The iPhone 12 mini looks like a bust — here's why

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

It’s no secret that phones have been getting bigger over the years, and for those that miss the days of compact handsets that don’t scrimp on power, the iPhone 12 mini is a revelation, packing all the power of the regular iPhone 12 into a dinky 5.4-inch frame. 

Unfortunately, for fans of this design philosophy, it appears they’re in the minority. According to analysts from Wave7 Research, the iPhone 12 mini is struggling to sell compared to its siblings.

According to PCMag, Wave7’s research shows that the iPhone 12 mini accounts for just 4-5% of sales at the major carriers, compared to 24-33% for the regular iPhone 12 despite the additional $100 cost involved. According to interviews with sales reps at stores, the mini handset had the “softest demand” with people instead opting for larger screen devices.

This matches the findings of another company, Flurry Analytics. According to the company’s research, launch week activity of the iPhone 12 saw the US install base hitting 0.94% for the iPhone 12 Pro Max, 0.40% for the iPhone 12 Pro and 0.41% for the iPhone 12, but just 0.12% for the iPhone 12 mini.

One possible reason for this is that iOS fans who want something more pocketable already have an alternative. The 2020 iPhone SE isn’t as powerful as the iPhone 12 mini, and nor does it offer 5G connectivity, but it offers a compact design and crucially comes in at $300 cheaper. Perhaps the main appeal of a smaller phone for most people was saving money, and if that’s the case, then why wouldn’t they go ahead and save even more?

This may go some way to explaining why the market for smaller phones with top specs is so limited. If even Apple and its huge selling power can’t drum up significant consumer interest, then what hope for any Android handset manufacturer that isn’t Samsung? And it’s not like Samsung has any diminutive Android flagships, either – the smallest current Galaxy S or Note device is a pocket-unfriendly 6.2-inches across.

It’s a real pity, because we are big fans of the smallest iPhone 12. As our iPhone 12 mini review explains: “In a way, it really is the most impressive member of the iPhone 12 lineup, because it does everything the larger, more expensive models do, but amazingly fits all that capability into an impossibly small frame.”

Alas, if early sales figures hold, it seems like this technical marvel isn’t wowing buyers in the same way. 

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.