Two delightful weeks

After two weeks of use, the iPhone 12 mini is, as I had hoped, delightful.

The size is perfect in the hand, and feels wonderful. It won’t quite unseat my iPhone 5 as my favorite - though that is partly out of sentiment - but it’s very, very close. While I’m tempted by the idea of a MagSafe case, it feels a shame to cover it any more than absolutely necessary, so for now I’m using an inexpensive super-thin case. I may, for the first time in a long time, end up using it caseless.

Typing is even better than I had expected - given my less-than-petite fingers I had been trying to make a point of getting used to swiping on the keyboard in anticipation of the smaller screen, and it turns out that one-handed swiping is amazing on the mini, far better than on my iPhone X (the occasional and often hilarious error aside). The keyboard is just enough smaller that my thumb can comfortably reach everything without stretching or adjusting my grip. It actually feels slightly awkward typing on my X now.

The cameras are, as expected, a significant improvement over the X (missing telephoto camera aside). The low light performance is leaps and bounds better (even without night mode) and the ultrawide - in addition to opening up some great creative opportunites for landscapes and interior shots - is particularly nice for video.

Night mode is more hit or miss than I would have expected. As often as not I prefer the shots taken without it so far, but it has also caught a couple of shots that would have been a dark, blurry, grainy mess otherwise so it’s great to have, and on all of the cameras no less.

Although the ProRAW coverage does make me wish I had it as an option, for myself and the photography I do I’m glad that I didn’t let it push me into getting one of the larger phones. Hopefully it will make it down to the mini size by my next upgrade, and in the meantime I can still get great photos using the non-Pro RAW and and apps like Halide (Do read Understanding ProRAW - on top of being a great dive into ProRAW and how Halide handles it, there’s a great overview of digital photography and RAW files in general).

I also found Nick Heer’s A Brief Look at ProRAW illuminating, since it has examples that corresponded to many pictures I’ve taken - or tried to - in the past. Austin Mann’s overview does highlight one pain point - the improvements for the occasional astrophotography I might try will be sorely missed.

While testing I’ve also been reminded of one of the great advantages of my mirrorless camera: although it is far bulkier than the mini, it has the virtue of every control and setting being accessible with whatever gloves I happen to be wearing while walking on a frosty morning.

5G is a mixed bag - tests at home indoors gave me speeds significantly higher than LTE, but not as fast as WiFi. A quick test outside at a local mall was significantly slower than LTE, but that’s not entirely surprising: LTE speeds locally usually range from very good to excellent. 5G is great for future proofing, especially when we can actually go places and travel again, but for now I’ve left it turned completely off.

It is definitely not the best choice for everyone…

But I love mine.