The iPhone 12 Mini outperformed the iPhone 12 Pro Max — and we're baffled

iPhone 12
(Image credit: Apple)

The iPhone 12 Mini may be the tiniest of all four models among Apple's newest flagship smartphone line, but don't underestimate the small device. The iPhone 12 Mini, according to our overall performance results, outpaced the iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max.

One would expect the iPhone 12 Pro Max to serve up the most beastly benchmark results as it's positioned as the most premium device in the iPhone 12 line, but it seems like the iPhone 12 mini has a lot more muscle than we thought.

The iPhone 12 Mini is tiny but mighty

Imagine our surprise when the iPhone 12 Mini achieved a multi-core score of 4,123 on the Geekbench 5 overall performance test. This score beat the test results of the iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro, which served up scores of 3,859, 3,669 and 4,111, respectively.

The 5.4-inch iPhone 12 mini has a lot of similarities with its three siblings, including its Super Retina XDR OLED, Ceramic Shield display and its boxy, squared-off appearance that's reminiscent of the iPhone 5. Most importantly, the Mini has the same A14 bionic chip as the rest of the iPhone 12 family, but somehow, it's managed to outperform its higher-tier kin.

Geekbench results iPhone 12

iPhone 12 Geekbench results (Image credit: Future)

The iPhone 12 Mini, with 4GB of RAM, has the same memory as the iPhone 12, but the iPhone 12 Pro and the iPhone 12 Pro Max has 6GB of RAM. It's worth noting that the Geekbench 5 results variance isn't too alarming with 454 points being the greatest delta (between the iPhone 12 Mini and the iPhone 12 Pro), but it's impelled us to scratch our heads over what special internal components are giving the Mini the slight edge over its pricier siblings.

The iPhone 12 Mini also marginally outperformed all of its higher-tier counterparts, save for the Pro Max, on the 3DMark Wild Life Unlimited graphics test with a spectacular score of 9,084. The iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro and the iPhone 12 Pro Max achieved scores of 8,555, 8,619 and 9,113, respectively. Again, the variance between the four models isn't significant, but we thought it was rather interesting.

Apple wasn't kidding when it said that its A14 bionic chip is the most powerful smartphone processor in the world. The Geekbench 5 and 3DMark scores of all four iPhone 12 models exceeded the scores of all the smartphones we've reviewed this year, and the iPhone 12 mini is proving that it's the best of the best.

We've reached out to Apple to make sense of why the Mini seems to have a slight edge on our test results, particularly Geekbench 5; we'll update you when we get a response. But for the time being, we're baffled.

The iPhone 12 mini, lacking a telephoto camera and LiDAR scanner, doesn't have the swanky triple-rear camera setup of the iPhone 12 Pro and the iPhone 12 Pro Max, but its performance is certainly on par — and dare I say it — better than its pricier siblings.

Kimberly Gedeon

Kimberly Gedeon, holding a Master's degree in International Journalism, launched her career as a journalist for MadameNoire's business beat in 2013. She loved translating stuffy stories about the economy, personal finance and investing into digestible, easy-to-understand, entertaining stories for young women of color. During her time on the business beat, she discovered her passion for tech as she dove into articles about tech entrepreneurship, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and the latest tablets. After eight years of freelancing, dabbling in a myriad of beats, she's finally found a home at Laptop Mag that accepts her as the crypto-addicted, virtual reality-loving, investing-focused, tech-fascinated nerd she is. Woot!