Five reasons Apple won’t make any more 4-inch iPhones

“Apple leaks follow a familiar pattern,” Gordon Kelly writes for Forbes. “The true ones are quickly backed up by additional leaks and circumstantial evidence. The false ones are met with stony silence and fade away and the concerning thing is this has so far been the response to reports last week that Apple will make a 4-inch iPhone 6.”

“To many, myself included, Apple not making a 4-inch iPhone 6 (perhaps ‘iPhone 6 mini’ or ‘iPhone 6C’) is madness,” Kelly writes. “[However] while vocal, those still desperate for a 4-inch iPhone 6 may be in a smaller minority than they imagine. Data from analyst IDC in September found growth in the ‘phablet’ market (which it defines as 5.5-inch to sub-7-inch devices) is going to increase by 209% by the end of year. By comparison growth in regular smartphones will have grown just 12.8%. This will go on for some time as well as growth rates for phablets is still expected to be more than 5x that of smaller smartphones (16.6% vs 3.2%) by the end of 2018.”

“What drives this growth in big screen phones is changing usage. In short: smartphones are no longer primarily used as phones,” Kelly writes. “In fact some may argue they never were (smartphones tend to be small computers that just happen to make phone calls).”

MacDailyNews Take: Yup:

Apple’s “iPhone” isn’t really a phone at all. It’s really a small touchscreen Mac OS X computer, a Mac nano tablet, if you will. Here’s how misnamed the iPhone is: Some people are complaining that Jobs didn’t spend enough time on the Mac in his keynote! Folks, iPhone is not only a Mac, it’s the most radical new Mac in years!… It’s really a pocket Mac. It has email, SMS, full-featured Web browsing, and much more. But, beyond that, it is a platform that’s just sitting there waiting for Apple to sell software for it. Just imagine games with the large multi-touch display and the built-in accelerometer!SteveJack, MacDailyNews, January 9, 2007

“As such if your phone is no longer predominantly a phone, it doesn’t need to be phone sized. Media consumption is most enhanced through a larger screen (which also drives purchases of more apps, video, music, etc) so smaller screens are marginalised,” Kelly writes. “Apple is a business. Industry data says that for the majority bigger is better and it is also where market momentum will lie for the next 3-4 years.”

Much more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote last Friday:

In general, the only people who still think they want a 4-inch iPhone are those who do not yet own a 4.7-inch iPhone 6 or 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus.

After iPhone 5s and 5c go the way of the dodo, the 4.7-inch display should, and likely will, be Apple’s smallest iPhone display going forward.

Related articles:
Apple rumored to be working on new 4-inch iPhone model – December 5, 2014

48 Comments

  1. I know many people who love the 4″ phone and will not upgrade to the larger phones…..

    Some people use there devise for its phone capability only… and for that the 5 is a fantastic instrument.

    1. And for that the 6 is also a fantastic instrument as well. If all they want is a phone maybe they should consider having their nursing home install a corded rotary phone.

      1. Ah, so Apple should now ignore the small form factor just like they ignored the large form factor?

        This arguing over iPhone smaller size seems all to familiar.

        Oh yea, personal preference.
        Maybe Apple should release the next iPhone lineup with the three sizes but equal specs and see what happens for that sales cycle. Then the following year they will truly know if that segment of sales is worthwhile.

    2. I agree with your point. I actually prefer the 3.5 ” screen size. I know that many adore their new iPhone 6 and 6+, and I really don’t want to rain on their parade. I know it’s all about preference. I pre-ordered the iPhone 6 returned it three days later.

      I’ve had an iPhone since day one. I pre-ordered the iPhone 6 (to be clear, not the iPhone 6+). I had been using the 5 over the past two years. When I got the 6, I immediately felt it was too big for me. The width of the phone was the first and main thing that I noticed with the iPhone 6. It sat in my hand differently, and I had to place more effort to grasp it. My thumb had less dexterity and could accomplish much less.

