Apple competitors' iPhone-sized efforts failing as mini Android devices see low demand

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
Apple's 4-inch iPhones are the hottest selling smartphones on the market, but competitors like HTC and Samsung are having trouble getting consumers to buy into their own similarly sized devices.


Samsung's Galaxy S4 mini and Apple's iPhone 5. image via YouTube user adriansen


Devices like the HTC One and Samsung's Galaxy S4 sport displays larger than those of their predecessors, a result of some consumers' preference for larger screens. However, HTC and Samsung have also released the One Mini and Galaxy S4 mini, smaller-screened "flagship" handsets with less powerful specs, meant to compete with Apple's iPhone for buyers that want smaller devices. Those "mini flagships," though, have seen low sales, according to DigiTimes.

Citing industry sources, DigiTimes claims that the S4 mini has seen lackluster sales. This is due in part to the middling specs of the smaller-screened device, which has to compete with an array of other mid-range offerings from Samsung. Consumers are not flocking to the HTC One mini either, and the manufacturer has reportedly been forced in some markets to cut nearly 20 percent off that device's sale price just two months after its introduction.

Aside from competition from larger-screened, equally-specced devices, another factor could be Apple's iPhone, which marries the high-end performance typically seen in larger devices with the smaller form factor many consumers prefer. Multiple studies have already shown that more Android users switch to the iPhone than vice versa, and the recent record-breaking sales of Apple's newest iPhones indicate that there is still an appetite for devices in its size range, despite the poor sales of competitors' entries. Still, Android manufacturers' smaller flagship phones have found no traction among consumers, even though they are typically priced well below the iPhone.

Apple's refusal so far to move beyond a four-inch screen is due in part to the company's insistence that iPhone users should be able to operate their devices with just one hand. The screen size of the iPhone 5, 5s, and 5c allows most users to hold the device in one hand and access each part of the screen with a thumb.

Apple is still rumored to be working on an iPhone with a larger screen, though such rumors have persisted for some time. CEO Tim Cook has hinted that iPhones could get bigger displays when Apple can produce them without making trade-offs in terms of battery life, color reproduction, and other factors.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 63

    The Android manufacturers selling crappy small-screen handsets reminds me of the attitude the US automakers had towards small cars in the 1970s: smaller cars = crap. Large cars = luxury.

    It never occurred to them that buyers actually wanted good small cars, even paying a premium for them.

  • Reply 2 of 63
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 6,007member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post




    Citing industry sources, DigiTimes claims that the S4 mini has seen lackluster sales. This is due in part to the middling specs of the smaller-screened device, which has to compete with an array of other mid-range offerings from Samsung. 



     

    No... wrong.   Android phones are crap in general.  So people just decide they might as well get a bigger version of it.  That's all.  Jeez, I hate when people try to over-analyze a problem to make it sound more complicated than it really is.



    This does not bode well for the Samsungs of the world.  If it is indeed true that no one is buying their smaller-screen version of the crap they sell, that means should Apple go bigger on the screen, most of those folks that suffered on Android long enough will abandon it like a sinking ship.

  • Reply 3 of 63

    Does anyone else think this obsession with selling THE MOST phones is bit silly. If a company can make devices, sell them, and stay afloat, isn't that enough?

    Blackberry was still selling millions of phones and they got hammered so hard. It seems like, as a society, we can't keep up this outlook on the economy, it isn't sustainable. We can't expect growth to last forever, won't we need to balance out eventually?

  • Reply 4 of 63
    droidftwdroidftw Posts: 1,009member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by alienzed View Post

     

    Does anyone else think this obsession with selling THE MOST phones is bit silly. If a company can make devices, sell them, and stay afloat, isn't that enough?

    Blackberry was still selling millions of phones and they got hammered so hard. It seems like, as a society, we can't keep up this outlook on the economy, it isn't sustainable. We can't expect growth to last forever, won't we need to balance out eventually?


     

    You won't find many members here who think that selling the most phones is the correct way to determine any form of success.

  • Reply 5 of 63

    I'm started to suspect AppleInsider is deliberately seeding their forums with an inordinate number of screen-size articles. It's like they're feeding us junk articles full of troll bait.

  • Reply 6 of 63

    People buy the iPhone for iOS and the iPhone build quality.

     

    We are limited to a 4" screen because that is the only thing that Apple offers.

     

    To make this comparison to Android phones based on screen size is silly.  What it says is that, given the option, most people prefer a bigger screen.

     

    What this tells us is that Apple is behind the curve.  There are a few supply-chain-based rumors on here already claiming a big-screen iPhone is in the works for next year.

