How tough is the iPhone 12 screen?
(CNN Business) ––
(CNN Business) ––
Anyone considering buying a new iPhone now has two more options to evaluate: a smaller one or a super-large one.
The iPhone 12 mini (from $ 699) and iPhone 12 Pro Max (from $ 1,099) go on sale this Friday.
They join a line that includes the iPhone 12 (starting at $ 799) and the iPhone 12 Pro (starting at $ 999), which have been available since last month.
(You can read our review of the 12 and 12 Pro here.)
READ: iPhone 12: Everything You Need To Know About Apple's New Line Of 5G Phones
I spent several days testing the new phones to find out how much you lose by opting for a mini and how much you gain by pushing your choice of phone to the max.
The iPhone mini (left) versus the giant iPhone Pro Max.
iPhone 12 mini: small but powerful
Testing Apple's new smaller phone felt like going back to phones from more than five years ago.
Precisely when the entry-level device was still modest in size compared to today's giants.
But it was not represented a setback in any way.
The mini includes all the new features of the iPhone 12, such as a stellar camera, a faster chip, an OLED screen, and 5G capability.
But there are some major differences, namely the size, price, and battery life.
With its 5.4-inch screen, the mini looks like a slightly shrunken version of the iPhone 12, which has a 6.1-inch screen.
You can comfortably hold the mini in your hand, easily put it in your pocket or in a car cup holder.
And when you're on the phone it doesn't feel like you're carrying a brick.
What you should know about the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro 3:19
Although the mini manages to offer impressive features in important functions like the camera, I am used to larger phones after years of using them.
And it's hard to go back.
After a while with the mini, you begin to realize the limitations of small phones.
Also why manufacturers have come a long way.
There is a learning curve to retype on a small phone.
My fingers kept bumping into each other because the keyboard is so much smaller than I'm used to.
(I guess I could go back to texting with one hand?).
Consuming media on iPhone 12 mini is not the best experience.
Plus, it feels cramped if you have to touch messages and emails all day.
Some people will love the small size, others will definitely wish they opted for more inches.
Like the iPhone 12, the mini has dual cameras and a sleek new design with flat edges.
The two models come in red, green, blue, black, and white.
The iPhone 12 mini takes great photos too, especially at night.
An improved version of night mode, first implemented with last year's iPhone 11, brightens up
or photos taken at night.
Which results in better contrast and more details, without the need for a flash.
I was definitely wowed and embarrassed by photos taken at night with my iPhone XR (which doesn't have night mode).
Photos of pumpkins taken with an iPhone XR (left), iPhone 12 Mini (center) and iPhone Pro Max (right) at night.
The iPhone Pro Max is very big ... like a giant
At the other end of the spectrum, both in terms of price and size, is the iPhone 12 Pro Max.
It's the highest-end option, with the highest starting price and the largest screen.
The 6.7-inch display is the largest ever seen on an iPhone, surpassing the 6.1-inch displays on the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro. Some people may love this feature, while others may find it overkill.
One thing is for sure: watching a video on this huge screen is superior to any other iPhone I've ever tried.
You will also see more content and text on the screen.
But the trade-off is that you have to carry a huge phone.
LOOK: Your old iPhone is worth a lot of money.
This is the reason.
Both the iPhone 12 Pro and the Pro Max have three cameras (they have an additional telephoto lens compared to the iPhone 12).
Its cameras include LiDAR scanner assist, a technology more commonly associated with autonomous vehicles, which enables the camera to focus faster in low-light environments.
The most obvious difference between the two is that the Pro Max features a telephoto camera capable of taking sharper close-up shots.
That means you'll get a 2.5x zoom on the Pro Max, compared to a 2x zoom on the Pro and a 1x zoom on the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini.
While testing them, I took photos of the same subject or object with the Pro and Pro Max during different times of the day.
Both phones produced excellent images that were bright, detailed, and displayed contrast without the need for editing.
The Pro Max's 2.5x zoom makes it easier to focus on something further away, without zooming in or losing image quality, although the Pro's 2x zoom worked for the most part.
For very serious photographers, the Pro Max adds a few extra features.
For example, optical sensor shift image stabilization and a larger image sensor in the main camera, which can improve image quality in certain situations.
But, unless you are a professional, you won't notice a big difference.
These photos, taken from the same spot, show that the Pro Max (right) has a sharper 2.5x zoom.
Like the Pro, the Pro Max comes in silver, black, gold, and blue with sleek stainless steel trim that screams glamor.
Given the specialty area of the Max's benefits and how big and expensive it is, it's safe to say that if you don't know if you want it, you probably don't really want it.
Battery life: go big or charge frequently
In my experience, the mini's battery lasted from the moment I woke up until the afternoon with regular use.
I texted, checked social media, read emails, and watched a 20 minute episode on Netflix.
Just before 5pm, I was already at 25% battery and had dropped below 10% by 7pm My phone was discharged around 8:30 pm The Pro Max and other phones in the iPhone 12 line lasted up to I went to bed, and even had some charge left, with the Pro Max being the one that lasted the longest.
Now, the 5G –– although it is not yet fully accessible–– will mean additional battery consumption.
Depending on your carrier and where you live, you will see different 5G upload and download speeds, so it's not something to worry about at the moment.
Additionally, Apple's smart data mode will automatically switch the iPhone to LTE to save battery life when 5G isn't offering noticeably better speeds.
iPhone 12 mini, with less durable battery 0:54
The entire iPhone 12 lineup, including the mini and the Pro Max, also uses Apple's new Ceramic Shield glass.
This one, according to the company, is scratch resistant and does much better when dropped.
It is not clear how much more durable these phones will be over time.
However, the mini and Pro Max (with the covers on) accidentally slipped out of my sweatshirt pocket and fell onto the sidewalk when I was walking my dog.
The Pro Max was fine, while the mini took a slight bump to the bottom of the phone.
After testing the mini for a few days, I also noticed a small scratch near the top of the screen.
Last month, I dropped the iPhone Pro on a stone path and then a wooden floor (I'm a bit clumsy) and it didn't result in any damage.
These isolated incidents are obviously not conclusive, but at least for a phone the Ceramic Shield was not invincible.
LEE: We tell you how to get the iPhone 12 for free in the United States ... seriously
Should you buy a new iPhone?
This year, Apple offers more phone options than ever.
Those with last year's iPhone 11 can probably skip the update this year.
However, for those who are clinging to older models like the iPhone X, iPhone XR, or iPhone 8, it might be time to upgrade.
The Pro and Pro Max will provide users with a sleeker finish and additional camera tricks.
However, for most people, the iPhone 12 (or 12 mini) will be impressive enough.
In the case of the iPhone 12 mini, you must decide if you prefer a smaller phone and are willing to sacrifice battery life and screen size to save on price.
AppleiPhone 12New iPhone