      My stature is pretty average. I use my hands a lot. My work requires me to use many hand tools, and I’m often climbing ladders and rigs. On the piano, I can play an octave with ease with one hand. Most of my usage on the iPhone is one-handed. I used The iPhone 6 three days, then returned it. Ergonomically, it didn’t feel right for me. It was too much effort. I don’t like the bigger size. I can be on my iPhone for hours a day, and even the simple task of holding the iPhone 6 up to my ear felt really strange. I ended up getting an iPhone 5s.

      It really disappointed me that I wouldn’t have the latest hardware, especially since it had been two years. I don’t remember being so excited watching the keynote, and then being so disappointed after feeling the new device my hands. Using prior iPhone models had been an elegant experience for me, and I was really looking forward to using Apple Pay. I think people are going to accidentally drop the newer iPhones more and more.

      The build of the iPhone 5 Series is way better than the iPhone 6 Series, in my opinion. I hate to say it, but the iPhone 6 kind of feels and looks like a step back to the iPhone 3G Series – kind of cheap. Being so bummed about it that weekend, I realize how important the iPhone is to me, and how much I use it. I read a lot on my phone and it’s providing me a medium that allows me to gain more and more knowledge with ease, and it’s empowering my life. There’s no way that I will ever buy an Android phone, and I don’t see myself buying a Microsoft phone either. The choice for me then became getting the latest Apple hardware and not using it as much versus getting a one year old device that I know I will be using for hours each day.

      I think Apple should offer three sizes. Give people the choice. I don’t mind that they offer a 4.7″ screen and a 5.5″ screen, but I think Apple really need to return to its roots and offer a 3.5″ screen. The 4″ screen of the 5 Series is tolerable for me, but the 4.7″ screen of the 6 is too big, and I never considered getting the 6 Plus. Further, in making a 3.5″ screen phone, Apple would possibly be able to benefit from prolonging the usefulness of manufacturing machinery that it already has paid for.

      Now, I may be wrong, but I think a vocal minority has really pushed for a bigger phone in general. I think a smaller iPhone released simultaneously with larger models would sell more units.

      1. Have you looked at the sales figures for the 6/6+?
        Do you honestly think the size is driven by a ‘vocal minority’?
        Apple are shifting every one they can get into the shops; I went into my network shop on Saturday to have a chat about upgrading to a 6/6+, and they had two 6+ available, one a 128Gb version.
        Which I walked out with.

    3. The problem with introducing a new, smaller iPhone along with the successors to the 6/Plus is the price point. $199 on contract has been the entry price for the new generation. I don’t see Apple introducing a new 4″ iPhone at $99 next year, but just pricing it at $199 and bumping up the new 4.7″ iPhone to $299 would piss off a lot of people.

      And a hypothetical new 4″ iPhone *must* have newer stuff than the 5s, at the very least it needs NFC for Apple Pay.

      So while it makes sense for consumers to have the choice of a new 4″ model, I think Apple’s pricing model makes it very unlikely we’ll get one.

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        2. Those who truly want something smaller than an iPhone 6 won’t be too price-sensitve.

          For people outside of the US, NFC is useless.

          The main reason I actually need a new iPhone is that iOS and its apps are getting slower with every revision.
          App-developers make their apps fatter and fatter, without providing improved usability.

          I don’t need a HD screen to check the weather, check a few emails and read a few web-pages.

          1. Umm, NFC outside of the US is by now much more widely adopted, actually. Now it would be very cool if Apple can implement Apple Pay outside of the US… I’m sure that is their goal, at least!

    4. The 6/6+ are also fantastic instruments phone-wise, although some people might be reluctant to hold such a large device to their head.
      Fortunately Apple provide a very neat solution, that actually comes packed with each phone, and most owners actually use on a regular basis.
      It’s called a ‘headphone’, and while it might be considered a novel concept using the microphone built into the remote to talk to people, it’s perfectly possible to carry on a conversation on such a large phone by using this neat, unobtrusive feature.
      You should try it some time, see how you get on…

  2. Bollox! I’d buy a (new lightweight Apple) 3.5″ any day, as a PHONE. I’ve used the monster phones for some months (S5, Note and, albeit briefly, the much lovelier iP6+) and they’re really crappy mobile phones, even if they’re better for everything else. There’d be a big market (maybe 15% of the total) if they wanted it (which is another matter).

