The Apple iPhone 13 mini camera department is a match to the iPhone 13's and not that different from the iPhone 12 and 12 mini's. There are two 12MP snappers on the back and one 12MP selfie imager at the front. The SL 3D scanner for Face ID also assists the Portrait selfie mode.
The iPhone 13 mini brings two hardware upgrades over the iPhone 12 mini. There are also a couple of software features available for the new iPhone 13 mini.
The main 12MP camera has a bigger sensor with larger pixels and a sensor-shift stabilization upgrade. It relies on a Sony sensor with 1.7µm pixels (vs. 1.4µm on the iPhone 12 mini). The lens is 26mm f/1.6. Instead of optical stabilization, this camera now uses the iPhone 12 Pro Max's sensor-shift stabilization. This means the sensor itself is stabilized in real-time and not the lens akin to the in-body stabilization or IBIS seen on many large-sensor digital cameras.
The secondary camera is identical to the iPhone 12 mini's - a 12MP shooter with 1.0µm pixels and 14mm f/2.4 lens for ultrawide photos. The focus is fixed, and there is no stabilization.
The selfie camera is identical to the iPhone 12 mini's. It has a 12MP sensor with 1.0µm pixels and a 23mm f/2.2 lens. The focus is once again fixed. When using portrait mode on this camera, it captures depth info with the structured-light 3D scanner, so it should be taking convincing selfies portraits.
All three snappers support up to 4K@60fps video capturing with Cinematic Stabilization and Expanded Dynamic Range. Dolby Vision HDR capturing is possible on all cameras in all modes. The new Cinematic Mode works on the primary and selfie shooters only.
The viewfinder has been mostly the same since the iOS 13 and the iPhone 11 - you can see outside of the viewfinder thanks to the precise calibration of the two cameras that allows seeing what will be left outside of the frame in real-time.
The Apple image processing includes all legacy features like Smart HDR, Night Mode on all cameras, and Deep Fusion.
The Night Mode icon pops up automatically when a low-light scene presents itself, and it will take a pseudo-long-exposure shot, handheld, of course. You will see the seconds suggested next to the Night Mode icon, but if you tap on it, you can change the simulated long exposure or altogether disable it. Usually, it's between 1 and 2 seconds, but sometimes the phone allows you to go for up to 30 seconds depending on the environmental light or its lack thereof. You can use this mode on the main, the ultrawide, and even the selfie snapper.
Deep Fusion is used when light conditions aren't ideal, say, indoors. It triggers instead of Smart HDR and Night Mode. Deep Fusion uses four frames before you hit the shutter, four more once you do, and one long exposure shot. The Neural engine will select the best frames and create a high-quality HDR photo that is very detailed, sharp, and more natural-looking. The Neural processor's machine learning process analyzes the image being taken and processes them differently depending on what's in the frame - say, sky, foliage, or skin tones. Meanwhile, structure and color tones are based on ratios obtained by the Neural unit on the A15 CPU.
As usual, all cameras talk to each other, so they already know the correct exposure and tone mapping settings when you switch between them. This applies to both stills and videos.
The camera interface is mostly unchanged. You swipe between modes and have a couple of settings you can uncover with an upward swipe - flash, night mode, live photo, photo aspect, exposure compensation, and filters. In video mode, you can change the resolution and frame rate from the viewfinder.
Portrait mode is available on the main and the selfie cameras. There is no RAW mode on the iPhone 13 mini.
There is a new feature called Photographic Styles which automatically edits a photo, one element at a time (applying different corrections to the subject and background, for example). You can choose between Standard, Rich Contrast, Vibrant, Warm, and Cool. You can tune each of these modes by your liking and set your preferred one as default. It's like filters, but more permanent.
The new hardware and software on the iPhone 13 generation enabled another interesting camera features - Cinematic Mode. It does automatic rack focus, but the phone records a depth map alongside the video, so you can change the focus point manually after the fact. Editing such videos is possible in iMovie and Clips apps.
