Are we missing or needing "mid size" phones?

Zorachus

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Reading the iPhone 12 Pro Max reviews today, the one common thing said, was it's a massive large phone with a 6.7" display. Same with the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, it's a very big phone with a 6.9" screen. Even the OnePlus 8 Pro reviews said, be prepared, the 8 Pro an it's 6.8" display is a bigger phone than you'd expect.

But then these "regular" sized phones, like the Pixel 5 with a 6" screen, and the iPhone 12 Pro with a 6.1" display, they seem rather small to me. The Pixel 5 size feels tiny to me, almost too small. And the iPhone 12 Pro from what I tested, also felt small in the hand.

I'm starting to think we need a middle size to be the best size, at least in my opinion. So if the 12 Pro Max is gigantic and too large, but the regular 12 Pro too small, what's the middle ground, a 6.4" screen size? Even for me, I have the Pixel 4 XL, it's 6.3" screen size, but with the large forehead it's more like a 6.5" phone, but to me, my 4 XL is borderline the biggest overall dimensions I want of a phone, I do not want anything larger. But I also picked up the Pixel 5, and have to say it's too small, the 6" compact bezeless display is too shrunk down for me, I like something bigger, but maybe not Pixel 4 XL bigger.

So are we in need of "mid size" phones, in that 6.3" to 6.5" screen size? Where 6.9" is just way too large, and 6" is too tiny.
 

auntjemima

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My pixel 2 xl (6") is definitely on the big size for me. I couldn't imagine close to 7. I already have a hard time using it with one hand, which typing or trying to hit the back button.
 

Zorachus

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The issue with these smaller phones though, is companies try to keep them thin and light, meaning small battery too. How bout give me a small screen bezeless phone, but make it thick with like 4,500mAh battery. Actually Google did right with the Pixel 5, it's a very compact small footprint phone with a 6" almost no bezel display, but they put in a large 4,100mAh battery, and it also has a more efficient budget processor as well, giving this tiny Pixel tremendous great battery life.

It seems the 6.1" iPhone 12 Pro could have used some extra thickness and a larger battery.
 

cybereality

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I think 6" is about perfect. The phones have been getting too big, there is a limit to the natural size of a human hand, they can't just keep getting bigger.

The Pixel 2 XL I had was just about on the upper end of what is comfortable to hold. Now I have a Pixel 5 and that is just fine. The screen is just as big as the 2 XL, but with minimal bezel.
 

cybereality

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i still remember the days when cellphones are getting smaller and smaller and lasts a week!

1604976838208.png
 

Zarathustra[H]

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Honestly, to me, the best sized phone I have had in the smartphone era was my Galaxy S3, weighing in at 4.8"

It was large enough that I could see everything I needed to, while at the same time I could rest one corner of the phone in the palm of my right hand, and still reach anywhere on the touch screen with my thumb. It was perfect.

I now have a 5.5" Pixel 3, and while it isn't bad, the ~top quarter of the screen is difficult to use single handed, which is a shame.

I have figured it new ways to hold the modern larger phones in or der to overcome this reach limitation. These days if I need to reach something far up on the screen single handed I seem to slide the bottom of the phone down to rest on my pinky with my other three fingers behind the back of the phone supporting it. This gives my thumb a little more reach, allowing me to reach the whole screen if I stretch, bit the risk of stoppage certainly goes up.
 
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Kardonxt

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I feel like my iPhone 5s was the perfect size. If anything bring back high end 4" phones. All these new 6"+ phones feel like I'm trying to carry around my Switch all day.
 

Martin the Kiteboy

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I was also a huge fan of the 5S and the original SE. Had the OG SE for years. I carry an iPhone 8 for work and it always felt too big. Just upgraded my personal to the 12 Mini. It is fantastic. Smaller than the iPhone 8, but the screen is enormous. Feels about perfect.
 

travm

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I now have a 5.5" Pixel 3, and while it isn't bad, the ~top quarter of the screen is difficult to use single handed, which is a shame.

