Last gasp for the small phone?

The most surprising phone of the most recent crop has been the iPhone 12 mini. Boasting a height that’s smaller than an iPhone 5C and overall image size comparable to an iPhone 4, it seemed like an odd choice. This wasn’t a bargain phone — priced similarly to the 6.1″ iPhone 12 — and it came with sacrifices in battery life as well as the obvious limitations of a smaller screen.

The move shouldn’t have shocked long-term Apple fans. Apple lagged behind in increasing screen sizes, believing people wanted pocketable phones. Back when anything over 5″ was considered a “phablet,” Apple stubbornly stuck to smaller screens with big top and bottom blanks.

Look, some things just don’t work out

The move doesn’t seem to have paid off for Apple. There have been consistent rumors that the iPhone 12 mini is the lowest-selling variant. Its battery life has been skewered in the press. Despite early reports that the mini phone will continue on to the next generation, it’s certainly not beloved by the public.

The perception at the moment is that a small phone means a cheap phone. There are still some phones out there in the 4.75-5.25″ range that you can get for free. They come from lesser-known brands and generally have plastic bodies and weaker cameras. In our elitist culture, small isn’t where it’s at, at least when it comes to phones.

Look at who’s buying them

Apple products appeal to style-conscious consumers as much as they ever have, but increasingly Apple is catering to an older crowd. Younger folks, perhaps because of the economic roller-coaster they’ve been on since 2009, flock to Androids. They’ll start with something cheap. Those who like what they see will upgrade to premium phones like the Galaxy S21 series. Generally when you see an Apple product in the hands of a 20-year-old, it’s more likely to be a hand-me-down.

Apple knows this and that’s why they’ve morphed their watch from a style accessory to a fitness accessory and finally to an accessory for “the olds.” When I ask someone what they like about their Apple Watch, they say they like how it will read messages out loud for them. They like how it is there when they fall, and how it keeps them exercising.

A group of folks who already crank the font size on their phones as high as it will go is not going to buy a stylish mini phone. If pressed, they’ll pick up an iPhone SE, a comfortable and inexpensive option. The combination of high price, small size, and new features isn’t going to appeal.

But there’s nothing wrong with that

I think it’s great that the huge mass of boomers has a phone they like. Apple thinks so too, because they sell tons and tons of iPhones. It’s believed the iPhone 12 series will be the most successful launch in Apple’s history. There’s plenty to like about the iPhone, and it’s likely that even the mini is getting a fair share of takers.

It’s also great that there’s a great selection of phones in all sizes and price range. Our phones are our most prized possessions. They’re our windows into the world, especially now.

It’s possible that the next mini phone will look like the iPhone 12 mini but be priced more like the iPhone SE. The face ID technology used in the phone is pretty mature now, so it’s very possible to do. I think that would be the best of both world.

In the meantime, no matter what size phone you need, why not get it from Signal Connect? Call us at 888-233-2793 and we’ll show you how easy it can be to get a new phone from the safety and comfort of your own home.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.