     

    Apple usually steps into a market late, after it assesses the lay of the land.  Then it comes in and hits a home run.  I wouldn't be surprised if we see a bigger-screen iPhone soon.

     

     

    Personally, I like a smaller phone because of pocket-ability.  I'd go for a small Android phone, myself.

  • Reply 7 of 63
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,712member
    alienzed wrote: »
    Does anyone else think this obsession with selling THE MOST phones is bit silly. If a company can make devices, sell them, and stay afloat, isn't that enough?

    Blackberry was still selling millions of phones and they got hammered so hard. It seems like, as a society, we can't keep up this outlook on the economy, it isn't sustainable. We can't expect growth to last forever, won't we need to balance out eventually?
    Selling a lot of devices is never bad thing. The economies of scale is perhaps the main advantage. Data gathered from all those millions of devices also help create better services such as maps which again creates distinct and differentiating advantages.
  • Reply 8 of 63
    Originally Posted by frugality View Post

    What this tells us is that Apple is behind the curve.


     

    lol. Also to some of the other, but mostly this. Apple is the curve. Is am are was were be being been. The rest are tangent lines.

     

    There are a few supply-chain-based rumors on here already claiming a big-screen iPhone is in the works for next year.


     

    There’s also still a 2.5” iPhone in the works, because a 3.5” screen is too big.

  • Reply 9 of 63
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,712member
    Apple is still rumored to be working on an iPhone with a larger screen.
    The iPhone 5 has pretty much the perfect sized screen IMO. People here have pointed out the popularity of larger screen sizes, however - particularly in countries where the mobile device is likely to be the only 'computer' a person owns. When Apple brings out a larger screened iPhone will all those people still choose Samsung et al? I bet they are very very worried.
  • Reply 10 of 63
    rcfarcfa Posts: 1,124member
    frugality wrote: »
    To make this comparison to Android phones based on screen size is silly.  What it says is that, given the option, most people prefer a bigger screen.

    What this tells us is that Apple is behind the curve.  There are a few supply-chain-based rumors on here already claiming a big-screen iPhone is in the works for next year.

    No, what this says is there are two kind of 'droid customers: those who want cheap stuff, and those who for some reason need/want a big screen.
    Nobody wants a premium 'droid phone, which is why the HTC One sell poorly, despite excellent hardware.
    By and large people who can afford it want an iPhone. If they can't afford it they go for a cheap Android phone, and if they need a big screen, they buy the big-screened top-end Android phones for lack of a better alternative.

    Should Apple offer a big-screen iPhone, the market for premium Android handsets will pretty much dry up, regardless of screen size.

    Except for niches (visually impaired, fine motor skill impaired, need for teleconferencing or video surveillance, working with gloves on, etc.) the big screen phones are nonsense; even the 5 is borderline too big, up to the 4s they fit comfortably into the pocket, even with a sturdy case; make them bigger, and you restrict yourself to coat pockets unless you're size XXXL and the manufacturer didn't skimp and made pockets the same size as in size S...
  • Reply 11 of 63
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 2,574member

    People don't buy Android phones because of Android, they buy them for two reasons; cheap and big, and that's all the OEMs have going for them. Sure you might have a few Fandroids (or as I like to call them, iHaters) - as does every other platform, but I'm guessing they are just a very loud and insignificant vocal minority.

     

    Apple on the other hand has everything else going for them, which is why people are willing to pay good money for their products.

     

     

    It's simple, there's only two smartphones on the market, the iPhone and the not-iPhone.

  • Reply 12 of 63

    Android handset makers obviously see the need for the small screen size as they have added "tiny screen mode" to their giant phones. The iPhone works because it's hardware and software were created for each other. There's a different flavour of Droid for every day of the week and every handset.

     

    Personally I would rather have a phone I can use with one hand and carry in my pocket, then trying to make a call with an iPad mini held to my head.

  • Reply 13 of 63
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post

     

    I'm started to suspect AppleInsider is deliberately seeding their forums with an inordinate number of screen-size articles. It's like they're feeding us junk articles full of troll bait.


     

    It's not AI who is doing this -- the rumors of a larger iPhone 6 (likely 4.7-4.8") are almost certainly true, as they've been reported by an abundance of sources that are usually reliable, including the Wall Street Journal (despite being owned by News Corp, they generally only report financial rumors from good sources).  AI is a site that reports Apple rumors, and generally does a good job of filtering out the patently absurd ones.

     

    But, as to the specific feature AI has written about here, I think this is an interesting subject.  For years Apple was far ahead of its Android competitors in terms of the performance, build quality, and battery life its phones offered.  And that's still the case when you compare the iPhone 5/5S to any < 4.5" Android.  The Android OEM's know they'll never be able to spend the same amount on R&D per device that Apple can because with the exception of the Samsung Galaxy line, any individual device could be a bust.  So to compete they needed to increase the dimensions of the device so that they could stuff things like quad-core processors and better cameras in the phone while also increasing the capacity of the battery.  

