iPhone 12 mini vs iPhone 11 – Is It Worth Upgrading Already?

By Michael Grothaus •  Updated: 10/29/20 •  8 min read

Welcome to our iPhone 12 mini vs iPhone 11 comparison! In 2019 the entry-level “new” iPhone was the iPhone 11. And it was a fantastic iPhone to boot. Packing the A13 Bionic chip and a dual-lens rear camera, it candidly beat out comparable Android handset and previous iPhone handsets as well.

But in 2020, the “new” entry-level iPhone is the iPhone 12 mini. This is the cheapest of all the iPhone 12 series phones, and it sports some of the same specs as the high-priced iPhone 12 phones, including the A14 Bionic chip. But if you picked up the iPhone 11 last year, is it worth upgrading to the 2020 entry-level iPhone, the iPhone 12 mini? Let’s take a look at both phones.

iPhone 12 mini vs iPhone 11 Quick Comparison

iPhone 12 mini vs iPhone 11 – Is It Worth Upgrading Already?
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When it comes to design, the iPhone 12 mini and the iPhone 11 have a big thing in common: they both sport a glass and aluminum frame. In other words, they use aluminum instead of the stainless steel frame found on the higher-priced “Pro” models.

However, I know many people who think the aluminum of the iPhone 12 mini just looks and feels better than the stainless steel frame. Regardless, when comparing these two phones, it’s nice to know that you get the same build materials on either.

But despite the similarities, it should be noted that the iPhone 12 mini has a flat, rather than the rounded frame, and it also uses Ceramic Shield glass, which is 4x as strong as the glass found on the iPhone 11. Personally, the flat frame is the one that I think looks much better.

Other than that, the obvious difference between the two iPhones, as far as design goes, is their size. The iPhone 12 mini is MUCH smaller than the iPhone 11. Finally, both iPhones feature Face ID, so there’s no difference there either.

Winner? iPhone 12 mini – The industrial design of the iPhone 12 mini, with its flat edges and Ceramic Shield glass, is far superior.

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OK, the iPhone 12 mini beats the heck out of the iPhone 11 on several fronts when it comes to the display. But first, yes–we need to acknowledge the iPhone 11 display is MUCH larger at 6.1in. The iPhone 12 mini’s display is only 5.4in. However, the point of the mini is that the phone is designed for people who want a smaller form-factor.

Now, just why does the iPhone 12 mini actually have the better display? First, despite its smaller size, the iPhone 12 mini’s display has a much higher resolution: 2340 x 1080 versus the 1792 x 828 found on the iPhone 11.

Second, the iPhone 12 mini has a much BETTER display thanks to it having an OLED panel. The OLED panel means the display is much brighter, has better color contrast, and has deeper blacks. The iPhone 11 LCD’s display can’t hold a candle to the iPhone 12 mini’s display, in other words.

Winner? iPhone 12 mini – No question about it, even though the 12 mini has the smaller display, the tech used in it–OLED–is MUCH better than the LCD display on the iPhone 11.


The iPhone 12 mini also beats the iPhone 11 when it comes to processing speed. That’s because the iPhone 12 mini has the A14 chipset. While it’s true the iPhone 11’s A13 chipset is no slouch–and still a FANTASTIC chop in 2021, the A14 is, nevertheless, about 25% faster in many processes.

All-in-all, this means the A14 in the iPhone 12 mini will be able to better handle games and processing-intensive productivity apps.

Winner? iPhone 12 mini – The A14 Bionic SoC is up to 25% faster in some processes. In other words, you’ll see a big speed boost over the iPhone 11.

iphone 12 camera
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Despite coming out a year apart, the iPhone 12 mini and the iPhone 11 havel almost identical camera systems. Both feature a 12MP front selfie camera. Both also have a dual-lens rear camera system.

That dual-lens rear camera system includes a 12MP wide and 12MP ultra-wide lens with 2x optical zoom on each phone. In other words, the camera isn’t a consideration when deciding between the two phones as they both have nearly identical ones.

Winner? Draw – What’s surprising is the iPhone 11 and the iPhone 12 mini have virtually identical camera systems. In other words, the camera is not a reason to upgrade from the iPhone 11 to the iPhone 12 mini.

Storage Options

Both the iPhone 12 mini and the iPhone 11 also have the exact same storage options. In other words, nothing to see here. No matter which storage capacity you want, both phones offer it.

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Battery Life

While the iPhone 12 mini equals or outshines the iPhone 11 on most fronts, the one area it is defeated in is battery life. The iPhone 12 mini gets you 15 hours of battery life while the iPhone 11 gets you 17 hours.

The reason for the less battery life in the iPhone 12 mini is mainly due to its smaller size. Apple just couldn’t fit a larger battery inside the device.

However, the iPhone 12 mini does have one big advantage over the iPhone 11 in the battery department. While both phones offer wireless charging, only the iPhone 12 mini supports Apple’s new MagSafe technology.

Winner? iPhone 12 mini – You get a shorter battery life, but the addition of MagSafe wireless charging means the 12 mini is future-proof.

What Color iPhone 11 Should I Buy?
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In 2019, a lot of people who bought the iPhone 11 were doing so because it was the cheapest all-screen iPhone out there with the latest A-series processor in it. And it’s hard to think anyone would have been disappointed with their decision. Matter of fact, even after introducing the iPhone 12 series this year, the company has kept the iPhone 11 on sale.

But iPhone 11 owners may find lots of reasons to upgrade to the iPhone 12 mini this year–especially if they want the cheapest full-screen iPhone with the latest tech bundled inside. A big reason to upgrade is for the superior OLED display on the iPhone 12 mini. Not only does it have a higher resolution (despite being the smaller display), but that display has a 2 million to 1 contrast ratio while the iPhone 11 only has 1400 to 1.

And then there is the A14 Bionic, which is a major improvement over the iPhone 11’s A13, and the addition of MagSafe wireless charging. Oh, and let’s not forget 5G support. All-in-all, the iPhone 12 mini is a worthy upgrade if you got the iPhone 11 last year.

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iPhone 12 mini vs iPhone 11: Specs

iPhone 12 mini vs iPhone 11 – Is It Worth Upgrading Already?
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Here are the specs for the iPhone 12 mini:

And here are the specs for the iPhone 11:

More? Check out how the iPhone 12 compares to the iPhone SE (2020) here.

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Michael Grothaus

Apple expert and novelist, Michael Grothaus has been covering tech on KnowYourMobile for the best part of 10 years. Prior to this, he worked at Apple. And before that, he was a film journalist. Michael is a published author; his book Epiphany Jones was voted as one of the best novels about Hollywood by Entertainment Weekly. Michael is also a writer at other publications including VICE and Fast Company.
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