Apples four inch iPhone
ar from offering a smartphone ‘powerhouse’ in a smaller package, the rumoured iPhone 7 Mini will be a sales tool used to push the larger iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus models, according to Forbes.
Tech writer Evan Spence says that the “dream” of high-performance in a four-inch phone is unlikely to materialise, and “any smaller iPhone is going to be weak by design, and used to up-sell you to the larger models.”
Rumours have been mounting that Apple is preparing a smaller phone to sit alongside its larger handsets when the iPhone 7 is released next year.
Named variously the iPhone 7C, iPhone 6CS and the iPhone 7 Mini, the new device is presumed to offer similar functionality to its larger cousins, including a Touch ID fingerprint scanner and a pressure-sensitive Force Touch screen but in a smaller chassis.
However, Spence says that rather than matching the larger models, the iPhone 7 Mini will most likely be less powerful than the two larger phones.
“The signs are that Apple’s iPhone 7 range of handsets, while covering three distinct screen sizes, will continue to offer poorer performance across the lower dimensions.”
According to Spence, the smaller phone will naturally have a lesser battery capacity given that it is a smaller phone, but it is also likely to have a lower screen resolution, just as the Apple chose to reduce the pixel count on its iPhone 6S as compared with the iPhone 6S Plus.
“Apple loves the idea of ‘triples’ in its portfolio. Traditionally providing a ‘good/better/best’ for new devices,” he adds.
“Currently Apple’s regular smartphone line-up is the iPhone 5S, the iPhone 6, and the iPhone 6S – which is clearly covering good/better/best… The 6S has three [storage] choices with 16GB, 64GB or 128GB on offer.”
Even though an iPhone 7 Mini would “replace the ageing iPhone 5S design, and offer Apple another triple of good/better/best in terms of product lines” the decision to make the four-inch model its lowest spec phone will mean that the new handset is likely to be “a bit rubbish,” Spence concludes.
iPhone 7: is Apple planning to release an ‘iPhone 7 Mini’?
After the release of four larger iPhone models in 2014 and 2015, Apple is rumoured to be working on a smaller “budget” handset for next year.
The iPhone 6 and 6S both have 4.7-inche screens, while the iPhone 6 Plus and 6S Plus are 5.5 inches, much larger than the first generation iPhone, which was just 3.5 inches.
But according to KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple plans to launch a 4-inch model, the same size as the iPhone 5S, in 2016, as there is still demand for a small-sized iPhone.
Gadgets360 says Ming-Chi Kuo, who has an “accurate track record for leaks”, believes Apple will market the handset as a cheaper alternative to the standard iPhone 7.
“The handset is expected to enter mass production in the first half of 2016, and launch alongside next year’s iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus line-up,” says the site.
“As for the specifications, the handset will have full metal casing – unlike the iPhone 5C – and will be powered by A9 SoC [processor], the same chipset that this year’s iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus ship with.”
It might not, however, have 3D Touch, a feature on the iPhone 6S that senses how much pressure you apply to the display, says Gadgets360.
“Kuo has a strong track record that makes him particularly convincing,” saysThe Verge. In the past he has correctly predicted the launch of the 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch iPhones, as well both sizes of the Apple Watch, the new 12-inch MacBook, and absolutely everything about the iPhone 6S. But, “he’s not always right at the right time” they claim – “he didn’t think the 5.5-inch iPhone would arrive until later in 2015”.
When it comes to the iPhone 7, Kuo’s predictions are quite safe and not particularly stirring. According to Mac Rumors, he foresees an upgraded A10 chip for the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, with the Plus model getting 3GB of RAM instead of 2GB to differentiate it as the top-end device. “If Apple does launch a total of three devices next year” contends The Verge, “the iPhone lineup will look oddly similar to Sony’s Xperia trio, although even Sony thinks a 4-inch smartphone is too small for today’s market”.
But the idea of an iPhone Mini has gone down well with some critics. “While the product strategy would be similar to the cheaper iPhone 5c model that Apple introduced in 2013,” says ZDNet‘s Kevin Tofel, “there’s one key difference: the iPhone 5c was the same size as the then-new iPhone 5s.”
“A 4-inch iPhone in 2016, however,” Tofel adds, “would cater to those who want the iOS experience but don’t want it on a handset with a 4.7 or 5.5-inch screen.”
Rumours circulated of a smaller iPhone 6S ahead of Apple’s September 2015 launch, but it never emerged.
Macworld predicted last month that Apple will release a 4.7-inch (called the iPhone 7) and a 5.5-inch model (the iPhone 7 Plus) next year. “If Apple does make another 4-inch iPhone (which, thanks to the success of the larger iPhones, is by no means a certainty),” it said, “then we think it’ll be called something like the iPhone 7 mini.”