I’m not here to bury the iPhone mini, but to praise it. If the reports are correct, the iPhone 13 mini will be the last of its line and will be replaced by a larger iPhone 14 Max this fall. And as someone who owns and loves an iPhone 13 mini, this makes me sad – sad enough to hold onto my iPhone 13 mini for another year.
It seems that not enough people share my love for the iPhone 13 mini for Apple to update it for the iPhone 14 generation. It doesn’t matter, the iPhone 13 mini is a great device. So great, in fact, that I suspect we haven’t seen the end of the design yet.
In honor of the little man
There’s no denying it: people love big phones. The iPhone was booming when Apple made it bigger with the iPhone 6 generation. Sales figures seem to confirm it. I won’t deny that my love for smaller phones makes me a niche iPhone buyer.
But… do people really like big phones? I think they love big screens that show more information and play bigger movies. I’m not sure they love the extra weight, the extra bulk, the extra amount of bulk in the pocket, but it’s worth the trade-off for that big, bright screen.
Every year I have the privilege of using all of Apple’s iPhones as part of the review process. And for the past two years, I have kept coming back to the design of the iPhone mini.
First, it is a non-Pro iPhone. And while reasonable people may differ, I think Apple’s iPhone Pro design in the iPhone 12 and 13 generations is worse than the non-Pro models. From the bright colors on the backs of the devices to the beautiful anodized aluminum frame, give me the iPhone 13 mini over a duller iPhone 13 Pro any day.
At 5.2 inches long and 2.5 inches wide, it’s small – meaning it fits snugly in my hand and pocket – yet it has a 5.4-inch screen that’s perfectly capable of to give apps plenty of room to stretch out. It’s a look that harks back to the iPhone 5 era, my favorite era of iPhone design. But the iPhone mini’s screen is much larger than the iPhone 5’s, thanks to the use of Face ID.
And while the battery life on the iPhone mini is undoubtedly shorter than on other iPhones, I have to point out that Apple has done a great job extending the battery life on the iPhone 13 models. The battery life of the iPhone 12 mini was honestly a bit sketchy. The iPhone 13 mini? No problem.
Yes, if you’re using an iPhone mini, you’re missing out on some key features of the iPhone Pro models. I’m currently using an iPhone 13 Pro with iOS 16 beta, and I’m constantly reminded that the cheaper phones don’t have ProMotion or that extra camera on the back. And yet, when I hold the larger phone in my hand or put it in my pocket, I am turned off by its size. Why carry a rock in your pocket if you don’t have to?
It’s dead, Jim
But this is beside the point, right? The iPhone 14 mini is apparently not a product that will exist. Now that I’ve praised the mini, I must bury it. But… shall I?
First, let’s take a look at the report that the iPhone 14 line will only have a new A16 processor on the Pro phone models. So not only would the regular iPhone 14 models not get access to rumored innovations like an always-on display, they might not be any faster than the current year’s models!
I’m sure Apple will make a few upgrades to the iPhone 14 models that will push them slightly beyond the iPhone 13 in specs, but on the low end, this is potentially the least impressive iPhone upgrade in years. And it means the iPhone 13 mini gets another year where it’s more or less a current phone. I’ll take it.
And then there’s the inevitable future: I truly believe the iPhone mini’s design is making a comeback. One possibility is that Apple will simply switch between iPhone models so that the mini comes out one year and the Max the next. It’s also not impossible for Apple to bring back the mini design every few years, as it clearly has a following – just not a big one.
Then there’s the iPhone SE, which was recently updated to a third-generation model. Using the iPhone mini as the basis for a new iPhone SE would make sense, as the iPhone mini is superior to the current SE in every way. Although it is slightly smaller, it has a larger screen, Face ID support and a second rear camera.
The truth is, the iPhone mini is just too good a product — and a size — for Apple to ignore completely. I still regret that apparently it’s not popular enough to earn a new version every year, but I can’t believe it’s gone for good. In the meantime, I’m holding my iPhone 13 mini and waiting for the mini’s inevitable return.