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Introduction

The mini has landed! It’s iPhone 12 teardown timeagainand while the phone may be small, this teardown is bigger than ever. It’s so big, we had to split it into two parts! We even dished on all the chips and other 5G hardware differences between the US version and those sold to our friends in the EU. (Yes, we tore down both.)

Meanwhile, we’re chasing a whale of a teardown week! Arm your harpoons and take a look at our Xbox Series X teardown, a side-by-side PlayStation 5/Xbox comparison, and oodles of live video teardowns. And if even that’s not quite big enough for you, check out the full iPhone 12 Pro Max teardown.

Feeling overwhelmed by all the new tech? Fix what matters instead! We’ve put together a list of our favorite gifts—from our workshop to yours, to help you and your favorite fixer keep the repair spirit going strong. Want some more community spirit? Keep up on our YouTube channel, Instagram, or Twitter for all the latest inside-out adventures—or sign up for our newsletter and always be in-the-know.

This teardown is not a repair guide. To repair your iPhone 12 mini, use our service manual.

  1. Sometimes big specs come in small packages, and that's certainly the case here. We grabbed both the US and EU models so as not to miss anything: A14 Bionic with fourth-generation Neural Engine 5.4 inch (2340 × 1080 pixels) Super Retina XDR OLED display with True Tone and HDR
    • Sometimes big specs come in small packages, and that's certainly the case here. We grabbed both the US and EU models so as not to miss anything:

    • A14 Bionic with fourth-generation Neural Engine

    • 5.4 inch (2340 × 1080 pixels) Super Retina XDR OLED display with True Tone and HDR

    • Dual 12 MP camera system with ultra-wide angle (ƒ/2.4) and wide angle (ƒ/1.6) cameras

    • 64, 128, or 256 GB of storage

    • 5G (sub-6 GHz and mmWave) connectivity, plus 4x4 MIMO LTE, 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0, and ultra-wide band (UWB)

    • MagSafe 12 W wireless charging

    • IP68 rating, water resistant to a depth of 6 meters for up to 30 minutes

  2. iPhones are fully onboard the "normal is big, and big is really big" train—despite continued calls for a return to the wee phones of yore. Since we tear down phones regardless of size, here's a sampler plate of iPhone, in all different sizes. From left to right: iPhone 4, SE 2020, 12 mini, 12, and 12 Pro Max. Unfortunately, a return to a (slightly) smaller size doesn't mean a return of our friend the headphone jack. RIP to an OG.
    • iPhones are fully onboard the "normal is big, and big is really big" train—despite continued calls for a return to the wee phones of yore.

    • Since we tear down phones regardless of size, here's a sampler plate of iPhone, in all different sizes. From left to right: iPhone 4, SE 2020, 12 mini, 12, and 12 Pro Max.

    • Unfortunately, a return to a (slightly) smaller size doesn't mean a return of our friend the headphone jack. RIP to an OG.

    • The iPhone 12 mini does bring an interesting new feature: increased grille asymmetry (presumably to Jony Ive's chagrin). It appears that the smaller phone needs a little more space for that antenna band.

    • As is the case for the other iPhones 12, a small mmWave window on the side marks the US models, while the EU's feature some regulatory tribal tattoos.

    • iPhone design may change over the years, but the Pentalobe screws remain the same. Good thing our toolkits have all the bits you'll need.

    • Hang on a sec ... that toolkit looks awfully mini. Could a cute, pocketable toolkit soon be on its way from our workshop?

    • Like its siblings, the iPhone 12 mini's display is held down by some tough adhesive. It's no match for some heat and the big guns suction cups.

    • With the Pentalobe screws gone and the adhesive sliced, the display opens in the same lefty-loosey manner we've seen in the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro.

  3. Alright, we're done with "Operation"—who wants to play a little "I spy"? Compared to the regular 12 we see: Two display cables instead of three A miniaturized battery, Taptic Engine, and loudspeaker
    • Alright, we're done with "Operation"—who wants to play a little "I spy"? Compared to the regular 12 we see:

    • Two display cables instead of three

    • A miniaturized battery, Taptic Engine, and loudspeaker

    • Some migrated display silicon

    • The upper sensor assembly, containing the speaker, Face ID, and sensors also got a rework to fit its slightly smaller home.

