Apple Halts iPhone 12 mini Production

Originally published at: Apple Halts iPhone 12 mini Production - TidBITS

Low sales of the iPhone 12 mini have reportedly compelled Apple to wrap up production early to make room for the upcoming iPhone 13 mini.

Have to agree with your assessment that the 2nd-gen iPhone SE probably soaked up most of the demand that the iPhone 12 mini was aimed at. I will probably grab the SE while I can, to replace my 1st-gen model.

My father-in-law bought the second-generation SE recently and it’s a good phone.

I have one and agree. Although you give up the fancy cameras and large screen size of the high end iPhones, it’s much less expensive, still has really nice specs, and I can use it with one hand.

I almost bought the SE, but waited when rumors about a small 12 started. Glad I did. I think Face ID gives you a so much nicer user experience than Touch ID that this alone warrants the higher price of the 12 mini.
Sad to read Apple is discontinuing production of the 12 mini. I hope the 13 mini sells better and Apple keeps making minis for at least another 5 years (when I’ll be thinking about replacing mine).

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Every year, we all whine that phones are getting too big, but when it comes down to it, people aren’t buying smaller phones when available. The iPhone 12 Mini is a tech geek favorite. Dieter Bohn of The Verge gave it a glowing review and even bought one for himself. What’s not to like? It’s the exact same specs as a regular iPhone in a package that’s easy to use with one hand and fits easily in pockets.

Okay, battery life is a bit short, but other than that…

I think it’s the battery life issue. When Apple started building bigger iPhones starting with the iPhone 5, it made the claim that it was designed with the human hand in mind. An average finger could reach the entire screen. At the same time, Samsung started building ridiculously big phones. (That is, they were comically big when compared to the iPhone, but are now considered tiny in size). Who needed a phone that took more hands to handle than a Big Mac?

And that year, Samsung outsold the iPhone for the first time. When asked, people said they liked the longer battery life. A bigger screen means a bigger battery which can let the phone last all day. The next year, Apple introduced the normal sized (but slightly larger) iPhone 6 and the overly large iPhone 6 Plus. The iPhone 6 Plus was a bigger seller than the iPhone 6.

And maybe a bigger screen is nicer for videos and pictures. And if you’re going to type with two hands, a bigger screen gives you a bigger keyboard. But, it seems battery life is important. And maybe if you’re going to spend $600+ on a flagship phone, you want one large enough to get noticed.

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Yep, wanted the mini and since Apple never mentioned it was coming, I upgraded my obsolete 5s to an SE when the SE (gen 2) came out. If Apple was to do a swap, my SE for a mini, I’d do it in a heart beat.

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Samsung traditionally outsells iPhone when their phones are priced significantly cheaper than iPhone. In addition to cutting price, Samsung also recently accelerated better trade in deals:

And Samsung is also benefiting from Google yanking Android away from Huawei:

Interesting—I’ve never heard from anyone with a smaller phone that they’re perturbed about the battery life, and the specs are pretty similar. iPhone 12 mini on the left, iPhone 12 on the right.

My wife and I both have iPhone 12 minis and we love them! I don’t find battery life a problem at all.

Any rumor about what will become of the SE as the 13 mini is released? I assume there won’t be a 3rd-gen SE, since that would (I assume) cut into the 13 mini’s sales, but I’m hoping that it won’t go away, since it’s the last remaining model with Touch ID and the least expensive one (and therefore what I’m looking at to replace my existing phone when it dies).

I think it’s impossible for one size to fit all.

I happen to like a big screen (e.g. the 6+ I’ve been using for many years), but those models cost a lot of money, so I highly doubt I’ll get a Pro Max, no matter how much I like the screen and the cameras. Depending on how tight my budget ends up being at the time, a mini or SE may well be my choice - I don’t have a problem with smaller screens, even though I prefer the larger ones, so it really comes down to price.

WRT battery, that may be an issue. I will likely use my next phone for games, since several titles I enjoy are having crashing problems on my iPod Touch (whose CPU is equivalent to an iPhone 7). I would rather keep my phone and my games on separate devices, but unless Apple updates the Touch, that option is quickly going away.

Apple’s “SE” products are primarily differentiated by price, not size, that’s why there’s an Apple Watch SE. Four years elapsed between the first and second generation iPhone SE models. I expect Apple will keep selling the current SE model as long as they consider its hardware recent enough (i.e. something they’re willing to support X years after the last date they sell them). ~18 months elapsed between they stopped selling the first SE and started selling the second; when there isn’t an explicit “budget” model, the lower price point market is supplied by the continued sale of older models, particularly through carriers.

SE products seem to be offered at much lower price points by reusing an existing product’s housing and most of the components while the processor and maybe a few other components are updated to be more current. The first SE was very similar to the 5S, which was discontinued when the SE was offered. The second SE is very similar to the 8, which was discontinued when that SE was offered.

