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Apple’s experiment in making a smaller premium smartphone isn’t finding a big audience among US consumers, according to new stats from Wave7 Research. In its first month of sales, the iPhone 12 mini was the least popular of Apple’s four new iPhone models, accounting for only 4% to 5% of sales at each of the major carriers.
The main iPhone 12 model, which costs $100 more and is considerably larger, was the most popular model in the lineup, earning 24% to 33% of sales at the three major US carriers.
Wave7 interviews sales reps at carrier stores to get a picture of sales. The 12 mini had the “softest demand,” and some people chose the iPhone 12 Pro Max because of its camera, according to the report.
The 12 mini isn’t taking off at prepaid carriers, either: The even less expensive iPhone SE, which costs $399 (the 12 mini costs $699), has been the big iPhone star at both Metro and Boost, according to Wave7.
Flurry Analytics, via Cult of Mac, agrees with Wave7’s assessment of the mini. According to Flurry’s Web analytics platform, the 12 mini was the least popular iPhone during its launch week by far—and the least popular launch-week iPhone in the past three years.
“Given the low uptake of the iPhone 12 Mini, consumers may be signaling that a more pocket-friendly device is not as important as once thought. Spending $100 more for the iPhone Pro 12 fetches a 24% larger screen and a better battery life than the iPhone 12 mini. Also, the second-generation iPhone SE, launched earlier this year, may be cannibalizing iPhone 12 mini adoption,” Flurry wrote in a blog post.
The Small Phone Conundrum
Smaller premium smartphones have been a white whale for various mobile pundits, including myself and Joanna Stern of the Wall Street Journal, for years. Based on our own preferences and the word-of-mouth complaints we hear from others, we’ve been pushing for smaller phone options. I awarded the iPhone 12 mini an Editors’ Choice based on its balance of price, size, and power. I even wrote a “best small phones” roundup.
But it looks like our view may be an uncommon one in the US market. The “main” iPhone 12 is very similar to the 12 mini but has a larger screen and longer battery life for $100 more, as Flurry pointed out. The iPhone SE, on the other hand, is roughly the same size as the iPhone 12 mini, but it costs $300 less.
The 12 mini is a perfect test case to see whether people specifically want smaller phones, not just cheaper phones. Sadly for those of us who like to use our phones with one hand, the answer may be that not many Americans agree with our preference.
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