    • This smaller non-pro iPhone punches well above its weight in the display department. It's got a 5.4 inch 2340 x 1080 OLED screen, topped with Apple's Ceramic Shield glass.

  4. This is the first time we've seen "más" cameras in a "menos" iPhone. It's impressive to see, especially if no corners were cut in the process. No  plastic spacers here—it sort of made sense to see that in the larger iPhone 12, but space is at even more of a premium in the mini. There just isn't a square to spare.
    • This is the first time we've seen "más" cameras in a "menos" iPhone. It's impressive to see, especially if no corners were cut in the process.

    • No plastic spacers here—it sort of made sense to see that in the larger iPhone 12, but space is at even more of a premium in the mini. There just isn't a square to spare.

    • The mini camera (left) has the same ƒ/1.6 wide-angle and ƒ/2.4 ultra wide-angle cameras found in the regular iPhone 12 (right). The wide-angle module also features optical image stabilization (OIS)—and we have the X-rays to prove it!

    • We're impressed by the additional camera in this small-bodied phone, but it may have come at the expense of the already paltry battery life. Hard to stay mad at this li'l guy, though.

    • One spot of good news: camera replacements perform perfectly in our tests. So far, there's no sign that the mini shares the regular iPhone 12's problematic camera repair situation.

    Hi, any idea as to why the connectors are different if both are the same module? I mean, apart from needing space inside, what are the 12mini users sacrificing with the smaller connector.

    Luis E. Ardila - Reply

    I believe the difference is the optical image stabilization tech used in the larger iPhone 12

    Dan -

  5. Removing the speaker reveals the 12-series-standard (and festive) orange ingress-prevention gasket. Considering the already shrunken Taptic Engines, we're surprised to see an even shrimpier one in this mini. This tiny Taptic Engine measures 15.14 mm x 10.9 mm x 3.44 mm—25% smaller than the motor in the 12 and 12 Pro.
    • Removing the speaker reveals the 12-series-standard (and festive) orange ingress-prevention gasket.

    • Considering the already shrunken Taptic Engines, we're surprised to see an even shrimpier one in this mini.

    • This tiny Taptic Engine measures 15.14 mm x 10.9 mm x 3.44 mm—25% smaller than the motor in the 12 and 12 Pro.

    • Taking advantage of that "extra" space: a beefier cable and socket.

    • We had suggested there might have been enough space for a headphone jack in the 12 and 12 Pro—no such luck for the mini. The Taptic Engine and speaker fit much more snugly here.

  6. Grab your tweezers and pull! These standard stretch release tabs are mighty big compared to their petite home, but we've got the muscle for this mini. This mini battery packs a surprising 8.57 Wh. That's more juice than the iPhone SE 2020's  6.96 Wh, but understandably short of the 10.78 Wh of the standard 12 it's stacked on top of. While its three bigger siblings offer 15 W wireless charging, the mini sips up juice at a slightly less thirsty 12 W.
    • Grab your tweezers and pull! These standard stretch release tabs are mighty big compared to their petite home, but we've got the muscle for this mini.

    • This mini battery packs a surprising 8.57 Wh. That's more juice than the iPhone SE 2020's 6.96 Wh, but understandably short of the 10.78 Wh of the standard 12 it's stacked on top of.

    • While its three bigger siblings offer 15 W wireless charging, the mini sips up juice at a slightly less thirsty 12 W.

    • That said, all four phones pump their batteries up with 20 W fast charging when plugged in. Wireless charging is never the ideal choice.

    • While the battery connectors are the same as the iPhone 12 Pro Max, the Pro Max battery is a little bit too much for the mini to handle.

    What is the size difference between iphone 12 mini and SE battery size? Wondering how big of a battery could be fitted into iphone SE.

    John - Reply

  7. We’re back after a much needed catnap! But superheroes never sleep—and Creative Electron has saved the day with this neat X-ray. What can we learn? As usual, the dark bits are the dense, often magnetic parts of the phone, namely: OIS magnets on the lower camera, earpiece, and loudspeakers, as well as the teeny Taptic Engine.
    • We’re back after a much needed catnap! But superheroes never sleep—and Creative Electron has saved the day with this neat X-ray.

