iPhone 13 mini lives! The case for buying it in 2022 - IT SPARK Media

iPhone 13 mini lives! The case for buying it in 2022



  • Comfortable to hold and slip in a pocket
  • Least expensive iPhone 13 model
  • 128GB is the standard base storage
  • Same processor and camera as larger iPhone 13


  • Front-facing camera lacks autofocus
  • Battery life is passable but could be better
  • Smaller body, same big notch

The death of the iPhone mini has been greatly exaggerated. Although Apple’s latest iPhone line doesn’t include a mini model, last year’s 13 mini is still alive and well. Just walk into any Apple store and it’ll be there. 

While the company is shifting its focus to larger phones, I’ve been daily driving the petite powerhouse that is the iPhone 13 mini to test its viability in 2022 and get a greater sense of exactly how much (or how little) users are missing out on by going with Apple’s smaller iPhone.

This isn’t a first review by any means — my colleague Jason Cipriani covered the specs and general experience at launch — but a confirmation of just how good (or bad) the iPhone 13 mini is one full year later. Let’s dive in.



5.4-inch OLED with 60Hz


64.2 x 131.5 x 7.65mm




A15 Bionic Chip

Memory and storage

4GB RAM with 128GB, 256GB, 512GB


12MP f/1..6 wide, 12MP f/2.4 ultra-wide, 12MP f/2.2 front 


Up to 17 hours of video playback


IP68, Ceramic Shield


iOS 16.1


Product Red, Starlight, Midnight, Blue, Pink, Green


Starting at $599

The iPhone 12 mini, but better

If you’re like me and coming from an iPhone 12 mini, you’ll feel right at home with the iPhone 13 mini. I barely notice a difference between the two models, which is a good thing. 

Both minis feature the 5.4-inch Super Retina XDR display, which renders a fair amount of brightness, color accuracy, and a wide color range for users who like to pixel peep. Plus, the minis have identical technology (front-facing camera, speakers, etc.) for video calls, audio calls, and video playback. I tested FaceTime, cellular calls, and video streaming on both phones, and it checks out — quality is indeed the same. 

But that’s the purpose of the iPhone 13 mini, right? It doesn’t exist to revolutionize the iPhone experience like how the first iPhone mini did, but instead, offers a similar package with refinements where it matters. 

Review: iPhone SE (2022): As fast as iPhone 13 Pro Max, but half the price


Aside from camera placement, the iPhone 13 mini and 12 mini are physically identical.

Emery Wright/ZDNET

Those refinements include the 13 mini’s improved battery life which, according to Apple, should see 2-5 hours longer of usage than its predecessor. Considering the small battery size, to begin with, the 13 mini won’t give you the same level of endurance as, say, the iPhone Pro Max line, but it does manage to squeeze some extra power in compared to the iPhone 12 mini. If you prioritize long-lasting battery life, consider investing in one of Apple’s larger iPhones — or a portable charger

The iPhone 13 mini also boasts a faster A15 Bionic chip, which runs more efficiently than last year’s A14. To be honest, I barely noticed any lagging or stuttering on the newer iPhone. But, frankly speaking, I never had issues with my personal iPhone 12 mini, too. Does my 21st-century brain simply fail to notice faster technology? Maybe.

More: The case for keeping your old iPhone

Still a day-to-day iPhone

For most tasks, the iPhone 13 mini is just as capable as larger, pricier iPhones. Playing music, sending iMessages and FaceTiming friends is a breeze. Plus, it actually fits in my back pocket. 

Yes, the screen is small at 5.4 inches. But it does everything I need it to, and more: announce the weather, track outdoor runs, tap to pay, and more. Plus, iCloud automatically saves messages and photos to my MacBook, so recent memories won’t be lost forever if I accidentally drop my phone in the toilet.


Surviving my lifestyle, the Phone 13 mini is resilient. 

Emery Wright/ZDNET

The mini sits comfortably in my small hands while I navigate the subway, and I drop it less often than with larger handsets. I even write long-winded Yelp and TripAdvisor reviews on this small but reliable display, with high-quality photos included. More on how the camera fares in a second. 

It’s true — there’s no iPhone 14 mini this year. However, the iPhone 13 mini is already optimized in many ways for most users in 2022. In fact, the iPhone 12 mini remains a competitive device in the small smartphone world, too.

More: The cheapest (but still great) phones you can get for under $430

Camera quality

The iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 13 mini have nearly identical cameras, aside from the larger primary sensor (for low light photography) and camera placement (vertical vs diagonal). That means that both are sufficient for daily use, whether you’re capturing selfies, street photography, or food pics from your latest dining adventure.

For the sake of experimentation, I also compared the cameras of the iPhone 13 mini with the iPhone 14 Pro’s — and the results were surprising. See the comparison below. In terms of brightness, sharpness, and color accuracy, the mini goes toe-to-toe with the Pro. There’s a difference in how and what the cameras choose to focus on and the warmth of the colors, but generally speaking, I’d be perfectly fine with the mini’s output. 


Photos taken with the iPhone 13 mini (left) and the iPhone 14 Pro (right) are nearly identical.

Emery Wright/ZDNET

However, the 13 mini’s cameras have one shortcoming: The inability to focus on objects closer than 5 inches to the lens. So if you’re trying to capture the paper cut on your dog’s nose, you’ll have to (gasp) digitally zoom in from afar.

The 13 mini camera does boast one advantage over my current 12 mini: Cinematic video mode, which focuses with greater accuracy while increasing contrast and depth. And honestly, it works. Normal video recording appears noticeably two-dimensional in comparison.

However, if capturing high-quality video is a priority for your iPhone experience, you’re better off splurging on the iPhone 14 Pro or iPhone 14 Pro Max. Both feature ProRes and macro video recording for enhanced production quality.

More: iPhone 14 Pro packs a lot more innovation for the same price as last year

Will the mini make a comeback?

As sales numbers have suggested, the iPhone mini is Apple’s least popular product line. And with Apple shifting to larger Plus-sized phones, the 13 mini is very likely the best and last miniature iPhone you can buy today.

However, the iPhone mini has the potential for a comeback, as CNET points out, but not in the form of the iPhone SE. In the past, Apple has recycled the body design of older iPhone models with a newer processor and launched it under the iPhone SE moniker. Could the iPhone 13 mini body be the next SE? Only time will tell, but let’s keep our fingers crossed.

Bottom line

Is the iPhone 13 mini still a viable option for users who want the best iPhone experience in a smaller package? Absolutely. The iPhone 13 mini serves every function that larger, more expensive models do — except when it comes to battery life. That’s a trade-off that you’ll have to accept no matter what miniature phone you use. 

Growing up alongside the iPhone, I appreciate how the mini’s small screen prompts me to spend less time online. While it seems counterintuitive to recommend a phone that reduces digital consumption, it’s been a lifesaver for my productivity and ability to feel present in the moment.

For only $599, the iPhone 13 mini is a great deal. If pocketability, hand comfort, and iOS are at the top of your smartphone priority list, then this is still the phone to buy. For high-quality video and extended battery life, consider looking elsewhere.

Alternatives to consider

Besides the iPhone 13 mini, here are some other small-phone alternatives to consider:


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