It's that time of year again — new iPhone season. Apple took the wraps off of its latest handsets on October 13, right in the middle of Prime Day madness. We have a total of four new iPhones for 2020, including the iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Mini, iPhone 12 Pro, and iPhone 12 Pro Max. They're all touting a new design with iPhone 4-esque flat edges, upgraded cameras, the new A14 Bionic processor, and — of course — 5G.
As far as new iPhones go, it's more of the same. If you have an iPhone X or older, these are great upgrades. If you're rocking a XS or 11, you're probably good to sit this generation out. And if you have an Android phone and refuse to use iOS, nothing about these devices is going to change your mind. That said, one of the phones does have potential to completely shake up the Android space in a big (yet small) way.
Like its name suggests, the new iPhone 12 Mini is absolutely tiny. It has a 5.4-inch display with dimensions of 64.2 x 131.5 x 7.4mm. For comparison's sake, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra — one of the largest phones of the entire year — is 75.2 x 161.6 x 8.3mm. That's a big difference on paper, but it gets even crazier when you start to picture the phones side-by-side.
The best example we can give right now is with the picture below. That's the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra next to the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact, which happens to be nearly the same size as the iPhone 12 Mini (the Z3 Compact is just 4mm shorter). As you can see, it's a massive difference.
Over the past few years, pretty much ever since the first Galaxy Note came out, Android manufacturers have been on an endless quest to make their phones bigger and bigger. The Galaxy Note's 5.3-inch display was gigantic by 2011 standards, and almost a decade later, the Note 20 Ultra has a hilariously large 6.9-inch screen. It's a trend that makes sense given how many people use their phones as their go-to computing device, as more screen real-estate means it's easier to check on emails, watch movies, and get lost in Twitter and Reddit for hours on end. However, as some of us have voiced out over the years, big phones aren't all that great.
Big phones are great — until they're not.
Sure, they're awesome to get immersed in a video or dominate on CoD: Mobile, but big phones also come with unavoidable annoyances. It's difficult to use them with one hand, reaching the top of the screen requires awkward finger gymnastics, and sometimes they're just too tall/wide to comfortably fit in a pocket. These all sound like small gripes to talk about on their own, but in day-to-day use when you're trying to get things done, it can be the difference between having a positive outlook on a phone or not.
That's why the iPhone 12 Mini has me beyond ecstatic. Whenever Apple does anything with its smartphones, we see the rest of the industry do its best to play copycat. When Apple had the "courage" to remove the headphone jack from the iPhone 7, the following year was filled with Android phone after Android phone doing the same thing. Apple hit the $1000 price threshold with the iPhone X, and sure enough, other companies soon had the guts to raise their prices just the same. Apple is the most dominant force in the U.S. smartphone market, so when it makes a noticeable shift with its release strategy, you better believe its competitors want to mimic its success.
In a world filled with large smartphones, the iPhone 12 Mini stands out in a big (small?) way. It forgoes the status quo completely, and now that companies like Samsung, LG, OnePlus, and others see the market leader doing this, they're bound to follow suit with their own answers to it. Over the next couple of years, that means we're most definitely going to get mini variants of their upcoming flagships. And I couldn't be more excited.
I've been using the Galaxy S20 FE as my daily driver for the past few days, and while I love virtually everything about it, I've been tempted to switch back to the Pixel 4a. The Pixel has a worse processor, less impressive display, fewer cameras, and a significantly smaller battery, but I find myself constantly missing its 5.8-inch screen. It's one of the few genuinely small Android phones on the market right now, but thanks to the iPhone 12 Mini, that shouldn't be the case for much longer.
We still have about a month to go before iPhone 12 Mini pre-orders open, and from there, even longer before people actually get their hands on it and we find out if Apple's bet on small phones paid off. I have a sneaking suspicion it will, and assuming it does, the next few years of Android phones could be some of the most exciting in a long time.
Google Pixel 4a
A compact Android phone you can get right now
We have no doubt that the launch of the iPhone 12 Mini will usher in a new era of small Android handsets, but you don't have to wait for manufacturers to join the trend if you need a new phone right now. The Pixel 4a is one of the most compact phones in a while, and it delivers a fantastic user experience that you can use with just one hand. Not to mention, it has a pretty killer price.
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