     

    The thing that's remarkable about, say, the newly released 5S vs. the Note 3, is that they have comparable performance and battery life despite the fact that the 5S has roughly half of the cubic dimensions of the Note.  When Apple decides to add a larger phone to their lineup, it'll probably allow them to vastly improve performance, battery life, and camera specs vs. the 5S.  It may be a repeat of the phenomenon with smaller phones where Apple is far ahead of its competitors in the < 4.5" field.

  • Reply 14 of 63
    entropysentropys Posts: 3,706member
    [QUOTE]Should Apple offer a big-screen iPhone, the market for premium Android handsets will pretty much dry up, regardless of screen size.[/QUOTE]

    Another way of looking at this is that one of the reasons android phones are large is because it was a gap Apple left in the market which allowed android manufacturers to differentiate (well, that and allow for a bigger battery).
    Apple didn't leave a gap in the iPod market, and thus nobody else got any traction. I wouldn't want a larger phone than a 5, as I have an iPad. But I can see that some people do want a larger phone, and this information would tell you that a larger iPhone as a third product line (after 5s and 5c, maybe a 5max) would help to fill in a niche and give Android manufacturers a world of hurt.

    Google of course, would be fine from IOS search and ad revenue anyway.
  • Reply 15 of 63
    entropys wrote: »
    Another way of looking at this is that one of the reasons android phones are large is because it was a gap Apple left in the market which allowed android manufacturers to differentiate (well, that and allow for a bigger battery).
    Apple didn't leave a gap in the iPod market, and thus nobody else got any traction. I wouldn't want a larger phone than a 5, as I have an iPad. But I can see that some people do want a larger phone, and this information would tell you that a larger iPhone as a third product line (after 5s and 5c, maybe a 5max) would help to fill in a niche and give Android manufacturers a world of hurt.

    Google of course, would be fine from IOS search and ad revenue anyway.
    For Apple's sake, they'd best add a larger category and continue producing the 4-inch iPhone, rather than replace it.
  • Reply 16 of 63
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by reydn View Post





    For Apple's sake, they'd best add a larger category and continue producing the 4-inch iPhone, rather than replace it.

     

    I'm quite sure they wouldn't outright replace the 4-inch phone and risk alienating much of their base.  It might just get a spec bump in the same body, though, rather than the redesign that is typical every 2 years.

     

    The real question in my mind is what Apple is planning on doing with the home button in a 4.7-4.8" phone?  If the iPhone 5/5S were simply blown up to be that screen size with the home button and top bezel intact, the device would be enormous (much bigger than the Galaxy S4).  But if they dump the home button, what are they going to do with the fingerprint sensor?  Put it on the back?  Embed it invisibly into the touchscreen?

  • Reply 17 of 63
    If phones like the GS3 and GS4 Mini were actually just smaller versions of the real GS3/GS4 then I think they would have sold. The problem (as mentioned) is the Mini's were junk phones. They had crappy screens, slower processors, poor cameras - everything about them was cheap.

    Samsung was trying to capitalize on the success and brand recognition of the GS3/GS4 by implying the Mini was "just as good but smaller" when they clearly weren't.
  • Reply 18 of 63
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post

     

    The Android manufacturers selling crappy small-screen handsets reminds me of the attitude the US automakers had towards small cars in the 1970s: smaller cars = crap. Large cars = luxury.

    It never occurred to them that buyers actually wanted good small cars, even paying a premium for them.


    Yep, remember the BMW 318....that was like the yuppie car of the 80's. That's when Cadillacs and Town Cars were all over the place!

  • Reply 19 of 63
    frugality wrote: »
    People buy the iPhone for iOS and the iPhone build quality.

    We are limited to a 4" screen because that is the only thing that Apple offers.

    To make this comparison to Android phones based on screen size is silly.  What it says is that, given the option, most people prefer a bigger screen.

    What this tells us is that Apple is behind the curve.  There are a few supply-chain-based rumors on here already claiming a big-screen iPhone is in the works for next year.

    Apple usually steps into a market late, after it assesses the lay of the land.  Then it comes in and hits a home run.  I wouldn't be surprised if we see a bigger-screen iPhone soon.


    Personally, I like a smaller phone because of pocket-ability.  I'd go for a small Android phone, myself.

    Do they prefer larger or just cheaper?
  • Reply 20 of 63

    Only one observation. Fix the damn header link to the article. It spawns a 404 Error from the top of the fold.

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