket-friendly device will be happy to know both phones comfortably fit in the palm of your hand. The SE measures at 138 x 67 x 7.3 mm and the 12 Mini at 131.5 x 64.2 x 7.4mm.

The iPhone SE looks almost identical to the 2017’s iPhone 8, with a sleek glass backing and smooth, rounded edges. The iPhone 12 Mini, however, mimics its more expensive siblings with squared-off edges (and, of course, an extra camera at the back).

As much as we love the iPhone 12’s sleek, sharp edges, when it comes to comfort, the iPhone SE is much nicer to hold.

Winner: iPhone SE

iPhone 12 Mini vs iPhone SE: Display

If you’re into screens that take up the whole front of your device with no bezels in sight, the iPhone 12 Mini is for you. There’s the usual top notch, housing the selfie cam, speaker and Face ID tech, but other than that, the whole surface is screen - 5.4” OLED, to be exact.

Like its backing, however, the front of the iPhone SE is almost identical to the iPhone 8’s 4.7 LCD - bezels and all. With that in mind, and given the sheer amount of mid-range Android competitors with equally gorgeous displays as their high-end counterparts, the iPhone 12 Mini has the SE well and truly beat.

Winner: iPhone 12 Mini

iPhone 12 Mini vs iPhone SE: Performance

When it comes to performance, you can probably guess which is the best out of these two. In the smartphone world, higher cost almost always translates to a better processor, larger RAM, and all-around more impressive performance. The same goes for the iPhone 12 Mini.

Don’t get us wrong, the iPhone SE gets the job done and then some, but in a head-to-head specs comparison, the SE’s A13 chip and 3GB RAM just don’t stack up to the iPhone 12 Mini’s A14 processor and 5G connectivity.

Winner: iPhone 12 Mini

iPhone 12 Mini vs iPhone SE: Battery life

The iPhone SE sports a 1821mAh battery, while the iPhone 12 Mini boasts one with a slightly larger capacity (exact mAh is not yet known). In reality, this equates to about 13 hours of video playback time for the SE and 15 hours for the 12 Mini, per Apple’s own reports.

Both are enough to get you through the day, but the iPhone 12 Mini will keep you going an extra few hours.

Winner: iPhone 12 Mini

So, which should I buy?

Out of our four categories, the iPhone SE won two and the 12 Mini won four. But given one is a decent amount more expensive than the other, this shouldn’t come as a huge surprise.

If you want a well-rounded, high-spec device that's 5G-ready, the iPhone 12 Mini is undoubtedly the best pick of the two. However, if you’re on a budget or don’t mind sacrificing a wide-angle lens, the latest processor and slightly less battery life, the iPhone SE is still a great choice.

iPhone 12 Mini plans

iPhone 12 Mini plans are now available in Australia. Here's a quick look at the most popular options via Telstra, Vodafone and Optus.

iPhone SE plans

Georgia Dixon
Written by
Georgia Dixon
Georgia Dixon has over seven years' experience writing about all things tech, entertainment and lifestyle, with bylines in TechLife magazine, 7NEWS and Stuff.co.nz. In her spare time, you'll find her playing games and daydreaming about good food, wine, and dogs.

Related Articles

Chris Messina
Chris Messina is proof we’re living in a simulation
You know Chris Messina from that one thing you saw… or do you?
AirPods 2 Pro review header
The new Apple AirPods Pro (2022) are more tick than tock
Apple's new AirPods Pro don't reinvent the wheel, but they do sound good.
iPhone 15
iPhone 15: Everything you need to know
Apple has revealed the iPhone 15 family.