Apple iPhone 12 Mini Vs. Google Pixel 4a: Head-To-Head

The CRN Test Center compares Apple’s first-ever “Mini” iPhone with Google’s affordably priced Pixel 4a.

Face Off

Apple’s iPhone 12 launch is changing up the iPhone lineup in some big--and possibly lasting--ways. That includes re-designing the form factor, adding 5G connectivity and bringing OLED displays to all iPhone models. And there’s more: This fall, Apple is also introducing a brand-new model to the portfolio, with the iPhone 12 Mini. It’s part of Apple’s continuing effort to offer more iPhone choices, as smartphone sales growth remains more elusive than in the past. For the iPhone 12 Mini--which borrows the “Mini” branding in use with the Mac Mini and iPad Mini--the idea is to give buyers a second option for a smaller-screen iPhone. While the iPhone 12 Mini is not as compact or affordably priced as the iPhone SE, it’s still significantly smaller than all of the other iPhone 12 models--and comes with a lower price tag, too.

Likewise, Google has also been busy with its smartphone lineup recently, launching the budget-friendly Pixel 4a in August. If you’re looking for your next smartphone, and it’s come down to the iPhone vs Google Pixel, which of these two devices is the best fit? What follows is our comparison of Apple’s new iPhone 12 Mini vs Google’s Pixel 4a on specs, features and price.


While the iPhone 12 Mini is the most compact-sized option in the new iPhone 12 lineup, its display is not exactly tiny. The iPhone 12 Mini screen measures 5.4 inches--which, to put in perspective, is just a bit smaller than the iPhone “Plus” models that were once the largest models in the iPhone portfolio. The iPhone 12 Mini opts for a vibrant OLED display, and Apple is now going with a new flat-edge design for the device—enabling the aluminum enclosure and glass to stay flush--while also reducing the bezels around the display on the iPhone 12 Mini. The display resolution comes in at 476 pixels per inch (ppi)--which is above that of the Google Pixel 4a at 443 ppi. However, the Pixel 4a has a larger display to offer at 5.8 inches, and also sports OLED display technology. If you’re looking for evidence that LCD is nearly dead on smartphone screens, consider that even the lower-tier models in Apple and Google’s latest lineups have gone with OLED).

Meanwhile, for the first time on a Pixel device, the Pixel 4a features a “hole-punch” design with the front-facing camera placed in the upper left-hand corner. That allows the device to avoid either a camera notch cutout or large bezels.

Processor And RAM

Apple and Google differ in their approach around the processor for their respective devices. Google opts for a lower-end chip than the one found in premium Pixel devices, while Apple goes with the same A14 Bionic processor that’s used in the rest of Apple’s iPhone 12 line.

Apple is continuing to call the A14 Bionic “the fastest chip in a smartphone.” The six-core CPU in the chip offers strong performance by reaching as much as 50-percent faster speeds than “the fastest competing smartphone chips,” according to Apple. That enables “console-quality gaming experiences, powerful computational photography, and more,” Apple said.

By contrast, the Pixel 4a is powered by a mid-range Qualcomm processor--the eight-core Snapdragon 730G. Users can expect better performance from the iPhone 12 Mini over the Pixel 4a, based on benchmark tests showing that the A14 Bionic has outperformed even higher-end Qualcomm chips than the Snapdragon 730G. However, the Pixel 4a does compensate by including 6 GB of RAM, compared to a reported 4 GB of RAM for the iPhone 12 Mini.


The iPhone 12 Mini’s rear camera system includes dual 12-megapixel cameras—consisting of an ultra-wide camera and a new wide camera. The wide camera offers an ƒ/1.6 aperture, which can take in 27 percent more light than the iPhone 11, Apple said. Key camera features include support for Night Mode on every camera, including the 12-megapixel TrueDepth camera on the front. Night Mode also gets improvements with “brighter pictures and better contrast for photos shot in low-light settings,” Apple said.

The Pixel 4a comes with many of the camera features of the flagship Pixel 4 such as portrait mode, night sight with astrophotography and “top shot,” which captures numerous photos and recommends the best ones. The Pixel 4a’s single rear camera offers 12.2 megapixels and an f/1.7 aperture.

Battery Life And Storage

In terms of battery life, Apple says the iPhone 12 Mini will be able to achieve up to 15 hours of video playback. Google hasn’t provided a battery life estimate for the Pixel 4a, though the device does come with a 3,140 mAh battery. That means it has about a 5-percent greater battery capacity than the Pixel 3a, which Google had touted as offering up to 30 hours of battery life.

On storage, the new iPhone 12 Mini will be offered in 64 GB, 128 GB and 256 GB configurations. The Pixel 4a has just one model in terms of internal storage, and it offers double the storage of the iPhone 12 Mini’s starting point, at 128 GB.

Price And Availability

While Google’s Pixel 4a clearly falls short of Apple’s iPhone 12 Mini on specs such as the processor and camera, the phone does have a larger display, more RAM and twice the storage at the base level. The Pixel 4a vs iPhone 12 Mini price comparison also reveals a significant difference between the two devices: the starting Pixel 4a price (unlocked in the Google Store) is $349. The starting iPhone 12 Mini price isn’t even close--it’s actually double the Pixel 4a pricing at $699. And that doesn’t even get you a comparable amount of storage as the Pixel 4a; getting the iPhone 12 Mini with 128 GB of storage brings the price up to $749. It’s a stark difference, but then again Apple is not intending the iPhone 12 Mini to be a budget phone--whereas the Pixel 4a clearly is supposed to be. For Apple’s budget iPhone model, there’s the iPhone SE 2, launched earlier this year. Still, compared to the rest of the iPhone 12 lineup, the iPhone 12 Mini is in fact the most affordably priced model, with the other models ranging from $799 to $1,099 at the base level.

In terms of availability, you’ll also have to wait a little longer to get your hands on the iPhone 12 Mini. Pre-orders for the device start on Nov. 6, and the iPhone 12 Mini release date is Nov. 13.