Technology

Why the iPhone 12 Mini Failed This Badly

The small guy bowed down a little too early

Abhinav Chandoli
Feb 18 · 5 min read
Photo by Onur Binay on Unsplash

The iPhone 12 Mini was one of the most anticipated, if not the most anticipated iPhone of the 12 series. Everyone was betting on it, saying it will be among the best-selling iPhones of all time. Turns out it was an absolute disaster for Apple.

Not because the phone was bad, it was actually a great iPhone in some ways. But people aren’t buying it. Due to this reason, Apple is considering shutting down the manufacturing of the iPhone 12 Mini altogether in the coming weeks if the situation of sales persists. But why aren’t people buying it when it’s good? Here’s why.

The Screen & Body size

Photo by Daniel Romero on Unsplash

From tiny screens to foldable smartphones and everything between, believe it or not, the smartphone world has changed a lot. But what Apple put out with the 12 Mini is on the extreme side of experimenting. The iPhone 12 Mini only has a 5.4-inch screen, which is not at all a small display by 2016–2017 standard. But what makes the 12 Mini a hard sell is not only its screen but also its body dimensions.

The body dimensions (131.5 x 64.2 x 7.4 mm) make it look tiny and in some cases like a toy phone. Sure, if the same Mini device with the exact same dimensions and modern design was launched back in 2016 or 2017 it would have been a smash hit. Because back in the day, the smartphone screens were small but the body of the smartphone was not tiny. People would have gotten used to it.

What makes it unusable in some cases is that the text on the screen can be a little hard to read for people with eyesight. Of course, you can increase the text size, then it will be a little too big on a tiny display. If you’re planning to use this device as your media consumption device, it’s not at all an ideal device. Few Android OEMs figured out the ideal screen-to-body ratio for compact phones, which is what makes Google’s Pixel 4a a great compact phone albeit a budget phone.¹

Battery concerns

Photo by radovan on Unsplash

The other reason why people were hesitant to buy the Mini was because of its battery capacity. Sure, the A14 Bionic holds the battery life well. But in the long run, you will for sure experience issues with the battery. Nowadays people are not replacing their iPhones year after year. There are several occasions where you see an iPhone’s battery standby degrade quite a bit after a year or so.

Adding salt to it, the 12 Mini only has a 2227 mAh battery. No matter how efficient your processor is, a 2227 mAh battery can never stand the test of time. Yes, the size of the iPhone 12 Mini can make it hard to fit a bigger battery. But Apple has a good track record of putting smaller batteries even though they have enough space for a big battery.

If you’re a power user, then you can kill the battery in a matter of hours. In fact, one of my friends who bought the 12 Mini is already experiencing battery drain even while moderate usage.

Pricing Model

The pricing model of the 12 Mini is a bit weird too. It almost looks like Apple only put out the base version of this phone to say that they have cut down the prices of the iPhones from the previous years. In reality, it’s quite opposite. The base variant of 12 Mini is priced at $699 for 4GB RAM and an unapologetic 64GB storage in this day and age. No one would buy with that configuration unless you’re on a budget and you only want an iPhone.

For now, let’s consider the 12 Mini’s base variant as a 128GB variant with a price tag of $749. For an extra $50 more you can get yourselves a regular iPhone 12 with a better display and a decent battery life for the same base configuration.

If you look at the Android side, for $749 or less there’s Pixel 5, Samsung’s S20 FE. Both with better configurations than the $850 variant iPhone 12. So, in a way, Apple sabotaged their own iPhone to boost the other 12 series model sales.

Current Sales

Even though Apple registered a record-setting growth with over $111 billion in Q4 of 2020 alone. Apple’s venture back into the small & compact smartphone market was a complete flop. Turns out that the sales of the 12 Mini only accounted for 5% of the total sales of the iPhones sold in the past few months.²

This makes the iPhone 12 Mini, the worst-performing iPhone in the past few years in terms of sales and profit. Yet, the other iPhones released alongside the 12 Mini performed well despite the high price tag. Even though many questioned Apple’s staggered launch, it sold more iPhone 12 Pro and Max Pro, but not the 12 Mini. This miserable run of the small iPhone is now also putting the future of the iPhone 13 Mini in jeopardy.

If Apple had released the iPhone 12 Mini before the regular and Pro models with an even reasonable price tag. The sales figures would have looked a lot better.

Conclusion

The release of the iPhone 12 Mini can be seen in two ways. For one, Apple might have genuinely made it to fill the gap of compact smartphones. Or they might have used it to show that they made a cheaper mainstream iPhone for the masses and lure its customer base into buying the bigger models. Or it could be something else altogether, we will never know what were the intentions behind it.

One thing for sure is iPhone 12 Mini failed to live up to the hype. Even though it wasn’t a bad phone, it still lacked the punch to be successful like other models. The only good thing about the iPhone 12 Mini launch is that there is an option for people with small hands and the Android OEMs now will try to fill the gap of the compact smartphones.

¹ Pixel 4a performed better because it perfectly sits between plus-sized and compact phones. It has an ideal screen-to-body ratio and a user-friendly 5.8-inch display. It never feels like a big phone nor like a small phone.

² According to Counterpoint’s recent research insight shows that Apple saw 17%-41% growth and total revenue was $111 billion. Predicts that 2021 will be a great year for Apple. Also gave an insight into Apple’s product sales in the past few years.

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