After using an iPhone 8 for over 3 years, I was able to get my fingers in an iPhone 13 mini. Here is my feedback on this transition, which could not be more personal, but which I hope will give you an idea of the feeling of truly using the unloved from the latest iPhone series coming from someone who was used to to the format before the iPhone X notch.
The interest of this analysis is that share small details which are not necessarily obvious to notice and which do not appear in the tests, but still have their significance.
My smartphone profile: between large and small screens
Over the course of my career, I was able to test the three most popular operating systems for smartphones. My first device was (unfortunately) the one HTC 8s on Windows Phone. This OS was far from a piece of cake, and with good reason, it was abandoned by Microsoft after only a few years of existence, simply due to lack of applications and sales. After this debacle, it was time for me to upgrade to my first iPhone: iPhone 5c. The small 4-inch screen was the norm, and its blue version won me over.
After 4 years of loyal service, my desire for change led me to a Samsung Galaxy S8. For me the big 5.8-inch OLED screen and the discovery of the Android universe. But ecosystem inconsistencies and skewed unlocking methods pushed me over the edge. I would find iOS and especially switch to a more compact format. That’s how I put my gaze on the iPhone 8, which I held for 3 years.
Finally, thanks to JVTech, I had the opportunity for the first time to switch to the latest iPhone, the one with the smallest format: iPhone 13 mini. Here’s what I’m taking away.
Design and handling: similar but so different
It does not look like that, but the iPhone 13 mini has a more compact size than the iPhone 8. The latter’s thick top-to-bottom frames make it taller, even though the screen is only 4.7 inches. The 5.5 inches of 13 mini are due to thin edges and a notch with the front camera and FaceID, a face recognition unlocking system.
I place the practical at the center of my smartphone decision. I need to be able to use it with one hand, in situations where I have to take it out of my pocket like a tightrope walker to write a message for example. Of course, I appreciate small formats, which is why this 5.4-inch, without competition in its price range, is the choice that suits me best.
On the other hand, even though the overall dimensions are reduced by 13 mini, in use, the iPhone 8 remains the one that requires the least dexterity. In fact, the larger screen of the 13 mini extends higher, and therefore you need to look further to reach the control center (top right) and the notification center (top center).
The flat edges of the latest iPhone make it easier to handle, even though it’s unthinkable for me not to have a case on. If the latter is made of silicone, you can feel a slight difference with the iPhone 8, which is thinner and which slides a little easier into the pocket.
The screen: day and night
When I first turned on the iPhone 13 mini, I saw the difference right away. With OLED, it’s as if the content on the screen seems more real and present to my eyes, while the LCD gives the image a more distant aspect.
On the brightness side, it’s the same, 13 mini is at a level where even in direct sunlight you can clearly distinguish the elements on the screen, where the 8’s leaves me in this kind of mode.
The screen relationship has also changed my habits. Going from 16: 9 to 19.5: 9 means you can watch a Twitch stream while watching the chat sideways and without having so much wasted screen property and having to squint to see what’s going on.
The status bar, which contains useful information at the top of the screen, has been revised. Who says notch says elements pushed to the sides, but above all simplified. The operator name is no longer displayed constantly and unnecessarily at the top of the screen, however we no longer have the battery percentage. It annoys me a little because I like to know exactly how much I have left. To do this, I have to stroke the control center.
On iPhones with notches, the status bar fills the full height of the latter, so the displayed items are larger. I think things like time, networking or Wi-Fi are a lot more readable than on the thin top bar on the iPhone 8.
13 mini’s gesture navigation is probably the biggest difference, and in my opinion it’s a big yes compared to the iPhone 8. A simple swipe to instantly return to the home screen is better than having to press the center button on the 8’s. There is also a delay between button press and action, as a double press activates multi-task. The latter is accessible via a swipe up and a small pause of 13 mini, and you can swipe left or right with the virtual bar to switch from one application to another. It changes lives.