I have figured it new ways to hold the modern larger phones in or der to overcome this reach limitation. These days if I need to reach something far up on the screen single handed I seem to slide the bottom of the phone down to rest on my pinky with my other three fingers behind the back of the phone supporting it. This gives my thumb a little more reach, allowing me to reach the whole screen if I stretch, bit the risk of stoppage certainly goes up.
IMO this is a UI fail. The large phone can be fine, but for crying out loud, design the UI so that you can reach the things.
 

kirbyrj

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I was also a huge fan of the 5S and the original SE. Had the OG SE for years. I carry an iPhone 8 for work and it always felt too big. Just upgraded my personal to the 12 Mini. It is fantastic. Smaller than the iPhone 8, but the screen is enormous. Feels about perfect.

I looked at the mini, but the battery life turns me off to it.
 

Zarathustra[H]

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IMO this is a UI fail. The large phone can be fine, but for crying out loud, design the UI so that you can reach the things.

I mean, you can save some things that way, by - for instance - having alternate buttons or actions for top of screen pulldowns and stuff like that, but in the end, if you are viewing a web page in your browser, and there is a link you want to click towards the top, it would take a pretty convoluted UI workaround to make that happen, if you can't reach that part of the screen.
 

travm

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I mean, you can save some things that way, by - for instance - having alternate buttons or actions for top of screen pulldowns and stuff like that, but in the end, if you are viewing a web page in your browser, and there is a link you want to click towards the top, it would take a pretty convoluted UI workaround to make that happen, if you can't reach that part of the screen.
Agreed in a sense, but frankly whoever is designing a website needs to understand, its also a UI, dont make stupid web interfaces....
Insert spicy Linus Torvalds quote here....
 

cybereality

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I like the size of the Pixel 5. The screen is big, but there are almost no bezels, so one-handed almost works.

At least if an app is loaded and you just want to scroll, that is possible. Actually interacting is another story.

My first smart phone was an HTC Incredible. That was actually really nice for one hand, but I guess it's hard to find phones in that size anymore.
 
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T4rd

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I like the size of the Pixel 5. The screen is big, but there are almost no bezels, so one-handed almost works.

At least if an app is loaded and you just want to scroll, that is possible. Actually interacting is another story.

My first smart phone was an HTC Incredible. That was actually really nice for one hand, but I guess it's hard to find phones in that size anymore.

I remember when I had the OG Droid and the Droid X came out with like a 4.3" display in 2010 and all the tech sites were like "this is a huge display and phone", lol. Then the Note came out the next year and blew everyone away again with it's huge 5.3" display. Would be funny to hold one of those again now next to any of my recent phones.
 

UnknownSouljer

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How is "mid-sized" defined? It's more than possible to get a 5.5-6" phone. Most I think would consider that to be "mid sized". But if you think that's 'big' and that 6.7" is 'bigger' and that it has to be 4.7-5.5" to be 'mid-sized' then that's another discussion.
Even still there are plenty of options there. However the "most popular" single phone, the iPhone, brought back the "Mini" and the SE2. The Mini is rumored to not get another installment, implying that it definitely didn't do as well as Apple thought it would. The SE2 sells well, but mostly not in this country. It's intention is to be a lower cost option for countries like India and China. But the point is it's not a sales leader in the US.

People don't really want "smaller" phones right now in the west. Whether phones will trend smaller again at some point in the future is unknown. But it likely won't until there is some other major functional change in cellphones (eg: ultra light weight AR glasses takes off and cellphones take a back seat and/or are integrated in other ways - in other words some technology development that doesn't depend on screen size being a major determining factor of the device).
 
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kirbyrj

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How is "mid-sized" defined? It's more than possible to get a 5.5-6" phone. Most I think would consider that to be "mid sized". But if you think that's 'big' and that 6.7" is 'bigger' and that it has to be 4.7-5.5" to be 'mid-sized' then that's another discussion.
Even still there are plenty of options there. However the "most popular" single phone, the iPhone, brought back the "Mini" and the SE2. The Mini is rumored to not get another installment, implying that it definitely didn't do as well as Apple thought it would. The SE2 sells well, but mostly not in this country. It's intention is to be a lower cost option for countries like India and China. But the point is there, it's not a sales leader in the US.

