back to article Last chance to grab an iPhone Mini as savvy analyst reckons Apple will scrap it next year

All good things come to an end. And pointless things, too, with Apple reportedly planning to discontinue the iPhone Mini after the next iteration expected later this year. The warning came from Ming-Chi Kuo, a financial analyst with a track record for correctly predicting Apple's product roadmap. Per his sources, Apple plans …

  1. LDS Silver badge

    The pandemic didn't help the sales of small phones.

    I planned to get one because I hate carrying large phones around, but as I could not leave my home much I didn't really need a new phone.

    1. Flightmode

      Re: The pandemic didn't help the sales of small phones.

      When my work phone was up for renewal this year, I opted for a 12 Mini for the very reason you're mentioning. I felt my 8 was juuust too big to comfortably navigate with one hand, but in all honesty the 12 Mini isn't that much smaller - especially considering the proportionally larger screen. It'd be a shame if they were to drop it from the line.

    2. Jay 2

      Re: The pandemic didn't help the sales of small phones.

      Both my personal and work phones are both 6S, which I'm pretty sure won't make the cut for the next iOS update. As part of a rolling programme the work phones are due to be replaces by the SE (2nd gen 2020).

      I'm quite happy with the form factor of my 6S and I *really* don't need some phablet/handbag phone type thing. But I'm still trying to decide to go for the SE or the 12 mini. Maybe I should just wait until later this year see if there's a suitably sized new handset or not (when I can pick up a 12 mini on the cheap).

    3. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: The pandemic didn't help the sales of small phones.

      I'm still using an Xperia mini for those times when a more modern phone is far too cumbersome. My only regret is not getting the one with the slide-out keyboard as the on-screen keyboard leaves very little of the 3" display visible! I wonder if the problem with the iPhone Mini is that it's simply not small enough to have a distinct use case.

  2. 45RPM Silver badge

    The only reason I didn’t buy a Mini this year is because the new iPhones still don’t have TouchID reinstated. If they could reinstate that on the power button, like iPad, and keep FaceID then I’d be down the Apple Store faster than you can say ‘Make me poorer’.

    1. Rob Daglish

      I regret I can only upvote you once.

      FaceID has been a complete pain during the last umpteen months of mask wearing!

    2. Annihilator Silver badge

      Spot on - I bought the new SE for the same reason. I'd have bought a 12 Mini otherwise.

      FaceID has been an abomination since before lockdown. The hoops to use Apple Pay with FaceID compared with TouchID is irritating to say the least, and you look like a berk.

      Given one of the iPads has TouchID in the power button, they can clearly do it, they're just choosing not to. Or waiting until it's deemed shiny and new again.

  3. juice Silver badge

    It's not a phone...

    It's a miniaturised computer that's hooked up to a network and can be used to make voice-only calls via a legacy system.

    And for all that there's a significant vocal minority who are perfectly happy with just using this miniaturised computer to make voice-only calls via the legacy system, the vast majority want to use it for many other things.

    Such as typing and viewing social media. Taking, viewing and editing photographs. Watching videos and/or having video calls. Etc.

    And all of the above benefit from a larger screen.

    Anecdotally, I used the earliest smartphones, starting with things like the Nokia 5300 and the LG Cookie. And these days, I routinely use three devices:

    a) An 2016 iPhone SE, which replaced an iPod Classic, for the simple reason that it was cheaper than buying an equivalently specc'd iPod Touch, and the last iPhone model which has a headphone jack

    b) A Samsung S21+, which is my main handset

    c) A Chuwi Hi12 tablet, which I generally use to read PDFs of ancient computer magazines ;)

    And for all that the iPhone SE is perfectly functional, it's rare indeed that I do anything with it other than use it as a music player; typing in particular is incredibly fiddly!

    Admittedly, I don't think standard handsets are likely to get any bigger - I'm a tall bloke with fairly big hands, and the S21+ is right at the very limit of what I can comfortably use, and would be a nightmare to carry around if I wasn't a fan of many-pocketed work trousers.

    But at the same time, the era of small smartphones is pretty much over. Because the size of the screen is a definite factor in how useful they are!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It's not a phone...

