Small Android phones can be huge – but only if they are cheap

Over the past few days, a new website called smallandroidphone.com has been making the rounds on Hacker News and Reddit.

Created by Pebble founder Eric Migicovsky, the site is an offer to get a great little Android phone.

It’s a story we’ve heard countless times before: Lots of people love their small and powerful Android phones, but there aren’t many options. Apple released a small iPhone two years ago, but multiple reports indicate that there will be no iPhone 14 mini.

So what does Mijikovsky want? Easy: An uncompromising Android phone with a screen under 6 inches.

Ideally, it should be the size of an iPhone mini with a great camera and a leading processor. He’s willing to pay the high price of $700 to $800 for something that fits the bill.

He ideally wants to convince Google – or any other phone maker – to make such a phone for compact phone lovers.

But he has another idea: If no company makes this, and he gets 50,000 backers on the website, he’s going to start a new company to make a compact phone.

“I have a very specific set of skills and industry connections that I’ve acquired over the course of a long hardware career. I will use them in our combined quest for the perfect little Android phone. If no one else has built one, and enough people sign up… I will probably have to Do it myself.”

So what are the challenges?

It would be hard to be a phone company that focuses only on small phones. Earlier this year, I wrote about that despite people mobilizing the internet to demand a compact phone from time to time, the sales numbers don’t paint a positive picture.

When I spoke to research firm Counterpoint at the time, she said the market for these devices had fallen from 81% of the entire market in 2018 to just under 10% in 2021.

Analysts point out that this is due to battery-intensive technology such as 5G chips, which makes large phones with a larger capacity more attractive. Also, as many people use their mobile devices as their primary computing devices (think things like entertainment and games), the demand for phones with more real estate is increasing.

So creating a fairly large public hunger for compact phones would be a problem for the company. If you produce hardware in smaller quantities, ordering parts for manufacture and repair becomes expensive – especially when they are high-quality components.

Another challenge is determining the time between iterations. If you don’t sell millions of devices, it may not be possible to release a new model every year.

A rough search of the GSMArena phone finder for Android phones with a screen less than 6 inches, release date 2021 or later, and a $400+ price tag only gives me three results: Sony Xperia 10 IV, Asus Zenfone 8, and Cat S62.