I traveled to Udupi with an iPhone 13 mini – here’s what I learned about compact phones

I have just returned from Udupi after a five day vacation in an attractive coastal town in India. I usually carry my iPad, Nintendo Switch, and DSLR on trips. This time around, I decided to carry fewer devices so I could spend more time exploring Udupi and its quiet beaches rather than sticking to the screen. The only computing device I took with me was the iPhone 13 mini. I reviewed this device last year and found it to be an excellent compact smartphone. As much as I love this product, I wasn’t too sure about traveling with only the iPhone 13 mini on a long train ride. But I decided to rely on the iPhone 13 mini as my main device for the whole trip. These are my thoughts and experiences as a traveler of using iPhone 13 mini.

Why iPhone 13 mini?

Being a tech writer, I have access to every new device you might think of. But I settled on the iPhone 13 mini as my primary smartphone. I could have taken the iPhone 13 Pro Max or the iPhone 12 but my interest in big screen phones has peaked. It is very bulky and almost impossible to hold in one hand. Apple also sells the iPhone SE (2022) which is also a fairly compact phone but I wanted a modern iPhone with edge-to-edge screen and better cameras. In the end, I chose the iPhone 13 mini and I will explain why I would use this phone on more capable devices.

For anyone who wants a high-end and compact smartphone with excellent cameras, iPhone 13 mini is simply heaven. (Photo credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)

Compact design makes a big difference

I have to admit that the first thing I thought after booking my tickets was that it would be great to only carry the iPhone 13 mini as my primary computing device and nothing else. I usually carry two smartphones with me when I travel for work. But since this was a leisure trip, I took the iPhone 13 mini with me. You’re right. The thing for me is that I don’t like keeping the phone in my pocket for long. I want the phone in my hand which is why I prefer a device that is light, comfortable and easy to operate with one hand whether I’m searching for a location using Google Maps, checking out the nearest pure vegetarian restaurant, or taking a picture of the sea view while in the car. I wanted a phone that fits easily in the pocket and the chest bag I’ve been carrying throughout my trip. Because the phone is easier to hold, the chances of it falling out are less.

What happens with the big screen phone is that, after a certain point, it becomes annoying in the hands and wrists, especially when you constantly take the phone into a pocket to capture the moment. Of course, your perception will differ depending on the phone you are currently using. If you are familiar with a larger iPhone, say the iPhone 11 or iPhone 12, it will take some time to adjust to the small form factor of the iPhone 13 mini. But if you’re coming from the iPhone 5s, the flat edges and compact design give you a familiar feel. The phone is as premium as the iPhone 13, has a slightly narrower screen notch than the previous version, and is available in a number of colors, including the new “green” shade.

iphone, apple iphone, iphone 13 mini, iphone 13 mini review, iphone 13, iphone 13 mini camera review, udupi, karnataka Carrying my iPhone 13 mini on a long distance train was easy. (Photo credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)

5.4 inch screen looks ‘natural’

I’ve been using the iPhone 13 mini for months now, and I’ve never felt that the 5.4-inch screen provided a cramped experience. Compared to the iPhone 13’s 6.1-inch screen, the mini’s screen is small but that’s the whole purpose of a phone like this. While watching YouTube videos on the train, the 5.4-inch screen seemed “normal” to me – not too big or small. But reading an e-book on the iPhone 13 mini doesn’t translate into a great experience, which is why I carried an Amazon Kindle with me. Also, typing on the small keyboard can sometimes be annoying but it is not a defect in itself. Although the iPhone 13 mini’s screen lacks ProMotion (120Hz adaptive refresh rate), the screen is bright enough under sunlight. I can read my St Mary’s Island travel guide on Tripadvisor while walking on Malpe Beach, replying to my dad’s WhatsApp messages and looking at photos while taking a sip of cold, cold coffee. The offer is good enough for most people.

iPhone 13 mini camera is amazing

It was the iPhone 13 mini’s cameras that influenced me (regardless of its size) to take this phone to Udupi. Not for a second, I’m thinking of taking my Canon EOS 600D with me on this trip. I mean, just take a look at the sample camera below:

iphone, apple iphone, iphone 13 mini, iphone 13 mini review, iphone 13, iphone 13 mini camera review, udupi, karnataka Cabo Beach, Udupi. (Photo credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)

I don’t get much into the camera specs. So, you can read my detailed review of the iPhone 13 mini. All I can tell you is that the iPhone 13 mini has a dual rear camera system with an Ultra Wide and Wide Angle lens. Pocket portability along with excellent cameras make iPhone 13 mini an ideal travel camera. I wish Apple had made a case with the ring (remember the 5th generation iPod Touch?) that would have made the iPhone 13 mini more convenient to take photos.

