Apple iPhone SE (2022) vs iPhone 12 mini

If you are wondering which budget small iPhone to buy, Apple now makes the choice even harder as it left the 5.4″ iPhone 12 mini in its roster, yet introduced the iPhone SE (2022) with a newer chipset at a much lower price. Which one to get? Check out our comparison.

Apple iPhone SE (2022) vs iPhone 12 mini price and storage

  • iPhone SE price: $429 (64GB), $479 (128GB), $579 (256GB)
  • iPhone 12 mini price: $599 (64GB), $649 (128GB), $749 (256GB)

The iPhone SE (2022) starts at $429 for the same 64GB storage that the iPhone 12 mini charges $599 for. If that sounds abominable, it’s because you haven’t heard about the much newer A15 processor that is in the iPhone SE now.

Apple iPhone 12 mini

64GB, 50% off

$9 off (50%)

Apple iPhone SE vs iPhone 12 mini design and display

The iPhone SE is bigger than the 12 mini in all dimensions but thickness, and it is a metal-clad phone you won’t have to baby like its munchkin brethren here that is made out of glass that is prone to breaking, no matter the Ceramic Shield or Gorilla Glass marketing. 

If you are annoyed by the iPhone 12 mini’s huge notch on a small body, wait to see the thick top and bottom bezels of the SE. None of the phones are particularly pleasing aesthetically, yet the iPhone SE at least has the benefit of the retro nostalgic feel, home button Touch ID and all.

The iPhone SE is available in Midnight, Starlight, and Red colors, while the 12 mini has much more hues to pick from, including pastel green and violet colors, making the case combos more plentiful, too.

When we arrive at the display part, the big advantage is on the iPhone 12 mini side, as it offers a 5.4″ OLED panel with 1080p resolution and 1200 nits of peak brightness, while the iPhone SE makes do with a puny 4.7″ panel that is on top of that a 750p HD unit that barely breaks the 600 nits barrier, not to mention its much worse color representation specs.

Apple iPhone SE vs iPhone 12 mini camera

The iPhone SE doesn’t really compare to the better camera set on the 12 mini. It has a 12MP main camera on the back with optical image stabilization, while on the software side it supports the Smart HDR option for rich colors in photos. 

Apple calls it “the best single-camera system ever in an iPhone” and with the help of the new A15 imaging processor it is able to churn out some incredible photos for the camera hardware that can now take advantage of Apple’s SmartHDR algorithms for better dynamic range capture, too.


The iPhone 12 mini, however, has a dual-camera system on the back which immediately puts it ahead of the iPhone SE. Moreover, Apple switched to 7-layer lenses (7P) in the iPhone 12 series and the iPhone 12 mini now has one of those too. It sports two 12-megapixel shooters on its back: a 12MP wide-angle main camera, and a 12MP ultra-wide-angle snapper. The photos that these two cameras are able to churn out are pretty good.

The video recording capabilities are split even as both phones are capable of 4K 60fps recording that will fill up your puny 64GB storage pretty fast, though the iPhone SE’s newest processor can add some nifty cinematic tricks, too. When it comes to the front-facing camera, it’s another score for the 12 mini that has a better, more resolute 12MP sensor to take those selfies.

Apple iPhone SE vs iPhone 12 mini performance and 5G connectivity

The A15 Bionic chipset inside the iPhone SE (2022) is a beast, especially considering the display resolution of the phone. Everything just flies and nobody needs more power in a compact phone. The iPhone 12 mini uses the older A14 Bionic chipset made on the 5nm process which is no slouch yet is slower and more energy-inefficient than the 4nm A15 in the iPhone SE now.

While RAM amounts are likely the same, the big specs difference besides the chipset is that the 5G modem inside the iPhone 12 mini supports both Verizon’s mmWave network, and the low- to mid-bands of the other 5G-ready carriers. 

It’s a benefit that makes the iPhone 12 mini more future-proof than the iPhone SE that only supports the slower sub-6GHz low- to  mid-bands. Still, that’s an upgrade from its predecessor the iPhone SE (2020) that only sported a 4G LTE modem.

Apple iPhone SE vs iPhone 12 mini battery and charging

The iPhone SE (2020) had a smaller battery than even the puny 2227mAh pack in the 12 mini and it showed in battery tests. Apple says it has enhanced the battery life of the iPhone SE (2022) but even then it would simply catch up to the 12 mini that has one of the shorter battery lives on an iPhone in recent memory. 

What’s more, the OLED display in the iPhone 12 mini is more efficient than the LCD found in the SE (2022) though not in all situations and the advantage can be offset by the newer A15 chipset whose power efficiency may be better than what’s in the iPhone 12 mini.

Apple says that the iPhone SE (2022) will get to 50% charge in 30 minutes but you’d have to bring your own 20W charger to do that, plus Apple says the same about the iPhone 12 mini’s battery, so we can call it even in terms of charging speeds.

Apple iPhone SE or iPhone 12 mini, which one to buy?

The price difference between these two is pretty significant, so you’d have to carefully chose whether you need the extra ultrawide camera on the iPhone 12 mini, as the main camera on the iPhone SE (2022) will produce pretty similar if not better results on account of the newer imaging processor. The paper advantage of the 12 mini’s display over the SE becomes moot, too, as most of the larger area is eaten by the notch, and only the higher contrast saves it. 

If you are on Verizon, however, and live in an area where its 5G Ultrawide network speeds are available, the iPhone SE won’t be able to take advantage of them despite that it has a 5G modem inside, so we’d then spend some more to grab the 12 mini. In most other scenarios, you may as well save the extra cash and go retro with the iPhone SE.

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