On Sunday, one of the most trusted sources of Apple rumors revealed that we can expect four new iPhones later this year: two with 6.1-inch screen sizes likely to be the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro, and two with 6.7-inch screens likely dubbed the iPhone 14 Max and iPhone 14 Pro Max. Four phones in total.
The tweet made me gasp because of what’s missing. There’s nothing even close to the 5.4-inch screen size of my beloved iPhone mini.
I know, I know, many people prefer big screens, and the iPhone mini wasn’t exactly a success according to supply chain reports.
But that didn’t keep me and 11 other Verge staffers from buying one – and when I polled my colleagues this week, seven of us still agree that the rest of the world’s too-big phones can shove it.
We’ve got small hands, or a desire to use our phones one-handed while juggling other responsibilities, and there’s nothing else that comes even close. In the US, the iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 13 mini are among the only full-fat compact smartphones on the market, and they’re arguably in a class of their own: rivals like the Sony Xperia 5 III are much taller, and while a Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 might fold down to fit into a pocket, it’s still notably wider than the iPhone mini’s blissfully graspable form. (Also, both of those phones start at $1,000 and run Android, though that wouldn’t stop all of us.)
As an owner of a Google Pixel 4a and a casual admirer of my wife’s iPhone 13 Pro, I can tell you right now neither of them are viable alternatives to the mini: their 5.8- and 6.1-inch screens now feel huge by comparison, and the Pro’s hefty steel build always makes me feel like I’m going to drop it, too.
Despite the iPhone mini’s iffy battery life, a significant number of us here at The Verge believe there’s no better option. But if analyst Ming-Chi Kuo’s prediction is true — and he’s rarely wrong when it comes to sizes, by the way — it means Apple is done offering a yearly upgrade path for people like us.
But there’s another place where small phone lovers at The Verge agree: it doesn’t need to be yearly. We could wait. And that might line up nicely with the other revelation that Kuo tweeted this week.
Normally, when you buy the new iPhone, you get the new A-series chip, right? Not in 2022, says Kuo — the iPhone 14 will have the same chip that came with the iPhone 13 in 2021, with newer A16 chips exclusively headed to Apple’s new “Pro” series phones. If true, that means Apple was already planning to change its annual upgrade cycle in 2022 – and that might give it a natural opportunity to bring back the mini when it might actually count.
Only two Pro models would upgrade to the A16 processor, while the 14 & 14 Max will remain the A15. All four new models will likely come with 6GB RAM, with the difference being LPDDR 5 (14 Pro & 14 Pro Max) vs. LPDDR 4X (14 & 14 Max). https://t.co/tHcszIz6gX
— 郭明錤 (Ming-Chi Kuo) (@mingchikuo) March 13, 2022
If Apple offered a mini in 2023 instead of 2022, perhaps it would be in time for a new, more efficient processor that could theoretically help with its battery life. (Apple’s previous solution was to make the iPhone 13 mini’s battery nine percent bigger than the iPhone 12 mini’s pack, which definitely helped some.)
Or, Apple could bring it back in 2024 as a new iPhone SE – the phone that pioneered the idea of bringing back an ancient Apple form factor every now and then. The first iPhone SE in 2016 was a remake of the 2013 iPhone 5S, with a 4-inch screen. 2020 brought us a remake of the iPhone 8 with its 4.7-inch screen, and Apple just did it again by adding processing power, battery life, and 5G to the phone for those people who still demand a physical home button in 2022.
But in our review of the 2022 iPhone SE, Allison concluded that its five-year-old design is probably at the end of its rope, particularly its aging LCD screen with big bezels. That’s where I’m hoping the iPhone mini can come in: at 5.4 inches, the iPhone mini offers far more screen in a smaller form factor that I find much more comfortable to hold.
It’d be foolish to suggest that Apple should bring back the iPhone mini this year, because the decisions about which shapes to cut out of aluminum and which screens and batteries and boards to procure likely happened long ago. (That’s probably why we still got an iPhone 13 mini long after reports that the iPhone 12 mini didn’t sell.)
So Apple, we’re not asking you to bring it back in 2022. Our phones will hold out for another year or two or more — some Verge mini enthusiasts admitted they don’t upgrade all that often — as long as their batteries don’t dwindle down prematurely. We’re just asking you, in the new spirit of giving your customers what they want, not to kill it off for good.