If you’re looking for a small iPhone, times are good right now. The iPhone 13 mini and the new iPhone SE (3rd generation) – available for pre-order now and available wherever you normally buy iPhones on March 18 – are the smallest and most affordable new iPhones made by Apple.
At first glance, comparing the two, the iPhone 13 mini definitely seems the better option; it has a bigger screen, higher-end front and rear camera systems, and packs in more advanced features…but it’s also a bit more expensive. The latest iPhone SE starts at $429, while the iPhone 13 mini starts at $699. So what are the trade-offs?
Well, first of all, it’s important to note that the two iPhones are much more alike than they are different. They have the exact same A15 Bionic processor, run the same operating system, and pack in features like 5G support, which means they’re essentially future-proof for at least the next five years. years. They’re also relatively the same size (at least their bodies are, not their screens), so they feel very similar in your hand and pocket.
But there are definite benefits to spending the extra $300 on the iPhone 13 mini. And, no doubt, a few reasons to want the cheaper iPhone SE even more.
As an owner of the iPhone 13 mini for nearly six months and testing the new iPhone SE for a few days, choosing between the two really comes down to how much you’re willing to pay for the best features. Or your love for the familiar form factor and functionality of an older iPhone.
Here are the three big things the iPhone SE sacrifices compared to the iPhone 13 mini.
Do you want face ID or a home button?
The new iPhone SE is more or less the same size as the iPhone 13 mini, but it has a much smaller screen. While the iPhone 13 mini has a 5.4-inch display that takes up the entire front of the phone – it’s an edge-to-edge display – the iPhone SE has a 4.7-inch display with very large frames at the top and bottom.
The bigger issue than screen size, for me, is the fact that the smaller iPhone SE needs its bezels to provide space for a dedicated home button with Touch ID, while the iPhone 13 mini incorporates an advanced TrueDepth camera system in its notch for facial recognition. . And that has a big impact on how you interact with each smartphone every time you use it because, in my experience, Face ID is much faster and easier (and according to Apple, more secure) than Touch ID. .
iPhone SE lacks MagSafe compatibility
I think perhaps the biggest difference between the two is that the iPhone SE doesn’t support MagSafe, which I’ve grown to really like. All the latest iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 models have a special circular magnet built into the back which gives them two great advantages: it allows them to charge twice as fast wirelessly (up to 15 watts with a MagSafe charger) and it allows them to magnetically connect to an ecosystem of MagSafe accessories (like wallets, portable charges, and cases).
It’s worth noting that the new iPhone SE supports wireless charging, but since it doesn’t support MagSafe, it can’t charge as fast and – when connected to a MagSafe wireless charger, it doesn’t. doesn’t show the green circle (seen in the photo above) and chimes to let you know it’s charging, which is oddly satisfying.
iPhone SE camera is good, not great
The new iPhone SE doesn’t have a bad camera — at all. And its A15 Bionic processor lets it have some of the machine learning and camera capabilities of the iPhone 13 lineup, such as support for Smart HDR 4 and Deep Fusion, helping it chain multiple exposure shots to provide the best possible shot. But it’s just not as good as the iPhone 13 mini’s camera.
The iPhone SE has a single-lens rear camera system consisting of a single 12-megapixel wide lens, while the iPhone 13 mini has a dual-lens rear camera system consisting of a wide lens slightly better 12-megapixel camera and a 12-megapixel ultra-lens. broad goal. While both smartphones can take portrait mode photos and capture beautiful 4K video at up to 60fps, the iPhone 13 mini’s extra ultra-wide lens just gives you more options in photos. that you will actually use. And it supports cinematic mode on videos – which are awesome – whereas the iPhone SE can’t capture them.
iPhone SE vs. iPhone 13 mini: the verdict
The iPhone 13 mini is superior to the iPhone SE in almost every way, including more than the “big” ways I’ve highlighted above. For example, it has a brighter and better screen, it comes with more base storage, and comes with Apple’s U1 chip (which allows it to do things like transfer music more seamlessly to a mini HomePod speaker). But again, the iPhone 13 mini is also almost twice as expensive.
Even though they are about the same size — which is important in our time of huge smartphones – the new iPhone SE isn’t really meant to compete with the iPhone 13 mini. It’s an iPhone designed for people who haven’t upgraded to a new iPhone in years – and for those people, this is going to feel like a huge leap forward – or for people buying their first iPhone. And if you’re someone who fits any of these descriptions, you probably don’t need to spend nearly $300 extra on an iPhone 13 mini.
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