Rumor: Apple considering return to 4-inch form factor in 2015 with 'iPhone 6s mini'

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited May 2015
Though Apple moved on from the 4-inch screen size this year with the launch of the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus, the company may return to that form factor next year with a new low-end handset, a new report claims.




Analyst Timothy Arcuri of Cowen and Company issued a note to investors this week claiming that Apple has been working on a new 4-inch iPhone model that could debut in 2015. A copy of the note was provided to AppleInsider.

According to Arcuri, it's "possible" that Apple could launch three new versions of the iPhone next year, with a so-called "iPhone 6s mini" at 4 inches joining the current-generation screen sizes.

The analyst said his sources suggest the specifications of the 4-inch model could be similar to last year's iPhone 5s. But the device may feature a new design with curved screen edges, much like the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

Arcuri's recent track record on Apple rumors is mixed. He did correctly reveal a number of details about the iPhone 6 back in January of 2014, but he also incorrectly claimed the iPhone 6 Plus would have a more powerful processor than the iPhone 6.

If his latest claims prove true, the new 4-inch device could be a replacement for the iPhone 5c, which currently occupies the low end of Apple's smartphone lineup. According to Arcuri, the new 4-inch "iPhone 6s mini" may include "purpose-built low cost components" from Qualcomm to keep the price down.




For years, Apple touted its smaller screen sizes as an advantage over competitors, as the 4-inch form factor allowed users to operate the device easily with one hand. But with consumers showing a preference for larger displays, Apple made the change this year to larger screens, and included a new "Reachability" feature to aid in one-handed use.

And while the iPhone 6 and its jumbo-sized brethren, the iPhone 6 Plus, have been well received by consumers, some have still expressed displeasure with the larger form factor. Arcuri's claims suggest Apple may be toying with continuing to offer new iPhone models with a 4-inch display, although without the latest and fastest internal components.

Beyond the 2015 iPhone lineup, Arcuri also said this week that his supply chain checks suggest Apple is on track to launch a larger 12.9-inch iPad model in the spring. He expects the larger iPad will "reinvigorate" the product category, and has forecast initial shipments of 15 million to 20 million units.

Cowen and Company has maintained its "outperform" rating for AAPL stock, with a price target of $113.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 244
    I'll order an updated 4" iPhone on day one. The bigger screen is unnecessary for me.
  • Reply 2 of 244
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,443member
    Hell yes.
  • Reply 3 of 244
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 17,078member
    Totally idiotic prediction. They won't be "returning" to anything. They might keep a revamped 5s/c/whatever around with a new name.
  • Reply 4 of 244

    You mean that not everyone wants a 17" laptop?

     

    I guess Apple learned from the mistake of introducing Air computers with smaller screens.

    Almost know one buys those things.  ;)

  • Reply 5 of 244
    gustavgustav Posts: 824member
    I really dislike the notion that smaller screen phones are, or should be, "low end." It's Apple's obsession with thin that makes it difficult to make a premium phone with a smaller screen. The fact is, I would happily purchase this theoretical 6s if it was performant and had good battery life. And they could likely do it, if they made it as think as an iPhone 4 or 4s.
  • Reply 6 of 244

    If Apple releases a new 4" device, it won't be a low-cost iPhone. It'll be cheaper but not cheap.

  • Reply 7 of 244
    asciiascii Posts: 5,941member

    So every year when they update the iPhone they will have 3 sizes that they update? And same for the iPad. Should be doable as long as they share a lot of internal components.

  • Reply 8 of 244
    bobschlobbobschlob Posts: 1,074member

    Yeah, if they do that, that will then be my phone.

  • Reply 9 of 244
    tundraboytundraboy Posts: 1,624member

    I hope this 4" 6s mini has the same processor and storage options as its larger brethren. And is Apple Pay capable.

  • Reply 10 of 244
    mcarlingmcarling Posts: 1,106member

    I would buy one.  I normally buy a new iPhone every year, but I passed on the iPhone 6 because it's too big.

  • Reply 11 of 244
    bobschlobbobschlob Posts: 1,074member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SDW2001 View Post



    Totally idiotic prediction. They won't be "returning" to anything. They might keep a revamped 5s/c/whatever around with a new name.

    ??? Are you just saying they won't build a new case?

    I mean, the "return" mentioned in the article refers to a particular size of screen.

  • Reply 12 of 244

    Ok, so Apple is going to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in a new design that has the same features as an existing design but is a little smaller? Makes no sense to me.

     

    Apple fills lower cost niches by continuing to manufacture their older models. Take the 5c. It was touted by pundits as being Apple's low-cost phone. When it came out, everyone was shocked at how expensive it was.

     

    People don't understand how much money Apple spends on the manufacturing facilities to build a new model phone. The economics for any new model don't support a low-cost product (at Apple margins) until after the first year or two of production, when they have gotten a return on the investment in manufacturing fixed costs.

     

    The 5c is and always was planned to be Apple's low-cost product and they will keep producing it until it stops selling. If they do anything, they may refresh this same model with a spec bump (minor changes to facility, tooling etc) because it is a good entry-level phone. They are happy to sell it by the millions as long as it doesn't cut into iPhone 6 sales. Kind of reminds me of the white 13" Macbook that continued to sell at reduced prices after the 13" Macbook Pros came out.

     

    The draw of the iPhone is not just the hardware, it is iOS. The next iOS might require a spec bump just to run well on the 5c so we might see a processor upgrade, but if it runs the new OS well, there will be no change in either the 5c or 5s. Maybe Apple Pay in the 5s.

     

    Or so I predict.

