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iPhone 12 mini in trouble — Apple reportedly ceasing production

iPhone 12 mini review
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

It’s no secret that the iPhone 12 mini has been struggling to sell since its unveiling last October, but now it appears that the smallest member of the iPhone family could be discontinued.

According to MyDrivers, JPMorgan Chase has not only slashed production forecasts for the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini by millions of units, but confirmed that there’s little interest in the latter and that this would dire consequences. Citing supply chain sources, the analysts stated that Apple will be ending production of the iPhone 12 mini in the second quarter of 2021. 

There’s no sugarcoating it: planning to potentially wind down production of a smartphone just three months after it goes on sale is not the sign of a successful product. So what exactly went wrong?

We were actually very positive in our iPhone 12 mini review, calling it a “master class in how to do small, affordable flagships right,” but there were issues. Most pressing of these is the weak battery life. In our iPhone 12 battery tests, the mini managed just 7 hours and 28 minutes. That's well behind the Pro (9:06), Pro Max (10:53) and even last year’s iPhone 11 (11:16).

iPhone 12 mini: Why it's struggling

But it seems unlikely that battery life is the reason the iPhone 12 mini is struggling, More likely to blame is the awkward positioning of the iPhone 12 mini when compared to the similarly compact but significantly cheaper iPhone SE.

Yes, the lack of bezels makes the iPhone 12 mini physically smaller despite its larger 5.4-inch screen — and it has 5G and other improvements — but it’s still hard for buyers to justify spending $300 more on a mini when the SE ticks so many boxes. Plenty of people just want a speedy iPhone – and if the SE offers 80% of the experience at nearly half the price, then who’s going to pay extra for the mini?

Conversely, people who want a larger display will pay just $100 more for the regular iPhone 12, which jumps you from a 5.4-inch screen to a 6.1-inch panel. That leaves iPhone 12 mini is left in no man’s land: too expensive for budget buyers, and too small for many as a flagship. In short, the iPhone 12 mini is a perfectly good phone – but the audience for it simply seems too small for Apple to continue production. 

Of course, just because the iPhone 12 mini may not have lived up to expectations, the doesn’t mean the design will be lost forever. Given the latest iPhone SE adopted the shell of the iPhone 8, it wouldn’t be surprising if the next iPhone SE didn’t bear a passing resemblance to the mini. 

Alan Martin

Freelance contributor Alan has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering phones, drones and everything in between. Previously Deputy Editor of tech site Alphr, his words are found all over the web and in the occasional magazine too. When not weighing up the pros and cons of the latest smartwatch, you'll probably find him tackling his ever-growing games backlog. Or, more likely, playing Spelunky for the millionth time.