Anyway, going back to the iPhone 13 mini cameras, I’m like any other iPhone user who takes a picture in Apple’s Camera app. For me, the iPhone camera works mainly because it is so good at photographing everyday life. I find myself carrying less of my DSLR, and using the iPhone more to take pictures.

iphone, apple iphone, iphone 13 mini, iphone 13 mini review, iphone 13, iphone 13 mini camera review, udupi, karnataka Kimano Suspension Bridge, Udupi. (Photo credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)
iphone, apple iphone, iphone 13 mini, iphone 13 mini review, iphone 13, iphone 13 mini camera review, udupi, karnataka Shree Krishna Temple, Udupi. (Photo credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)
A view of Udupi from the Capo Lighthouse. (Photo credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)

The iPhone’s primary camera, or “wide,” now has a larger sensor and a “faster” lens, meaning it lets in more light. This allows taking pictures with less noise in low light.

I shot many different lighting scenarios, and frankly in many of the scenes, both cameras made beautiful pictures. I knew the mini would be a great camera and loved taking the pictures above. The kind of photos your thumbnail captures demonstrates Apple’s hardware ingenuity and software leadership. If you notice it carefully, each photo tells a unique story. There is a great deal of detail in the photos (below).

iphone, apple iphone, iphone 13 mini, iphone 13 mini review, iphone 13, iphone 13 mini camera review, udupi, karnataka The best way to explore India and its food is to travel by train. (Photo credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)

Below, I was able to capture the pristine beaches of Udupi through a wide-angle lens.

Kodi Bengre Beach, Odibe. (Photo credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)

After spending so much time on the beaches of Udupi, I started to like the iPhone 13’s tiny camera more than ever. I didn’t feel like I needed a bigger, more professional camera with me. The lenses quickly capture unique perspectives, like the one I took on Saint Mary’s Island.

iphone, apple iphone, iphone 13 mini, iphone 13 mini review, iphone 13, iphone 13 mini camera review, udupi, karnataka The wonderful island of Saint Mary. (Photo credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)

I have also shot some videos with iPhone 13 mini. I don’t think any other smartphone comes close to the iPhone in video capture. Of course, when shooting videos in water, your phone is bound to get wet. IP68 water resistance, at the very least, ensures the camera will survive.

Siri phone

I used Siri, Apple’s voice assistant, the most during my trip to Udupi. Perhaps an intentional move, I wanted to see how Apple’s personal voice assistant saves my time when I’m on the go. Just ask Siri about the must-see attractions in Udupi and it will give a detailed list of the main tourist points. Siri is also better at reporting the weather or doing math. Just say “Remind me to buy coconut water in the morning…” and Siri will instantly add it to the Reminders app on your device. very nice.

While on vacation, I realized that I don’t need to carry a lot of gadgets on leisure trips like this. (Photo credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)

Unparalleled performance, battery life could have been better

The performance is surprisingly great. The powerful Apple A15 Bionic chip, the same processor found in the iPhone 13 Pro Max, ensures that the most popular apps I use on a daily basis run flawlessly. Apps like RailYatri, MakemyTrip, Google Photos, and Google Maps work quickly and smoothly. I would fail if my phone started stuttering or freezing in the middle of Kodi Beach, far from the main city. No tourist would want their phone to slow down while navigating Google Maps in a city where Uber and Ola are not available.

The battery in the iPhone 13 mini left a lot to be desired. I wouldn’t say the battery will last an entire day, especially when I started my day at 8am and used the phone non-stop, the mini would get me until 7pm. This is no deal but yes I would expect the phone to last a bit longer. But the good thing that happened to me during the trip was that even though I had a power bank, I hardly used it in case I needed it in an emergency.

iphone, apple iphone, iphone 13 mini, iphone 13 mini review, iphone 13, iphone 13 mini camera review, udupi, karnataka Small size smartphones are just as good as regular phones. (Photo credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)

Stop treating small smartphones differently

One of the lessons I learned after using the iPhone 13 mini is that overemphasis on the word “different” should stop. I don’t see the iPhone 13 mini as different from the standard iPhone 13 in terms of experience and practicality. iPhone 13 mini is designed to be compact and that’s its strength, not its weakness. I see the iPhone 13 mini as a pocket camera that can also make calls and help me navigate Google Maps when I travel to a new city. I don’t see any other smartphone that comes close to the iPhone 13 mini’s massive size and performance.


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