    • What can we learn? As usual, the dark bits are the dense, often magnetic parts of the phone, namely:

    • OIS magnets on the lower camera, earpiece, and loudspeakers, as well as the teeny Taptic Engine.

    • Perhaps most interestingly, we see the MagSafe ring has been miniaturized ... kinda.

    • The standard MagSafe circumference doesn't quite fit in this pint-sized phone, so the right and left edges of the circle have been lopped off.

    • But what are those dense spots in the upper sensor array? Time to investigate.

  8. The US face-facing cameras are once again packing a little something extra where the EU edition was bare. We saw these mysterious squares during our iPhone 12 teardowns. They live in a snug little space between the Face ID camera modules, roughly where you might expect to find an older iPhone's ambient light sensor. Their absence in the EU iPhone may suggest this is a third mmWave antenna of some sort (although it doesn't look like any mmWave antenna we're familiar with). We tried blasting it with X-rays, but it refused to talk.
    • The US face-facing cameras are once again packing a little something extra where the EU edition was bare.

    • We saw these mysterious squares during our iPhone 12 teardowns. They live in a snug little space between the Face ID camera modules, roughly where you might expect to find an older iPhone's ambient light sensor.

    • Their absence in the EU iPhone may suggest this is a third mmWave antenna of some sort (although it doesn't look like any mmWave antenna we're familiar with). We tried blasting it with X-rays, but it refused to talk.

    • It makes you wonder whether someone at Apple earned their paycheck for the year miniaturizing the ambient light sensor even further to free up this space. Where'd it go?

    • The logic board comes out from its new home along the left edge, as in its fellow 12ers, clearing space for the beefy rear-facing cameras on the right.

    • The US board has a mmWave antenna flex cable soldered to its underside (which we de-soldered off-stage). US fixers, beware—don't try to yank the board out!

  9. Let's check out these logic board sandwiches. For reference, the US version is on top in these images, EU below. (Don't read into it—that's just how the chips fell.) First, the similarities—the US and EU upper sections are identical and have the same spread of chips on both sides. The lower sections are a bit more interesting. (Note: SIM readers are the same, but we only desoldered it from the US version.) Here's where the US board starts accommodating all that mmWave tech:
    • Let's check out these logic board sandwiches. For reference, the US version is on top in these images, EU below. (Don't read into it—that's just how the chips fell.)

    • First, the similarities—the US and EU upper sections are identical and have the same spread of chips on both sides.

    • The lower sections are a bit more interesting. (Note: SIM readers are the same, but we only desoldered it from the US version.) Here's where the US board starts accommodating all that mmWave tech:

    • An extra socket, which connects to the front mmWave antenna mentioned in the previous step

    • A Murata 1XR-482 mmWave front-end module

    • A Qualcomm SMR526 intermediate frequency IC, working in conjunction with Qualcomm's SDX55M 5G modem

    • One more mmWave antenna right on the board

    • A flex cable soldered to this patch, which connects to the side edge mmWave antenna

  10. After learning the finer points of US vs. EU sandwicherie, let's tuck into the (mostly familiar) US silicon layers: Apple APL1W01 A14 Bionic SoC with Micron D9XMR 4 GB LPDDR4 SDRAM layered over it (same as the iPhone 12/12 Pro)
    • After learning the finer points of US vs. EU sandwicherie, let's tuck into the (mostly familiar) US silicon layers:

    • Apple APL1W01 A14 Bionic SoC with Micron D9XMR 4 GB LPDDR4 SDRAM layered over it (same as the iPhone 12/12 Pro)

    • 1UED, most likely a U1 ultra-wideband chip similar to the USI chip in other iPhones

    • STMicroelectronics STWPA1-3033ABM wireless charging IC, possibly something similar to their STWBC-EP chip

    • KIC M224 BE0408 TWNA 12031, 64 GB of Kioxia NAND flash memory

    • Qualcomm SDR865 5G and LTE transceiver

    • Qualcomm SDX55M 5G modem-RF system and SMR526 intermediate frequency IC

    • Apple APL1094 power management IC

    Out of curiosity, why do iFixit teardowns always state that the Apple SoC die is “layered over” the SDRAM die(s)? Isn’t the SDRAM always on top in a PoP configuration?

    repoman27 - Reply

    Most likely due to a lack of technical knowledge of the innards. The processor chip has many more I/Os and to route them out to the Motherboard the SoC must be directly over it. Since iPhone 3 Apple has been using PoP technology to stack the DRAM chIps OVER the SoC

    dev1gupta - Reply

    Thanks for pointing this out! We did know of this, but at some point, the pretty screenprinting overwhelmed our technical intuition. I’ll correct the bullet.

