AH Primetime: Have Mini Phones Outgrown Themselves?

October 9, 2013 - Written By Cory McNutt
Samsung S4 and S4 Mini

I admit that I was never a big fan of Mini phones – Not because I love a phablet sized phone, but the way the Mini phones are marketed by the manufacturers.  I understand that not everybody likes a large phone, and if a smaller screen size is your thing, then do not let my prejudices stop you from running out to buy a smaller phone.  The problem I have is that smaller does not have to mean “lesser” – I mean a lesser processor speed, less memory, poorer display resolution, less internal storage memory, and less features.  Who says a Mini phone cannot have the prowess of its larger sibling.  Manufacturers like Samsung and HTC took their Galaxy S4 and HTC One models and shrunk them down to a “cute” Mini replica, but gutted the specs – to me a true Mini is simply that, the original made Mini, but with the same specifications.

HTC One Mini
HTC One and HTC Mini

According to DigiTimes, the current strategy the manufacturers are employing is not working, as sales of these Mini phones are slow. Samsung started the whole Mini idea, and it was quickly adopted by HTC, Sony, and ZTE, and in Samsung’s case the sales were rather lackluster (for a Samsung flagship smartphone) for the original Galaxy S4, and that did not help the S4 Mini sales, which have been bleak.

Another problem is that there are so many mid-priced smartphones with a slightly bigger screen and people have been purchasing those instead of the Mini version – more bang for your buck, so to speak. Look at the HTC mini as an example – the HTC One sold very well, but when HTC brought out the HTC One Mini, it was priced in Taiwan at US$541. That was only $34 less than the full-sized HTC One, but only had a 4.3-inch screen with 720p display and lower memory capacity, and HTC was forced to quickly lower the price by $102.

Droid Mini
DROID Mini

Sony, not wanting to make the same mistake as Samsung and HTC is rethinking their strategy for the launch of their Mini Xperia Z1 f, which is rumored for a year-end launch. Most of the hardware of the Xperia Z1 f, will be comparable to its flagship brother, the Xperia Z1, including the 20MP camera – only the display will be smaller.

What do you think about Mini phones in general; good idea or a waste of materials. When Apple launched the iPhone with its 3.5-inch display, that was probably the first Mini, but since then screen sizes have grown considerably. For a while, 4-4.3-inches was the sweet point, but even that has grown to 4.5-4.7-inches…maybe the Mini phones have already outgrown themselves.