Monday, August 29, 2022

Is There A Future For the iPhone Mini?

If you like the original iPhone SE with its 4" screen or even iPhone 12 and 13 mini, you would probably be interested in the iPhone 14 mini. Alas, it is not to be with this year's iPhone upgrade cycle. Apparently, Apple does not think the mini has sold enough in numbers to qualify for an update. However, I do not think that the mini will be going away any time soon.

The addressable market for users who like smaller iPhones or phones in general is quite big. That is not the issue here. The really issue is that the mini is not selling in sufficient enough quantity for Apple to invest in making the mini a part of its annual iPhone refresh. 

While we lament the loss of the iPhone 14 mini, we can expect Apple to continue to sell the iPhone 13 mini for least another year. Apple knows that there is a market for the mini and the company will want to recoup as much of the investment as possible. 

More likely, Apple will see the iPhone 13 mini another year as a hold over until there it refresh the iPhone SE. Let me explain. The latest 2nd generation iPhone SE was launched on March 18, 2022. If Apple sticks to a 2 year cycle for the iPhone SE, the next fresh is approximately 19-20 months from now. Apple can continue to sell the iPhone 13 mini during this period until the next SE refresh. 

The iPhone SE and the 13 mini both have the same chips - Apple-designed A15 Bionic system on a chip. So, both of these phones will be on the market at the same time. The SE and mini costs $429 with memory option of 64 to 256 GB and $699 with memory options of 128 to 512 GB, respectively. Take away the 64 GB option of the SE, the price difference between these two smallest iPhone is $220 for the 128 GB configuration and $270 for the 256 GB option. I'm not sure why the gap widened by $50 for the 256 BG options but the difference accounts for the higher costs of components and cameras for the mini. The screen and camera alone is well worth the upgrade. 

If Apple does choose to make the mini take the place of the current SE form factor, we have to see just how low Apple is willing to lower the price of the mini as the SE - $429 with 64 GB? I can see a lot of Apple and tech elitists/bloggers have an issue about that. I'm going to guess that Apple will start with $499 (perhaps $529) at 128 GB. That would be a difference of $200 from the current configuration. 

How probably is this? Right now, the 13 mini is $699 and the 12 mini, which is still being sold by Apple is $599. When the iPhone 14 launches in a few weeks, the 13 mini will likely fall to $599 and the 12 mini will be taken off the market. There is an outside chance the 12 mini might still be sold so Apple can test the market or clear its inventory of them. The 12 mini would drop to $549 from its current $649. That's $70 more than the iPhone SE with 128 GB. 

I'm pretty confidence about this analysis. Apple has been rather predictable in the Tim Cook era and this makes a whole lot of sense. The current and evolutionary status of the  iPhone SE form factor is a throwback to the original iPhone. Apple is not shy about moving on. 

The chances of the mini form factor taking the place of the SE is very likely. Furthermore, who is to say that Apple won't put the home button or TouchID on the power button like they are doing on the iPad? It would be a welcoming option for users who rather unlock their iPhones with their fingers rather than their faces. I foresee a time when Apple adds the TouchID option to all iOS and iPadOS devices down the road.

What say you? iPhone SE in its current form forever or let the mini take over in a couple of years?

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