With the release of iPhone SE (2020) featuring a 4.7-inch display and iPhone 8-exact physical dimensions, Apple has ceased making itsy-bitsy iPhones like the original SE, which sported a tiny 4-inch display or the original iPhone’s 3.5-inch microscopic screen (also found in the iPhone 3G and 3GS).
Consumers who were hoping for the return of the 4-inch display, or maybe even a slightly larger display but in the same grip size as the original SE, were likely disappointed by this week’s announcement.
Investor pressure mounted on Apple in recent years to make up for the slowing growth of smartphone sales, and a more expensive phone hasn’t been the company’s only apparent strategy. Another has been to pivot to sell additional products and services to existing customers, ranging from AirPods to the Apple Watch to subscription services like Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, and Apple Music.
Generally, that strategy requires smartphones to be treated as primary media consumption devices—not just for short TikTok videos, but for long binge sessions of Arcade games or TV+ shows… I’ve written before about how aging lithium-ion battery technology is a burden to the modern smartphone. That’s still true now. A significant percentage of the bulk in modern smartphones is dedicated to batteries. The bigger the phone, the bigger the battery, and bigger batteries mean more battery life. This scale still tells the same story even if you account for the added battery drain of larger screens.
Why Apple should keep making small phones anyway: Failure to offer options to address the entire available market has been one of the key factors preventing Apple from achieving majority market share in some of its product categories. Bringing back the original size of the iPhone SE would be one of many ways the company could remedy that.
MacDailyNews Take: Apple doesn’t make products for market share. Apple makes premium products for premium customers at premium prices. When the company follows Steve Jobs way of thinking (which is generally an insanely great way to do things), they are making products to delight customers. There will always be some who clamor for itsy-bitsy iPhones, but if there are not enough customers who’ll be delighted by a product, Apple won’t make it. And that’s why there’s no 4-inch iPhone today.