People don't really want "smaller" phones right now in the west. Whether phones will trend smaller again at some point in the future is unknown. But it likely won't until there is some other major functional change in cellphones (eg: ultra light weight AR glasses takes off and cellphones take a back seat and/or are integrated in other ways - in other words some technology development that doesn't depend on screen size being a major determining factor of the device).

I think it's more about the actual physical size of the phone. The phones of yesteryear had a much smaller screen to body ratio, so a 6" phone of today is still probably smaller than the 5" phones of a few years ago.

Midsize to me is small enough to be able to work the phone in one hand. Very personalized definition though since what works for me wouldn't work for others, etc.
 

Aurelius

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How is "mid-sized" defined? It's more than possible to get a 5.5-6" phone. Most I think would consider that to be "mid sized". But if you think that's 'big' and that 6.7" is 'bigger' and that it has to be 4.7-5.5" to be 'mid-sized' then that's another discussion.
Even still there are plenty of options there. However the "most popular" single phone, the iPhone, brought back the "Mini" and the SE2. The Mini is rumored to not get another installment, implying that it definitely didn't do as well as Apple thought it would. The SE2 sells well, but mostly not in this country. It's intention is to be a lower cost option for countries like India and China. But the point is there, it's not a sales leader in the US.

People don't really want "smaller" phones right now in the west. Whether phones will trend smaller again at some point in the future is unknown. But it likely won't until there is some other major functional change in cellphones (eg: ultra light weight AR glasses takes off and cellphones take a back seat and/or are integrated in other ways - in other words some technology development that doesn't depend on screen size being a major determining factor of the device).
There's talk of Apple giving the mini another go this year, but no plans after that.

I can't help but think the pandemic hurts the mini's chances. Not much point to a phone you can easily use while grabbing a shopping bag when you're not supposed to be heading out for non-essential trips. If you're going to be at home, you might as well have a larger screen for couch surfing and videos.

With that said, phone culture has also changed. You'll still see people who want to use a phone one-handed, but even then they're still thinking of phones around six inches, not four or five. Phones are computing portals, and people want the size to match. That and smaller devices severely limit space for modern phone creature comforts like wireless charging and multiple cameras.
 

toast0

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People don't really want "smaller" phones right now in the west. Whether phones will trend smaller again at some point in the future is unknown.

It's hard to tell if people don't want smaller phones in general or the specific smaller phones that are available. The iPhone SE2 and mini actually have good specs and price compared to their larger siblings, so good data there; but on the Android side, I found it hard to find something small that had the specs I was looking for in my price range, that wasn't a Sony released 5 years ago. Obviously for smaller phones I'd be giving up battery life and most likely screen pixels, but sometimes also half the cpu and ram, or the headphone jack and twice the price. If Apple makes a small phone with usb-c and a headphone jack, I might make the switch (at least if I hate it, which I probably will, there's good resale).
 

UnknownSouljer

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I think it's more about the actual physical size of the phone. The phones of yesteryear had a much smaller screen to body ratio, so a 6" phone of today is still probably smaller than the 5" phones of a few years ago.

Midsize to me is small enough to be able to work the phone in one hand. Very personalized definition though since what works for me wouldn't work for others, etc.
Right but that diagonal real estate still means just as much if not more reaching. The phones body size hasn't impacted the distance your hand has to travel independently of screen size. Because of how screen are measured diagonally the phones might be slightly more narrow which helps, but top right corner to bottom left corner on a 5.5" phone for most hands isn't possible without at minimum readjusting the position of the phone in your hand (for most people unless you have giant hands). So I would say it's still a "problem" regardless of if you're talking about an older 5.5" phone or a modern more bezel-less one.

Most people are okay with that though and adjusting your hand position or doing other maneuvers on a 6" phone is a compromise most people seem okay with living with (for clarity I'm talking about doing all of this one-handed). Before, even having to do one-handed repositioning was "unthinkable" (hence the iPhone being 3.5" for a very long time before being 4" with the iPhone 5 and 4.7" with the iPhone 6), but as people have now spent 14 years with full touch interface cellphones (2007), there has been dexterity adaptations that everyone is just used to now that they weren't used to in 2010 or 2012 or whatever.

tl;dr: most people have gotten used to using a 6" phone one handed.
There's talk of Apple giving the mini another go this year, but no plans after that.

