The iPhone 14 rumor mill has already declared an unceremonious end to the mini iPhone model before Apple's new phones even arrive. But 2020's iPhone 12 mini and last year's iPhone 13 mini failed to catch one with consumers if reports on Apple's phone sales are accurate, and the company may have finally gotten the message that not enough people want 5.4-inch iPhones.
But what happens if you're part of that minority that still does?
You're unlikely to get much good news at the Apple September event on September 7, where Apple will likely introduce its latest phones. The mini will reportedly give way to the 6.7-inch iPhone 14 Max (or iPhone 14 Plus if Apple opts for that name). That means the smallest phone in the iPhone 14 lineup will be the 6.1-inch models, the standard iPhone 14 and the iPhone 14 Pro.
Fortunately for small phone fans, not all is lost. We've put together a list of alternatives to iPhone mini below. Which one will work best for you is going to depend on precisely why you want a small iPhone to begin with. However, if you're willing to be a bit flexible with your desired features, one of these alternatives should help you in a way that Apple apparently no longer wants to.
iPhone 13 mini
The iPhone 13 mini is the latest 5.4-inch model from Apple, and while it won't be the newest flagship iPhone once the iPhone 14 arrives, it'll likely remain on sale thanks to Apple's habit of offering older iPhone models at a discount for a couple of years after launch.
Aside from the size, there may actually be very few differences between the iPhone 13 mini and the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Max. Both of the base iPhone 14 models are said to use the same A15 processor as the iPhone 13 series, as well as the same notched display. Beyond a possibly improved selfie camera and larger battery and display on the two 14 devices, they're very close to being identical to the iPhone 13 mini. But factor in the more attractive size and the cheaper price (likely to only get lower as the iPhone 13 series gets phased out), and the 13 mini looks like a great deal, especially if you're not that fussed about having a phone with the very latest features.
However as a 2021 phone, you'll lose out on a little software update support compared to a brand-new iPhone. The iPhone 13 beta will run iOS 16 just fine, but in a few years' time you may notice the phone start to struggle with the latest OS, both with how quick it runs and how long a battery life you get. The battery's also something to generally take notice of, as it's notably shorter than other Apple phones on sale today.
iPhone 14 (or another 6.1-inch iPhone)
If only Apple's latest and greatest will do, then the base iPhone 14 is looking to be the smallest (and cheapest) iPhone 14 model you can get.
As we mentioned above, a lot of the rumored iPhone 14 features seem to be the same as those on the iPhone 13 mini, except in a 6.1-inch body. That extra room does mean a better-looking display and a longer battery life though, so perhaps that balances out the iPhone 14's less compact size.
One extra benefit of going for a 6.1-inch iPhone is that you open up a lot more options. Apple will likely continue to sell the iPhone 13 after the iPhone 14 arrives if you want to save some money; additionally, the company is likely to keep the iPhone 12 on sale too for another year at an additional disocunt. You may even find older, smaller iPhone models like the iPhone 11 Pro still available from third-party carriers and stores too if you go have a look.
Alternatively, you can spend extra money and get yourself an iPhone 14 Pro (or 13 Pro or 12 Pro if you look outside of the Apple Store). It's still 6.1 inches, but you get an extra camera plus other goodies like a 120Hz display refresh rate depending on the model.
iPhone SE (2022)
If your new phone has to be small, and it has to be an iPhone, then the newest iPhone SE is likely going to be the smallest and newest option Apple is able to sell you after the iPhone 14 launches.
The iPhone SE 2022 is the smallest and lightest iPhone in the lineup while still offering a 5G-ready A15 chipset (the same as the iPhone 13). There's just one camera on the back of the iPhone SE, but it produces impressive shots. You'll have to give up ultrawide or teletphoto cameras on the SE, though, and the battery life was disappointing in our testing.
Nevertheless, the iPhone SE packs a lot of features into a slender frame and at $429, it's cheaper than both the Pixel 6a and Galaxy A53. In addition, the iPhone SE still finds room for a home button, a feature that even some up-to-date iPhone users miss. You'll feel right at home with the SE if you're an existing iPhone user who hasn't upgraded in several years, so this could be the best option if you prioritize a small and light design above all other features.
With the latest iPhone SE having just arrived in the spring, we wouldn't anticipate any pricing change after the iPhone 14's launch in September. But you may be able to find some iPhone SE deals that can lower the cost.
A small Android phone
Forgive our blasphemy, but if you want a small smartphone, you may have to accept that it's time to leave the iPhone behind and look to the Google-powered alternatives.
Devices on our best small phones list, such as the Asus Zenfone 9, offer the latest features like a 120Hz display and a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset, but but packed into a 5.9-inch body. That's larger than the mini iPhone yes, but it's still smaller than most other phones on the market today.
The wide variety of Android phone shapes also means you may not have to go for a traditional small phone like the Zenfonet. A phone like the Sony Xperia 1 IV still has a 6.5-inch display, but it offers it in a narrower aspect ratio than other phones, making it easier for users with small hands to operate. There's also the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4, which folds in half for easy storage but still offers a spacious display when opened up.
Of course, buying an Android phone means giving up the iOS way of life, and losing out on Apple's cross-device features if you're also an iPad or Mac user. Moving to Android sounds stressful, but the best Android phones match up to or surpass iPhones when it comes to hardware quality, and the software experience is just as good — just differently laid out. Plus the transfer experience is much better than it's previously been, making swapping from iPhone to Android just as painless as moving from one iPhone to another.
An Apple Watch (or another smartwatch)
Yes, this is a smartwatch rather than a smartphone, but hear us out. The Apple Watch 7 or the upcoming Apple Watch 8 and Apple Watch SE 2 bring many of your iPhone's features to your wrist, meaning you don't always need your phone to hand. That only becomes more the case if you splash out on an LTE model that gives the Apple Watch an independent data connection, letting you make calls, send messages or stream music using just your watch.
With that in mind, the Apple Watch, or a different wearable such as others on our best smartwatches guide, may be the ideal replacement for the iPhone 14 mini that may never be. The size of your phone doesn't matter so much if you don't need to carry it in your pocket or bag all the time.
The downside here would be that this won't do you much good if your current phone's old or damaged, since it's an accompaniment to a phone rather than a direct replacement. If your device is only a couple of years old though, and you're otherwise happy with it, you will be able to gain some independence from it with the wrist-mounted convenience of a smartwatch. We'd avoid the Apple Watch 3, though, even if it still is on sale at Apple for the time being. That budget smart watch isn't capable of running the new watchOS 9 update.
Next: iPhone 14 might mean the end of the mini — but we think Apple needs a better small phone.
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Richard is based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, tablets, gaming, and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.