The 12 mini looks like a fabulous product but I want smaller and cheaper. If I was buying now, I’d choose the SE, which is the same size as my current iPhone 7. My needs are simple and I wouldn’t expect the mini to last longer than the SE, at least not proportional to the substantial price difference. Part of the bad news about production stopping on the 12 mini is it likely won’t be available at a lower price point in the future, the way the 11 and XR are now.

Remember, we’re talking about the iPhone 5 and its 4" screen vs. the Samsung Galaxy S3 and its much larger screen almost 5" screen. And if that wasn’t big enough, Samsung introduced the Note that year too. The next year, Apple introduced the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. The iPhone 6 was significantly bigger than the iPhone 5, and the iPhone 6 Plus was even bigger and sold better despite its over $700 list price.

There was no one Samsung model that outsold the iPhone, but all of Samsung models use to outsell all the iPhones — until this year when Apple is offering six different models. Now, the iPhone lineup outsells Samsung’s lineup.

From The Verge article on the iPhone 12 Mini. The article was a love letter to the iPhone 12 Mini, except for the battery life:

I love my iphone 12 mini. Just love it. Glad I bought it (Late Feb 2021) before production stopped. It was time. I had a 5s… lol

So. My first was a 4s, then a 2016 SE. If it weren’t for covid last year I likely would have bought the 2020 SE even though it wasn’t what I wanted. The 12 mini was introduced and late in the year I was able to put hands on both with my 2016 SE for comparison. The mini is hands down the winner for me, though it’s more than I wanted to spend. It is quite likely that for the first time ever, had I bought the 2020 SE I may have traded it in for the mini, that’s how much I liked it in my hands.

I was set to buy one this spring, then heard rumors of the 13 mini. I sure hope that happens as I’m still limping along with the 2016 SE. I had always said if the 13 doesn’t happen I could always get the 12 mini after all but I’m not so sure now.

I agree the 2020 SE really hurt mini sales, plus Apple didn’t even announce it with the rest. Surely a lesson in how to make a product fail!

Battery life is just fine on my iPhone 12 mini. The only time I’ve ever had to recharge during the day is when I used it non-stop to watch movies while on a 11-hr flight to Europe. I guess road trips also count since it’s plugged in while running navigation. Other than that, most days when I plug it in as I go to bed it’s got 50+% still left. I don’t know what people are doing if they say a 12 mini runs out on them in the afternoon.

I’ve long had this suspicion that it’s mostly just a bunch of hearsay baloney. Some “tech reviewer” twerp, who never got a test unit from Apple but still had to broadcast on his social media channel, saw the smaller mAh figure on the spec sheet and concluded that must mean battery life is worse (as if large screen backlighting had no power draw) than a 12 Pro, and ever since then that FUD has just been allowed to perpetuate. I also assume that most people who gripe about 12 mini battery life online have never actually purchased a 12 mini with their own money.

The 12 mini IMHO is the perfect iPhone. Close enough to high end specs, but in a smaller package. I’d probably even enjoy a few mm less in width TBH.

The 12 sold phenomenally. We’ll never know how many fewer units Apple would have sold if they hadn’t launched a 12 mini. But what we do know is that every other company in this market place would kill for the kind of sales numbers the 12 mini generated.

I’m not at all convinced there won’t be a 14 mini. Perhaps Apple will fix their broken pricing. By then also, the pandemic will be over and people will be using their phones away from the couch again, and reminded that an iPad mini just isn’t a great phone as it hardly fits any reasonable pockets.

Even if there isn’t a mini among the 14 models, I would assume that’s simply because by then it will be sold as the SE (as in SE3).

Personally I want to know how it compares with the iPhone 12 in real-world use (not Apple’s specs, but how much life a person gets from the 12 and the Mini when using them the same way.) I still am searching for a review that shows that. Anandtech generally does a great job of showing battery life comparisons among many models, but their recent phone reviews don’t have a number for the 12 Mini - just the 12 (12.53 hours) and the 12 Pro (12.95 hours). My iPhone X they list as 9.76 hours. With battery health at 89% after three-plus years, I really do need to plug in at some point during the day most days (usually for the time I take to wash up in the morning, plus any time that I drive someplace.)

As for what I do, my main problem is that I have a very weak cellular signal where I live, and that drains the battery pretty hard. It’s also syncing a lot of data with my Apple Watch through the day, and particularly when I work out, as an hour long run will drain my phone to as little as 85%.

Is the Mini really the same as the 12? 5% or 10% less life? That’s the one exact piece of information that I have never seen from a review. Dieter Bohn on The Verge came the closest without giving actual numbers:

So that review does suggest that the 12 Mini has a battery life is notably worse than the 12, which was worse than the iPhone 11. (Anandtech had the iPhone 11 as 14.03 hours, so that agrees with The Verge.)

I wonder how much the experience of shorter battery life is contingent on how often you are in range of a 5G network. Out here in the sticks of Iowa, the only time I see 5G on my screen is when I go to the “big city” of Iowa City. Otherwise, it’s LTE all the way (which works just fine for my purposes).