  3. The 4 inch phone sucked because of the 16:9 ratio. It was too long and skinny. If Apple kept it 3:2 and made it, say, 4.3 inches, then we’d have something viable.

    However if the choice is between the too-skinny iPhone 5 screen and the larger but slightly less comfortable 4.7 inch iPhone 6, there’s no doubt that the iPhone 6 is the better option as the smallest model.

    I question why they switched to 16:9 but it is what it is.

  4. Sorry, but I know a number of people who MUCH prefer the 4″ size (I’m not one of them, but hey, they have a right). It seems to me that Apple SHOULD make a 4″ iPhone 6. Why leave money on the table? What’s wrong with giving people a choice? It should include NFC and TouchID so that they can finally retire the thicker, heavier 5/5s/5C (not to mention the 4s)…

    1. Oh, and BTW, a iPhone 6 mini will be cheaper- letting the cost conscious enter the iOS ecosystem for even less money.

      I say choice is a good thing (and likely quite profitable at that!)

  5. MDN may be right. With my iP5s, I find myself adopting the John Malkovich posture, holding the iPhone away from my face and using the speaker, or plugging in the EarPods for a more private, or quieter conversation. And FaceTime is certainly not a telephone-like experience.

    But there are tradeoffs. The iP5s is a bit small to be comfortable reading for long periods and too small for some types of work, although not impossible. But it is always with me and all that functionality is always present.

    Anything much larger (I haven’t tried the iP6/+ yet) is not going to be comfortable or convenient to carry all the time. It will become part of the problem rather than part of the solution (baggy pants with big pockets? murse? loose inside the car?)

    1. I’ve been carrying my 6+ in my pocket since Saturday, both in my jeans, and my Danish Army combats, which have huge, deep pockets, and the only issue is if I sit for any length of time with the phone in my jeans front pocket, when it can get a wee bit uncomfortable.
      Walking around though, it’s no issue, the phone isn’t that heavy, in fact it’s probably not much heavier than my old iP4, which is pretty weighty with the steel frame.
      About the only issue I do have is the damn thing is so smooth I’m afraid I’ll drop it, so an Otterbox case is in its very near future.

      1. Ditto the smooth factor. Even the iP5 is very smooth and the rounded edges of the 6/+ are bound to compound the problem. I have found that the Apple leather case is adds enough grippiness to ensure a good grasp. No need to go full Otterbox, but I lead a pretty tame life.

  6. It’s funny to see this opinion from the same folks who swore up and down that Apple would never release a ‘phablet’ sized phones like the other manufacturers are doing because they realize that 4″ is the maximum an iPhone should be…. now it’s Apple will never make a 4″ phone again. Meh, I guess you gotta get clicks somehow but be consistent at least sheesh.

    1. Agree 100%. I do not know how many times I was criticised and called all sorts of things for championing larger phones. Some people here have very short memories or are unbelievably hypercritical

  7. They will definitely make a 3.5″/4″ iPhone, I predict one next year.. I don’t think they are that stupid but they have been making too many bad moves in the last couple of years, its just that none of the competitors are latching on to Apples mistake to slingshot to the top.
    If there is someone thinking straight at apple (Phil Schiller is one) an iPhone mini 3.5″/4″ screen will be released next year.

  8. As an owner of an iPhone 4s I love the small form factor.

    I can hold the phone and use it with one thumb.

    I believe there’s a big market for a small phone, I don’t really want a big phone as I use my iPhone 4s as exactly that – a phone and tiny commutation device.

    I have my iPad Air for everything else.

    If apple made a 4″ iPhone that would really make them standout from the crowd of massive phones.

    They would own the market and the apple brand would standout even more.

    IF I was to get a new iPhone it would be the 6 not 6 plus, even that though is too big.

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