If there’s one thing we can agree on when it comes to Android flagship smartphones, it’s that their latest trend is to get bigger. At this point, some flagships have gotten away with being nearly as big as some of the smaller tablets on the market, like the Samsung Galaxy Mega, HTC One Max, or the Huawei Ascend Mate. Even “normal” sized flagships are fairly large lately, like the Samsung Galaxy S5 with a 5.1-inch screen, the HTC M8 with a 5-inch screen, and the LG G2 with a 5.2-inch screen. The bottom line is, if you want a flagship device, you’re more than likely going to have to start some hand-stretching exercises for a comfortable transition.
Or maybe not. Manufacturers aren’t completely merciless, because although the phablet-sized phones are growing in popularity, they do recognize there are still those people who would rather have something a little more wieldy in their hand. That’s why, along with trying to create bigger and better phones, some manufacturers have also started releasing “mini” versions of their latest flagships. Are the smaller versions of their successful older brothers worth the buy, though?
At first, I would have said no. The Galaxy S III Mini, which I believe was the first to start the trend, was a device that seemed to actually be a small Galaxy S III in image only. Spec-wise, the device seemed more similar to the Galaxy S II instead. With the Galaxy S III being wildly popular, however, it would only make sense to slap the S III name across the device. I mean, they did look the same, at least. But performance-wise? They didn’t really seem like the same device at all.
The next generation of minis seemed to hit closer to home. Last year, there were three mini variations released: the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini, the HTC One Mini, and the Motorola Droid Mini. Although the Galaxy S4 Mini did a better job of closing the gap between “mini” and “original”, there were still a few missing features that could have helped make an extra sale or two. The HTC One Mini, in my own experience, was a decent runner-up to the HTC One; performance-wise, I didn’t see much of a difference between the two, except for a bit of lag. However, I was pleased that the same camera was able to be used on the One Mini as well. The Motorola Droid Mini was the device that takes the cake, though, because aside from the size the Droid Mini is almost identical to the Droid Ultra. Motorola proves to us that just because a phone is small doesn’t mean it needs to cut that many corners in order to be just as great, or nearly as great, as its larger identical.
Since last year seemed to be a huge step up for minis, I do wonder what this year will bring. I hope to see more mini versions hit the shelves, but I also hope that the specs on the minis close the gap between the two sizes even further. I think that the idea behind releasing a miniature version is valid, but for some people it’s about more than having a flagship name slapped on a smaller, physically identical model; they want similar specs, too. Hopefully, this year, more manufacturers can learn something from Motorola’s Mini strategy. If so, this could turn out to be a great year for minis.
Readers, with flagship phones getting larger every year, do you find that you’re holding out for a “mini” version now? What do you hope to see in minis this year? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!