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iPhone 12 mini: How big a deal is it anyway

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Apple finally went ahead with the launch of the iPhone 12 lineup comprising four discrete models, which includes the tiniest 5G iPhone. iPhone 12 mini, the smallest and lightest member of the new iPhone family is also billed as the “the smallest, lightest, and thinnest 5G phone in the world.” Going by its very comfortable 5.4-inch screen size, it has the potential to be a 5G-enabled phone you’d want in 2020 – only if, sizeable screen real estate is not really your thing.

In addition to the iPhone 12 mini, the Cupertino giant has introduced four other iPhones this year– the iPhone SE launched in April being the least expensive of the lot. Since this year has not been the usual and many people have lost employment to the ongoing pandemic, we’ll find lesser people willing to shell out upwards of $1,000 for a new iPhone.

The situation can work in favor of the iPhone 12 mini, which will present itself as a popular choice for Apple fanboys who want to upgrade to a 5G handset on a budget – iPhone SE is cheaper but still a 4G device. Mini is of course usable on 4G networks too. Aside from size and compatibility with both sub-6Ghz and mmWave 5G bands, iPhone 12 mini also has features and specs that separate it very little from the standard iPhone 12 introduced alongside.

iPhone 12 mini is a pocket-friendly iPhone 12 variant – not only because it fits snugly into the pocket, but also for its inexpensive $699 price tag. A great combination of price and functionally, this small-sized, flagship-grade smartphone is powered by the fast and powerful A14 Bionic chipset and has a flat-edged design, which reminds one of the iPhone 5S.

The phone’s near edge-to-edge 5.4-inch OLED display – referred to as Super Retina XDR display – with 2340 x 1080 pixel resolution, has a ceramic shield front cover designed with Corning, which gives the iPhone mini display four times better drop performance. This is common to all models on the lineup which Apple says provides the biggest jump in durability ever seen on iPhone.

At that display size, iPhone 12 mini has carved a niche segment for itself that will get some serious thought from people who do not spend hours staring into a brick-sized handset while binge-watching or gaming. The handy size is very small in comparison to two impactful $699 smartphones – Samsung galaxy S20 FE and Google Pixel 5 – that have 6.5-inch and 6.0-inch displays respectively. But the petite screen combined with a super-fast – top of the line – processor, better drop resistance, and impressive cameras, iPhone 12 mini has what it takes to push open the sub $700 segment for a competitive showdown.

On the front, the iPhone 12 mini has a very noticeable notch cutout at the top of the display. While companies in the Android ecosystem are already experimenting with under-display front cameras and have made hole-punch a norm – Apple has stubbornly stuck with the notch that houses the 12MP f/2.2 selfie camera alongside the Face ID sensor Apple calls the True Depth Camera. Though the notch appears smaller than on the predecessors, it is there to take some fun out of the full-screen display of the iPhone 12 mini, which comes in an aluminum housing.

iPhone 12 mini makes some interesting upgrades to the camera quality even though it sticks to a familiar dual camera setup from iPhone 11 in square housing. Both the 12MP f/1.6 wide and 12MP f/2.4 ultra-wide rear cameras on the mini have night mode to give you brighter and detailed shots and 4K 60fps videos in the indoor and in the dark settings outside.

Apple has shrunk the box of the iPhone 12 mini (entire iPhone 12 options for that matter) to eliminate the power adaptor and the EarPods from it. So with the handset, you’re basically going to get a manual and a USB-C to Lightning Cable in the package – leaving you to fend for a power adaptor or a pair of EarPods, if you’re opting for iPhone for the first time or upgrading after many years.

Nonetheless, the iPhone 12 mini will come with good battery backup. Apple claims up to 15 hours of video playback, which is decent compared to the sad battery life that Apple’s smartphones actually deliver in real-world scenarios. To keep the battery juiced up every time – iPhone 12 mini takes advantage of 20W fast charging using the Lighting Cable. The speeds trickle down to 15W on MagSafe charger and to almost half of that when charging it over a Qi wireless charger. MagSafe magnets help align the iPhone 12 mini perfectly over a charger or clip on compatible case and wallet to its back.

On the software side of things, the iPhone 12 mini comes with iOS 14 out of the box. Weighing in at about 135g, the phone has IP68 protection to withstand accidental dips in the water and a voyage through dusty trails. iPhone 12 Mini will launch in black, white, red, blue, and green colors, in three memory options – 64GB for $699, 128GB for $749, 256GB for $849 – no word on RAM yet. The phone should be up for pre-order on November 6 with retail starting November 13.

