iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 Pro Max are amazing, with caveats

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That's quite the size discrepancy.
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The first reviews of the iPhone 12 Pro Max and iPhone 12 mini make both of them sound like winners. However, the two devices — which occupy opposite ends of the size spectrum — also elicit some caveats.

Many of the comments sound the same as earlier first impressions of the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro. But some unique observations apply specifically to Apple’s very large and very small handsets.

Here’s what the early reviewers made of the iPhone 12 Pro Max and iPhone 12 mini.

iPhone 12 Pro Max reviews

The iPhone 12 Pro Max offers the biggest display — a whopping 6.7 inches — ever available on an iPhone. Plus, it ups the ante in the camera department. It packs all the photography-friendly features of the regular-size iPhone 12 Pro, and adds a larger sensor and other improvements. And all for the slightly pricey cost of between $1,099 and $1,399, depending on the storage option you choose. Is it worth it? Here are some takeaways from the first reviews.

It really is big

The Verge:

“The combination of the size and flat sides basically demands a case to make it easier to hold, which makes the whole thing even bigger. It’s still workable, but it is right on the edge of being too big.”

The Independent:

“If you really don’t like ginormous devices filling up your skinny jeans, then this won’t be for you. However, if you don’t own a tablet (and don’t mind holding your iPhone with two hands to answer texts or check your directions) this is the only iPhone you should consider buying right now.”

That camera really is special

Pro photographer Austin Mann, whose iPhone reviews always deliver a deep dive into the camera’s capabilities, put the Pro Max through its paces, just as he did with the iPhone 12 Pro and previous years’ models. He focused on the iPhone 12 Pro Max’s “bigger sensor, longer telephoto lens, and a new sensor-shift stabilization technology.”

Mann wrote:

“I knew the Max would be a great camera and I loved shooting the photos above, but I was really curious to learn if the Max hardware upgrades would be worth carrying the larger device even though I definitely prefer the smaller size of the already powerful iPhone 12 Pro.

I shot in tons of different lighting scenarios, and frankly in many of the scenes both cameras rendered a beautiful image and I could barely see a difference between iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max.”

He found it captured better low-light images than the smaller 12 Pro. But ultimately, he remained undecided on which camera he would recommend. Both models offer the same computational photography wizardry, and the Pro Max borders on unwieldy because of its size.

“Is the iPhone 12 Pro Max camera worth the extra size and financial investment?” he wrote. “This is a really tough one for me — I came into testing this expecting the 12 Pro Max to outperform the 12 Pro across the board, but I really only found a substantial improvement in very specific scenes.”

Mann’s iPhone 12 Pro Max review showcases some gorgeous shots of Zion National Park in Utah. It’s a fantastic way to see what the best iPhone camera can do — and best viewed on the biggest screen you can find.

The Verge also liked the iPhone 12 Pro Max camera:

“All in all, the combination of the larger sensor, faster lens, improved stabilization, LIDAR, and processing power means that the iPhone 12 Pro Max has the best smartphone camera I’ve ever used — it produces terrific, colorful photos with excellent detail in lighting situations where other phones start to struggle.”

Still room for improvement

The Verge once again:

“I always buy the latest phone to have the best camera. And there’s no question that this is the best camera. But if you’re feeling that usual tug to upgrade and you don’t need to, I do think you can wait this one out. Maybe 5G will be better next year. Maybe we’ll get that 120Hz display.”

British GQ:

“If there is one nitpick to be had with the Pro Max, it can be found in its display. Unlike most other flagship smartphones, this device screen lacks a high refresh rate of 90Hz or 120Hz for silky-smooth scrolling through your social feeds and news apps of choice. Given Apple already offers this “ProMotion” tech on the iPad Pro, its absence here is a little perplexing.”

iPhone 12 mini reviews

On the other end of the size spectrum there’s the iPhone 12 mini. It may be comparatively diminutive. But it’s also pretty darn great. And all for just $699 to $849, depending on storage.

Solid battery life

TechRadar:

“We found in our usage that the iPhone 12 mini would last for a full day from a single charge, but on the odd occasion it would die off toward 10PM after a high day of usage. This was a particularly intensive day, and on other busy days we also found the phone would last the full thing.

In a middle- to- high intensity use day, we found the iPhone 12 mini got to the end of the day with 22% of the battery left in the tank. That was with 4 hours and 20 minutes of screen on time, and a variety of tasks running in the background such as music playback and notifications.”

It’s small, duh!

TechRadar again:

“This may seem obvious, but this phone’s biggest selling point is its unique size. If you’re going to opt for an iPhone and you want a smaller device, this is the perfect option for you – and it’s one of the smallest 5G phones on the market too.”

Express:

If you’re desperate for a compact phone, then you’ll love mini but if you’re considering buying one simply because it’s the cheapest in the new iPhone 12 range, we’d recommend saving up a little longer and buying the standard iPhone 12 as the slightly larger screen makes watching movies, playing games, and making video calls more immersive and enjoyable.

Which iPhone 12 are you getting?

Do you have plans to pick up an iPhone 12 Pro Max or 12 mini? How about a regular-size iPhone 12 or 12 Pro? Let us know what swayed you in one direction or the other.