Bad news for smaller phone enthusiasts: The iPhone 12 mini sold poorly compared to other phones in the iPhone 12 lineup — bad enough that analysts wonder if Apple will continue to commit to smaller phone design in the future.
A data company called Counterpoint Research found that the iPhone 12 mini accounted for just 5 percent of the total sales of the company’s smartphone lineup in early January. And JP Morgan analyst William Yang told Reuters that screens under 6 inches now make up just 10 percent of smartphones sold across the industry.
Counterpoint’s data isn’t the first to tell this story. Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP) analyzed iPhone 12 lineup sales in detail last month. They found that the iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max accounted for about 20 percent of the larger iPhone 12 series’ sales during the launch window, while the non-Pro, 6.1-inch iPhone 12 accounted for 27 percent.
But they also said the iPhone 12 mini “probably disappointed Apple” with just 6 percent of sales during the measured period — quite close to the number Counterpoint shared a few months later.
Wave7 Research, another research firm, also estimated that the iPhone 12 mini accounted for 5 percent of iPhone 12 sales in the US. And Flurry Analytics called the mini the least successful iPhone launch in the past three years.
While all this data shows that the iPhone 12 mini underperformed, we’re not told why. According to CIRP’s data, the also small iPhone SE performed slightly better (probably due to its significantly lower price), but it still didn’t make up a big chunk of sales:
So while it’s possible that the iPhone 12 mini’s slow sales are partly due to cannibalization by the cheaper SE, small phones in general are clearly not doing well.
When we reviewed the iPhone 12 lineup, we named the iPhone 12 mini as a favorite. There is a vociferous crowd of smartphone users who view one-handed use as critical, but these numbers indicate they are in the minority.
There are many reasons why small phones are less popular now. For starters, users are consuming more rich media content. Many people watch as much TV and movies on their phones as they do on their TVs now, and some social media platforms like TikTok and Snapchat are focused on rich media which may be more fun for some on a bigger screen.
People are also doing more heavy lifting on smartphones now, as evidenced by robust versions of applications like Word and a plethora of video and photo editing apps that dominate the App Store charts. (It’s a similar story on the Android side.)
Despite those trends, the iPhone 12 mini seemed like a moment of triumph for small phone enthusiasts – a chance for small phones to prove their market viability so that this march towards ever-larger screens could stop, at least for those who don’t. want those bigger screens.
But if anything, these sales figures make the future of one-handed smartphones even bleaker than before.
List image by Samuel Axon