Why did they die, what can you still get

Small Android phones are dead. Although it is sad to say, it is unlikely that a flagship Android phone will appear in the foreseeable future. Let’s talk about why.

How did we get here?

Smartphones from both the Android and iOS camps have become noticeably larger over the past decade. Originally, there were phones dedicated to those looking for a bigger screen. In 2015, for example, the flagship Galaxy S6 had a 5.1-inch screen. Meanwhile, the Galaxy Note 5 had a larger 5.7-inch screen. Samsung also made the Galaxy S6+, which split the difference slightly at 5.5 inches. This was reflected on Apple’s side, as the same year’s iPhone 6s offered a 4.7-inch screen on its flagship model, but a 5.5-inch screen on the iPhone 6s Plus.

Fast forward to 2022, and this kind of setup mostly disappears. In the world of Samsung, the Galaxy S22 series has absorbed the Note series, with the smallest Galaxy S22 coming in at 6.1 inches, while the Galaxy S22 Ultra comes in at 6.8 inches. Apple’s iPhone 13 Pro is about the same, with 6.1-inch and 6.7-inch screens.

Why the massive growth in size? There are several main reasons.

A large part of it is the war on the edges, which has expanded the available space for the screen. A higher screen-to-body ratio means a larger screen size in a smaller package, but that hasn’t stopped the phones from growing physically. Looking at the previous examples, we find that the Galaxy S22 Ultra from 2022 is longer than the Galaxy Note 5 by more than 10 mm, and it is marginally larger in every other dimension as well.

Another major reason phones swell, and specifically why smaller phones are so hard to find, is 5G. The next generation of cellular connectivity is important, and US carriers in particular have made it an absolute requirement. Despite this, 5G devices require space, especially for mmWave antennas, which are an expected part of flagship smartphones.

Finally, there’s battery life. Durability is one of the biggest factors people consider when buying a smartphone, and it’s a simple fact that in most cases, phones with larger screens have room for bigger batteries, and therefore better endurance. There are exceptions to the rule, like the Pixel 6 Pro, but for the most part, a big phone offers the best battery life.

But really, what it boils down to, is that the market is happening.

The market is not only interested in small phones

The vast majority of people, at this point, just want bigger screens.

In a study conducted by Samsung earlier this year, admittedly a biased source of that information, the company listed an “expanded display” as priority No. 2 for its customers. A study conducted by LG in 2018 came to similar findings. statista We discovered that battery life was the single most important priority for smartphone buyers in 2019, which as we mentioned goes hand in hand with a larger screen.

But the surveys don’t say everything. The most specific result comes from a real example, Apple’s iPhone Mini series.

The iPhone 12 Mini and iPhone 13 Mini both filled the exact needs enthusiasts were calling for. A smaller iPhone with full specs and no compromises with a screen under 6 inches and an easy-to-handle chassis.

Did not sell well.

A report in early 2021 claimed that the iPhone 12 Mini had a sales record that would “likely disappoint Apple”. Apparently, the phone made up only 6% of Apple’s sales during the two-month period after launch. Another analysis from the same company just last month indicates that the iPhone 13 Mini and iPhone 12 Mini sum It represents only 3% of Apple’s sales.

Many reviewers praised the iPhone Mini series for its compact size and uncompromising specs, but it is clear in the end that consumers are not willing to buy these phones. why? As these reviewers admit, the battery life is appalling, and consumers clearly know it’s not worth the trade-in.

And frankly, if Apple can’t drag a “small” phone to a point where battery life isn’t a concern, I don’t think it will on a small Android phone. Take Pixel 4 as an example. This phone with a 5.5 inch screen was one of the smallest Android phones in recent memory. But it was necessary to have a small battery to achieve this goal. As such, it quickly became infamous for poor battery life. The Pixel 3 a year earlier wasn’t in much better shape either. And that was before 5G and power-hungry radios were a part of most smartphones.

Pebble founder Eric Migicovsky this week breathed life into support for small Android phones in an effort to raise the bar for a revival of the form factor. “piano” It mainly asks for iPhone 13 Mini, but runs Android. To date, this initiative has collected about 10,000 names. A brave effort, sure, but frankly not enough to convince any sane smartphone maker to take a risk where even Apple has failed.

Pleats are the obvious next step

However, there is an exception to these rules. foldable.

Our friend Michael Fisher was also fast Tag on twitter Earlier this week, foldable devices could answer a lot of the challenges a typical small phone might face. For example, the Galaxy Z Flip 3 is a smaller pocket phone than other flagships, but since it still has a large screen when opened back up, there’s more room for necessary components. The Motorola Razr achieves these ideas even better, with a usable screen on the foldable exterior.

I would also argue that the Galaxy Z Fold 3 form factor has more potential here. Although it’s a thick phone, I find the Fold 3’s narrow external display easier to use than the Pixel 6 Pro, and that comes with the benefit of having a really huge screen when I want to watch a video or play a game in Stadia. Despite this, the Oppo Find N makes it to Migicovsky’s wish list. Its external screen is only 5.49 inches far The smallest screen you can find in a flagship Android phone. However, the form factor still offers plenty of room for everything it needs, including a reasonable battery size.

But of course, we haven’t gotten that far yet. The Flip form factor still struggles with battery life. The fold is still expensive. And both must improve durability before true mass adoption.

Buy Pixel 5 While You Can – The Last Good

In the meantime, those who want small Android phones will have to settle down. Google won’t be making one anytime soon. Samsung certainly isn’t willing to take that bullet either.

For now, the Pixel 5 is the best way to fill that gap. The phone’s 6-inch screen with slim bezels keeps the form factor compact, and doesn’t compromise on connectivity or battery life. In fact, it has very good battery life, except for the size rule. Additionally, it will keep software support until October 2023. The Pixel 5a is an equally affordable, if slightly larger, option that will last a few more months.

Google has discontinued the Pixel 5 at this point in favor of the Pixel 6 series and the future of Tensor, but you can still get the phone relatively easily. Amazon-owned Woot sells brand-new Pixel 5s for $449, a huge discount from the original $699 cost, at the time we publish this article. Amazon itself sells “refurbished” Pixel 5s for even less.

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