Google Pixel 5 vs. iPhone 12 mini: Which should you buy?

Google Pixel 5
Google Pixel 5 (Image credit: Daniel Bader / Android Central)

Google Pixel 5

Pixel 5 Sorta Sage Render

Google's Pixel phones have always been good, but the Pixel 5 is the first one to be amazing in just about every way. The 6-inch display looks great, and thanks to slim bezels, the Pixel 5 remains very compact. The Snapdragon 765G allows for great performance, camera quality is among the best you can find, and battery life is fantastic. It's also the better deal, offering twice the storage for the same price as the iPhone.

Google Pixel 5

Best Pixel ever

Compact size with a big screen
90Hz refresh rate
Excellent battery life
Top-notch camera quality
Three years of software updates
Weak stereo speakers
Doesn't have Wi-Fi 6

iPhone 12 mini

iPhone 12 mini in blue

This year's cheapest iPhone is the iPhone 12 mini, touting a seriously small 5.4-inch screen. That might be too cramped for some users, but for anyone that's sick and tired of big phones, it's basically perfect. Despite the small size, you're still getting Apple's incredible A14 Bionic processor, super-powerful cameras, and all the benefits of iOS — including exclusive software features and unrivaled update support.

iPhone 12 mini

Tiny treasure

One of the smallest phones in years
Crisp OLED display
Blazing-fast performance
Unmatched video recording
Updates for 5+ years
Same price for less storage
Just OK battery life

If you're shopping for a new smartphone and have a max budget of $700, the Google Pixel 5 and iPhone 12 mini are the two best phones you can get. Both tout smooth performance, great displays, and extremely capable cameras, along with their own hardware advantages here and there. As with any comparison of an Android handset to an iPhone, however, the ultimate decision comes down to which software experience you prefer.

Google Pixel 5 vs. iPhone 12 mini Price and availability

iPhone 12 Mini

Source: Apple (Image credit: Source: Apple)

As of Oct. 29, 2020, the Google Pixel 5 is available for purchase at a variety of retailers. It costs $700 for 128GB of storage, and unlike the iPhone 12 mini, that's the only version of the phone that's available.

The iPhone 12 mini officially went on sale on Nov. 13, and there are three storage configurations available. These include:

  • 64GB — $699
  • 128GB — $749
  • 256GB — $849

The iPhone 12 mini is technically more expensive when comparing its 128GB model against the Pixel 5, but since neither phone has expandable storage, the iPhone 12 mini and its 256GB option is better for folks that plan on storing a bunch of local files.

Google Pixel 5 vs. iPhone 12 mini The Pixel 5 has a few key advantages

In a lot of ways, the Pixel 5 and iPhone 12 mini are very similar to one another. Both phones have good-looking OLED screens, ample performance, great cameras, and a small form factor. That said, there are a few hardware differences between the two that allows them to stand out in their own unique ways.

Starting with the Pixel 5, one of the main benefits of it over the iPhone 12 mini has to do with its display. The Pixel 5 touts a 90Hz refresh rate, which is faster than the traditional 60Hz found on the iPhone. This means everything from scrolling through Twitter, browsing Google Chrome, or clearing out your inbox will feel smoother on the Pixel 5 than it does on the iPhone 12 mini. Apple's fluid animations throughout iOS help bridge the gap a little bit, but it's not the same as having a fast 90Hz screen like you get on the Pixel.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 Google Pixel 5iPhone 12 mini
Operating SystemAndroid 11iOS 14
Display6-inch OLED
2340 x 1080
90Hz refresh rate
5.4-inch OLED
2340 x 1080
60Hz refresh rate
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 765GApple A14 Bionic
Storage128GB64, 128, or 256GB
Rear Camera 112.2MP primary
12MP primary
Rear Camera 216MP ultra-wide
12MP ultra-wide
Front Camera8MP
Water ResistanceIP68IP68
SecurityRear fingerprint sensorFace ID
Battery4,080 mAhUp to 15 hours of video playback
Charging18W wired
15W Qi wireless
5W reverse wireless
20W wired
7.5W Qi wireless
15W MagSafe wireless
Dimensions70.4 x 144.7 x 8.0mm64.2 x 131.5 x 7.4mm

