Ok, so… hear me out on this one.
Regular readers will know that I’m a huge fan of the iPhone 13 mini. I’ve written about it constantly and my original review is the highest-performing video I’ve ever published on YouTube.
I love it. I still love it – despite what conclusions you may have drawn from today’s blog title.
But I’m afraid there’s a problem that has started to surface over the last couple of months, and I need to address it today.
It’s the battery
Yeah. I know.
Let’s put some context around this. The iPhone 12 mini was universally panned for its terrible battery life. “Awesome idea, ultimately flawed” was the general gist of most reviews.
I didn’t buy that phone, and, indeed, I avoided it because of those reviews.
Then, in 2021, Apple launched the iPhone 13 mini and all was suddenly right with the world. The one-handed form factor remained – only, this time, it housed an even faster and more efficient chip which resulted in, finally, all-day battery life.
Good times. Apple’s tiny smartphone would no longer conk out at 5pm after a moderate day’s use!
Unfortunately, it seems that its newfound stamina has a use-by date, and if my experience is typical, that use-by date arrives far sooner than one might hope.
My iPhone 13 mini’s battery life has gradually tanked – big time. A quick check of the ‘Maximum Capacity’ in Settings suggests it still has 96%, but real-world usage tells a completely different story.
How I drew this conclusion
I’m no longer an everyday iPhone user – I think it’s important to come clean on that.
This comes with the territory, I’m afraid. As my brand has evolved, so too has the breadth of devices I review, and as a result, I always have an Android phone placed in the opposite pocket to the one holding my iPhone.
I’ve been using several Android phones this year and they’ve all had stellar battery life that often extends into two days. I also spent some time with the iPhone 13 Pro Max earlier this year, which has the best smartphone battery life I’ve ever experienced.
To be clear, I’m not expecting this kind of battery performance from the iPhone 13 mini, but I would have liked it to retain its all-day thing. Mine hasn’t. As time has drawn on, the battery has gradually drained quicker, to the point where come early evening, I have to attach it to the charger. And before you tell me this is due to my beta testing, I can confirm that the battery performance started worsening before I installed iOS 16 beta.
Before the beta test, I could no longer make it through an entire day with the iPhone 13 mini, and it has become an increasing downer during daily use – particularly when compared to Android phones which are considerably cheaper.
Is the iPhone 13 mini suddenly a bad buy?
I’m conscious that a lot of people have bought the iPhone 13 mini having read and watched my gushing fanboy appreciation of it. I don’t regret that, and it remains an awesome purchase for anyone who wants this sized phone.
As I’ve said before, you just can’t get this much power or ergonomic joy from any other smartphone on the market; the iPhone 13 mini remains in a class of its own. However, the longer I’ve used it, I’ve simply discovered that you need to balance everything that’s wonderful about this phone with what is clearly a more tangible reaction to battery degradation.
I don’t think Apple has done anything wrong here; it’s physics. The battery in the iPhone 13 mini is smaller and delivers as much stamina as it can when new. It’s also powering a great display and houses much of the internals you’ll find on the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max. It has a lot resting on its tiny shoulders.
All batteries perform worse, gradually, over time – the iPhone 13 mini simply has less room to play with, thus making its degradation more noticeable. I think this is what I’m experiencing at the moment – and I’d love to know if any other iPhone 13 mini owners are nodding along to what I’m saying today. If that’s you – please get involved in the comments!
The fate of the iPhone mini
Rumours continue to suggest that the iPhone mini will be withdrawn from the iPhone 14 launch this year. Despite my battery woes, this still saddens me. However, there’s another theory that I’m gradually warming to, and that’s the transfer of this form factor to the next iPhone SE.
That will probably happen in 2023, and it’s very good news for anyone who has been waiting to buy Apple’s ‘budget’ phone, but who doesn’t like the big bezels, Touch ID, and lacklustre screen on the current SE.
The battery performance of the iPhone 13 mini sits firmly within iPhone SE territory, which makes the issue I’ve highlighted today a moot point in that world. And, regardless, we’ll have a new chip from Apple come the next iPhone SE, which will hopefully continue the trend of improved battery life.
So, don’t panic – all is not lost for the iPhone mini form factor. Hopefully.
My next iPhone
Today, you’re probably left with one question: what on earth will I be doing for my next iPhone?
Well, I have a plan, and it’s linked directly to an exciting new strategy for my brand… which I’ll tell you about later this week!
Why not just get the battery replaced? I’ll do that soon with my iPhone XS afterwards a couple of year’s daily use, and I hope to use it a good while longer after that. I’ve finally grown tired of charging at the desk, in the car, whenever possible. And that can be fixed by apple for (I think) £75. A lot cheaper to pay that every year or two than buy a new phone, especially to keep hold of one you love. And I love all sorts of things about my XS that the current crop just don’t provide. Rounded feel in the hand, 3D Touch (amazing for editing text), the steel sides that help it grip in my hand with no case (now only available in Pro models) enhanced by the glass back… the list goes on. Cheaper and more environmentally friendly.