(Pocket-lint) - Apple announced the iPhone 12 series at an event in October, with four models to choose from: the iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max.

We've compared the four models in a separate feature, but here we are looking at how the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini compare to the iPhone 11 and 2018's iPhone XR.

Should you upgrade from the iPhone XR, or if you have an older iPhone, should you buy the iPhone XR or the iPhone 11 instead of the iPhone 12 or 12 mini given they are being sold alongside each other?

Note that the iPhone SE is also in Apple's portfolio, so that's worth checking out if you're happy to have the Touch ID Home Button instead of Face ID. 

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Design

  • iPhone 12 mini: 131.5 x 64.2 x 7.4mm, 135g
  • iPhone 12: 146.7 x 71.5 x 7.4mm, 164g
  • iPhone 11: 150.9 x 75.7 x 8.3mm, 194g
  • iPhone XR: 150.9 x 75.7 x 8.3mm, 194g

The Apple iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 feature identical designs, differing only in size. They both feature aluminium frames that are flat rather than rounded, they both come with a notch at the top of their displays and they both have glossy glass backs with a dual rear camera system in the top left corner.

The Apple iPhone 11 and the iPhone XR offer a similar design to the iPhone 12 models in that they both come in a number of colours, offer an aluminium frame and a glass rear. There's a notch at the top of both their displays too, but they have rounder edges than the iPhone 12 models.

The iPhone 12 mini is the smallest and lightest and it's a lovely size that fits easily in the pocket and is very easy to use one-handed. The iPhone 11 and XR are identical in terms of footprint and weight, and both slightly larger and heavier than the iPhone 12.

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The iPhone XR is IP67 water-resistant, however, enabling it to be submerged up to one-metre for 30 minutes, while the iPhone 11, iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini are all IP68 rated, though the 12 models can handle depths up to six-metres for 30 minutes, while the 11 can only do two metres.

The iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12 and iPhone 11 all have a dual rear camera, with a camera housing that features a matte glass to differentiate it from the rest of the glossy body. The iPhone XR meanwhile, has a single rear camera.

The colour options also differ between the iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 11 and iPhone XR.

Display

  • iPhone 12 mini: 5.4-inch, OLED, 2340 x 1080 pixel resolution, HDR, 1200nits
  • iPhone 12: 6.1-inch, OLED, 2532 x 1170 pixel resolution, HDR, 1200nits
  • iPhone 11: 6.1-inch, LCD, 1792 x 828 pixel resolution, no HDR, 625nits
  • iPhone XR: 6.1-inch, LCD, 1792 x 828 pixel resolution, no HDR, 625nits

Both the iPhone 12 mini and the iPhone 12 have OLED displays with HDR and a maximum brightness of 1200nits and they are both stunning with plenty of punch and vibrancy. The iPhone 12 mini has a 5.4-inch display with a 2340 x 1080 pixel resolution for a pixel density of 476ppi, while the iPhone 12 has a 6.1-inch display with a 2532 x 1170 pixel resolution for a pixel density of 460ppi.

The iPhone 11 and the iPhone XR both have a 6.1-inch, Liquid Retina LCD display with a 1792 x 828 pixel resolution, resulting in a pixel density of 326ppi so the iPhone 12 models are quite a bit sharper and more vibrant. 

All four models being compared here have True Tone technology, along with a wide colour gamut, and there is still Haptic Touch over 3D Touch.

Neither the iPhone 11 or iPhone XR have HDR and they aren't as bright as the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini - which is obvious when placed side-by-side. If you didn't have them side-by-side though, the 11 and XR both still deliver great displays with ample brightness. 

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Cameras

  • iPhone 12 mini/iPhone 12: Dual rear camera (12MP wide angle and ultra wide angle), 12MP TrueDepth front camera
  • iPhone 11: Dual rear camera (12MP wide angle and ultra wide angle), 12MP TrueDepth front camera
  • iPhone XR: Single rear camera (12MP), 7MP TrueDepth front camera

The Apple iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 both have a dual rear camera, comprised of a 12-megapixel wide angle sensor with a f/1.6 aperture, and an ultra-wide angle sensor with a f/2.4 aperture. Results in good conditions are excellent and they are good in low light too, with Night Mode having to kick in less than the iPhone 11 thanks to the slightly wider aperture.