The main camera of the iPhone 13 mini shoots excellent 12MP photos - they are sharp, and there is a lot of detail, the contrast is great, and we observed low noise levels. We can praise the dynamic range - these morning scenes were handled very well with a balanced approach.
Another thing the iPhones do is astonishing white balance, and the iPhone 13 mini is no exception - the colors and the color temperature are incredibly accurate. Sometimes this accuracy makes for this anemic photo look, and the photos could benefit from some extra vibrancy and warmth. It's good that Apple came up with the Photographic styles, which were made exactly for such occasions - once configured, it sets the tone and hues for every photo that comes next.
Finally, let's talk about the foliage. It's good, but not great. Sometimes the photos show excellent trees and bushes, sometimes smeared. We expect this to be improved with each new iPhone, but alas, this is not the year Apple's foliage skills get a boost.
The latest iPhones shoot some of the widest photos we've seen so far, while the automatic distortion correction is quite proficient. The resolved detail is okay, the noise is low, the contrast is superb, and the colors are once again impressively accurate.
The dynamic range has the same balanced approach as on the main camera - not too low and not unnaturally high.
It's not all great, though. Here, on these samples, you can clearly see Apple's inability to handle foliage properly. It's not terrible, but not that good either. This camera has smaller sensor pixels, and less detail is expected, still, sometimes the greenery is smeared badly and looks like an oil painting.
But at the end of the day, these wide photos will end up on the social networks, group chats, or just shown through the Photos app - and they do look spectacular when downsized.
Before we move to low-light samples, let's see some portrait shots. You can shoot such photos on the main camera, and they usually turn out impressive with a nicely balanced exposure. The subjects are sharp and detailed, with lively colors and noise-free, while the background blur is quite likable.
The depth map seems to be detailed enough as the subject separation is good most of the time. Yet, the separation may be less than ideal if the camera is presented with a more complex haircut or background.
Overall, these are some of the best portrait shots we've taken in a while, so we think everyone will be happy with Apple's portrait mode.
Apple's had the right idea about the Night Mode - it triggers automatically when the light is low and usually requires 1s or 2s exposure. You can opt out of using it or correct the suggested exposure time, but we strongly suggest sticking to Auto and do not apply corrections.
So, the photos taken with Automatic Night Mode are exemplary. They present balanced exposure, great contrast and superb color saturation. The resolved detail is outstanding; the sharpness, too. The dynamic range is not the best, but enough for a balanced look.
The noise reduction deserves praise for its proficiency - we enjoyed clean photos with very good sharpness.
The Apple's Night Mode doesn't turn the night into day, it just boosts exposure and the dynamic range makes for slightly better color saturation and may or may not help for more resolved detail.
You can turn the Night Mode off, and this will yield you slightly softer photos with somewhat desaturated colors. The detail is still commendable, and the contrast and dynamic range are good, too.
The exposure is better for what we expected from non-Night Mode photos, and the images look a lot like what we saw that night, colors included. But people shoot at night to capture beautiful and colorful photos, and that's why we suggest sticking to the Auto Night Mode behavior.
The ultrawide camera on the iPhone 13 mini also supports automatic Night Mode. The photos are okay - we can put a good word in for the exposure, the contrast, and the punchy colors. But the images are also soft and quite noisy, and we don't recommend pixel peeping them. They are usable for Facebook/Instagram share, and that's about it.
Of course, you can also turn off Night Mode on the ultrawide camera, but you really should not do that. The standard photos are poor in quality - the detail is smeared, noise is everywhere, the photos are much darker, and the colors are desaturated.
And here are photos of our usual posters taken with the Apple iPhone 13 mini. You can see how it stacks up against the competition. Feel free to browse around and pit it against other phones from our extensive database.
