Apple to expand reach with new smaller iPhone, enhanced MobileMe

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
After bringing its iPhone 4 to Verizon Wireless, Apple will release iPhone 5 alongside a smaller, cheaper phone this summer, bundled with enhanced MobileMe services.



According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, Apple is planning to expand its phone offerings to "accelerate sales of its smartphones amid growing competition."



The report cited a person who claimed to have seen a prototype device late last fall, describing it as "about half the size of iPhone 4." The new model, harmonizing with a recent report by Bloomberg, is said to be aimed at delivering a low cost phone that costs "about half the price" of today's iPhone 4.



Carriers currently buy iPhone 4 at around $625 and then most offer it to their subscribers starting at $199, with the balance of the cost subsidized against a two year contract. Carriers in some countries sell the device closer to its actual price or unlocked at full price.



The new smaller iPhone is expected to priced cheap enough to be offered by carriers for free with a smaller subsidy, or in the ballpark of $300 unlocked. Rather than being a dumbed down "feature phone," the smaller iPhone is said to simply be "significantly lighter," with a smaller edge-to-edge touch screen.



The new model is also said to offer "voice navigation," without elaborating. This could reference the incorporation of the Siri voice-navigated personal assistance service Apple acquired last year, a likely inclusion in this year's iOS 5.0 release.







Apart from using a smaller screen, it's not clear how Apple could shave off much size and weight off the phone itself without using a smaller battery, which takes up most of the space within the current design of iPhone 4.



This all happened before



Apple pursued a similar strategy after establishing iPod as the dominant high end music player. In 2004, the company released a 4GB Microdrive-based iPod mini aimed at cheaper flash RAM MP3 players; it offered half the capacity of the smallest iPod and was lighter, thinner, cheaper and offered in a series of colors.



Along with the flash-based iPod nano that replaced it two years later, the iPod mini helped Apple to aggressively take over the majority of the MP3 market outside of the more profitable, high end hard drive segment.



Delivering a smaller, cheaper iPhone model would similarly enable Apple to directly take on the larger but less profitable market for lower end phones now being dominated by licensees of Google's Android in the US and China, and Nokia's Symbian and S40 platforms around the world.



Google targeted the low end of the market in an effort to create a large installed base to support its advertising business model. Its licensees have been unable to match the overall profitability of the iPhone, with all of their high end models combined selling in far smaller volume than Apple's iPhone.



Nokia already owns the vast majority of the mobile market, and its share of smartphones is largely made up of simple button phones. It too has both been unable to raise its earnings per phone or to deliver high end phones with the appeal and popularity of iPhone.



The company reports that Microsoft, which it said will be paying it "billions" to help launch new Windows Phone 7 models, is "less-focused" on the "substantial portions" representing the rest of its business, which includes "lower-end handsets aimed at emerging markets, such as India."







iPhone 5



The same source who described Apple's plans for a smaller iPhone said the company's flagship iPhone 4 would also be updated in parallel, without offering specifics. It is expected that iPhone 5 will ship in CDMA and GSM versions, despite being built around a world-mode Qualcomm chip similar or identical to the new CDMA iPhone 4 now being sold by Verizon.



That chip also supports HSPA+ with download speeds of up to 14.4Mpbs, twice as fast as the existing GSM/UMTS iPhone 4. AT&T and other GSM carriers worldwide are already running or in the process of upgrading their existing UMTS networks to support HSPA+, a technology AT&T now refers to as 4G, making it all but certain that AT&T will market iPhone 5 as being a 4G phone.



It has previously been reported that iPhone 5 would also use a new version of Apple's A4 chip, upgraded to incorporate the new generation of dual core Cortex-A9 ARM CPUs and Imagination's dual core SGX543 graphics processor, all running at a slightly faster 1.2GHz.



That same chip is likely to be used across all of Apple's new iOS devices, including iPad 2 later this quarter, and a new iPod touch and possibly Apple TV later this fall. It is likely Apple would also use the new chip in its smaller iPhone, to take advantage of economies of scale to drive the production price down. iPad 2 is also reportedly using faster RAM, something that may also make it into the design of iPhone 5.