I can't help but think the pandemic hurts the mini's chances. Not much point to a phone you can easily use while grabbing a shopping bag when you're not supposed to be heading out for non-essential trips. If you're going to be at home, you might as well have a larger screen for couch surfing and videos.

With that said, phone culture has also changed. You'll still see people who want to use a phone one-handed, but even then they're still thinking of phones around six inches, not four or five. Phones are computing portals, and people want the size to match. That and smaller devices severely limit space for modern phone creature comforts like wireless charging and multiple cameras.
Personally the Mini is the phone I actually want, but perhaps in tandem with something like an iPad Pro 11". Even without the iPad though, minimalism and portability matter a lot to me. I'd probably spend a lot less time on my phone if it was smaller too, which I look at positively.

Literally the only reason why I haven't more strongly considered getting one is the same I think for a lot of people: battery life (well, okay and cost too, my current phone works just fine and I don't really see a need to upgrade). If they could figure out a way to either cram in a bigger battery or make the Mini more efficient (perhaps with a newer/better process) then I'd strongly consider it.

The biggest reason to get a larger iPhone as compared to a Mini for me is for the camera features and the battery life. The other functions are secondary. If I was to buy a "Pro" though, my definite pick would be the smaller one, which still compromises on battery life compared to the Max. The issue right now is is that 5g is such a hog and it's affecting phones like the move to 4G did and 3G did before that.
It's hard to tell if people don't want smaller phones in general or the specific smaller phones that are available. The iPhone SE2 and mini actually have good specs and price compared to their larger siblings, so good data there; but on the Android side, I found it hard to find something small that had the specs I was looking for in my price range, that wasn't a Sony released 5 years ago. Obviously for smaller phones I'd be giving up battery life and most likely screen pixels, but sometimes also half the cpu and ram, or the headphone jack and twice the price. If Apple makes a small phone with usb-c and a headphone jack, I might make the switch (at least if I hate it, which I probably will, there's good resale).
If you hate Apple, just never switch. I'm an Apple user and that's still my advice. There's no point in getting a device for certain features and then being annoyed with everything else about it. Life's too short to spend $700 on something you dislike.

Outside of that comment, yeah, options are less plentiful on Android. For better or worse Android buyers either don't care and just buy whatever middle of the road cellphone there is that has obvious compromises. Or they're buying some type of competitive flagship: whether that is Samsung or value-for-money flagships like OnePlus (although they're reaching pricing parity recently).
There's other ones too. But they don't really contain flagship specs, which I think is part of the discussion. A mid-sized phone with flagship specs.

For another great option if you don't care about flagship specs, checkout Palm's new(ish) phone: https://palm.com/

If you don't want to click the link, it's a full touch interface phone that's roughly the size of a credit card.
 
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Aurelius

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That Palm phone looks nice.
You'd think so, but it's too small in practice and suffers from poor battery life, among other limitations. I'd rather try to find a working Palm Pre and go on a nostalgia trip than use the current phone.
 

auntjemima

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I think it's more about the actual physical size of the phone. The phones of yesteryear had a much smaller screen to body ratio, so a 6" phone of today is still probably smaller than the 5" phones of a few years ago.

Midsize to me is small enough to be able to work the phone in one hand. Very personalized definition though since what works for me wouldn't work for others, etc.
This is the only complaint I have with my pixel 2 XL. I must have little baby hands, because I can't reach across the screen for the back button when holding the phone in one hand.
 

cjcox

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I used to joke back when bigger and bigger and bigger screens were the thing for laptops of somebody wheeling around their "portable" laptop with 32" screen.

(people are weird)
 

sharknice

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This is the only complaint I have with my pixel 2 XL. I must have little baby hands, because I can't reach across the screen for the back button when holding the phone in one hand.

