Has the iPhone 12 mini Been a Dud?

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Key Takeaways

  • Despite good reviews, reports show that the iPhone 12 mini isn’t selling as fast as previous generations.
  • iPhone 12 sales appear to be strong, just not the mini.
  • iPhone 12 mini battery life, storage and price point may be to blame for poor sales so far.
The iPhone 12 mini, in the box.
 Lifewire / Charlie Sorrell

A sleeker design has not necessarily led to better sales for the iPhone 12 mini, as Apple’s smallest phone in years may not have the battery life or storage that consumers are looking for at its current cost. 

Considered easier to hold and more manageable, the phone has drawn praise from the those who use it, but with so many other options on the market, the mini hasn’t taken off like other new models in the past. A report from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP) released earlier this week shows that iPhone 12 mini sales were lagging behind, compared with some of Apple’s other models. 

"Apple has seen other phones struggle similarly, such as the iPhone X, which they cut after one year. Typically, Apple just reduces the price of a phone and keeps it around for two to three years," Michael Levin, CIRP partner and co-founder, said in an email to Lifewire.

iPhone mini has Small Sales

The smallest iPhone in years doesn't appear to be consumers' first choice at the Apple store. After receiving strong reviews across the board from the New York Post, CNET, and even from Lifewire experts, the device has seen slow sales out of the gate, according to the report.

Among 243 U.S. Apple customers who purchased an iPhone following the release of the 12 series last fall, just 6% opted for the iPhone 12 mini. That's despite 76% of them buying one of the four iPhone 12 models, with the preference being the standard iPhone 12 (27%) and iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max (about 20% each).

An iPhone Sales Comparison Chart from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners comparing Sept 2019 to Oct-Nov 2020.
Consumer Intelligence Research Partners

"The new iPhone mini likely disappointed Apple," Levin said in the press release.

The (mini) has most of the same features as the other iPhone 12 models in a smaller form, but at $699 customers appear to have been more comfortable going with the larger iPhone 12 for $799 or the iPhone 12 Pro for $999, or sticking with a cheaper, older generation of iPhone.

The mini’s share in the sales was reported to be just above the iPhone XR, launched in 2018, now priced at $499, the one-year old iPhone 11, at $599, and the iPhone SE, launched in April 2020, at $399. 

Why Aren’t People Choosing the mini?

Aside from a slightly less resilient battery pack. you aren’t losing much with the mini, a review from Lifewire reported. So why have the sales been slow? 

"We can think of a couple of reasons. First, Apple has a really crowded iPhone model lineup right now so it’s easy for a model they introduce later to get a little lost," Levin said.

The iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro came on the market a few weeks before the iPhone 12 Pro Max and iPhone 12 mini. 

"Second, consumers likely think of the iPhone 12 mini as similar to the iPhone 11 and iPhone SE, but at a higher price," Levin added. 

"I think that with time, more users will consider a smaller form factor so long as there isn’t a drop in specs within the phone."

Meant for smaller hands and single-hand usage, the phone is said to have all the features of the iPhone 12, but with a battery life of up to 15 hours video playback (compared with up to 17 hours in some of the other models), a 60Hz screen and 64 GB base storage. 

The lack of storage and weaker battery may not be great for streaming movies or playing games, but you can move to 128GB for an extra $50 or get 256GB for $150 extra. The iPhone 12 features a 6.1-inch display, while the mini is 5.4 inches

"There isn’t quite the demand for a smaller phone," Levin said, which he felt was quite different than what they saw when Apple first introduced the plus version of the iPhone. Those flew off the shelves, he added. 

Though touted as the world’s smallest and thinnest 5G phone by Apple, the iPhone mini may have been hurt this winter by varied release schedules and a crowded market. Some, however, have come to love the phone in just a few months. 

The new iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro on display during launch day on October 23, 2020 in London, England.
Ming Yeung / Getty Images

SecurityTech cybersecurity analyst Eric Florence said tech reviewers across the web have been praising the unique size of the phone. As a longtime tech analyst who has worked with iPhones for years, Florence said the iPhone 12 mini is his phone of choice.

"It fits in my hand better than any other size iPhone and has all the specs I have come to expect from the newest generation of smartphone," he said in an email to Lifewire

"I have been using the iPhone for almost 10 years now and have become very accustomed to its user interface and functionality. I use it for everything. From email, to video streaming, to photo editing to calling and browsing, I do it all on my iPhone."

Despite CIRP’s report, he thinks 2021 could be a big year for the mini. 

"We haven’t seen so much size variation from Apple in the past, and I think that with time, more users will consider a smaller form factor so long as there isn’t a drop in specs within the phone," Florence added.

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