iPhone 12 mini vs. iPhone 12 Pro Max – It’s David Versus Goliath

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

You know it was coming! It’s time for the iPhone 12 mini vs. iPhone 12 Pro Max comparison! Apple introduced FOUR new iPhones this year (one of the few good things to happen in 2020). While the two middle iPhones–the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro–will almost certainly be the most popular due to their screen sizes (both are 6.1in), the other two iPhones are designed to appeal to the fringes.

By “fringes” I mean people who really love tiny phones and people who love phablets. Apple’s iPhone 12 mini is for those who like them tiny. Matter of fact, it’s even smaller than the iPhone SE. On the other side of the scale, you have the iPhone 12 Pro Max. It’s as gigantic as it sounds–coming in at 6.7in, which is the largest iPhone Apple has ever made.

But what are the similarities between the phones? Let’s take a look.

iPhone 12 mini vs. iPhone 12 Pro Max Quick Comparison

iPhone 12 mini vs. iPhone 12 Pro Max – It's David Versus Goliath
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Design

Alright, let’s get the design out of the way, because–shockingly–the two phones are very identical. Both feature an all-screen design and both come with Apple’s advanced Face ID biometric security system. Both also feature glass backs that sport Ceramic Shield glass–which makes it 4x as tough as the glass used on previous iPhones.

However, when it comes to the frame of the phone, both the iPhones use different materials. The iPhone 12 Pro Max uses surgical-grade stainless steel for its frame. The iPhone 12 mini uses aluminum. Without a doubt, the iPhone 12 Pro Max’s frame looks more high-end thanks to the stainless steel shine. Then again, the iPhone 12 mini does come in twice as many color options.

Winner? iPhone 12 Pro Max – Both iPhones feature the same design language, however, the stainless steel frame of the iPhone 12 Pro Max trumps the aluminum frame on the iPhone 12 mini. It just looks like a superior product.

MORE: Best iPhone Cases With Quotes (ALL MODELS)

Displays

Look, it’s no surprise that the two iPhones’ greatest difference is in their display. The sizes could hardly be more opposite. The iPhone 12 Pro Max features the largest iPhone display Apple has ever made–a staggering 6.7in. It’s a HUGE beast–practically a phablet.

On the other hand, the iPhone 12 mini features the tiniest display in the iPhone 12 lineup, coming in at “just” 5.4in. For sure this is not the smallest display an iPhone has ever had (the original iPhone had a 3.5in display). But for 2020, a 5.4in display is pretty tiny.

Remarkably, other than display size and screen resolution, the two iPhone’s display tech is identical. Both are OLED Super Retina SDR displays.

Winner? Draw – Besides the size difference, both phones use the exact same display tech.

CPU/Processor

Another shocker is that though the iPhone 12 Pro Max is a “pro” model and the highest-end iPhone Apple has ever made, it has the EXACT same processor like the one found in the iPhone 12 mini. Both iPhones feature the A14 chipset–a staggeringly powerful CPU that puts any CPU found in an Android phone to shame.

So just know that, despite what may be the obvious assumption, the massive iPhone 12 Pro Max does NOT have a better CPU than the iPhone 12 mini.

Winner? Draw – Both use the exact same A14 Bionic chipset. Yep, there’s not one bit of difference in CPU power between the two.

iPhone 12 mini vs. iPhone 12 Pro Max – It's David Versus Goliath
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Camera

After the display differences, the most noticeable difference between the iPhone 12 Pro Max and the iPhone 12 mini is in the camera department. While both iPhones feature the same 12MP front selfie camera, the iPhone 12 Pro Max has a much better rear camera.

While the iPhone 12 mini has a respectable dual-lens 12MP wide and ultra-wide lens and 2x optical zoom out, the iPhone 12 Pro Max one-ups that by having a triple-lens system. With the iPhone 12 Pro Max you get a 12MP wide, ultra-wide, and telephoto lens and 2.5x optical zoom in and 2x optical zoom out.

You also get a LiDAR scanner, which helps the iPhone 12 Pro Max autofocus faster in low light. Finally, the iPhone 12 Pro Max also supports Apple’s new Apple ProRAW format and its front selfie camera allows for night mode portraits.

Winner? iPhone 12 Pro Max – No question: the Pro Max has the far superior camera setup. It’s got 5x total optical zoom, three rear lenses, Apple ProRAW support, and that LiDAR scanner.

Storage Options

It’s no surprise that the iPhone 12 Pro Max has the largest storage options. The iPhone 12 Pro Max jettisons the iPhone 12 mini’s 64GB option in favor of a massive 512GB option.

MORE: iPhone 12 Dimensions Guide: New Models = NEW SIZES!

Battery Life

Both phones feature the same wireless charging tech and support Apple’s new MagSafe wireless charging accessories. However, there is a massive difference in battery life between the two phones.

The iPhone 12 Pro Max gets you 25% more battery life–at 20 hours per charge. The iPhone 12 mini only gets you 15 hours. The difference mainly comes down to battery size. Because the iPhone 12 Pro Max is so physically big Apple can crame a much larger battery inside. With the iPhone 12 mini, Apple just doesn’t have the space available.

Winner? iPhone 12 Pro Max – You get an extra five hours of battery life.

iPhone 12 mini vs. iPhone 12 Pro Max – It's David Versus Goliath
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Price

Verdict?

Technically, the iPhone 12 Pro Max is the better phone. That should surprise no one though. It’s got “Pro” in its name for a reason. Many reasons, actually. The biggest of which is the superior triple-lens rear camera system. But the Pro Max also comes in larger storage options as well, and its build materials–that stainless steel frame–are superior.

However, virtually no one is going to choose between a mini and a Pro Max because of the screen size. You’re going to choose one or the other for the screen size. So, if you miss the days of when a smartphone could comfortably fit in one hand, the iPhone 12 mini is the phone for you. However, if you want the biggest, bassist iPhone Apple has ever made, the Pro Max is your boy.

MORE: Is The iPhone 11 Still Worth Buying In 2020? My 2 Cents…

iPhone 12 mini vs. iPhone 12 Pro Max: Specs

iPhone 12 mini vs. iPhone 12 Pro Max – It's David Versus Goliath
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Here are the specs for the iPhone 12 mini:

And here are the specs for the iPhone 12 Pro Max:

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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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