      "all of the above benefit from a larger screen"

      Not if you have small hands they don't!

    2. LDS Silver badge

      "And all of the above benefit from a larger screen"

      Some people use other devices better fit to those tasks (but the social idiocy, of course), and find even a 7" screen unfit for those tasks with the required quality. In turn prefer something small when none of that is really needed. Especially when carrying around more useful devices for those tasks, a smaller phone is all you need for the remaining tasks.

  4. aidanstevens

    I maintain that there is a market for small smartphones, most notably in the <£100 category (i.e. not iPhone price).

    It's really advantageous to be able to use a phone with one hand, and, everything else being equal, smaller phones are less fragile, take up less pocket space and are lighter. You could have a well-specced phone - nice camera, fast processor, high DPI display, large memory - without a massive screen.

    Could you imagine going back twenty years and telling people that in the future you'd need two hands to operate a mobile phone? They'd think you were mad!

    Not everyone wants watch Netflix on their phone, personally I couldn't think of anything worse. The only video I watch on my phone is the odd Twitter clip and even then I take little pleasure in it.

    1. yetanotheraoc

      Big phone == what?

      "Could you imagine going back twenty years and telling people that in the future you'd need two hands to operate a mobile phone?"

      Twenty years ago I was asked point-blank "Why is your phone so big?"... Uhm, because it's old and I'm too cheap to upgrade to a smaller phone! But I remember reading in PC Magazine that women judged men poorly for having a large phone. Also a belt clip.

      Times have changed about the phone size. But not about the belt clip.

      1. hoola Silver badge

        Re: Big phone == what?

        Motorola v3, probably the best phone ever made. They were indestructible, keys that you could use and the last generation had a slot for a MicroSD.

        The other one that I remember was I think called the v66. It was so small the thing could get lost remarkably easily.

  5. yetanotheraoc

    Small market for small phones

    Apple doesn't need to make both the SE and the Mini. People like me who want a small phone mostly choose the SE because it is slightly smaller. I think the Mini came out when they were in between SE models and maybe were not sure they would even do another SE. Discontinuing the Mini makes sense if they are going to keep making an SE. If in the future the smallest available iphone is any bigger than the current Mini, it will be time to switch to Android. I hope Apple knows this about their customers.

    1. yetanotheraoc

      Re: Small market for small phones

      Where is the button to downvote myself? Reading comments below made me realize the mini is physically *smaller* than the SE, which apple.com confirms. I was thrown off by comparing the diagonal display size.

    2. vmistery

      Re: Small market for small phones

      It’s weird to me when people ask why I went for a 12 mini over the SE. It’s because it’s got flagship performance and a better screen in a smaller chassis. There just isn’t a comparison for me and I don’t get why smaller = cheaper in peoples minds.

      The funny thing is amongst my apparently weird circle of iPhone people I know 4 of us have minis, one has a full size 12 and none are using the SE.

      Personally i hope they don’t get rid of the smaller line as I’ve no need for a larger screen and like the pocket sized format. However if that’s not what the market really wants then I guess they have to make the decision

      1. Dave559 Silver badge

        Re: Small market for small phones

        It depends on what you want: the SE 2020 is about as much as I'm willing to pay for a phone (and it's still a nice phone). Would I have liked a slightly larger screen, probably yes (I certainly wouldn't want smaller, unlike fans of the original SE), but I also wanted TouchID in preference to FaceID. All of the iPhone 12 models are just too expensive for my budget. I'm hoping that in a few years' time there will be an SE 3, with a larger full-body display, TouchID through the screen, and whatever other goodies have trickled down by then (cough, USB-C port?), and I'll happily upgrade. I'm happy for those of you who buy the more expensive phones that drive development forward, but it's not for my taste!

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cannibalism

    Apple made a mistake releasing the Mini, simple as that. There was a 4-year gap between the original iPhone SE and the 202SE which replaced it, so many SE owners immediately upgraded.

    The iPhone 12 Mini came out only 6 months after that, with only the smallest of spec improvements, and no one felt the need to upgrade whatsoever: Apple successfully cannibalised their own sales.