To open the control center, swipe from the top right down to the 13 mini, and from the bottom up to the iPhone 8. It makes all the difference when watching a YouTube video. If you want to pick up the control center on the 8, the swipe from the bottom will first show the video recommendations, and it takes another swipe to finally get what you want. We do not have this problem on 13 mini, it’s a small detail, but it changes everything.
FaceID vs TouchID: the big debate
This is what distinguishes the two models the most: the unlocking system. And this is where I’m most divided, because the method on each of the two iPhones has its pros and cons. It’s a little complicated, so here’s a little table that is not stung beetles.
|Touch ID (iPhone 8)||FaceID (iPhone 13 mini)|
|unlock||to press the Home button: fast, but can unlock iPhone when you just want to watch the time||tapping the screen wakes up the iPhone, just swipe up when faceID recognizes us|
|Bank apps and passwords||should keep your finger pressed on the Home button||just look at the screen|
|In the lateral position||No problem||very capricious|
|Apple Pay||double-tap the Home button: does not work when iPhone is locked because it activates open applications||double press on the side button: works all the time|
|Wet fingers (rain, shower)||hardly works anymore||No problem|
In the past, I could never enjoy an iPhone with a notch. I doubted those who told me it disappears with use and I was wrong. We told you and I confirm it: the notch is not disturbing in daily use. The eyes are focused on the central part of the screen.
3D Touch vs Force Touch: we go with it
iPhone 8 is one of the latest iPhones equipped with 3D Touch, which allows you to perform actions by tapping more or less hard on the screen. Personally, I use it all the time to open the quick actions panel by tapping an app icon or tapping the left edge of the screen to display open apps.
Since the iPhone Xr 3D Touch is gone and it has been replaced by Force Touch, which can be boiled down to a long press. This is still useful, but you have to wait 1.5 seconds, which becomes very long when you repeat the operation many times a day.
Nevertheless, the gesture navigation on the latest iPhones 3D Touch makes it less necessary, and above all, made it possible to compensate for the relative slowness of the iPhone 8 in 2022, a disadvantage that the iPhone 13 mini obviously does not have.
Autonomy: no photo
The iPhone 8 is the latest generation of Apple smartphones with mediocre battery life and it can really be seen. Since I got the iPhone 13 mini, I never worry about how much battery I have left, as long as I can recharge here and there when I have time.
With the iPhone 8, it’s a bit of constant stress as soon as you fall below 20%. 13 mini is, however, the least durable of the latest models, but gives a nice slap to the opponent. Keeping the day light is an important milestone for my peace of mind and only one of the two reaches it.
Fluidity is also difficult to compare. Four generations of processors separate the two models. Applications start up a little faster, like shortcuts or different actions. It is light, but not insignificant.
Photo and video: one is good, the other is excellent
With a single camera on iPhone 8, complicated to compete with ultra wide angle of 13 mini. Specifically, in a context of strong brightness and without particular difficulty, the two are comparable, but otherwise I have a hard time going back to 8. Note, the old model remains very accurate.
Portrait mode is also missing on iPhone 8, and it changes everything when you want to embellish on a topic. The same for night mode, which changes everything when darkness takes over.
For video, HDR is better controlled on the 13 mini, but since the iPhone has been far ahead in this area for several years, the iPhone 8 is far from ridiculous.
The price: what makes all the difference
How not to talk about the price. To be honest, I do not think I will use an iPhone like 13 mini with 100% capacity and therefore do not find the point of using € 809. But objectively, it’s a great toy for those with that kind of budget aside.
And that, in my opinion, is the problem with this model. Most people who are looking for a small smartphone are not “power users” and are therefore looking for a simpler and therefore cheaper experience.
As a fan of small formats, these two models are the only choices we have left to ourselves by Apple, where Android does not even set foot. When I’m very aware of the price, I find the improvements on the 13 mini very pleasing, but do not sufficiently justify the price difference.
When Apple introduced the iPhone 12 mini, it was the embodiment of the format I was looking forward to. This is definitely the last iPhone mini, so you might as well get the most out of it.
Buy iPhone 13 mini
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