There should never be another iPhone mini

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iPhone 12 mini
The iPhone 12 mini is a great little device ... that almost no one wants.
Photo: Lyle Kahney/Cult of Mac

iPhone 12 mini is the worst selling of the new iOS handsets by a wide margin. Apple should be embarrassed because there was plenty of evidence before the launch that sales would be poor. Take note: Another super-small iPhone would just compound the mistake.

No more 5.4-inch iPhones. Ever.

Buyers want big iPhones

The very first iPhone had a tiny 3.5-inch screen. But display size has grown steadily ever since. The reason is simple: That’s what buyers want.

Apple’s top-selling models aren‘t its smallest. On the contrary. The 6.7-inch iPhone 12 Pro Max — the largest ever — experienced a stronger launch than any iOS handset has in years. The 6.1-inch iPhone 12 Pro has since emerged as the top seller, not the tiniest version.

This is because of the way we use our phones. They’re personal computers we carry everywhere. With them, we communicate with each other. Take pictures. Shop. Play games. Watch videos. And a bigger screen makes all of these better.

“Wish I had a smaller display to watch this TikTok,” said no one ever.

… not small ones

The iPhone 12 mini packed all the features of the regular iPhone 12 (although it came with a slightly smaller battery and charged slightly slower on Apple’s new MagSafe charger). That feature parity should have made the iPhone 12 mini a winner if people really wanted a smaller smartphone.

And yet, sales of the 5.4-inch iOS model have to be disappointing to Apple. “Our weekly tracker in the U.S. indicates iPhone 12 mini sales were around 5% of overall iPhone 12 series sales during the first half of January 2021,” said market analysis firm Counterpoint Research on Tuesday, according to Reuters.

That tepid interest in the smallest iPhone is part of a wider trend. Sales of handsets with smaller screens dropped significantly in the past few years. Counterpoint reports that back in late 2018, about 50% of handsets had displays under 6 inches. By the the end of 2020, that figure shrank to about 10%.

Poor iPhone 12 mini sales are part of a wider trend.
It’s not just the iPhone 12 mini. Almost nobody buys small smartphones anymore.
Chart: Counterpoint Research

Apple should have looked at that trend line in early 2020 and killed the mini immediately, months before the launch.

Sorry, iPhone 12 mini fans

Plenty of people professed their love for the original iPhone SE, the token small device in Apple’s iOS lineup for years. And there’s no doubt some people prefer the iPhone 12 mini to its larger siblings. My co-worker Luke Dormehl likes his. As does Killian Bell. And the Cult of Mac review offers plenty of praise for the iPhone 12 mini.

I’m not arguing it’s a bad handset. Just that it’s not what most iPhone buyers are looking for. It’s too small to fit in with the way people use their smartphones in 2021.

If you like the 5.4-inch model, that’s great. But if you want one, and don’t own one already, you’d better make tracks for your local Apple store. Soon. Cupertino is already cutting production of the iPhone 12 mini, and it seems unlikely Apple will make a followup.