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Cannibalism

      Not just that--the second SE is half the price of the mini. If we assume that people who want small phones don't need 5G and are fine with recently-the-fastest-but-now-the-second-fastest processor, it makes a lot of sense that they wouldn't really see those improvements as deserving a doubling of the price. I hope there is a market for small phones as I am certainly in it, but my needs are small. I don't need a large screen, and I don't need a fast processor, many cameras, or 5G (though I don't mind that one). I am not interested in a small flagship phone. I'm interested in a small low-to-mid range phone.

      1. LDS Silver badge

        Re: Cannibalism

        I do use my phone mostly as a "PIM" - no games, no videos, no photos - so it doesn't really need much CPU/GPU performance. But I do tether it to more powerful devices to perform the other tasks - so a good network speed can be useful anyway.

        Moreover as more money goes into the other devices, it's usually quite useless to spend large amounts into a phone for features never used.

      2. SleepGuy

        Re: Cannibalism

        Exactly. I think the new SE cannibalized a lot of 12 Mini sales. I wanted a 12 Mini but the 2020 SE was only $150 (during a 25% off promotion, it's $200 normally) through my carrier, the 12 Mini would have been $730. Would have paid $300 or so for the 12 Mini over the SE, but not almost 5x the cost!

  7. schafdog

    iPhone Pro Micro, please!

    Keep my first iPhone SE (2016) for three years, bought a unused second one just to keep me going until they released the Mini. So happy about that. Wrong red but heck, it almost has the right size.

    As others has pointed out, wrong release cycle, with the iPhone SE released before. However that doesn't haven't the right size. It's still too big for one hand use.

    I am still rooting for a iPhone Pro Micro, a real one hand phone, just like Steve wanted it. I want the best of the best, and I want it small. I am old enough to remember when getting the smallest mobile was cool (and very expensive). Also please a decent red, not peach.

    1. SleepGuy

      Re: iPhone Pro Micro, please!

      2 light taps on the fingerprint sensor and it brings the top down so you can do anything with one hand!

  8. IGotOut Silver badge

    I think I know the issue.

    I've never heard of the iPhone mini.

    I thought the small one was the SE.

    I've a feeling many others may be unaware of the mini as well.

  9. DS999 Silver badge

    They need this for the SE3

    They based the SE and SE2 on older versions of iPhones, with the SoC updated but the rest of the internals pretty much unchanged. So they need a smaller phone to continue the SE line in the future. If the Mini isn't selling well on its own they might simply choose to update it less often, but they need that form factor unless they change the way the 'SE' line is marketed in the future.

    It wouldn't cost them that much to keep it around and knock $100 of the price each year, then after a few years turn it into 'SE3' and rev a new Mini at full price. The smaller audience of people who want a smaller phone could choose between the cheaper 'SE' models or wait for when they introduced a Mini with the latest hardware surrounding it every 2 or 3 years.

  10. rg287 Silver badge

    It's entirely possible that Apple misjudged the appetite for smaller phones.

    No, they've just released two small phones close to one another (SE2020 and 12 Mini) having made us wait years and years for such a thing. So everyone that wanted one jumped on the SE as soon as it arrived. They've also managed to kick some of us out of cycle by dragging their heels so long between the SE and SE2020.

    I was hanging on for a new SE as my 5S was slowly dying after many years of leal service. Obviously I could have found a used SE but I tend to run devices into the ground, so buying something already several years out of date didn't appeal. It got to a point of falling apart, so I eventually plumped for an XR, thinking "maybe it's me that's wrong and bigger phones aren't so bad". Having signed on the dotted line, Apple promptly released the SE2020. Bastards.

    It's an excellent bit of kit, but I can't use it one-handed and will go back to a smaller form-factor when I replace it. Whether that's branded SE-n or an iPhone n-Mini. But obviously not yet because I'm still in contract on the XR.

    And per above, yes. I would bloody love to have TouchID back.

  11. Piro

    Let me root it, discard the lightning port for USB-C, and install a larger battery and headphone jack, and I'd consider asking for one for work.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021