Small phones are dead, but Pixel 9 looks to fill the gap

I feel like a broken record at this point, but amid new leaks of the Pixel 9 this week, there are many still asking Google for a “Mini” device, forgetting that small phones are dead.

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Over the past decade, smartphones have gotten really big. Where the average phone used to be tiny by modern standards, many of us are basically walking around with tablets nowadays – in some cases literally, thanks to foldables. But as phone screens have settled into the realm of 6-7 inches in size, there’s always been a vocal group of those asking for smaller smartphones.

And, repeatedly, it’s been clear that small phones are essentially dead.

One recent reminder of this has been the Asus Zenfone 11, which tacked an “Ultra” onto its name and super-sized the package, doing away with what was the last flagship-tier Android phone with a screen size under 6-inches. It came as no surprise as, realistically, a small phone was just never going to survive in today’s market. The Pixel Fold, too, had a very small outer display that was a pleasure to use, but Google is moving away from that on the sequel.

The people have spoken, and they overwhelmingly prefer big phones. Heck, if Apple can’t make a “Mini” work, no Android manufacturer is going to do so, as I said back in 2022.

Amid new leaks of the Pixel 9 series which have revealed that Google will have three devices to choose from, there are some still asking for a “Mini” in Google’s lineup. I don’t think it’s ever going to happen, not just because the market doesn’t exist for it, but also because, for most people asking for small phones, the Pixel 9 series is already going to be pretty close to what they’re asking for.

The Pixel 9 and Pixel 9 Pro are both expected to be on the lower end of 6-inch displays, with both devices apparently measuring in at 152.8 x 71.9 x 8.5mm. That’s only a hair bigger than the Pixel 8, which our Abner Li praised for being the “small phone of my dreams” in a review last year.

And, really, I think that’s about a small as a modern phone should be. The vast, vast majority of people are going to be thrilled to get a flagship-tier experience in a device that size, because it does a good job of splitting the difference between something truly “small” like, say, an iPhone 13 Mini, and something that’s big enough by modern standards.

In short, that “Pixel Mini” you’re dreaming about will (probably) never happen, so let’s just be glad that it looks like we’re getting a full-featured “Pro” that’s smaller.

This Week’s Top Stories

Circle to Search gets its first big expansion

Google this week opened up the first big expansion of Circle to Search. Previoulsy only available on Galaxy S24, Pixel 8, and Pixel 7, the feature is now rolling out to the following devices:

  • Pixel 6/Pro
  • Pixel 6a
  • Galaxy S23/+/Ultra
  • Galaxy S23 FE
  • Galaxy Z Fold 5
  • Galaxy Z Flip 5
  • Galaxy Tab S9/+/Ultra

Google also confirmed Circle to Search is coming “soon” to Pixel Fold and Pixel Tablet. Circle to Search will also be adding in-line translations. Samsung further mentioned that Circle to Search is more popular than any of its Galaxy AI features.

Samsung’s One UI 6.1 has arrived

Circle to Search’s expansion on Samsung devices is also largely thanks to the One UI 6.1 software update that’s rolling out now to several 2023 Galaxy devices. The update, which should be pretty widely available by the time you’re reading this, brings several AI features and other tweaks on top of Android 14.

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