Apple's selfie camera has been offering two Field-of-View modes for a while - the slightly zoomed-in 7MP crop, which is equivalent to a 30mm field of view, and the full 12MP mode, which has a 23mm equivalent FoV.
If you hold the iPhone in portrait orientation, selfies are cropped to 7MP to provide a tighter framing, but if you rotate the phone horizontally, you will get more of the scene with the camera app automatically switching to the wider 12MP mode. You can also switch between those two modes manually from the viewfinder.
So, the 12MP selfies are spectacular - they are sharp with an incredible amount of resolved detail, the contrast and the dynamic range are excellent, and, for a third time on this page - the colors are very accurate.
The front camera and its processing handle noise very well, and it's low even when we shot indoors is not ideal light conditions - something that often kills the mood on other phones.
The Face ID tech comes in handy when shooting selfie portraits. The SL 3D snapper assists with a detailed depth map, and quite expectedly, subject separation is brilliant, while the background blur is lovely.
The selfie portraits are shot in 7MP, meaning the camera crops a part of its available FoV and shows a zoomed-in shot. Other than that, just like the standard photos, the portrait ones impress are super - they excel in detail and sharpness, colors, contrast, and even dynamic range.
The iPhone 13 mini supports video capturing up to 4K at 60fps with all three cameras, and it can even do it simultaneously if you have the right app.
All videos are digitally (also hardware where available) stabilized - Apple calls this cinematic video stabilization. All modes, including the 4K@60fps as well, feature expanded dynamic range thanks to the Smart HDR. The slow-mo options max out at 1080p at 240fps.
You can also capture HDR videos straight into the Dolby Vision format with up to 4K at 60fps (the iPhone 12 mini was limited to 30fps). You can edit these videos on the go on your phone, you can upload them on YouTube or any other popular platform, or even send them to your friends. The Dolby Vision information is saved outside of the video stream, so the video will look normal to any non-HDR player/screen and will be color-boosted on any Dolby Vision-compatible player and display.
You also have a choice between H.265 HEVC and H.264 video encoders. The High-Efficiency mode uses H.265 and is mandatory for 4K@60fps and HDR footage, while the More Compatible mode (H.264) provides easier playback across different devices.
The iPhone 13 mini, just like the previous iPhones, captures wide stereo audio for the videos at about 192kbps. This is spatial sound - it's richer and deeper compared to just regular stereo.
The 4K videos shot on the main camera are top-notch and one of the best in the mobile business, given that they all use EIS. The resolved detail is superb with just the right amount of sharpness applied, and noise is non-existent. The dynamic range is wide, as promised by Apple, the contrast and the colors are excellent as usual.
The 4K clips coming from the ultrawide camera are equally great. They are probably the best we've seen from an ultrawide shooter and extremely wide. The picture is detailed, colorful, with good dynamic range and accurate colors, of course.
The low-light footage from the main camera is good - there is enough detail, the colors are great, as is the contrast. The dynamic range is okay, and the noise is handled well even if the reduction processing lowers the sharpness a bit.
The best we can say for the 4K night clips from the ultrawide camera is that they are usable. They are darker, but if you really mush use this camera for video at night, the result won't be terrible.
The Cinematic Mode simulates rack focus automatically and is shot in 1080p resolution with 30fps. This mode is available on the main and selfie cameras. It works like advanced Portrait mode with blur simulation for everything that should be out of focus. The depth map is created in real-time, and an algorithm automatically decides which subject should be on focus. The automatic blur works side by side with the autofocus, and the overall results are good enough.
Possibly the best part about this Cinematic mode is that the depth map is captured outside the clip. This means you can easily edit these clips in iMovie or Clips. You can change the aperture, the subject that gets the focus, and more. So, if the Auto mode doesn't get it right, nothing is lost - since it's all done by software, you can fix everything later.
The video quality is good, but we don't think the edge detection is quite there yet and the blurred effect is not that good.
Finally, here is the Apple iPhone 13 mini in our video comparison database.