Why Samsung isn't making a Galaxy S21 mini

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Why Samsung isn't making a Galaxy S21 mini
When Apple announced the iPhone 12 mini many people thought that the smartphone industry will enter into a “compact renaissance” of sorts. Rumors about the mini flooded the tech space months before its official launch and by now there should’ve been other “mini” smartphones out there. But let’s focus on Samsung, for a number of reasons. The Korean company is Apple’s biggest rival and both companies traded blows in the past, especially in the patent department.

With the Galaxy S21 right around the corner, we already know almost everything about Samsung’s next flagship phones. That’s nothing new, however, the really surprising fact is that Samsung will almost certainly stick to its normal lineup, consisting of a Galaxy S21, S21+, and S21 Ultra devices. The Samsung Galaxy S21 mini is nowhere to be found. But why?

Samsung might have missed that train

That’s one possible reason, although it’s hard to believe that the top manufacturer of smartphones worldwide will miss the opportunity due to technical difficulties or arriving late to the party. According to the latest leaks, the Galaxy S21 Ultra entered production at the end of October. The first rumors about the Apple iPhone 12 mini date back to 2019. There was plenty of time for Samsung to react.

Of course, to think that a serious company will take a rumor and completely alter its roadmap based on it is just naive. The more plausible scenario is that Samsung knew about the iPhone 12 mini but decided not to react with a direct competitor. The reasoning behind this goes back to the Galaxy S10 series.

The “mini” smartphone - nostalgia-induced daydreaming

We’re all fans of compact smartphones. At least in our heads. It’s really hard to say why - for most people, the past always seems a bit better and brighter than the present. That’s how memory works - you just forget the bad stuff in order not to go mad. But we digress. Truth is, screen estate is very important and it overrules other buying considerations.

Let’s take a look at the Galaxy S10 series for a moment. The Galaxy S10e was Samsung’s latest attempt at a “mini” flagship. Granted, it wasn’t marketed that way, but it was the closest thing to a Galaxy mini in a long time. Its affordable price and top specs should’ve made it a star, a best-seller. And yet it sold the least units of the whole bunch (with Galaxy S10+ topping the sales). It was clearly not a successful experiment, and while we won’t dare to call it a failure, the omission of a Galaxy S20e model this year speaks for itself.

iPhone 12 mini sales figures - not great

Another hint that the compact smartphone resuscitation was not a big success comes from the latest and hottest “mini” out there. The iPhone 12 mini is not selling as expected. According to Flurry Analytics, the 12 mini was the least popular iPhone during its launch week - and the least popular launch-week iPhone in the past three years.

"Given the low uptake of the iPhone 12 Mini, consumers may be signaling that a more pocket-friendly device is not as important as once thought. Also, the second-generation iPhone SE, launched earlier this year, may be cannibalizing iPhone 12 mini adoption," Flurry wrote in a blog post.

Will we see a Galaxy mini smartphone ever again?

Probably not. Samsung is pumping resources into its foldable lineup and it seems that the company wants to make flagships smaller by folding them in half. Recent rumors about Samsung's foldable plans for next year speculate about an "affordable" Galaxy Z Fold Lite and Z Flip Lite versions to launch alongside the ultra-high-end Z Fold 3 and Z Flip 2.

Clearly, there’s no room for a “mini” in Samsung’s future plans, at least for now. Are foldable phones the compacts of the future? That’s a huge question mark right there. It depends on so many things. Foldable phones need two main ingredients in order to take off properly - better and more durable flexible displays, and a lower price tag.

So, dust your old Xperia Z3 compact, take it for a spin to satisfy any compact cravings and then happily go back to your Ultras and Pro Maxes.


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