On Sunday, one of the most reliable sources of Apple rumors stated that four new iPhones will be released later this year: two with 6.1-inch screens, most likely the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro, and two with 6.7-inch screens, most likely the iPhone 14 Max and iPhone 14 Pro Max. There are four phones in all.
Because of what’s lacking, the tweet made me gasp. Nothing compares to the 5.4-inch screen size of my cherished iPhone Mini.
I know, I know, many people prefer larger screens, and according to supply chain reports, the iPhone Mini was a flop.
But that didn’t stop me and 11 other BlueHillco employees from purchasing one — and when I polled my colleagues this week, seven of us agreed that the rest of the world’s too-big phones can push it.
We have small hands or a wish to use our phones one-handed while handling other duties, and nothing else compares. The iPhone 12 Mini and iPhone 13 Mini are among the only full-fat compact smartphones on the market in the United States, and they’re arguably in a class of their own: rivals like the Sony Xperia 5 III are much taller, and while a Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 folds down to fit into a pocket, it’s still noticeably wider than the iPhone Mini’s blissfully graspable form. (Also, both of those phones start at $1,000 and run Android, which wouldn’t deter us all.)
As the owner of a Google Pixel 4A and a casual admirer of my wife’s iPhone 13 Pro, I can tell you that neither is a viable alternative to the Mini right now: their 5.8- and 6.1-inch screens now feel huge in comparison, and the Pro’s hefty steel build always makes me feel like I’m going to drop it, too.
Despite the iPhone Mini’s questionable battery life, many of us at BlueHillco believe there is no better option. But, if analyst Ming-Chi Kuo’s prediction is correct — and he’s rarely wrong about sizes, by the way — that implies Apple is no longer offering a yearly upgrade path to individuals like us.
But there’s one point on which BlueHillco’s small phone fans agree: it doesn’t have to be yearly. We could put it off. That could be consistent with the other announcement Kuo made this week.
When you buy a new iPhone, you usually receive the new A-series chip, right? According to Kuo, this will not be the case in 2022. In 2021, the iPhone 14 will use the same chip as the iPhone 13, with newer A16 chips reserved for Apple’s upcoming « Pro » class phones. If this is accurate, it suggests Apple was already planned to shift its annual update cycle in 2022, giving it a natural opportunity to bring back the Mini at a time when it would genuinely matter.
Only two Pro models would upgrade to the A16 processor, while the 14 & 14 Max will remain the A15. All four new models will likely come with 6GB RAM, with the difference being LPDDR 5 (14 Pro & 14 Pro Max) vs. LPDDR 4X (14 & 14 Max). https://t.co/tHcszIz6gX
— 郭明錤 (Ming-Chi Kuo) (@mingchikuo) March 13, 2022
If Apple released a Mini in 2023 rather than 2022, it might be in time for a new, more efficient chipset that might possibly improve battery life. (Apple’s prior remedy was to make the iPhone 13 Mini’s battery 9 percent larger than the iPhone 12 Mini’s pack, which helped somewhat.)
Or Apple could bring it back in 2024 as a new iPhone SE — the phone that pioneered the idea of periodically bringing back an ancient Apple form factor. The first iPhone SE, released in 2016, was a 4-inch screen replica of the 2013 iPhone 5S. The iPhone 8 with its 4.7-inch screen was remade in 2020, and Apple recently did it again by adding processing power, battery life, and 5G to the phone for those who still want a real home button in 2022.
However, Allison noted in our analysis of the 2022 iPhone SE that its five-year-old design is likely nearing the end of its life, notably its aged LCD screen with large bezels. That’s where I’m hoping the iPhone Mini comes in: at 5.4 inches, it gives significantly more screen in a smaller form factor that I find much more pleasant to carry.
It would be ludicrous to suggest that Apple bring back the iPhone Mini this year because the decisions about which forms to cut out of aluminum and which screens, batteries, and boards to buy were most likely made a long time ago. (This is probably why we got an iPhone 13 Mini despite claims that the iPhone 12 Mini didn’t sell well.)
So, Apple, we’re not expecting it to return until 2022. Our phones will last another year or two or more — some BlueHillco Mini owners said they don’t upgrade very often — as long as their batteries don’t die too soon. We’re just asking that, in the new spirit of giving your customers what they want, you don’t put an end to it