    Arthur Shi - Reply

  11. And a little more US silicon:
    • And a little more US silicon:

    • Murata 1XR-482 mmWave front-end module

    • Murata 583 and Skyworks 53807 diversity receive modules

    • USI 339S00761 WLAN / Bluetooth module

    • Qualcomm PMX55 power management IC

    • Avago 8200 high/mid-band power amplifier with integrated duplexer

    • Skyworks 5824x power amplifiers

    • Broadcom BCM15960A0

    Sort of confused about the BCM15960A0 - why would Apple need a prefix-search/indexed database coprocessor of this size in an iPhone? These are usually used for IP routing at extremely high (100gbit+) speeds using large rules tables, like you’d see in commercial grade routers or switching equipment.

    Furthermore, why would it be isolated in such a way on the board - and not present in any other model?

    d3irb - Reply

    Agreed, I don’t think the linked datasheet has/had any relationship to what’s in the teardown. Removed.

    Jeff Suovanen -

  12. Like the day after Thanksgiving, we pick from the leftovers sitting in the fridge case. We pilfer some ribbon cables, antennas, microphones, the flash module, and the Lightning connector. Emulating its larger brethren, the last component that comes up is the MagSafe coil & button assembly.
    • Like the day after Thanksgiving, we pick from the leftovers sitting in the fridge case.

    • We pilfer some ribbon cables, antennas, microphones, the flash module, and the Lightning connector.

    • Emulating its larger brethren, the last component that comes up is the MagSafe coil & button assembly.

    • Perhaps unsurprisingly, the mini is too mini for some upright wireless chargers, coming in just short of the coils lining up.

  13. The iPhone 12 mini is a small phone with big ambitions. We're surprised by how familiar the internals look compared to other iPhones this year, given the differences in size among them.
    • The iPhone 12 mini is a small phone with big ambitions. We're surprised by how familiar the internals look compared to other iPhones this year, given the differences in size among them.

    • Miniaturizing components like the speaker and Taptic Engine conserves some space, but battery capacity still takes an unfortunate hit.

    • What lies at the opposite end of the iPhone-size spectrum? Stay tuned for our iPhone 12 Pro Max teardown, coming soon—or check out the livestream for a sneak peek.

    • Last but not least, does the mini manage to score big on our repairability scale? Keep scrolling to find out.

  14. Final Thoughts
    • The two most common smartphone repairs—display and battery—are well-prioritized here.
    • Most major components are modular enough to be accessed/replaced independently.
    • Specialized screws complicate repairs, but remain preferable to overuse of glue.
    • Waterproofing measures make many repairs more difficult, but safeguard against (extremely difficult) water damage repairs.
    • Glass covering the rear housing is fragile and impractical to replace—a single drop could necessitate replacing the entire body of the iPhone.
    Repairability Score
    6
    Repairability 6 out of 10
    (10 is easiest to repair)

7 Comments

I wonder how Apple manages to keep thermals under control. Usually, the top of the SoC is cooled in most phones, but it looks like the only method of cooling this device is through the back of the logic board. I know it works, but it just doesn’t seem like the best solution.

Ethan Zuo - Reply

The Node level used in creating the A14 uses much smaller lithography widths (5 nm) than other SoC’s so the chip runs cooler!

Dan -

hi i need video am new here to learn

13ishaq - Reply

Great effort, thx. Will we get some teardown wallpaper for the 12 mini?

hulster hulster - Reply

Definitely! Stay tuned for some wallpapers!

Arthur Shi -

我想了解这个评分细则是什么?

lkkmy - Reply

I think this year iPhone 12 series should make as -10 .

Cos those parts in iphone can’t exchangeable.

(those part’s SN have save in the SOC when the part have changed, the iphone might not work)

(PS: like iphone 11 can’t change the battery will show notice.BUT MORE AGGRESSIVE)

carsongor - Reply

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