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Apple competitors' iPhone-sized efforts failing as mini Android devices see low demand

Apple's 4-inch iPhones are the hottest selling smartphones on the market, but competitors like HTC and Samsung are having trouble getting consumers to buy into their own similarly sized devices.

Samsung's Galaxy S4 mini and Apple's iPhone 5. image via YouTube user adriansen

Devices like the HTC One and Samsung's Galaxy S4 sport displays larger than those of their predecessors, a result of some consumers' preference for larger screens. However, HTC and Samsung have also released the One Mini and Galaxy S4 mini, smaller-screened "flagship" handsets with less powerful specs, meant to compete with Apple's iPhone for buyers that want smaller devices. Those "mini flagships," though, have seen low sales, according to DigiTimes.

Citing industry sources, DigiTimes claims that the S4 mini has seen lackluster sales. This is due in part to the middling specs of the smaller-screened device, which has to compete with an array of other mid-range offerings from Samsung. Consumers are not flocking to the HTC One mini either, and the manufacturer has reportedly been forced in some markets to cut nearly 20 percent off that device's sale price just two months after its introduction.

Aside from competition from larger-screened, equally-specced devices, another factor could be Apple's iPhone, which marries the high-end performance typically seen in larger devices with the smaller form factor many consumers prefer. Multiple studies have already shown that more Android users switch to the iPhone than vice versa, and the recent record-breaking sales of Apple's newest iPhones indicate that there is still an appetite for devices in its size range, despite the poor sales of competitors' entries. Still, Android manufacturers' smaller flagship phones have found no traction among consumers, even though they are typically priced well below the iPhone.

Apple's refusal so far to move beyond a four-inch screen is due in part to the company's insistence that iPhone users should be able to operate their devices with just one hand. The screen size of the iPhone 5, 5s, and 5c allows most users to hold the device in one hand and access each part of the screen with a thumb.

Apple is still rumored to be working on an iPhone with a larger screen, though such rumors have persisted for some time. CEO Tim Cook has hinted that iPhones could get bigger displays when Apple can produce them without making trade-offs in terms of battery life, color reproduction, and other factors.