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Home / Reviews / Smartphones / Apple iPhone 13 Mini review: best of the breed

Apple iPhone 13 Mini review: best of the breed

Mini size. Less ‘mini’ battery life

Stuff Verdict

Outwardly similar to the iPhone 12 Mini, but this upgrade meaningfully improves the camera and battery life of Apple’s most pocketable iPhone. The iPhone 13 Mini is unique.


  • Improved cameras
  • Better battery life
  • Uncompromised power
  • Nothing else like it


  • No telephoto/macro
  • Can be fiddly to use
  • The notch is annoying
  • No Touch ID

People griped about every contender for the best smartphone crown becoming increasingly sized like surfboards. Then Apple made iPhone 12 Mini and, reportedly, hardly anyone bought one. That’s a pity, because it was a tiny iPhone with few compromises – and remains so in this revision. Apart from battery life, but we’ll get to that.

This update, then, improves on an iPhone designed for people with smaller hands and/or smaller pockets but not necessarily smaller demands from a smartphone. At launch, it could do everything the larger iPhone 13 could; cut to the present day and it stands out as Apple’s final attempt at a smaller flagship to date.

Review first published 2 October 2021

Design: Small is beautiful

Design: Small is beautiful

Compared to other smartphones, the iPhone 13 Mini is almost comically tiny. Its dimensions are similar to the original iPhone’s, although it’s thinner. With FaceID instead of a TouchID-enabled home button, it also makes more of its front face available for the display.

The flat edges echo the iPhone 12 generation’s redesign, and feel great in the hand. My review model was the Midnight colour – black with a subtle hint of blue that looks smart, but shows every speck of dust when you’ve the audacity to use the thing.

Speaking of, the Mini can be fiddly when playing games and using apps. Typing isn’t fun and virtual game controls are often optimised for a larger device. But that’s offset by it being light (141g), pocketable, and a device you can use one-handed without resorting to the Reachability feature or banana thumbs. I was quickly smitten and wondering if I’d got it all wrong using giant phones all these years.

Cameras: Snap happy

Cameras: Snap happy

Compared to the iPhone 12 line’s lenses, those on the new Mini are huge. They stick out more and are set diagonally to fit inside an expanded camera bump. Which means better photos – much better in many cases.

The Mini camera system gets optical image stabilisation, previously limited to the iPhone 12 Pro Max, for steadier shooting of stills and video. The wide lens lets in 47% more light and during tests largely held its own against the iPhone 13 Pro Max – even in low light. It’s deeply impressive – doubly so when using a large Mac/PC display to gawp at what you shot. Flicking between Pro Max and Mini photos and seeing little difference.

Where things fall down is the ultra wide. It’s not bad – in fact, low light snaps taken with it are improved over what you got out of the outgoing iPhone 12 Mini. But I’d much prefer a telephoto lens in the mix. I’d change my mind if this phone had the Pro’s macro smarts, but it doesn’t, and so the ultra wide feels comparatively redundant.

Screen and sound: Mini-mal refresh

Display and audio: Mini-mal refresh

Apple says the notch is 20% smaller, but it intrudes on a display this small (5.4in), and the company’s done nothing useful with the space it’s clawed back. Elsewhere, this screen mostly does the business.

Naturally, its small size impacts on immersion when gaming or watching video – although even the largest iPhone is sub-optimal for the latter. But whatever you’re doing, colours are rich and details are sharp. Apple says ‘typical’ brightness is up over the iPhone 12 Mini – 800 nits vs 625. But unless you like chewing through battery or blowing up your own retinas, you’ll mostly have this Retina display set to 50% brightness.

The downside is that the display’s refresh rate remains rooted at 60Hz, unlike the new Pro models – and many Android devices. Fortunately, iOS is snappy enough that this rarely matters, but an upgrade would have been nice.

One surprise, though, is the speaker system packs reasonable oomph. It lacks the depth of larger iPhones, but nonetheless compares favourably.

Performance and battery: maxed Mini

Performance and battery: maxed Mini

There’s an A15 inside this Mini, which propelled it towards the top of the smartphone performance charts at launch, and was bettered only by Apple’s own Pro models (which got an extra GPU core this generation). Unless your needs are very specific, you won’t miss that. Instead, you’ll revel in how a phone this tiny can deal with any app or game you care to throw at it.

Really, this year’s story is more holistic in nature, with chip and battery system alike combining to net you more time between charges. Apple reckons you’ll get up to 13 hours of streaming video. In more general use, I found the Mini bettered last year’s iPhone 12 (not Mini), which I still have around, but you won’t reach 13 hours before charging unless you’re a light user.

Still, while ‘all day battery’ remains out of reach if you often dig into cellular, video chat or games, I’ll take ‘acceptable’ over last year’s ‘disappointing’. Consider investing in a portable external battery pack if you’re often out and about, though, so as to not get caught short.

Apple iPhone 13 Mini verdict

Apple iPhone 13 Mini verdict

The Mini is the cheapest entry in the iPhone 13 line, but you won’t get one because of pricing. Or rather, you shouldn’t, because if you need to save cash, an iPhone 12 cost the same and has a bigger display – albeit an inferior camera and half the storage.

Instead, the Mini is all about the form factor, offering you a (nearly) compromise-free option when you want the full-fat iPhone experience without, well, the fat. Is it perfect? No. Battery life, while improved, remains a trade-off, and this iPhone can be fiddly to use. But this is by some margin the best phone available in a tiny package.

Sadly Apple tired of making small phones by the time the next iPhone generation rolled around, making this the last of its kind – at least for the time being.

Stuff Says…

Score: 4/5

Outwardly similar to the iPhone 12 Mini, but this upgrade meaningfully improves the camera and battery life of Apple’s most pocketable iPhone.


Improved cameras

Better battery life

Uncompromised power

Nothing else like it


No telephoto/macro

Can be fiddly to use

The notch is annoying

No Touch ID

Apple iPhone 13 Mini tech specs

Display5.4in 2340×1080 OLED HDR at 476ppi
ProcessorA15 Bionic
OSiOS 15
Cameras12MP ƒ/1.6 wide, 12MP ƒ/2.4 ultra wide rear; 12MP ƒ/2.2 front
Battery2,406 mAh (est.)
Profile image of Craig Grannell Craig Grannell Contributor


I’m a regular contributor to Stuff magazine and Stuff.tv, covering apps, games, Apple kit, Android, Lego, retro gaming and other interesting oddities. I also pen opinion pieces when the editor lets me, getting all serious about accessibility and predicting when sentient AI smart cookware will take over the world, in a terrifying mix of Bake Off and Terminator.

Areas of expertise

Mobile apps and games, Macs, iOS and tvOS devices, Android, retro games, crowdfunding, design, how to fight off an enraged smart saucepan with a massive stick.