iPhone Mini: The Best Backup Vlogging Camera?

iPhone Mini: The Best Backup Vlogging Camera?

Every single tech reviewer for phones assumes everyone wants some giant phone with 8 cameras to play videos games on or whatever. It's quite annoying as there is a large audience of guys like me who want a good, small phone which I think is why the iPhone SE is so popular (that and it's low price point).

But the iPhone Mini 13 when I first saw it grabbed my attention. Finally I thought, the phone I've been waiting for. However as I like to make casual vlogs with an action camera (see my X3000 review). I do however always have my phone and unfortunately I used to rock an iPhone 8 which just sucks for video work.

iPhone 8 vlog:

The selfie camera has no stabilization, the audio is awful, the battery is bad and the main camera is too tight on the face. The iPhone 8 and iPhone SE are going to be a hard pass for me as someone who makes videos.

iPhone 13 Mini vlog:

Not bad overall! I still prefer an action camera though. The on-board microphones are pretty bad but not as bad as the iPhone 8. When push comes to shove, you can vlog and make an interesting video with just an iPhone 13 mini.

Why did you buy an iPhone 8 then?

I bought an iPhone 8 in January 2020 back in Bangkok. I know, I know, why the 8 and not the SE? I bought it in January right before the SE came out. Not a big deal as these two phones are pretty much the same, but the SE does have better performance with the front facing, selfie camera as it's not as jittery when walking.

But, now that the iPhone 13 Mini exists all I can say is thanks Apple!

You know phones are getting big when a normal sized phone is now "mini."

During my last trip to Bangkok, I wanted to pick up a new phone as my old phone was stolen. It was literally impossible to buy a small Android phone in Asia. The only small phone I could get was some cheap Samsung phone for kids that cost $70 or so.

I had previously been pretty faithful to the ASUS Zenfone lineup. I had the the Zenfone 4 which was the perfect size. Not too long, fat enough with a 5.5 inch screen. It was great, but it was old and falling apart. The new Zenfone is gigantic with a flip up camera. No thanks, I'm a guy. I just need a small phone to fit in my pocket, can take nice pics of food and has a colorful screen for watching YouTube on.

Giant phones with 12 cameras.

Seriously, every single phone out here in SE Asia is a gigantic monstrosity with 12 cameras, weird colors and features for narcissists. No I don't need a fake a blurry background on a phone. It's not a full frame phone.

I'm just taking pictures of the food I'm eating. Out here in South East Asia it's all Oppo, Huwaei and Samsung. The market out here currently likes these huge phones. So when I laid eyes on the iPhone 8 I was like, that's my phone.

So I Bought the iPhone 13 Mini

I love it. Great battery life, small form factor, powerful and the camera system is adequate for my casual vlogging video needs. Personally this is not going to be replacing my action camera any time soon.

I like having a dedicated "vlogging camera" and my phone. With 2FA, logging into accounts, verifying your identity and what not your phone is quite valuable and huge pain if it were to ever get stolen or broken.

As such, I would only use a phone as a backup option or for an impromtu, short video. Anyways, here are some things I like about vlogging with an iPhone Mini:

Frame rates

The iPhone 13 Mini can record up to 4k at 60 FPS which just blows my mind. My old Canon SL2 could't even shoot in 4k.  With 4k, you can make a high quality video and 60 FPS is my go-to frame rate for vlogs.

Selfie camera

Unlike the iPhone 8, the iPhone 13 Mini selfie camera actually has stabilization so the video clips you record won't be choppy and shaky. The video quality is also noticably improved. However the only limitation is that you can record up to 30 FPS instead of 60 FPS.

This is an issue because your main cameras can reocrd at 60 FPS so you'll want all your clips to be at the same frame rates when you go to edit the video.

Wide angle lens

The wide angle lens is awesome. It looks very similar to my action camera. Yes you can't see yourself, but it's not a big deal as you'll get used to it and know where you have to hold the camera to record yourself.

Main lens

The main lens on the 13 Mini is the same as the other versions of the iPhone 13. So, in this small form factor you get a high quality camera that can get that blurry background. It's great for b-roll clips and it's also not too tight on the face if you decide to record yourself with it. But I do prefer the wide angle lens for narration clips.

Audio - Meh

The audio is pretty mediocre overall. I do suggest getting a dedicated mic if you do intend on vlogging seriously with an iPhone. You can get a lapel mic and record the audio separately and then sync the video and audio together or you can get a little, lightning port mic designed specifically for the iPhone.

iPhone 13 Mini - My Dream Phone Come True

So I'll leave it there. The mini is my dream phone. Since smart phones became a thing, there was always some annoying limitation I had to put up with.

Small phones, but cheaply made and powered by Android and made for a teenager with a poor camera system or a giant phone with 12 cameras that's the size of Texas toast.

The Mini is that right combination of small form factor, good battery and a great camera system.