When it comes to cameras, we have to give the edge to the Pixel 5 for still photos. The iPhone 12 mini has the same camera setup of the regular iPhone 12, which has proven to take excellent pictures, too. Both take great shots in ample lighting, but the Pixel 5 still has the upper-hand for things like night mode and astrophotography shots.

Another area where the Pixel 5 comes out ahead is with battery life. Google managed to cram a 4,080 mAh battery inside the phone, which is darn impressive considering its smaller size. In our testing, the Pixel 5 easily gets through a full day of heavy use with gas left in the tank. We still don't know how the iPhone 12 mini's battery life holds up in real-world use, but given its smaller footprint compared to the Pixel 5, it'll more than likely need to be charged up more often.

Speaking of batteries, the Google Pixel 5 supports faster Qi wireless charging speeds (15W compared to 7.5W) and has 5W reverse wireless charging if you want to use the phone to wirelessly charge your other Qi-enabled devices.

Google Pixel 5 vs. iPhone 12 mini But the iPhone 12 mini still has a lot to offer

iPhone 12 Mini

Source: Apple (Image credit: Source: Apple)

Shifting our attention to the iPhone 12 mini, there are a few areas where it comes out ahead over the Pixel 5 — one area being video recording. Google made a lot of improvements to how the Pixel 5 handles video, but the iPhone continues to be the undisputed champion if you want to shoot video on your phone. When you add features like Dolby Vision HDR and better low-light performance on top of the iPhone video experience we already have, the iPhone 12 mini dominates this field.

Another big (or small) benefit of the iPhone 12 mini is exactly what its name implies. While the Google Pixel 5 is not a large phone by any means, the iPhone 12 mini is in a compact league of its own. Some people might find it to be too small, but if you've been longing for a flagship phone that you can easily use with one hand, the iPhone 12 mini is what you've been looking for.

Other perks aren't quite as noteworthy, but they're still important nonetheless. The Pixel 5 with 128GB of storage is a great value at $700, but if you need more space than that, only the iPhone 12 mini lets you go up to 256GB. You're also getting access to Apple's new MagSafe charging standard on the iPhone 12 mini, which has an enormous amount of potential for future accessories. We've already seen cases, wallets, and car mounts that take advantage of MagSafe, and that's bound to keep expanding as time goes on.

Google Pixel 5 vs iPhone 12 mini It all comes back to the software

Google Pixel 5 Review

Source: Daniel Bader / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Bader / Android Central)

Here's the deal. We could keep going back and forth on what the Pixel 5 does better than the iPhone 12 mini and vice versa, but this comparison ultimately comes down to which operating system you prefer. The Pixel 5 runs Android, the iPhone 12 mini is powered by iOS, and both have their own unique sets of pros/cons.

We obviously prefer Android here at Android Central, but there's a lot that iOS does really well. If you value features like iMessage and AirDrop, getting the Pixel 5 is only going to bring you headaches. Similarly, if you love the customization that Android allows for, going with the iPhone 12 mini is going to be a difficult transition.

Trying out a new operating system can be a lot of fun if you're itching for something new, and both the Pixel 5 and iPhone 12 mini serve as great handsets for their respective platforms if you're ready to make the switch. If you aren't, the recommendation is the same. The Pixel 5 is a fantastic phone if you want to stick with Android, the iPhone 12 mini is an excellent upgrade for your aging iPhone 8, and that's all you really need to know.

Joe Maring

Joe Maring was a Senior Editor for Android Central between 2017 and 2021. You can reach him on Twitter at @JoeMaring1.