  • Reply 13 of 244
    ecatsecats Posts: 272member
    Since Apple still sell 4" iPhones, it won't be surprising if they keep a 4" model in the lineup. Indeed since they use older/lower spec'd models to service the lower-priced tiers, it's almost a certainty that they will continue to do so despite moving to larger screens on the top end of the range.
  • Reply 14 of 244
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 17,078member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by BobSchlob View Post

     

    ??? Are you just saying they won't build a new case?

    I mean, the "return" mentioned in the article refers to a particular size of screen.


     

    No.  I'm saying that it's not "returning" to anything.  They are still selling the 5c and 5s.  They'll basically just update one of those and offer it with a new name.  

  • Reply 15 of 244
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,718member
    It'll just be an upgraded 5C if anything. Move along.
  • Reply 16 of 244
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 17,078member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Saldog View Post

     

    Ok, so Apple is going to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in a new design that has the same features as an existing design but is a little smaller? Makes no sense to me.

     

    Apple fills lower cost niches by continuing to manufacture their older models. Take the 5c. It was touted by pundits as being Apple's low-cost phone. When it came out, everyone was shocked at how expensive it was.

     

    People don't understand how much money Apple spends on the manufacturing facilities to build a new model phone. The economics for any new model don't support a low-cost product (at Apple margins) until after the first year or two of production, when they have gotten a return on the investment in manufacturing fixed costs.

     

    The 5c is and always was planned to be Apple's low-cost product and they will keep producing it until it stops selling. If they do anything, they may refresh this same model with a spec bump (minor changes to facility, tooling etc) because it is a good entry-level phone. They are happy to sell it by the millions as long as it doesn't cut into iPhone 6 sales. Kind of reminds me of the white 13" Macbook that continued to sell at reduced prices after the 13" Macbook Pros came out.

     

    The draw of the iPhone is not just the hardware, it is iOS. The next iOS might require a spec bump just to run well on the 5c so we might see a processor upgrade, but if it runs the new OS well, there will be no change in either the 5c or 5s. Maybe Apple Pay in the 5s.

     

    Or so I predict.


     

    EXACTLY what I'm saying.  They are not going to introduce a "new" 4" model.  They will just update and rename what they have.  

  • Reply 17 of 244
    i havew mixed feelings about this post/rumor.
    Pleased to hear apple isnt abandoning phone-sized phones.
    Disappointed to hear they would be low end.

    a perfect phone for me (and i am sure many others included) would be the dimensions of the 4 with the build/body of the 5 with all the premium features and a battery that would actually last a day! shrinking the upper bezel would allow a bigger screen in the smaller frame. but i honestly dont need or want a screen any bigger than my 5S and hell, my old ipod touch is a much more single-hand friendly device and i have lg hands. if they used a "thicker" body like the 5's (which is still very thin), it would leave plenty of room for a better battery and no protruding camera.
  • Reply 18 of 244
    I wanna see the 17" Macbook Pros brought back!
  • Reply 19 of 244
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,452member
    ascii wrote: »
    So every year when they update the iPhone they will have 3 sizes that they update?
    Yes. I've been saying this since day one.

    FREE -- 5S will be transplanted into the 5C plastic case (the 5C was engineered for this)
    $99 -- 6 mini (introduced in the same mid-tier as the 5C originally)
    $199 -- 6S
    $299 -- 6Plus

    I don't expect the "mini" to be significantly more than the current 6 capability-wise. It's not necessary, as the 5S is still selling well. Screen size is enough to set the tiers apart, but it may well have other limitations compared to the 6S, just as the current 6 doesn't have all of the features of the 6 Plus. Likewise, I don't necessarily see the 6 Plus getting a huge update compared to the 6S -- it just isn't necessary. Compared to the Android offerings, the current Plus gives Samsung plenty to catch up to.

    So when the 7 debuts, it sort of makes sense to design 3 sizes at different price points, all using the same components, and overall designs. The free phone can always be last year's 4" phone thus never competing with the higher end phones, assuming this trend in larger phones continues indefinitely. So when the 7 debuts, the 6 mini becomes the new free phone, while a new 7 mini takes its place in the $100 tier. Perhaps the FREE phone starts sharing the same design with the iPod Touch?
  • Reply 20 of 244
    bobschlobbobschlob Posts: 1,074member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SDW2001 View Post

     
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Saldog View Post

     

    Ok, so Apple is going to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in a new design that has the same features as an existing design but is a little smaller? Makes no sense to me.

     

    Apple fills lower cost niches by continuing to manufacture their older models. Take the 5c. It was touted by pundits as being Apple's low-cost phone. When it came out, everyone was shocked at how expensive it was.

     

    People don't understand how much money Apple spends on the manufacturing facilities to build a new model phone. The economics for any new model don't support a low-cost product (at Apple margins) until after the first year or two of production, when they have gotten a return on the investment in manufacturing fixed costs.

     

    The 5c is and always was planned to be Apple's low-cost product and they will keep producing it until it stops selling. If they do anything, they may refresh this same model with a spec bump (minor changes to facility, tooling etc) because it is a good entry-level phone. They are happy to sell it by the millions as long as it doesn't cut into iPhone 6 sales. Kind of reminds me of the white 13" Macbook that continued to sell at reduced prices after the 13" Macbook Pros came out.

     

    The draw of the iPhone is not just the hardware, it is iOS. The next iOS might require a spec bump just to run well on the 5c so we might see a processor upgrade, but if it runs the new OS well, there will be no change in either the 5c or 5s. Maybe Apple Pay in the 5s.

     

    Or so I predict.


     

    EXACTLY what I'm saying.  They are not going to introduce a "new" 4" model.  They will just update and rename what they have.  


    I still don't get it. Are you saying any new phone that has any single same component that a previous model had is, therefor, not a new phone?

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