As smartphones have evolved over the years, a very consistent pattern has emerged: they just keep getting bigger. What started out as a sleek device you could use with one hand has morphed into a two-handed video player slash texting machine. Not everyone was in favor of this change though, and Apple has indulged these holdouts several times with SE and Mini models. Now it appears the company might be rethinking that decision. Reports have come out that sales of its latest iPhone 13 Mini have been abysmal. Adding insult to injury, its brand new iPhone SE is selling so poorly the company has already cut its production by millions of units. It is indeed dark times for small phone aficionados who prefer Apple’s dainty devices.
The latest news comes from analyst John Donovan of Loop Capital via Seeking Alpha, who issued a note to investors recently. He said Apple was surprised by the lack of demand for the iPhone 12 and 13 Mini, and described their sales as “dismal.” According to Donovan, the iPhone 12 was a toe in the water to see how its customers would respond. When that phone didn’t sell, they tried again with the iPhone 13 Mini. With neither phone becoming a hit, and the recently launched iPhone SE also selling poorly, the writing suddenly appeared on the wall. Donovan describes the situation as Apple coming to realization that small phones have only “limited appeal.” To compensate, Apple has reduced its production of the iPhone SE by 20 million units, and increased its orders for the tallboy iPhone 13.
Though the iPhone 13 Mini has been on the market for awhile now, the iPhone SE stumbled right out of the gate. According to analysts, Apple reduced its production just two weeks after launch. Though reviewers praised its performance thanks to it having the same guts as the iPhone 13, which was a first for Apple, many were put off by its antiquated design. The iPhone SE uses the same chassis as the iPhone 8, which came out in 2017. It’s also the only iPhone with a physical Home button and TouchID. That is a handy feature when everyone is wearing masks, but the phone was launched as mask mandates were ending in a lot of states. That’s not Apple’s fault, but a lot of people surmised it might have sold better a year ago, or at the beginning of the pandemic. As far as the 13 Mini goes, it’s possible it’s just too small. This humble reporter bought the 12 Mini when it came out, only to return it because I couldn’t read the tiny display without glasses. That is indeed one benefit of the bigger phones; they are a lot easier on the eyes.
As for what the future holds, Donovan thinks Apple might evolve the SE/Mini into a hybrid design with a larger display. He thinks it might be something like an iPhone SE Plus, with older parts that ditches the one-hand design in favor of something bigger. This would allow it to still offer an entry-level model to compete with Google’s smaller “a” Pixel phones. It would be an interesting experiment on Apple’s part, as we could find out if the small display was the culprit for poor sales. As for Apple, it’s cutting its losses and is reported to be ditching the Mini version for the iPhone 14 launch. With no small-display Mini coming and the poor sales of the SE, it seems like it might be years before we see the company take another bite at the apple, pardon the pun.