So Long iPhone mini, We Hardly Knew Ya

iPhone 13 mini Credit: Karlis Dambrans / Shutterstock
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Tomorrow’s Wonderlust event will likely mark the final chapter in Apple’s 5.4-inch iPhone experiment as the iPhone 13 mini rides off into the sunset once and for all.

After what seemed to be years of pent-up demand for a smaller iPhone, Apple introduced the 5.4-inch iPhone 12 mini in 2020, a model that packed in all the capabilities of the standard 6.1-inch iPhone 12, including full 5G support, in a much smaller package.

Sadly, it wasn’t all sunshine and roses for the diminutive iPhone. For one thing, battery life was noticeably weaker as a smaller phone means a smaller battery. Further, Apple released the iPhone 12 mini a month later than the standard model, seemingly leading to slower uptake.

While there were a lot of reasons the iPhone 12 mini may not have been popular, it seemed the writing was on the wall for the end of the smaller model as early as four months after its debut. Over its entire holiday launch quarter, the iPhone 12 mini accounted for a mere 5% of global iPhone sales, and while 9 out of the top 10 smartphones activated during the Christmas season were iPhones, the iPhone 12 mini didn’t even make the list — it was beat out by the 2017 iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus and the LG K30.

By March 2021, Apple had massively slashed iPhone 12 mini production, and by April, reputable analysts predicted that Apple would drop the 5.4-inch form factor by 2022. Apple also halted iPhone 12 mini production in June, which was unusually early — and quite telling considering that the iPhone 12 mini remained on sale until September 2022, when the iPhone 14 lineup was released. In other words, Apple spent 14 months doing nothing more than selling off existing inventory of iPhone 12 mini units.

Nevertheless, Apple gave the smaller iPhone one more kick at the can in 2021 with the iPhone 13 mini. However, that likely had more to do with the product already being in the development pipeline than any hope that it would succeed where its predecessor had failed. After all, Apple was already making plans for the 6.7-inch iPhone 14 Plus.

Unsurprisingly, that turned out to be prescient. Despite a bigger battery and other improvements, the iPhone 13 mini also turned out to be a flop, leaving zero chance that Apple would try the 5.4-inch design again.

Still, as with the iPhone 12 mini before it, Apple kept the iPhone 13 mini on the market for $599, joining the $699 iPhone 13 as a more affordable smartphone for those who didn’t need Apple’s latest and greatest — and one last chance for those who really liked the 5.4-inch design but hadn’t yet thought of picking one up.

However, now it looks like the next few days really will be your last chance to get an iPhone 13 mini. If Apple remains true to form, tomorrow’s iPhone 15 debut will drop the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus into the second-tier pricing slot, while the iPhone 13 bumps the iPhone 12 out of the lineup, and the iPhone 13 mini goes away just like the iPhone 12 mini did last year.

While it may still be possible to find the iPhone 13 mini from carriers and other retailers for a little while longer — assuming they have any stock to get rid of — by the end of this week, it will likely be gone entirely from Apple’s roster. While possible, we wouldn’t count on it appearing on Apple’s Certified Refurbished Store.

So, while now is not a great time to buy a new iPhone, there is perhaps the biggest exception we’ve seen to that rule in a long time. If you’re a fan of the smaller iPhone design, but you’ve been holding off on getting an iPhone 13 mini for yourself or even as a gift for a friend or family member, this may be your last chance to do so before the 5.4-inch iPhone disappears forever.

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