Apple iPhone: Going smaller can be a big move

“I’ve been talking about Apple launching a new smaller screen iPhone for quite a while, and it appears the company will finally launch a new 4-inch smartphone sometime in mid-March,” Bill Maurer writes for Seeking Alpha. “While there seem to be a number of critics regarding this device, I believe the rumored iPhone 5se is a critical part of the company’s smartphone strategy.”

“This new phone is likely to have a massively upgraded chipset, potentially containing the A9 chip used in the 6s line. The phone should contain Apple Pay support, and might even have a larger battery,” Maurer writes. “While the camera might not get a full upgrade to the 6s line equivalent, Apple is likely to advance the camera specs forward to the 6 line, still a decent improvement.”

“With the success of the larger screen phones Apple went to with the iPhone 6 launch, some would wonder why the company is going smaller again. Well, the 5s is still selling, so there is obviously some demand for a smaller phone,” Maurer writes. “Three out of every five people still [have an iPhone] with a smaller screen. While a good percentage of those could buy a larger screen phone, there is demand for a 4-inch screen, and I’ve heard from many consumers who don’t want to go bigger. When you’re talking about a company that sells over 200 million phones annually, even 10-20% wanting a smaller screen equals tens of millions of phones per year.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: It all depends on what the phone offers. Note also, that Piper Jaffray’s Apple analyst Gene Munster does not forese a 4-inch “iPhone 5se” this March, but insted expects a 4-inch “iPhone 7c” in September instead.


    1. I believe that at least two phone sizes were always part of the strategy.

      However, when the competition went super large, Apple shifted phones larger, but never intended to leave the 4in behind. It simply wasn’t worthwhile to have three sizes for market confusion.

  1. This makes zero sense to me. The 5s is still around only because it fills the need for people who want an iPhone but don’t want to afford the newest version, it’s not because they want a smaller display.

    The 6s is the ergonomic sweet spot, as far as I’m concerned, it’s the perfect pocketable smartphone. A 4 inch display is too small for serious smartphone activity in today’s world. If Apple came out with a state-of-the-art 4 inch phone, they aren’t going to sell it at cheapo prices, and so it would only appeal to a relative handful of people.

    1. For me, a dump truck is the ergonomic sweet spot. It is the perfect motor vehicle. It meets all my needs, so it must be the best for everyone. It is ideal for hauling tons of rocks. Why else would anyone want a vehicle?

      Automobiles are still around only because some people prefer something cheap. It’s not because they want a smaller vehicle. Cars are far too small for actual use in today’s world. If Chevy or Ford came out with a state of the art automobile, it would only appeal to a relative handful of people.

  2. Consider what was published in MDN earlier in the week (I think) from Tim Cook’s recent talk.

    Most of Apple’s growth in iPhone sales was coming from China as I remember it.

    Thus there could easily be a market for a lower cost iPhone in volume numbers in China that dwarfs what it will sell in the US. Then we get to India where Apple is just starting to set up stores. There are very few iPhones in India right now.

    Apple has a much broader view of “sales” than most people realize.

    1. Absolutely the World doesn’t revolve around a thousand mile radius of Silicon Valley. What suits one market may not suit another and there are two very large regional markets that aren’t the Americas that account for more than half its sales.

      Not that I get the (reportedly) proposed naming convention a ‘5’ badged phone will always be perceived as an ‘old’ phone yet its costs are increased by the process, no matter what the actual specs. They seem to be trying to get the best of both worlds by appealing to one (smaller cheaper) market without threatening the latest phone’s market, while more likely getting the worst if they aren’t careful with that sort of thinking.

  3. is likely to have
    should contain
    might even have
    might not get a full upgrade
    is likely to advance

    Wow, thanks for that so worthwhile piece of hedging. You should run for office, Bill.

  4. Gene is not the first or only one who called that…
    I have been a major proponent of 3 phone size lineup And that they should all be part of the main line with similar form factor..from the get go !… So have a few others here and other forums.. . (And we all have been rudely attacked for the suggestion)

    Gene was actually late to the game..

    Same with all the software issues that are getting noticed by many now… Those of us pointing to them were considered these ignorants who did not know what we were talking about …..

    I have said it before many times i will say it again..
    Being a Blind Apple Worshiper does way more harm to apple than any good one may think it offers.
    Promotes mediocracy and complacency …
    Yet fans cheer for that.
    I hope the Dissarray of 2015 has made most wake up and smell the coffee!

  5. Maybe Apple is treating itself like a fashion company and changing its products just to keep unit sales moving.
    In this case, the one-piece full coverage swimsuits that were all the rage the last 2 years (i.e. The iPhone 6 range) are giving way to the sleek and sexy lines offered by the two-piece bikini (i.e. The rumored small screen device).

    1. It isn’t about using fashion or gimmicks to drive demand; it’s still all about size preference. Apple has sold the pre-existing smaller phones all along with the last two generations of giant phones — but the tech in them is falling behind, so: time for a refresh.

      By the way it is the one piece sporty look that’s trending now. Fuller coverage works better for non-mannequin women poolside.

  6. Good move in my books. Let’s face it the iP 5 (which I had) was and is a sweeter looking piece of kit and better sized *phone* than the ungainly iP 6 (which I have) or the “go home, you’re drunk” iP 6+. Also, I think it’s strategically aimed at the emerging India market and to further expand the market in China.

    1. The 6+ is perfect for me, but I understand people who want a smaller phone. The problem I see is less about size than price. Most markets are unsubsidized so a new 6s 16Gb costs $800+, while a years old 5s is still $450 new. Apple needs an emerging markets/post-communist-society iPhone that more people can afford. $299 would be a sweet spot.

  7. I disagree a bit with MDN’s take. But only a little.

    I have been waiting a long time to upgrade my 4S. I’m not going to a 5S because I am holding out for the next Gen.

    My 4S is slow. I just need a better battery and a faster processor on a “smaller than the IPhone 6 screen”

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