The iPhone 11 also has a dual camera on the rear, comprised of a 12-megapixel ultra-wide-angle sensor with an aperture of f/2.4 and a wide-angle sensor with a slightly narrower aperture of f/1.8 compared to the iPhone 12 models. It too delivers great results, but as mentioned above, it uses Night Mode a little more in low light conditions.

There's optical image stabilisation, a brighter True Tone flash and Portrait Lighting with six effects, as well as next-generation Smart HDR for photos and Night Mode, all of which the iPhone 12 models offer too. Night Mode is offered on the front camera of the 12 models too however.

The iPhone 12 models also have HDR video recording with Dolby Vision up to 30fps, which is supported on the rear and front cameras and kicks in automatically. Neither the iPhone 11 or XR offer this.

The iPhone XR meanwhile, has a single 12-megapixel rear camera with an f/1.8 aperture, optical image stabilisation and digital zoom up to 5x. It also only offers three effects for Portrait Lighting and first-gen Smart HDR for photos. 

The iPhone XR also has a 7-megapixel TrueDepth camera system with an aperture of f/2.2 on the front, allowing for Face ID, among plenty of other features. It offers 1080p video recording at 30fps or 60fps.

The iPhone 12 models and the iPhone 11 meanwhile, have a 12-megapixel TrueDepth camera on the front, with an aperture of f/2.2, next-gen Smart HDR for photos and 4K video recording at 24fps, 30fps and 60fps. 

Hardware

  • iPhone 12 mini/iPhone 12: A14 chip, 64/128/256, Dual SIM
  • iPhone 11: A13 chip, 64/256/512GB storage, Dual SIM
  • iPhone XR: A12 chip, 64/256/512GB storage, Dual SIM

One of the main differences between the iPhone 12 models and the older iPhone 11 and the iPhone XR is hardware. As you would expect, the iPhone 12 has a bump in hardware, moving from the A13 chip found in the iPhone 11 and the A12 in the iPhone XR to the A14 chip. All have a fluid performance, but the iPhone 12 models are naturally quicker, especially when it comes to gaming and other more heavy duty tasks.

All four models come in 64GB, 128GB and 256GB storage options and microSD for storage expansion isn't available on any model.

All four devices also support dual SIM with a nano-SIM and eSIM and all devices are charged via Lightning, though the iPhone 12 models also have MagSafe on board. The iPhone 12 models don't come with a wall plug in the box however and the MagSafe charger is sold separately. All models offer Apple Pay.

The iPhone 12 models have 5G capabilities, while the iPhone 11 and iPhone XR are 4G only.

Price

  • iPhone 12 mini: From $699
  • iPhone 12: From $799
  • iPhone 11: From $599
  • iPhone XR: From $499

The Apple iPhone 12 mini starts at $699, which is the same as what the iPhone 11 started at when it launched in 2019. The iPhone 12 starts at $799. 

With the launch of the iPhone 12 models, the Apple iPhone 11 now starts at $599.

The iPhone XR starts at $499, making it a cheaper alternative.

Conclusion

The Apple iPhone 12 has several upgrades over the iPhone 11, with the processor, improved display, refined design and 5G capabilities being the stand out differences.

Upgrading from the iPhone 11 to the iPhone 12 will therefore offer a boost in speed, camera improvements, a noticeably better display and a refreshed design. The same goes for upgrading from the iPhone XR, though all those differences are even more apparent.

If you're considering upgrading from an older iPhone, the iPhone 11 is a fantastic device, as is the iPhone XR - and both are very good value now - so chances are you'll be pleased with either if the iPhone 12 is out of your budget. That said, if you can stretch to the iPhone 12 mini, you won't be disappointed. It's a pocket powerhouse and the small and light size is very refreshing. 

Writing by Britta O'Boyle.