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iPhone 12 mini and iPhone SE (2020) in comparison

Apple fans with a penchant for the handy smartphone will get two alternatives this year: the iPhone 12 mini and iPhone SE (2020). The comparison clarifies all the differences between the two compact cell phones.


They fit in every pocket, can be operated with one hand and are reminiscent of a time before the megalomania of smartphone manufacturers: iPhone 12 mini and iPhone SE (2020). The iPhone 12 mini is more compact than an iPhone for a long time and brings back the more angular shape, the iPhone SE (2020) focuses on a good Both compact iPhone performed well in the COMPUTER BILD test, but the comparison shows many detailed differences between the iPhone 12 mini and iPhone SE, which the editorial team

 iPhone 12 mini and iPhone SE (2020): Design

The iPhone SE (2020) is significantly cheaper than the iPhone 12 mini, but the workmanship of the two devices is equally high quality.The differences here are more stylistic: the iPhone SE fits into a rounded housing frame; What is better?Water resistance is less a matter of taste: the iPhone 12 mini survives dives for up to 30 minutes at depths of up to six meters, the iPhone SE with stands just as long at only up to one meter.

The backs of both iPhones are clad in glass.If we compare the scratch resistance of the iPhone 12 mini and the iPhone SE in our test laboratory, only a minimal difference is noticeable: Both phones are well(if not very well) protected against scratches, front and back.At the softest point, however, the iPhone SE holds up a little better than the 12 mini.

The iPhone SE (2020) iPhone 12 mini fresh design.

The iPhone SE (2020) is well-rounded, the angular iPhone 12 mini is nasty. Not everyone likes the fresh design.

Handy handling with differences

It’s hard to believe, but the iPhone 12 mini is actually smaller than the already small iPhone SE! Both devices are handy, however, and can be operated with one hand without the next swipe over the shopping list app. The glass back makes the dwarf iPhones feel a bit slippery – a case solves the problem. There are differences in the bio metric lock. The iPhone SE (2020) can be unlocked with a fingerprint, the 12 mini uses the face scan via Face ID. The latter usually offers advantages, but in times of Corona it has a major disadvantage: The iPhone does not recognize users when the respirator is on, users have to enter their PIN.

Shape and colors: the iPhones are so small and colorful

Device: iPhone 12 mini

The iPhone 12 mini comes in five colors: white, black, blue, green and red.

  • External dimensions: 131.5×64.2×7.4 millimeters
  • Display diagonal: 5.4 inches (13.7 centimeters)
  • Display utilization of the front surface: 84 percent

Device: iPhone SE

The iPhone SE is available in white, black and red, whereby the color refers to the back and the front is always black.

  • External dimensions: 138.4×67.3×7.3 millimeters
  • Display diagonal: 4.7 inches (11.9 centimeters)
  • Display utilization of the front surface: 65 percent

Display: different size and technology

Like all top models in the 12 series, the iPhone 12 mini has an OLED display (Apple calls it “Super Retina XDR Display”), which impresses with strong contrasts and brilliant colors and gets a good grade (1.7). The LCD display (called “Retina HD Display”) of the iPhone SE shows significantly weaker contrasts and only achieved a satisfactory result in the test (grade 2.6). A big advantage of the mini iPhone: it fills the front with more screen space.

Although it’s smaller than the iPhone SE, it’s 5.4-inch diagonal – the SE is just 4.7-inches. The mini gains the advantage by dispensing with the fingerprint sensor and thick bezels at the top and bottom. The SE also has to give in when it comes to resolution: With 1334×750 pixels on 4.7 inches, the result is 326 pixels per inch (ppi). The resolution is significantly lower than that of the iPhone 12 mini display with its 2340×1080 pixels on 5.4 inches (a whopping 476 ppi). The iPhone 12 mini wins this round.

Performance, storage, internet

The iPhone 12 mini breaks the benchmark records of our test laboratory with the current A14 processor. The iPhone SE lets the somewhat older and weaker A13 chip work for itself, but it is also high-performance and probably does not cause most users any noticeable losses.

There is a tie when it comes to storage: Both models are available with 64, 128 and 256 gigabytes (GB). When it comes to mobile Internet, however, the iPhone 12 mini emerges as the winner: It has the current 5G cellular standard, which reaches rapid speeds when surfing and streaming – at least with a suitable 5G tariff and 5G masts nearby. With the iPhone SE you can surf on the go with LTE (4G). One more point for the iPhone 12 mini.

Camera: more lenses, better photos?

The iPhone SE looks downright old-fashioned among all the multi-camera smartphones: only one camera is installed on the back. The iPhone 12 mini has two and thus has an ultra-wide angle mode in addition to the normal photo mode. More is not necessarily better, but the photo quality of the mini is actually convincing: It finished the test with a grade of 1.8 (good), while the iPhone SE only achieved the satisfactory performance with a grade of 2.6. Above all, the night mode makes the difference: With it, the new iPhones of the 12 series take great photos in every mode (normal, ultra-wide, selfie), even if there is a lack of light. The SE, however, has problems in low light and cannot get a grip on them even when using the flash.

Battery: fast charging and running time

The iPhone 12 mini comes with a larger battery: 2,227 mAh compared to the 1,821 mAh of the iPhone SE. Even if the size of the battery alone does not mean a longer runtime – because size, brightness, the hertz frequency of the screen and the efficiency of the processor also play a role here – the iPhone 12 mini lasts 98 minutes longer (see table overview). In addition, it can be charged faster with 20 watts via cable and 15 watts wirelessly than the iPhone SE with a meager 10 or 7.5 watts. The iPhone 12 mini thus catches the last victory point.

Conclusion: small, but no small differences

This summarizes the most important differences between iPhone mini and iPhone SE (2020). Smaller innovations such as the Mag Safe charging technology of the iPhone 12 mini are probably not decisive for the purchase. The main advantages of this mobile phone are the sharper, larger and high-contrast display, the better camera and the latest 5G cellular standard. The mini clearly wins in terms of points and overall test results.


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