iPhone SE 2022 vs iPhone 13 Mini: which ‘cheaper’ Apple phone should you buy?

Apple’s newest ‘budget’ edition smartphone, the 2022 iPhone SE, is now available to buy from retailers and telcos. Coming in at a little over $700, it’s easily the cheapest new iPhone on offer, but it’s not the only compact and lower-priced device available to Apple buyers.

The flagship iPhone 13 series features an ‘entry-level’ model in the smaller iPhone 13 Mini. Including all the key features of the standard iPhone 13, the Mini fits premium specifications into a much more pocket-friendly size, and has proved to be a popular purchase for iPhone lovers.

While there’s still a hefty price difference between the two models — with the iPhone 13 Mini retailing from $1,199 — both have been positioned as smaller, cheaper options to the ultra-high-end iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max. So if you’re looking to switch to an Apple device, or upgrade from your current iPhone, we’re taking a look at how the iPhone 13 Mini and iPhone SE 2022 compare to help you pick the best handset for your needs and budget.

iPhone SE vs iPhone 13 Mini: quick comparison

Below is a quick comparison of the some of the main features of the 2022 iPhone SE and the iPhone 13 Mini. We’ll take a closer look at some of the key differences further down.

iPhone 13 Mini iPhone SE (2022)
Price From $1,199 From $719
Screen size 5.4-inch Super Retina XDR display 4.7-inch Retina XD display
Battery MagSafe and QI wireless charging, up to 17 hours video playback QI wireless charging, up to 15 hours video playback
Chipset A15 Bionic Chip with Neural Engine, 6-core CPU, 4-core GPU A15 Bionic Chip with Neural Engine, 6-core CPU, 4-core GPU
Connectivity 5G-capable 5G-capable
Storage 128GB, 256GB, 512GB 64GB, 128GB, 256GB
Rear camera Dual 12-megapixel wide angle and ultra wide cameras with 2x zoom,  Deep Fusion, True Tone flash, Portrait Mode, Photographic Styles, Night Mode and 4K video, plus Dolby Vision and Cinematic Mode 12-megapixel wide angle cameras with 5x digital zoom, Deep Fusion, True Tone flash, Portrait Mode, Photographic Styles and 4K video
Front camera 12-megapixel TrueDepth camera with Portrait Mode and 4K video 7-megapixel FaceTime camera with Portrait Mode and 1080p HD video
Operating system iOS 15 iOS 15
Colours Midnight, Starlight, Pink, Blue, (PRODUCT) Red, Green Midnight, Starlight, (PRODUCT) Red
iPhone 13 Mini range
iPhone 13/13 Mini range

Design and display

Released in September 2021, the iPhone 13 Mini is essentially a ‘mini’ version of the signature Apple iPhone 13, and includes the same features, cameras and processor. The 13 Mini offers a 5.4-inch display, with a tough aluminium frame and Ceramic Shield glass. The screen itself includes Apple’s Super Retina XDR display, which is renowned for offering amazing colour contrast and accuracy, plus a High Dynamic Range for deep blacks and brighter whites in photos and videos.

In comparison, the iPhone SE 2022 comes with a 4.7-inch Retina HD display, with much larger bezels than the 13 series and with a physical Home button in the bottom centre. The device itself is bigger, but with a smaller screen and a less vibrant viewing experience — it’s still a great display, but may underwhelm when directly compared to the brighter 13 Mini.

The big point of difference is in this screen real estate, and in the SE’s Home button and fingerprint sensor. If you prefer a bigger screen, are happy with Face ID over fingerprint scanning, and want a more modern overall design, you’ll probably go for the iPhone 13 Mini. But if you like the iconic Home button and ‘classic’ design of the iPhone SE, you may want to consider the cheaper device.

Both handsets have some level of water and dust resistance, with the iPhone 13 Mini being IP68 certified and the iPhone SE rated a slightly-lower IP67. What this means is that the 13 Mini can be submerged in up to 6 metres of water for up to 30 minutes, while the SE can withstand only one metre in the same time frame.

Colour-wise, you do get a little more choice with the 13: available colours include Midnight, Starlight, Pink, Blue, (PRODUCT) Red, and an all-new Green. The iPhone SE is limited to just three choices — Midnight, Starlight, and (PRODUCT) Red — although you can always pair your phone with a case for more personalisation.

Speaking of cases, the iPhone 13 Mini is also compatible with Apple’s MagSafe line of magnetic, snap-on-and-off accessories, including covers, wallets, chargers and battery packs. The iPhone SE doesn’t offer MagSafe, but you can still pair it with plenty of accessories from Apple such as cases, AirPods, and cables.

iPhone SE 2022 range
iPhone SE 2022 range

Cameras

When it comes to cameras, there’s no competition: the iPhone 13 Mini absolutely smokes the newer iPhone SE. However, this doesn’t mean that the SE’s cameras are bad, or that buyers won’t be happy with photo and video quality. The 2022 SE may feature just one 12-megapixel wide rear lens and the classic 7-megapixel FaceTime HD camera in front, but you’ll still get good quality shots in well-lit conditions — just not quite to the level of the iPhone 13 Mini.