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mophie juice pack connect slides a wireless charger behind your phone

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mophie has pretty much flooded the accessory market with an abundance of choices to keep smartphones from dying while away from a power outlet. The usual power banks require dangling cables or that you place your phone down on a wireless block. mophie’s juice pack cases offer more portability and no downtime at the expense of having a battery always stuck to your phone. Its latest trick is to combine the best of both worlds with the juice pack connect, letting slide a wireless power bank on or off as you need it.

Power banks or portable batteries have come in all shapes and sizes but a slowly growing trend seems to be the rise of wireless portable chargers. The way that wireless charging works, however, means that you need to keep the phone and power bank close to each other. Often that involves laying it down on some desk which, in turn, means you can’t use it at the same time or even carry it around.

mophie’s solution is almost genius in its simplicity. With the juice pack connect, the wireless charging block slides onto an anchor that sticks to the back of your phone. Simply push a button on the battery to begin charging your phone wirelessly and slide it off when done. The system works with or without an existing case wrapped around your phone and the wireless charger can itself be charged wirelessly as well.

Of course, that does imply that you’ll have a thin block of plastic semi-permanently attached to the back of your phone. To make good use of that piece, the juice connect system includes a phone grip that you can slide on while not charging. That grip also doubles as a stand for more convenient video watching.

The mophie juice pack connect will available sometime this month and will retail for $79.95. The wireless charger is compatible with any Qi-enabled phone, be it from Apple, Samsung, Google, and more. Sadly, the charger, anchor, and stand only come in black so it may not match well with some phones or cases.

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iPhone 12 could be hiding reverse wireless charging after all

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Apple hasn’t had that much luck with its own wireless chargers, at least if you look at the still MIA AirPower, so it was a bit surprising when it announced the all-new old-named MagSafe wireless charging system for the iPhone 12. That has almost made a lot forget about the wireless charging capabilities that have been rumored for iPhones since last year. Apple apparently didn’t forget and may have sneaked in a reverse wireless charging feature that it may be reserving for new AirPods.

It was speculated and perhaps hoped that last year’s iPhone 11 would include a reverse wireless charging function that was becoming a bit popular and common on Android phones. Of course, it’s hardly conceivable that Apple would find wireless charging an iPhone with another iPhone to be something practical but it would open the doors to charging some accessories, particularly the AirPods.

That never happened last year and rumors didn’t resurface this year so most probably presumed it was a no-go for the iPhone 12 as well. Lo and behold, this year’s iPhones apparently do have something equivalent but hidden so well that it took an FCC filing to discover its existence.

VentureBeat’s Jeremy Horwitz shares the discovery of a key phrase in that filing, noting that the iPhone 12’s MagSafe technology also supports a charging function at 360 kHz. This is pretty much the confirmation of some form of reverse wireless charging, one that’s specifically designed to charge accessories. Mark Gurman of Bloomberg connects this to rumors about new AirPods coming soon.

The existence of the feature, at least based on an FCC document, could send a few treasure hunters digging around for more clues, especially if this functionality could be enabled ahead of its planned announcement. While it does hint that Apple may be preparing new AirPods that will take advantage of this feature, it doesn’t offer any assurance that this will be taking place anytime soon.

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LG WING 5G is landing its swiveling screen on AT&T next week

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LG has made great phones and some not so great phones. Whether they sell well or not is a different question but it’s hard to deny it has created some rather unusual and sometimes innovative designs over the past years. The LG WING definitely takes the cake, at least for now, and sits on both ends of the spectrum. Those who have been enamored by its swiveling screen but scared off by its price tag may now get their chance to get one, presuming they trade it their old phone and pledge loyalty to AT&T.

The LG WING is hardly a high-end smartphone, which is part of what makes the $999 price tag a bit hard to swallow. Then again, it shares a lot in common with the $699 Google Pixel 5, like the Snapdragon 765G processor and 8GB of RAM. One might presume the extra costs come from the second screen and cameras.

Regardless, it’s definitely a daunting price tag but carriers are fortunately willing to take a load off its subscribers. Following Verizon’s lead last month, AT&T has now announced availability details for the LG WING on its own 5G network, including how it will help you pay less for the eccentric phone.

AT&T will be shaving almost $700 off the full retail price of the swiveling phone but you will be tied to a 30-month contract that will have you paying $11.67 a month, for a total of around $350. That discount, however, only applies if you’ll be purchasing an eligible plan and, at the same time, trading in an eligible phone.

The LG WING 5G will be available on AT&T starting November 6, so there’s plenty of time to make up your mind. It is admittedly a curious device but, unfortunately, curiosity isn’t exactly a reliable factor in making a purchase decision, not unless you have money to burn during these times.

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