MobileMe revamp



The report also noted new efforts by Apple to improve its MobileMe offerings for iPhone users, saying that "Apple is considering making MobileMe a free service that would serve as a 'locker' for personal memorabilia such as photos, music and videos, eliminating the need for devices to carry a lot of memory."



This correlates with an earlier report that indicated Apple would be incorporating a new Photo Stream feature in iOS 4.3, designed to automatically push photos and potentially movies to Apple's cloud servers.



The new service is also expected to incorporate the iTunes cloud services Apple has been working on for years, designed to enable users to access their purchased media over the network as a streaming service.



Both such efforts would minimize the storage required on the phone, enabling Apple to differentiate high end, 16 to 32GB iPhone models from a low cost, smaller iPhone sibling. Reports of a smaller iPhone have been circulating since at least 2008, when a model offering a 2.8 inch screen and weighing about 20 percent less was reported to be in the pipeline.



Instead of offering a smaller version of the iPhone, Apple designed a cheaper version for its second edition 3G model, using a plastic back instead of an aluminum case.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 158
    aaronjaaronj Posts: 1,592member
    I'm sorry, but I don't believe this for a second (re: the smaller phone).
  • Reply 2 of 158
    At 71 with my eyesight going I need an iPhone with a display at least as big as a iPad (9" or so)
  • Reply 3 of 158
    archosarchos Posts: 152member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by EyeNsteinNo View Post


    At 71 with my eyesight going I need an iPhone with a display at least as big as a iPad (9" or so)



    That's why Apple doesn't sell an iPod nano that older people can't see or manipulate, or potentially even hear well.
  • Reply 4 of 158
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by EyeNsteinNo View Post


    At 71 with my eyesight going I need an iPhone with a display at least as big as a iPad (9" or so)



    Technology comes full circle?



  • Reply 5 of 158
    mcarlingmcarling Posts: 1,105member
    If Apple will sell a smaller iPhone and if it will be as low-cost as the article suggests, then it will have to have the 480x320 resolution of the iPhone 3GS, not the 960x640 resolution of the iPhone 4.
  • Reply 6 of 158
    I hope MobileMe will still have a paid service, too. I don?t want ads, lack of support or all the other horrible things that come with a service being free.





    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AaronJ View Post


    I'm sorry, but I don't believe this for a second (re: the smaller phone).



    I can see a market for a different size iPhone like they did with the iPods, but with the integrated systems revolving around the display size going smaller or larger gets difficult. I certainly don?t see a need for a smaller iPhone at this point. The US market aside, are they saturated in other countries at this point?
  • Reply 7 of 158
    If this is real -- awesome. I'd adore a smaller version. I know the iPhone is already one of the slimmest smarts out there, but I still find it bulky in my pocket (in terms of length and width). Even a 20% reduction would be really welcome. I don't think a size cut would hurt the touch screen experience at all. Bring it on! Perhaps a version without a required data plan, too?
  • Reply 8 of 158
    Apple may have prototyped something but it doesn't it will happen.



    I suspect the tested a smaller iPhone and rejected it in exchange for continuing to make an 8gb model. If they do go with some kind of streaming etc, the need for storage will lessen for many making that size more viable. And if they are huge app users they might not care if the phone is one version back. Plus with component prices falling, that lower model could drop to as little as $299 full price. Now if the carriers would cut the device fee out of the plans for bringing in your own phone, we'd have a real winner. Too bad they won't until the lawmakers force them
  • Reply 9 of 158
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Logisticaldron View Post


    I can see a market for a different size iPhone like they did with the iPods, but with the integrated systems revolving around the display size going smaller or larger gets difficult. I certainly don?t see a need for a smaller iPhone at this point. The US market aside, are they saturated in other countries at this point?



    Jobs has commented in relation to other products that Apple will strive to eliminate price umbrellas. I think a less-expensive iPhone is just an extension of this plan with iDevices in general.
  • Reply 10 of 158
    Will it come with a file to whittle down my fingers in order to use it?
  • Reply 11 of 158
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mcarling View Post


    If Apple will sell a smaller iPhone and if it will be as low-cost as the article suggests, then it will have to have the 480x320 resolution of the iPhone 3GS, not the 960x640 resolution of the iPhone 4.



