Why Don’t They Make Small Smartphones Anymore?

Have you ever wondered why there are no more compact smartphones worth buying anymore? Well, the simple answer is because smartphone makers kinda stopped making them. Let me show you a list of small screen smartphone that has released for the last three years from my brief research:

  • alcatel 1 (2021); released on 2021, October
  • Apple iPhone SE (2020); released on 2020, April
  • Samsung Galaxy A2 Core; released on 2019, April
  • Samsung Galaxy Xcover 4s; released on 2019, July
  • Xiaomi Redmi Go; released on 2019, February

Those are 5” or lower smartphones. Let’s have a moment to think about them. Which one would you think you would buy? If it were me, the only one would be the iPhone SE. Even for the year that the phone was released, which is last year, this Apple’s one is the one that’s worth buying. Maybe for Galaxy Xcover 4s, it has a specific use case like for working outdoors or in harsh environments, also during extreme sports. Unless you were really on a really tight budget or just looking for a backup phone, the other three are not to go. 

From the 5” or lower bracket, let’s move to the bigger than 5” but still not larger than 6”. Here is a brief list of them that has released for the last three years:

  • Apple iPhone 11 Pro; released on 2019, September
  • Apple iPhone 13 mini; released on 2021, September
  • Asus Zenfone 8; released on 2021, May
  • Google Pixel 5; released on 2020, October
  • Samsung Galaxy A01; released on 2020, January
  • Samsung Galaxy S10e; released on 2019, March
  • Sony Xperia 10 III; released on 2021, June

This bracket has many more choices. From today’s flagship with a mini variant to the low-end basic smartphone. From my personal perspective, (almost) all of them are worth buying with each of their own values. iPhone 11 Pro was top of the line, Zenfone 8 was the only today’s Android flagship under 6” and Xperia 10 III pushes its cinematic 21:9 ratio. Same as before, the low-end Galaxy A01 is a no except for its cheap price. 

So, actually it is not so hard to make a compact smartphone. It is just a matter of whether the manufacturers want to or not. But the thing is they just don’t want to. After all it’s all about the sales that drive them right. Like the Galaxy A01 is an ultra budget device. Then Apple with its niche iPhone 13 mini. And big applause to Asus who made Zenfone 8. As far as I know, they kinda gamble on this. If this doesn’t work, there’s a big chance that there won’t be any more iteration from the device line.

The frustrating part is there seems to be almost no mid-end device even though this segment range is quite wide and bombarded with tons of models from all of the manufacturers (except Apple of course). The best selling price range seems all about selling more camera modules on one phone, a bigger display means good and don’t forget that they market high refresh rate as a selling point now. They are okay but there are still not enough choices for people who want compact ones. 

Look at what Samsung offers with its A series lineup. From A12 to A72, essentially the same phone with little tweaks here and there. We don’t need 10 midranges with different setups of display, camera and chipset but still basically the same. Still without any compact version among them. 

I have an idea about this madness. What if a brand out there just does what Apple does. Make a mini version, around 5.3”; a regular version, with the range of 5.8-6.3”; and a plus version, around 6.8”. I think we can agree that it can sell. 

Based on the current Samsung lineup, they can simplify with just 9 devices annually outside of the Fold series. The S, A and M can serve as high, mid and low-end. Samsung already did this actually with their S10 lineup. So why don’t they do it again? 

  • 5.8” Samsung Galaxy S10e
  • 6.1” Samsung Galaxy S10
  • 6.4” Samsung Galaxy S10+
Samsung Galaxy S10e (Image: Samsung)

Let’s say for the next Galaxy S22 series, Samsung would try to do it again. But stretch it even further like what Apple does. They can make an S22e with 5.3”, the regular S22 with 6.3” and an S22+ with 6.8”. By doing this, we can accomplish a compact phone for the people that want it and still accommodate other popular screen sizes. To sum it up, they will line up like this:

  • 5.3” Samsung Galaxy S22e
  • 6.3” Samsung Galaxy S22
  • 6.8” Samsung Galaxy S22+

If the S series utilised top notch SOCs, the A would use mid range one. The display would still make it like before, from 5.3” to 6.8”. But maybe for the mid range, we can make the regular size 6”. This way maybe the price would not go far too high. Also accommodate a typically a little bigger bezel than the flagship counterpart. 

Then the M series would be repurposed for the lowest part instead of a bigger battery version of A series like nowadays. The display would follow the other series too. But let’s make the regular one to 5,8” and the plus one to 6.5”. Again, maybe we can make the price competitive by doing this. 

So, there you have it. With not so many choices, it will not confuse consumers with what they offer. Not a crazy long list like A series now, from A12 to A72. They are just some variants for a same phone like the 5G version (A22/5G), refresh device (A52/s), or any kind of other variations (A12/Nacho/India). Also don’t forget that we will cherish the compact size on every price segment. 

If Samsung (or any brand that) did this but thinking that it would not push sales because of the “limited” number of the models, they could make one more series. Let’s say an F. Now F is confusing enough that it serves more or less the same as A and M. So, we can repurpose it for the budget segment, M for the mid-rage, A for the upper mid-range and S for the flagship. It would be a whopping 12 devices in the end. Capitalism wins. Still it’s okay as long as there is always a compact offering on any segment. 

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