A recent article suggested that Apple may have been correct to discontinue the iPhone mini line with the iPhone 13 mini. But the absence of Apple doesn’t spell the end of tiny phones; Pebble smartwatch team alums are working on an Android smartphone. The Tiny Android Phone is a community initiative (not really a corporation yet), but it has a lot of talent on board, including Eric Migicovsky, the founder of Pebble, and other Pebble alumni.
Additionally, it looks like this idea is well on its way to becoming a reality. Alex De Stasio, who formerly worked as an industrial designer at Pebble, Go Pro, and other companies, claims that the team has many ideas, including various potential camera designs, with the aim of making it seem “quite uniquely recognizable and extremely iconic.”
The graphic below shows how some of these potential camera designs might seem. Regardless of the final design chosen, the hardware would probably feature a 50MP sensor, according to Benjamin Bryant, a former employee of Pebble.
That would probably be combined with camera software that the team develops independently, with the aim of creating “something that’s going to result in photographs that look beautiful,” according to Bryant.
De Stasio asserts that they are striving for “a wonderful soft slab, that’s really high quality, very nicely put together, very solid feeling, and that just has very soft details that feel really nice on your fingers” when it comes to the rest of the phone’s body. There are reportedly several materials being considered for it, but the team will place more emphasis on attention to detail than on uncommon materials (looking at you, OnePlus).
The processor also hasn’t been chosen, but according to Bryant, there appears to be an option between “a yet-to-be-released mid-tier Qualcomm chip” and the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1, which was the finest Android phone chipset of last year but isn’t quite as good now. Even the name of this tiny phone hasn’t been chosen yet, but among the many suggestions made are Pico, Atom, Bud, Mato, and of course Pebble.
The bad news is that, according to Bryant, it will probably cost around $850 (or roughly £690 or AU$1,265). By comparison, the starting price of the iPhone 13 small is currently $599, £649, or AU$1,049, and even at debut, it was less expensive than this suggested pricing. One of the newest little Android phones, the Asus Zenfone 9, has a lower starting price with a starting MSRP of $699, £699, or AU$1,199. So, it may be difficult to sell this proposed little phone.
The expected high price of this unidentified phone is due to a number of justifiable and comprehensible factors. One reason is that the team expects to collaborate with a “tier one” manufacturer, which should ensure high-quality construction. Moreover, this device is not intended to be widely used. In comparison to high-profile phones, the pricing listed above is based on pre-orders of just about 50,000 units.
With Bryant stating that “the bet is there’s enough people willing to overpay for a phone,” the price will probably decrease if more people pre-order. It also sounds like the price may decrease for subsequent units once the phone is released. That can get it sold, and after that, we’ll reduce the price to the phone’s market value.
In a way, this is a request for those who bemoan the lack of small phones to support one and demonstrate the viability of such devices. The project’s website has more than 38,000 supporters, so there is still work to do before they reach their target of 50,000. However, there is the even bigger challenge of turning those supporters into paying clients.
Although it sounds like this will likely always be a niche item, that’s OK if that’s what the team is planning for. If this gadget succeeds, it may demonstrate that there is still a demand for the best compact phones. But, Apple doesn’t seem particularly interested in the term “niche” when it comes to smartphones, so whether this is a success or a failure, it is unlikely to persuade Apple to produce another iPhone tiny.