Two side-by-side shots of interior office
Left: taken with iPhone 13/13 Mini camera/ Right: taken with iPhone SE 2022 camera.

The aforementioned Mini includes a 12-megapixel camera in the back, as well as an additional wide-angle lens. While both the SE and 13 Mini include 5x digital zoom, the Mini also gives you 2x optical zoom out for wider shots and group photos. The Mini’s front-facing camera is Apple’s excellent 12-megapixel TrueDepth shooter, so is the better choice if top-tier selfies are a factor.

Both devices offer features such Photographic Styles, Portrait Mode and Apple’s Deep Fusion AI, However, the SE doesn’t include Night Mode, so low-light and night-time shots are going to fall flat. In terms of video, the SE also misses out on Cinematic Mode and HDR video with Dolby Vision, both of which are available in the 13 Mini.

Two side-by-side photos of a black cat on a leopard print blanket
Left: taken with iPhone 13/13 Mini camera/ Right: taken with iPhone SE 2022 camera.

Performance and battery

Both the iPhone SE and iPhone 13 Mini include Apple’s newest A15 Bionic chip, which features a six-core CPU and a five-core GPU. So whichever device you pick, you’ll get a fast, efficient performance that’s great for multitasking, and even on-the-go gaming.

If speedy processing is your priority, the SE gives you industry-leading power that far outpaces its price tag. It’s also the first iPhone SE to offer 5G network connectivity, which opens customers up to blistering-fast mobile speeds where available (provided you’re on a 5G-ready phone plan). The 2022 SE is a powerhouse phone in a deceptively lower-priced package, but buyers wanting a premium performance might feel let down by the smaller, less vibrant display, particularly if you’re looking for a gaming handset.

The iPhone 13 Mini has the edge if you want a state-of-the-art chip, combined with features that can show it off to the fullest. It also boasts better battery life: Apple states that the Mini offers up to 17 hours of video playback on a single charge, and up to 13 hours of streamed video. In comparison, the iPhone SE can offer up to 15 hours of video, and up to 10 hours of streaming. However, both devices are fast-charge capable, and can be recharged up to 50% in 30 minutes when connected with a 20-watt adaptor or higher.

If you consider long-lasting battery to be a must-have, the Mini is more suited to all-day use, but iPhones generally have never been known for outstanding battery life. The 13 Mini does offer MagSafe charging in addition to wireless and fast charge, so this may make it easier to top-up your device when away from a power socket.


Related: iPhone 13 review: another stellar Apple smartphone


Should you buy the iPhone SE or iPhone 13 Mini?

Overall, it seems like Apple is aiming the iPhone SE and iPhone 13 Mini at two different target markets. The 2022 SE is a great option for first-time iPhone owners, especially kids or older users; it could also scratch the itch for buyers who like having a physical Home button to press, but still want all the benefits of a new Apple device and the latest iOS 15 software.

The iPhone 13 Mini is the more fashionable of the two phones, and is a slightly more affordable alternative to the other models in the 13 range. It offers Apple’s excellent dual rear cameras, as well as extra features such as Cinematic Mode and Night Mode, and is the better pick based on photography alone. It’s also easily ahead of the SE in display and battery life, so is aimed at customers wanting all the hot features of the iPhone 13 in a smaller design.

If you’re upgrading from one of iPhone’s older models, such as the iPhone 8, the SE’s design will feel instantly familiar, and the price is hard to beat — you’ll get a high-end performance for your money, and from five to seven years of Apple software upgrades on top. With prices beginning at $719 for the 64GB model, up to $969 for 256GB, the 2022 iPhone SE isn’t cheap, but it’s a good $480 less than the iPhone 13 Mini, which starts at $1,199 for 128GB of storage.

If it comes down to budget, the iPhone SE is the clear winner. But the iPhone 13 Mini is definitely the better phone overall, and the price difference shows it. Both phones can be bought on telco plans from Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone, so you can spread the cost over 12, 24, or 36 months of payments; if you’re stuck, comparing plans from each of these providers may help you make the final decision.

Consider the Apple iPhone SE (2022) if  Consider the Apple iPhone 13 Mini if
You want the cheapest iPhone, don’t need a massive display or multiple cameras, and like the physical Home button and fingerprint ID. You want better cameras, a bigger and brighter screen, and have $480 more to spend.

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Compare iPhone SE 2022 plans and prices

24-month Telstra iPhone SE plans

The following table shows a selection of published 24-month Telstra plans for the 64GB iPhone SE on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our mobile phone comparison tool to see plans from a range of providers. This is a selection of products with links to referral partners.

24-month Vodafone iPhone SE plans

The following table shows a selection of published 24-month Vodafone plans for the 64GB iPhone SE on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our mobile phone comparison tool to see plans from a range of providers. This is a selection of products with links to referral partners.

24-month Optus iPhone SE plans

The following table shows a selection of published 24-month Optus plans for the 64GB iPhone SE on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our mobile phone comparison tool to see plans from a range of providers. This is a selection of products with links to referral partners.

Compare iPhone 13 series plans and prices

The following table shows a range of 24-month plans for the 128GB iPhone 13 Mini as published on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard monthly cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our phone plan comparison tool to compare plans from a range of providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.

Images: Apple

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