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iPhone 13 mini real-world battery life — How long does it really last?

iPhone 13 mini real-world battery life — How long does it really last?
(Image credit: Laptop Mag/ Sean Riley)

With the iPhone 13 mini, Apple addressed the biggest complaint people had with its predecessor: the battery life. The iPhone 12 mini paired the same high-end hardware found on its larger siblings with a much smaller battery and, as expected, it struggled to even last 'til evening. The iPhone 13 mini, therefore, comes equipped with a battery that’s 10% larger (2,406 mAh) than the one (2,227 mAh) found on the iPhone 12 mini. 

Apple says the upgraded endurance offers up to an hour and a half more runtime on a single charge. The iPhone 13 mini is also rated to last three hours more when you’re streaming a video online. But how does the increased battery actually perform in the real world? 

After testing the iPhone 13 mini for nearly a month, the short answer is that the latest improvements are enough that you no longer need to worry about whether your small iPhone will die on you in the middle of the day. 

(Image credit: Laptop Mag/ Sean Riley)

When I reviewed the iPhone 12 mini after weeks of use, I concluded that while its battery life is sufficient for people like me who don’t consume a lot of movies on their phone or play games, it’s a deal-breaker for those who do. The iPhone 13 mini strikes a balance in that equation in a way that I didn’t expect from a 10% bump in battery size. 

In one go, the iPhone 13 mini can comfortably run for more than a day with energy to spare. I usually plug in my phone every day around 9am and by then, the iPhone 13 mini had clocked in over four hours of screen-on time. That’s largely identical to the iPhone 12 mini. 

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

What’s different is that the 13 mini would still have nearly 20-30% of the juice left even after 24 hours of use, which, in my case, involves a few hours of phone calls, social media, web browsing, and YouTube streaming. Pushing the 13 mini down to zero brought the screen on time to close to five hours -- just about in line with Apple’s own claims. 

Though the larger battery size takes most of the credit for the mini iPhone’s extended endurance this year, there’s another factor at play: the A15 Bionic chip. It’s more efficient at optimizing how much of your phone’s power apps can access and when. What this means is that even when you’re engaging in a resource-intensive activity, such as turn-by-turn navigation or streaming movies, the iPhone 13 mini’s battery figures don’t drop dramatically. This is especially true for Apple’s in-house services and apps. 

(Image credit: Laptop Mag/ Sean Riley)

So for instance, watching a 35-minute episode on the Apple TV+ app with Bluetooth earphones connected takes only a measly 4% hit on the battery level. Similarly, on a recent road trip, I actively used Google Maps but the 13 mini still managed to reach that five-hour screen on-time figure. I also took hundreds of pictures and cinematic videos on the trip and surprisingly the camera app took only about 9% of the battery life.

When you switch to a third-party app like Disney+, the power consumption doubles. Streaming an hour-long documentary on Disney+, for example, knocked 20% off the available juice. The only realistic way to kill this phone before the day’s end is to play a high-res game for hours. One complete PUBG match (30 minutes), in my testing, consumed 15% of the battery. 

Even when you do run out of battery on the iPhone 13 mini, it won’t take you long to top it up back up. Since the battery is still fairly small, the 13 mini needs only  90 minutes to go from zero to 100% with a 20W adapter. 

(Image credit: Laptop Mag/ Sean Riley)

The slightly thicker body this year has also allowed Apple to make room for higher MagSafe wireless charging speed on its mini model. Unlike the 12 mini, which is restricted to 12-watt, the 13 mini supports 15-watt MagSafe chargers and can be fully topped up wirelessly in a little over two hours. 

When I bought the iPhone 12 mini, I had developed a habit of carrying a pocketable power bank every time I go out. With the iPhone 13 mini, I never had to reach for that. It delivers on Apple’s promises in spades -- it lasts much longer than its predecessor, is compatible with the maximum MagSafe charging speeds, and does all that without compromising the mini form factor. So if you’ve been holding out for a longer-lasting small phone, the iPhone 13 mini is certainly the way to go. 

Shubham Agarwal is a freelance technology journalist from Ahmedabad, India. His work has previously appeared in Business Insider, Fast Company, HuffPost, and more. You can reach out to him on Twitter