Are these “mini” versions of smartphones really necessary?

Over the past few days, you may have noticed the rather inordinate amount of smartphone news around the Internet, and it's perfectly understandable. With Mobile World Congress going on this week, we basically have the headline show for the mobile industry, so only a lack of new products would be surprising.

But what has me scratching my head are the "mini" versions of existing devices, like the ones that Sony Ericsson and HTC recently unveiled and what Nokia did with the N97 mini, not to mention Palm's not-a-Pre-but-close Pixi. I do like to have choices, but what exactly is the point of these stripped-down communicators? In the case of the XPERIA X10 mini from Sony Ericsson, we have a pint-sized design to go along with half the resolution, nearly half the processing speed, and a lower-spec camera than what is available in the standard XPERIA X10. Oh, and by the way, the bigger X10 is not even available yet, and I use the size term very loosely because it appears to be slimmer than the new mini.

Taking a look at HTC's new HD mini, the company decided to take its already-popular HD2 uberphone and condense the screen down a bit, take out some pixels, and yet somehow still made it seem chunkier. And of course, those of us in the US are still waiting to get our hands on the T-Mobile version of the grande HD2, even though there is a light at the end of tunnel.

It seems to me that Sony Ericsson and HTC might be better served by getting their flagship products out into the worldwide marketplace first before deciding if a second-tier design is necessary, and maybe drop the prices a bit. Sure, I get that not everyone wants or can afford a $700+ smartphone, but unless the mini versions are priced at half the price, it just makes little sense to me. On the other hand, I can see the XPERIA X10 mini pro, with a full slider QWERTY, being more functional for some but still not as satisfying as the full Snapdragon experience and 800×480 resolution.

So am I alone in my ranting mini-hate, or are there others out there who would rather not sacrifice features and usability in the name of smaller pocket bulges and thicker wallets? Count me out. I want my smartphones to have as many high-end features and specs as possible. Almost computer-like, if you will.

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Chris King

Chris King is a former contributing editor at Pocketables.

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