Tiny Android phones can be huge, but only if they’re cheap

Since a few days there is a new website called smallandroidphone.comdoing the rounds on Hacker News and Reddit.

The site was created by pebble founder Eric Migicovsky, and he’s pitching for a great little Android phone.

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

So what does Migicovsky want? Simple: an uncompromising Android phone with a screen of less than 6 inches.

Ideally, it should be the size of an iPhone mini with a great camera and flagship processor. He is willing to pay a premium price of $700-$800 for something that fits the bill.

Ideally, he wants to convince Google – or another phone maker – to make such a phone for lovers of compact phones.

But he has a different pitch: if no company makes it, and he gets 50,000 supporters on the website, then he will start a new company to make a compact phone.

“I have a very specific set of skills and industry connections that I have acquired over a long career in the hardware industry. I’ll be using them in our shared quest to get the perfect little Android phone. If no one else builds one and enough people sign up… I may be forced to make it myself.”

So what are the challenges?

Being a phone company that focuses solely on small phones is going to be tough. Earlier this year I wrote about how, despite the fact that people on the Internet occasionally ask for a compact phone, the sales figures don’t paint a positive picture.

When I spoke to research firm Counterpoint at the time, it said the market for such devices has declined from 81% of the entire market in 2018 to just under 10% in 2021.

Analysts suggest this is due to battery-intensive technology like 5G chips, which makes larger, higher-capacity phones more attractive. Since many people use their handsets as their primary computing device (think things like entertainment and gaming), phones with more real estate are also in demand.

So creating a substantial public appetite for compact phones will be a problem for the company. If you manufacture devices in smaller quantities, ordering parts for fabrication and repair becomes costly, especially if they are high-quality components.

Another challenge would be deciding on the time between iterations. If you don’t sell millions of devices, you may not be able to release a new model every year.

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

Asus Zenfone 8