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Goodbye iPhone mini: is this the end of small iOS devices?

No more iPhone mini has made some people max unhappy – but there were never enough of them to matter

The end of the iPhone mini wasn’t a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment at Apple’s September 2023 event. The company didn’t even mention that it had retired the iPhone mini. Instead, it was just gone from the line-up, with the iPhone 13 suddenly standing alone, deprived of its smaller sibling.

It’s fair to say, it’s no surprise Apple’s little iPhone is no more. The signs were ominous last year as the company replaced it with a ‘Max’ version of the iPhone 14. And before that, there had long been rumors that the iPhone mini, while blessed with a vocal and loyal following, didn’t sell all that well.

What’s more surprising is the device existed at all. Years ago, Apple execs enthused about the perfect size of a smartphone being 4in, but the market quickly shifted. So-called ‘phablets’ took over the Android space, as users prized screen space over usability and pocketability. People decided it wasn’t a terrible compromise to need two hands to use a phone if the screen provided scope for more immersive experiences – such as watching movies without squinting. Apple got on board with the iPhone 6 Plus and has made gigantic phones ever since.

The iPhone mini 13, next to the still available iPhone 13

The iPhone mini 13, next to the still available iPhone 13

The iPhone mini was a love letter to the past, while integrating the technology of the present. It wasn’t a flagship device, but it nonetheless had a good camera, FaceID, and an all-screen display (well, apart from the notch) that made the similarly sized iPhone SE look comparatively archaic. And while it didn’t click with the masses, it found an audience that loved its lack of heft, the gorgeous display, and the power within its tiny form factor.

With the iPhone mini now gone, along with the iPod touch line being canned in 2022, that SE is now the sole small device representative in Apple’s line-up. And as every year goes by, that phone’s relative affordability is offset by the knowledge that it’s sporting old technology. Moreover, rumors point to the next SE being modeled after the 6.1in XR. At that point, there would be no small devices left in Apple’s line-up at all.

Children and adults with smaller hands will either have to resign themselves to using both hands, or migrate to Android. Because with the mini, Apple discovered a market of enthusiasts is great for plaudits and acclaim, but doesn’t do anything for its bottom line.