    Agreed. In any case, Nokia Is Doomed(TM)
  • Reply 12 of 158
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by djsherly View Post


    Will it come with a file to whittle down my fingers in order to use it?



    Dammit, beat me to it
  • Reply 13 of 158
    I could see this with maybe a non-retina display at the same size but with almost nothing around the screen. Home button would be replaced with a gesture and the voice control would be much more advanced and also available in the iPhone 5.
  • Reply 14 of 158
    wigginwiggin Posts: 2,237member
    Give me a small sized "feature phone" (iPod music/movies, etc, plus camera, contacts, calendar) with the hot spot for data sharing. Then let me choose the size screen I want by tethering either an iPod touch, iPad, or laptop. Then I can take just the phone with me when that's all I want, or the appropriate additional device for whatever tasks I want to work on.



    I know there will be people whining "but then you have to carry two devices". But one of those devices would be much smaller than the current iPhone, and to me the advantage of having the option of only taking one very small device (if that's all you need) plus the flexibility to choose the screen size of your internet device, all with one data contract, far outweighs the concern of two devices.
  • Reply 15 of 158
    wigginwiggin Posts: 2,237member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by djsherly View Post


    Will it come with a file to whittle down my fingers in order to use it?



    And if it's acceptable to shrink down the iPhone UI and it's still usable, there should be no more arguments about making a smaller sized iPad, either.
  • Reply 16 of 158
    "Carriers currently buy iPhone 4 at around $625 and then most offer it to their subscribers starting at $199, with the balance of the cost subsidized against a two year contract. Carriers in some countries sell the device closer to its actual price or unlocked at full price"



    Daniel,



    This is such crap and you have written it over again. Most offer it for $199USD? bullshit, 2 carriers do. In some countries it costs even more? Well of course but in some countries any iPhone you want is $0 on a 2yr contract.



    For a person who espouses such a liberal and apparently deeply researched, sage like perspective. It is sadly highlighted by such crap that you are also the "media american", unaware there is a world outside your sanfransician cell tower.



    In penance for your narrow article I recommend a week researching ALL the carrier and Apple pricing models for iPhone, globally and writing an article with one of your great tables so as to inform yourself and share that personal growth with everyone.



    How many countries is iPhone in 88, 100+? how many carriers in each 2 or 3? How the F&$! is the pricing of 2 carriers out of 200-300 MOST? The article should read, very few carriers charge anything for an iPhone anyway so it hard to see why they would care for such a model.



    /end of finger pointing grumble
  • Reply 17 of 158
    kevtkevt Posts: 194member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post




    Apart from using a smaller screen, it's not clear how Apple could shave off much size and weight off the phone itself without using a smaller battery, which takes up most of the space within the current design of iPhone 4.




    They would use a smaller battery! They just need to ensure it uses less power. The smaller screen should use less, processor speed would be down a notch or two on the mainstream model. The graphics component of chip need not be half as powerful, as it would in all likelihood be moving 1/4 of the pixels around since the most likely resolution is the same as the 3GS rather than the retina resolution.



    I don't expect it to be that much smaller than the iPhone 4 anyway - just enough to make a difference. Using an on-screen keyboard would become very difficult if it was scaled down much more than the current size.



    imho it would be a great move by Apple, and a much needed one. Android clones will be attacking the market from the bottom up.
  • Reply 18 of 158
    How difficult will it be to type on a smaller keyboard?
  • Reply 19 of 158
    tzeshantzeshan Posts: 1,268member
    The reasons do not make sense. Size is not the only difference distinguishing different iPods. In order to cut cost Apple need to offer less functionality for iPod nano and iPod mini. So the question really is what functionality will Apple cut from a smaller cheaper iPhone? But a smaller phone with less functionality is essentially a feature phone.
  • Reply 20 of 158
    Maybe as suggested directly above this post, it might be a simple phone music player device.
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