The truly small smartphone has left the building.
Small phone fans — all 36 of us — experienced a major loss this week. The iPhone Mini is officially gone, taking with it the legacy of a truly small flagship smartphone. But it’s not all bad news. The 6.1-inch flagship phone seems to be here to stay, and sure, it’s no Mini, but it’s proving itself to be an entirely acceptable middle ground between tiny and gigantic.
The departure of the iPhone Mini was a drawn-out affair that started last year. Apple announced the iPhone 14 series with no successor to the 13 Mini. But the Mini stuck around through most of 2023 with the rest of the 13 series, and it was available new from Apple right up until Tuesday’s iPhone 15 announcement. Without a Mini in the 15 series — no surprise there — and the 13 Mini dropping from Apple’s retail lineup, the small iPhone is now really, truly gone.
That sucks. Sure, small phones have drawbacks. Their batteries are tiny and may not last a whole day if you use your phone for a lot of power-intensive stuff. That’s a problem that only gets worse over time as the battery ages and can’t hold a full charge like they do. Small phones also aren’t ideal if you want the most immersive experience for watching videos or gaming.
But have you ever thought to yourself, “Oh no, I forgot my phone,” and then experienced pure joy as you realized that, no, you did not forget your phone — it’s just so small that you couldn’t feel its weight in your pocket or bag. That happens to me over and over when I switch from a big phone back to my iPhone 13 Mini, and it is a thrill.
Plus, let’s not forget the sheer delight of hitting a back button without straining to tap an icon in the upper left corner of the screen.
If there’s one thing that should comfort a grieving small phone fan, it’s that the next size up isn’t all that bad. That would be the standard 6.1-inch screen, which is what you’ll find on the regular iPhone 15, the iPhone 15 Pro, and the Samsung Galaxy S23. Sure, the iPhone 15 Pro measures a full 15mm longer and 6mm wider than the 13 Mini, but it’s actually a bit smaller than last year’s 14 Pro. Apple trimmed the bezels down year over year and gave that space back to us by reducing the phone’s overall dimensions. It’s just a millimeter here and there, but it makes the phone just a little more comfortable to use in one hand.
If you’re on Android, you also have one more option: the slightly smaller Asus Zenfone 10 with a 5.9-inch display. It’s a little gem of a phone, though sadly, it isn’t compatible with Verizon.
The iPhone Mini’s demise is sad for us small phone sickos, but the numbers don’t lie: Apple couldn’t sell them because most people (especially in this country) like a big phone. But the good news is that phone makers don’t seem to be in a big-screen-arms-race anymore — at least in the slab-style phones. The big phones haven’t gotten any bigger over the past couple of years, and the slight shrinking of the 15 Pro is an encouraging sign. Maybe they came to their senses and agreed that a 6.1-inch screen is a comfortable middle ground. Maybe the display manufacturers are just putting their energy into folding screens now. Who can say?
One thing’s certain, though: the days of the really small phone are over. I know. I’m sad, too. But the first step of healing is acceptance, so I think it’s important that we embrace this truth. When you inevitably have to replace your tiny phone, the options won’t be as terrible as they might seem. But to be sure, none of them will be as wonderfully small as an iPhone Mini. If you’ve still got one, hold your tiny phone close while you can — and take care of that battery.