You probably just have normal sized hands. I'm 6'2 with large hands and I can just barely comfortably reach everything on my Pixel XL. It didn't matter if an app or website had a poor UI because I could easily reach any button.

I just switched to a Galaxy S21 ultra which is the same physical size except slightly taller, but the screen covers the entirety of the phone instead of having bezels like my pixel XL. It's so big that my thumb can't even reach the top left of the screen with my normal grip. If I adjust my grip to the center of the phone I can but it's not comfortable to hold that way, I like having my pinky underneath the phone to support the weight.
I end up having to use two hands for some things I could do with one on my old phone which is kind of annoying, but having a bigger screen to look at is nice too. I don't think I would go any bigger because it's pretty close to the maximum size I can comfortably fit in my pocket.
 

auntjemima

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You probably just have normal sized hands. I'm 6'2 with large hands and I can just barely comfortably reach everything on my Pixel XL. It didn't matter if an app or website had a poor UI because I could easily reach any button.

I just switched to a Galaxy S21 ultra which is the same physical size except slightly taller, but the screen covers the entirety of the phone instead of having bezels like my pixel XL. It's so big that my thumb can't even reach the top left of the screen with my normal grip. If I adjust my grip to the center of the phone I can but it's not comfortable to hold that way, I like having my pinky underneath the phone to support the weight.
I end up having to use two hands for some things I could do with one on my old phone which is kind of annoying, but having a bigger screen to look at is nice too. I don't think I would go any bigger because it's pretty close to the maximum size I can comfortably fit in my pocket.
Good to hear.

I like my pinky underneath as well. With how slippery new phones are, I could never actually do a center hold.
 

evhvis

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How is "mid-sized" defined? It's more than possible to get a 5.5-6" phone. Most I think would consider that to be "mid sized". But if you think that's 'big' and that 6.7" is 'bigger' and that it has to be 4.7-5.5" to be 'mid-sized' then that's another discussion.
Even still there are plenty of options there. However the "most popular" single phone, the iPhone, brought back the "Mini" and the SE2. The Mini is rumored to not get another installment, implying that it definitely didn't do as well as Apple thought it would. The SE2 sells well, but mostly not in this country. It's intention is to be a lower cost option for countries like India and China. But the point is it's not a sales leader in the US.

People don't really want "smaller" phones right now in the west. Whether phones will trend smaller again at some point in the future is unknown. But it likely won't until there is some other major functional change in cellphones (eg: ultra light weight AR glasses takes off and cellphones take a back seat and/or are integrated in other ways - in other words some technology development that doesn't depend on screen size being a major determining factor of the device).
For me the iphone mini is towards the larger end of mid sized. Nowdays it is mostly XL and XXL sized phones available, with the occasional L and rarely a good M sized phone. The 3.7" HTC Desire used to be considered a fairly large phone in it's time. There were some cartoon jokes 10+ years ago about people swapping their phones for tablets which were funny at the time, sad how right they were. I do miss the Iphone 5s, a perfectly mid sized phone that did all I needed it to do. Still hanging on to my Iphone 8, but if they improve the "mini" then I might get a new phone this fall, but both the 8 and the mini is towards the limit of what I want to be carrying around.
 

UnknownSouljer

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For me the iphone mini is towards the larger end of mid sized. Nowdays it is mostly XL and XXL sized phones available, with the occasional L and rarely a good M sized phone. The 3.7" HTC Desire used to be considered a fairly large phone in it's time. There were some cartoon jokes 10+ years ago about people swapping their phones for tablets which were funny at the time, sad how right they were. I do miss the Iphone 5s, a perfectly mid sized phone that did all I needed it to do. Still hanging on to my Iphone 8, but if they improve the "mini" then I might get a new phone this fall, but both the 8 and the mini is towards the limit of what I want to be carrying around.
Read my next post after the one you quoted. The tl;dr is that people have adapted to using larger phones one handed and that's a major reason why the size of what is considered to be "mid-range" in size by the general public has increased. Anyone who isn't in that crowd at this point is in the minority.

