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iPhone 13 mini could be toast — iPhone 12 mini sales tank

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

Don't be surprised if Apple winds up launching three iPhone 13 models instead of four. The iPhone 13 mini is looking more unlikely to launch due to the reported poor sales of the iPhone 12 mini.

A new report for Reuters, which cites data from data provider Counterproint, says that Apple'siPhone 12 mini U.S. sales "were just 5% of overall sales of its new phones during the first half of January."

In addition, it was recently reported that Apple would cease iPhone 12 Mini production at end of the second quarter, due to limited demand. It's not clear whether this would be a temporary stoppage or not. But overall this news has us worried about the future of Apple's most compact phone.

While most other phones, including the rest of the iPhone 12 series, have grown in size over recent years, the iPhone 12 mini marks a rare step in the opposite direction. It's a flagship-level 5G phone that you can easily fit into a pocket or use with one hand, and there's nothing else quite like it you can buy today.

However, that uniqueness doesn't seem to have translated into sales. According to Counterpoint, sales of phones with a screen size below under 6 inches now accounts for only 10% of all smartphones sold. 

The iPhone 12 mini also sits in an odd place in the iPhone line-up, costing $699. That's $100 cheaper than the $799 iPhone 12, but also $300 more than the $399 iPhone SE. It means that customers really have to be in love with the iPhone 12 Mini's size to pick it instead of the other two phones, and reports seem to show that hasn't happened.

From the rumors we've heard up to now, the iPhone 13 (or iPhone 12S) will not shake up the current iPhone 12 formula too much. That includes keeping the choice of four models in 5.4-inch, 6.1-inch and 6.7-inch sizes. However with Apple apparently cutting off iPhone 12 mini production so quickly, can we really expect an iPhone 13 mini this September?

The iPhone 13 mini has been specifically tipped to get some important upgrades this year, such as the LiDAR sensor from the iPhone 12 Pro. However, plans are not set in stone, and if Apple's lost faith in mini iPhones completely, then perhaps there will only be three models launched in fall 2021.

Seemingly, the only thing Apple could do to push users to the iPhone 13 mini is get rid of the iPhone SE. While the SE is the cheapest way to access iOS these days, and has a relatively new A13 chipset from 2019 in it, it still has an old-fashioned design with big bezels that could really do with an overhaul.

We'll have to wait for more details about what's happening with the iPhone 13 lineup. It would be a great shame to lose one of the best small phones you can buy, but we can't expect Apple to keep a phone around if it isn't making money.