Hello, dear reader, and welcome to my crystal ball room. Today we will talk about the iPhone mini and its untimely demise. Or… is it really a downfall?
Spoiler: I firmly believe the iPhone mini will return as the next iPhone SE
I’m not going to play the game where you scroll all the way down to find out what I’m talking about. I believe the 4th generation of the iPhone SE will take the form of an iPhone mini. Therefore, the mini form will live on! Rejoice!
Left – iPhone SE 3rd generation; Right – iPhone 13 mini
Still not in my camp? Well, let me present my arguments, and you are the judge.
Will the iPhone mini be discontinued?
We’ve heard rumors that Apple has been planning to end the mini line for over a year now. Even when the iPhone 12 mini (the first mini iPhone) dropped, reception was disappointing and Apple quickly re-adjusted its production lines, dropping the output of iPhone 12 mini devices.
Left – iPhone 12 mini; Right – iPhone 12 Pro Max
Then, while we were preparing for that iPhone 13 Series Revealed, Many Analysts and Laymen Said this will be the last time we see a “mini” version. And, for what it’s worth, it looks like they were right, considering all the leaks and rumors about the… iPhone 14 series points to a new “Plus-sized” model and not a mini.
Doesn’t anyone like the iPhone mini?
Consistently, the mini versions of the last two iPhone generations have had the least interest. The following applies to the entire iPhone 12 line: iPhone 12 mini made for 5% of the total number of devices sold. The same story was repeated with the iPhone 13 series. But let’s get this straight: the iPhone 12 series has sold over 100 million units (this stat is from mid-2021, so there are more now). This means that Apple shipped 5 million mini units for that generation. It’s not a huge blockbuster, but it’s still a number that’s hard to ignore – I’m pretty sure many smartphone makers would love to have a small phone that consistently sells in the millions.
iPhone 13 mini – feels cute, may be discontinued later
Also, as you browse the smartphone community — be it tech YouTube, Reddit, or even our own comments — you can always spot the occasional devoted fan of the iPhone mini. Obviously they exist and Apple will have a crowd of disappointed customers if it does away with the small models.
So… is the iPhone mini really dead? No! It will arise under a different name. I think.
The iPhone mini versus the iPhone SE
The iPhone SE and iPhone mini have had a lot of crossover since the beginning. A little cannibalization, if you will. Let’s see:
Left – iPhone SE; Right – iPhone 12 mini
By design, they are incredibly similar products, targeting two segments of the same market niche: small smartphones. If you want a more in-depth look, you can check out our iPhone 13 mini vs iPhone SE (2022), but that’s actually the tl;dr.
These models aren’t usually picked up by power users – they don’t have the screen size for comfortable use for extended periods of time, and they don’t have the battery capacity for hours and hours of gaming, YouTube streaming and constant social media posting.
Gaming on a mini – you can, but should you?
No, small smartphones are usually picked up by people who want a device that is small and can be easily carried in any pocket. A device that won’t get in the way when not needed and is good enough for the occasional photo or burst of media consumption. If it’s cheaper – well, that’s a big plus.
It quickly becomes clear that both the iPhone SE and the iPhone mini are perfectly good choices for that type of user. And if the buyer absolutely does not care that he has a “modern design”, then of course they go for the cheap and classic iPhone SE.
Hence, the mini’s market share was stolen by one of its own siblings. Or at least that’s what this non-analyst writer believes here.
Okay, fine, I’ll add the receipts. In this chart of the top 10 smartphones sold in 2021, iPhone SE is in position 8. No iPhone 12 mini in sight. Chance?
The iPhone SE 4 gets an iPhone mini design: my arguments
iOS builds will force the redesign soon
I may not be an engineer or software developer at Cupertino, but I do believe that Apple has allowed itself to stick with the same iPhone 6-esque design for the iPhone SE (2022) simply because it still supports the iPhone 8 with iOS 16.
Look, the iPhone 8 is the oldest iPhone to get the next update to Apple’s mobile operating system. This is notable because the presence of a home button with Touch ID and a 16:9 screen requires Apple to code a different kind of behavior for iOS. Swiping from the bottom pulls up the Control Center (ah, classic), there’s the Touch ID button to send you home or the double-press to open recent apps.
When iOS 16 comes out, these are the models with home buttons that support it:
In the near future, whether it’s with iOS 17 or iOS 18, iPhone 8 support will eventually end, there’s no getting around that. So this list gets even thinner, with only iPhone SE models sticking around.
I think Apple will try to remove the old design from its portfolio from then on, just to streamline its iOS builds.
Show me the MagSafe money
iPhone 12 mini and MagSafe charger
Apple likes to make its own connectors because it can make extra money with accessory certifications. This goes for the MagSafe magnetic ring – you’ve probably noticed that the high-profile accessory makers sell MFi-certified MagSafe chargers and all. That’s where Apple gets a piece of the pie.
Obviously, the more iPhones with MagSafe, the better it is for Cupertino’s potential profits. The current iPhone SE design has no room for a MagSafe array of magnets. The iPhone mini models do!
Clear and simple: the iPhone SE is due for a redesign
iPhone SE (2022)
Apple’s stubbornness for changing product designs is the punch line to many jokes. But let’s admit it, sooner or later it happens. And the iPhone SE has long been due for a new fit.
Across the board, Apple unifies the design language of its products. The flat square shape has carried over into his laptop designs, and the notch remains embedded in his brand identity (and screens).
iPhone 13 family
It’s only a matter of time before the classic iPhone look goes the way of the dodo, too. Now that the iPhone mini-series has been discontinued and so many aluminum cases have been made and left unsold, it seems clear to me that Apple will equip them with whatever super-powerful chip it makes in 2024 and sell them as the iPhone SE 4th generation.
Counter-argument: The iPad rule shows no evidence of this behavior
The points I made in this article are easily disputed when you look at the iPad rule. Year after year (roughly), Apple renews the standard $330 iPad and continues to have the large bezels, home button, and no Face ID.
iPad 10.2 (2021)
MagSafe is not something that exists in the iPad line. It has the Smart Connector for the keyboard accessories Apple sells, and it’s worth noting that the Smart Connector eventually became the cheapest iPad, making it compatible with the Smart Keyboard Folio. One more point for me!
iPad with Smart Keyboard
It’s worth noting that the base iPad is the only one that still has the Lightning connector – all other models have switched to USB C. I’m pretty sure the base model will follow soon (*ahem* EU regulation threatens) . In fact, I think the basic iPad will soon get its own redesign. But… that’s not what this article is about. I’ll have to think about that some more.
I believe the iPhone SE (4th generation) will come out sometime in 2024 with an iPhone mini design – it will make the iOS experience (and development) more streamlined across all devices, it will make MagSafe a common feature on all iPhones, it will ensure Face ID (which is now a very basic iOS core feature) is on all iPhones, it will bring a redesign to the SE line, and it will keep iPhone mini fans happy.
Thank you for coming to my PhoneED conversation.