But for your reference, the iPhone Mini is physically smaller the the 5S. The screen takes up the entire face of the phone, so the display is larger, but the actual dimensions of the phone are smaller.
The 5S is the same size as the SE and SE2. The SE2 is still being sold, so again as I discussed, people don't really want that phone or the Mini. At least not in the west.
 
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JSHamlet234

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I miss clamshell phones for voice and texting (IOW, doing actual cell phone stuff). If I'm going to use a smart phone (kinda hard to avoid these days), it needs to be huge, because they are all just uncomfortable, undersized tablets to me, and the smaller ones are obviously worse in that regard.
 
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SJetski71

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Once you get used to the newer / taller 6.5" phones, the 6.1" taller phones become mid-sized psychologically. I'm comparing my current phone to my previous one.

The hands adapt imho and with 6.5" i find myself using the browser more often as a bonus.

The taller 6.1" 19.5:9 ratio phones are extremely easy to handle btw and are naturally lighter in weight which helps dexterity. Size of bezel will affect this perception though.

Edit: If i were to get one of these newer-larger 6.8" phones then i'm sure my opinions would be revised again, a 6.5" would become "medium" and the 6.1" would seem small.
 
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evhvis

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Read my next post after the one you quoted. The tl;dr is that people have adapted to using larger phones one handed and that's a major reason why the size of what is considered to be "mid-range" in size by the general public has increased. Anyone who isn't in that crowd at this point is in the minority.

But for your reference, the iPhone Mini is physically smaller the the 5S. The screen takes up the entire face of the phone, so the display is larger, but the actual dimensions of the phone are smaller.
The 5S is the same size as the SE and SE2. The SE2 is still being sold, so again as I discussed, people don't really want that phone or the Mini. At least not in the west.
The 5s was 123.8x58.6x7.6mm while the mini is 131.5x64.2x7.4mm, so not sure why you think the mini is physically smaller than the 5s. The SE2 is a remake of the iphone 8, not the 5s or SE.

One of the issues with the smaller mid sized phones is that they are generally low or mid end in specs and screen quality. The iphone mini is the first in a long time where the smaller phone isn't low end compared than the larger models. When all the small phones are low end then of course the market will be small for the small phones.
 

UnknownSouljer

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The 5s was 123.8x58.6x7.6mm while the mini is 131.5x64.2x7.4mm, so not sure why you think the mini is physically smaller than the 5s. The SE2 is a remake of the iphone 8, not the 5s or SE.

One of the issues with the smaller mid sized phones is that they are generally low or mid end in specs and screen quality. The iphone mini is the first in a long time where the smaller phone isn't low end compared than the larger models. When all the small phones are low end then of course the market will be small for the small phones.
Not sure where your info is coming from.
Here is the Mini next to an SE2 next to a 12. And the Mini is clearly smaller than the SE2. It’s even more apparent if you watch the video and look at the phones stacked.


EDIT: I see what I did. The SE2 is iPhone 8 sized. And the SE is iPhone 5 sized. I thought they were the same. Either way, the point stands. No one wants these smaller phones.
 

cybereality

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I think the Pixel 5 is about the perfect size. Same screen size as my old Pixel 2 XL but drastically less bezel.

Still difficult to use one handed, but I feel like that's a losing battle. We were given two hands for a reason.
 

Martin the Kiteboy

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It’s all personal taste of course. I have bigger hands, daily a 12 mini as my personal, have an iPhone 8 for work, and use a Xiaomi Mi Max 3 for Androids apps. The Mi Max is great for content consumption, but I would never want to pocket that beast. I LOVE being able to use the 12 Mini with one hand and not rely on UI tricks. Battery life has been great, but obviously the 12 mini does not see all day use. Those using it a lot may complain compared to other offers, but it is more than adequate.
 

Domingo

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I'm definitely in favor of a medium-sized phone. My S20+ is kinda/sorta in that category, but it's still too large for normal pants pockets. I want something portable, but not a tablet/phablet. Yet the Google Pixel 2 I upgraded from was a hair too small. I'd prefer something in-between. 6x3'ish. Although another issue with non-large phones is that they tend to gimp the specs. Smaller batteries, slower processors, less storage, lesser camera, etc.
 
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