Why Apple needs to bring back the iPhone mini with the iPhone 15 lineup

iPhone 13 mini in white
(Image credit: iMore)
iPHONE 15: What you need to know

We’re only two months out from the new iPhone most likely being announced and, if Apple doesn’t resurrect the iPhone mini, I’m going to be incredibly bummed.

I know, it’s a long shot. The model was only available for two years before the company succumbed to the market which right now includes a population that wants BIG, CHEAP screens on their phones. It’s not correct — those people are insane and very wrong — but that’s what we’re living with right now.

I’m not saying that big screens are useful. There are plenty of cases where they are and that option should exist as well. But it shouldn’t come at the sacrifice of those of us who want a tiny but mighty iPhone.

We, the lovers of the small smartphone, deserve the iPhone mini to be resurrected from the dead and make a triumphant return to the iPhone 15 lineup - or at least next to it.

Add to the iPhone lineup

While the iPhone mini was certainly the least popular iPhone, those that picked one up became very vocal fans of the model. I personally didn’t grab the iPhone 12 mini but jumped on board when the iPhone 13 mini came out the following year. As someone who never liked the size of the iPhone Pro Max models, I was coming from an iPhone 12 Pro.

I was nervous about losing some of the Pro features and, of course, the screen real estate. Despite that, I still felt the iPhone 12 Pro was still just a little too big for my taste, so I was willing to give a tiny iPhone a go.

I loved my iPhone 13 mini. Like many, I found that it was the perfect size of iPhone that had ever been created — easy to hold and use with one hand, easy to drop in your pocket without half the phone sticking out, but still capable of doing everything its bigger sibling could. It was my favorite iPhone — ever — and I’ve upgraded every year since the iPhone 3GS.

Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max

(Image credit: iMore)

While Apple saw that bringing the iPhone 14 Plus into reality meant killing off the iPhone mini, I’d love to see the company add the mini back into the lineup. Not by killing off the iPhone 15 Plus, which will inevitably be there — but to stand alongside it, like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny Devito in Twins.

While I’d love to be on this earth for that reality, I know it’s a long shot. Apple loves to focus its product lineup and five “new” iPhone models for people to choose from is something that I could see the company really hesitate to embrace.

Since it’s unlikely, my hope for a return of the mini must result in me turning my gaze slowly toward the iPhone SE.

The iPhone mini needs to become the new iPhone SE

If there is an Apple product stuck in the past that could use some revitalization, it’s certainly the iPhone SE. This phone, which still looks exactly the same as the iPhone 8, is still Apple’s only option for customers who want a more affordable, smaller iPhone.

While the company continues to update the SE internally with new cameras, storage options, and processors, the design has become so outdated that, even with the updates and the price point, it’s a hard sell — especially when the plethora of mid-range Android phones continues to grow with much more compelling designs.

The iPhone mini is a perfect opportunity for Apple to take something that might not have worked alongside its flagship devices and use that to revitalize its cheaper device. An iPhone SE with the design language of the iPhone mini would give the company an affordable offering that could immediately compete with Android phones at the same price point.

iPhone SE (2020) cases

(Image credit: iMore)

Granted, Apple would likely have to make some sacrifices in terms of features in order to hit the price point we’ve come to expect from the iPhone SE. I’d imagine the company would have to remove the ultra-wide camera in favor of just one main camera and the phone would certainly keep the notch, even if the iPhone 15 models do end up getting the Dynamic Island.

Even with some of those hardware tradeoffs, I’d expect that the iPhone SE would still increase in price as well. While the current generation costs $429, I think the upgrade to the new design would warrant a price increase to at least $499, but I would hope that Apple could figure out a way to keep it under $500 for a 64GB model (although 128GB would be amazing since it’s 2023). The iPhone 13 mini started at $599, so reusing the hardware and dropping some hardware features seems doable (I say that with no experience in component pricing). 

While the company could move to the iPhone 11 design as many have rumored, it would be a real shame to do so. Not only would Apple be going back to a design language that is now almost 4 years old, but they would also be giving people — once again — no small phone option. While the current iPhone SE looks old as hell, it is at least the smallest iPhone you can get.

The iPhone mini is the perfect way to give customers an option for a small, affordable, and capable iPhone while moving the model forward.

The iPhone mini’s final fate will be sealed by 2024

If Apple announces the iPhone 15 lineup and the iPhone 15 mini isn’t there, I think that’s enough indication that the phone, at least as a flagship model, is truly dead.

However, since we have a shot at it taking over as the new iPhone SE, my spirits will not be broken if it is notably missing from September’s keynote. The iPhone SE is usually updated in the spring and Apple normally takes a couple of years to make an update anyway.

iPhone 13 mini and iPhone 13 display side by side

(Image credit: Joseph Keller / iMore)

With that in mind, we’ll likely know what direction Apple will go there in the spring of 2024. The company released an iPhone SE in April 2020 and March 2022 so, if we’re going by the easiest math possible here, we might get a look at the new SE in just 8 months.

My fingers are crossed. Small phone people unite! In iPhone mini we trust!

Joe Wituschek

Joe Wituschek is a Contributor at iMore. With over ten years in the technology industry, one of them being at Apple, Joe now covers the company for the website. In addition to covering breaking news, Joe also writes editorials and reviews for a range of products. He fell in love with Apple products when he got an iPod nano for Christmas almost twenty years ago. Despite being considered a "heavy" user, he has always preferred the consumer-focused products like the MacBook Air, iPad mini, and iPhone 13 mini. He will fight to the death to keep a mini iPhone in the lineup. In his free time, Joe enjoys video games, movies, photography, running, and basically everything outdoors.

  • Jbairdjr
    The only people who want the mini are the tech writers. Apple quit selling them because nobody bought them.
  • Wotchered
    Nonsense, I would buy one if it was new and available at the time I needed a new phone.
    There’s only a small small market for them I grant you, but I wonder how many units that really is worldwide.