3 small smartphones compared: iPhone 12 mini vs iPhone SE vs S20

A decision between smartphones with a large display or small smartphones that are easy to fit into your pocket is usually made individually. It all depends on your preferences of course, but while you can stream films perfectly with larger models, a small smartphone offers sometimes understated advantages like light weight, portability and one-handed comfort. Here we show you the best small smartphones currently on the market to help you choose your next small smartphone.

The iPhone 12 mini: the series with the most power on the smallest screen

If you are a fan of Apple and the iPhone 12, which was only launched in 2020, but prefer a smaller display, we recommend the iPhone 12 mini.

🔎 Chip technology at the highest level

The revolutionary A14 Bionic chip is at the heart of this device, which has an impressive 11.8 billion transistors (40% more than the iPhone 11 series A13 Bionic chip) to ensure smooth performance. A six core processor, which consists of 2 big high-performance cores - the Firestorms clocked at 3.1 GHz - and 4 more energy-efficient Icestorm cores clocked at up to 1.82 GHz. Plus 5G connectivity from Qualcomm’s X55 5G modem integrated within.

📱 Small, yet striking!

Compared to the classic iPhone 12, the display on the mini is only 5.4" instead of 6.1". The resolution isn’t compromised as a result and remains very high at 2340 x 1080 pixels with an enormous pixel density on screen. This displays images razor-sharp by using OLED technology. The average brightness is 625 nits.

📸 12 MP cameras on the iPhone 12 mini

On the back is a main camera with two lenses, each at 12 MP, for ultra wide and wide angle shots. The front camera shoots selfies with the same number of megapixels too.

💾 What storage options are there on the iPhone 12 mini?

You can choose between an integrated 64, 128 or 256 GB of storage. In addition to 4 GB of RAM.

🔋 How's the battery performance?

The battery has a capacity of 2,227 mAh and can also be charged via induction if required. According to Apple, you can use video playback for up to 15 hours on one charge. The advantage over the iPhone SE 2020, which is also small, is that the frame is narrower. Overall, the iPhone 12 mini is smaller, but the display is larger and weighs at only 133g. For a further comparison, check out our technical specifications comparison between the iPhone 12 mini vs iPhone SE (2020).

💡 Also, don’t forget about the iPhone 13 mini!

For an all-round slight improvement on what the iPhone 12 mini has to offer, you should definitely consider the iPhone 13 mini. Released a year later (2021) with noticeable improvements on the following:

  • Improved A15 Bionic chip

  • Replaced the 64 GB storage variant with a 512 GB variant instead, so that 128 GB is the smallest storage you can opt for with this model

  • Smaller notch by 20% vs the iPhone 12 mini for a larger screen display

  • Brighter screen of 800 nits outdoors in comparison to 625 nits on the iPhone 12 mini

  • Longer battery life (2,438 vs 2,227 mAh)  

👉 Find out our iPhone 13 mini prices for the UK.

The other specifications were more or less the same with the iPhone 12 mini, but the iPhone price difference was noticeable between the two models (when it first came out) due to the improvement in some specs (above listed) and the removal of the 64 GB variant. However, from Back Market, you can get these 2 models at even more affordable prices when you buy a second hand iPhone refurbished - still as good as new but more importantly kinder for the planet. For a further breakdown between the two models, check out our iPhone 12 mini vs iPhone 13 mini comparison review.

iPhone SE 2020: a worthy alternative to the Apple mini series

The iPhone SE 2020 is a small smartphone from Apple that was released in spring 2020 based on the iPhone 11 model. Packed with Apple’s A13 bionic chips, it has comparable benefits to the A14 Bionic chip in the iPhone 12 mini. Another plausible option when considering a cheap iPhone deal.

📱 slightly reduced specs but hardly noticeable

At 4.7" the display is slightly smaller than the 12 mini. However, In return the frame is a bit wider, and overall it still means that the device doesn’t take up too much space when holding in one hand. A correlation of the slightly wider design is a heavier weight of approx. 148 g (15 g heavier). This model still has an impressive display with a Retina HD screen that lets you view images with a resolution of 1334 x 750 pixels.

📸 🔋 iPhone Se 2020 photo and camera performance

The main camera on the back still records with 12 MP in 4K quality (like the 12 mini). However, selfies with the front camera are taken on 7 MP instead. The Li-Ion battery has a capacity of around 1,821 mAh and lasts up to 13 hours of video use.

💾 What storage options are there?

The SE 2020 edition is available with 64, 128 or 256 GB of storage space like the 12 mini. The RAM however, is a bit smaller with 3 GB.

💡 But wait, there is also an improved iPhone SE 2022 edition to consider!

Much like an improvement on the 12 mini with the 13 mini, Apple also thought it was time to upgrade the SE edition! The notable differences to highlight here are the:

  • 5G connectivity (something the SE 2020 edition was missing)

  • A15 Bionic chip (similar to the iPhone 13 series)

  • Tougher glass design on the front and back

  • Newer colours; Midnight, Starlight, and Product (RED)

  • Lighter weight (but by only 4 g)

The overall design remains unchanged to the iPhone SE 2020 model, but internally quite a bit has changed with the Bionic chip 2 evolutions higher. As a result, you can expect a difference in price, but again Back Market has consumers in mind with prices up to 70% cheaper than the cost of buying it new elsewhere, only when you buy it refurbished - which means better for the planet and better for your wallet!

Galaxy S20 from Samsung: 6.2" but an interesting compromise

The Samsung Galaxy S20 is not a classic mini among smartphones, but with 6.2" it is definitely a smartphone that has a small display. At 164 g, it is currently the heaviest in our small list of comparisons. In any case, the hardware components are remarkable - Samsung uses a modern Infinity O-Dynamic AMOLED display with up to 3200 x 1440 pixels in this device.

📸 Small wow effect with the camera of the Galaxy S20

Like modern iPhones, there are multiple cameras too, but with more advanced features such as the 64 MP telephoto camera with 30x zoom and the 12 MP main camera. Selfies can be taken with up to 12 MP in 4K-UHD 60HZ mode.

🔎 What processor is installed in the S20?

Samsung uses the powerful Exynos 990 processor in Europe and the Snapdragon 865 in the USA and Asia. Both chips are similarly good nonetheless. The main memory is comparatively high with 8 GB in the classic version and 12 GB in the 5G version.

💾 🔋 Storage & battery on the Galaxy S20

Internal memory comes with 128 GB, which can be expanded up to 1 TB through SD cards. The performance of the Li-ion battery is impressive with 4,000 mAh. With this you can get up to about 11 hours of continuous use.