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 to launch four handsets in 2022: two each with 6.1 inches of screen real estate, and a further two measuring 6.7 inches.
The iPhone Mini, with its diminutive 5.4-inch display, was conspicuously absent from his research notes. But this might not be much of a surprise. Although Apple hasn't offered a model-by-model sales breakdown of the iPhone 12, it is believed that consumer appetite for the smaller iPhone 12 Mini was tepid at best. We've asked analysts to share shipment data.
In the busy post-launch period, the Mini accounted for just 6 per cent of iPhone device sales, according to a report from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners. The company was also believed to have slashed production for the first half of this year, according to supply chain leaks to Nikkei.
This failure may seem paradoxical, considering the iPhone 12 Mini is the company's cheapest 5G phone, and the second-cheapest phone it released during 2020 (trailing the iPhone SE). Additionally, it runs the same processor as the mainstream iPhone 12, meaning it performs exactly the same, despite the smaller form-factor.
It's entirely possible that Apple misjudged the appetite for smaller phones. Given the growing trend for larger displays, the iPhone 12 Mini was a bit of an aberration and not particularly well placed for long stretches of gaming and Netflix watching. Similarly, its smaller 2,227mAh battery wasn't quite up to snuff, especially when compared to its bigger (and longer-lasting) rivals.
Ben Stanton, senior tech analyst at Canalys, told The Register: "iPhone 12 Mini had a strange sales cycle. It saw very high pre-orders at launch from the world's major distributors, retailers and carriers, in anticipation of a wave of customer demand. But this wave never came, and as a result, channel orders fell significantly in the following months, as inventory struggled to sell through.
"In addition, one area which had high-hopes for iPhone 12 Mini was the B2B space, but many businesses have instead gravitated to the cheaper iPhone 11 over the 12 Mini for commercial use. It would seem that a larger display and cheaper price has trumped the inclusion of 5G. I would say that the majority of my channel contacts are telling me iPhone 12 Mini shipped fewer units than their initial expectation."
Apple is expected to release one final iPhone Mini device, the iPhone Mini 13, according to Ming-Chi's sources. Apple may try to differentiate it further from the pack to drum up sales beyond the first model.
And beyond that point, it wouldn't be surprising to see Apple continue to sell the iPhone 12 (and possibly 13) Mini even after it abandons future generations of the form factor.
In addition to its annual refreshes, Apple has a tendency to keep older models in stock as an affordable option, and to this day continues to sell the iPhone 11 and iPhone XR, albeit at a significant discount to its original price. ®