Rumors abound in the Apple universe, and one of the latest ones suggests that a new 4-inch iPhone may be coming early next year. KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo released a research note that indicates that a 4-inch iPhone featuring an A9 processor could be on the way from Apple.
I'll share my own thoughts about this below, but here's what Apple Insider had to say about the report:
In a research note obtained by AppleInsider on Tuesday, KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, whose predictions have in the past been accurate, said he expects Apple's upcoming 4-inch iPhone to be functionally similar to a buffed iPhone 5s, the last iPhone model to sport a 4-inch display.
Not much is known about the upgraded 4-inch unit, though Kuo said to expect a metal casing wrapped around the usual assortment of sensors, circuits and processors. As with past low-end offerings, Apple will likely include an A9 SoC, which will be a last-generation component when the handset debuts.
Unfortunately, Kuo anticipates Apple to hold back on building in force-sensing 3D Touch capabilities in an effort to differentiate the 4-incher from its flagship iPhone lineup. An enhanced version of Force Touch, 3D Touch debuted as a tentpole feature on iPhone 6s and 6s Plus in September, granting users access to new UI controls like Peek and Pop previews, Quick Actions and more.
As you might imagine, Ming-Chi Kuo's report caught the attention of Apple redditors and it was clear from their responses that a new 4-inch iPhone would be welcomed by many Apple customers:
Yesbiggie: ”A9 and an even smaller screen? That device will be the smoothest Apple device in history.”
Gotaclod: ”Apple bringing back a smaller iPhone is really enticing me to switch back to iOS next year. IMO bigger screens are for tablets. Phones should be as realistically portable/small as possible. Though, some people really like phones with big screens so idk.”
Poortographer: ”This is very interesting, though we've heard the rumors before. The iPhone 5/5s have such a great form factor for the hand. I'd consider dumping my 6s were this to happen. ”
Blair: ”I agree. I have a 5S because of the perfect size and overall feel.”
Flux8: ”I'd have to agree. After a year with the iPhone 6, I'd gladly go back to a 4" screen if it wasn't gimped compared to the regular and plus phones. I originally thought I'd like the bigger screen for reading more, but I don't really like reading much on anything smaller than my iPad mini. Mostly I text, check email, listen to podcasts/music, and check financial info, all of which I did just fine on my iPhone 5. I do use it for Photos, but again, I'd rather edit on a bigger screen so a 4" screen suffices for previewing.
I gave my iPhone 5 to my parents but everytime I pick it up, I sigh at how much nicer it feels to hold. I think the iPod Touch is just about the ideal form factor for my next iPhone. If they build it, I will buy it.”
D-Back: ”Please let this be true!”
Boones: ”THIS is the phone I want. I don't need a mongo phablet, I need something small and light with great battery life that can sit unobtrusively in my suit jacket. The iPhone 4 was almost perfect for this except for the weight.”
Lill: ”If it also has 2GB or more RAM, I will buy...this. The huge phone trend is horrible. I want a small, robust phone that has top-notch specs and I don't have to worry about it bending in my pocket because it's so damn big.”
971703: ”I can't upvote this enough. it's infuriating that Apple can't make a flagship phone that is 3.5.”
Cronin1024: ”I need this. I've actually spent some time recently trying to figure out if I can get by with an iPod touch instead of an iPhone because I love the smaller size. If this is true I won't have to.”
As you can see from the comments, some folks are very excited at the thought of a new 4-inch iPhone becoming available next year. One user even suggested that Apple release an iPhone with 3.5-inch screen again, though I don't see that as a viable possibility at all.
I love my iPhone 6s but I'd prefer a 4-inch iPhone
I have an iPhone 6s and it really is a terrific phone. The only complaint I have about it is its width and, to a lesser extent, it's weight. I would absolutely love to be able to buy a 4-inch iPhone 6s or iPhone 7. A lighter, smaller phone would fit much better in my hand than the iPhone 6s. As I noted in an earlier post, the iPod touch 6 is a good example of what a 4-inch iPhone might feel like to hold in your hand.
And if you think about it, it makes a lot of sense for Apple to offer three sizes of iPhones. After all, the company has moved to offering three sizes of its iPad tablet. So why not do the same for the iPhone? There are many people out there who want or need a smaller, lighter iPhone instead of one as large as the iPhone 6s or 6s Plus.
A new 4-inch iPhone's technology should not lag behind its bigger siblings
One onion in the ointment about all of this is that it's possible that a new 4-inch iPhone could lag behind its larger siblings in terms of technology. If the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus are updated to A10 processors, more RAM, etc next year then it would be best if the 4-inch iPhone offered similar features.
I don't buy into the idea at all that Apple should create a "bargain" iPhone that is cheaper because it is smaller and contains older technology. The folks that want a new 4-inch iPhone will also want to be on par with the larger iPhones in terms of technology. And why not? There's no reason that a smaller iPhone should be somehow inferior in terms of what it has to offer Apple's customers.
Don't get your hopes up: The new 4-inch iPhone is still just a rumor
One thing to bear in mind about all this though is that this is just a rumor. Analysts can write anything they want, based on whatever sources they want to use. Will it pan out eventually? We're going to have to wait and see. But I will avoid getting my own hopes up too high until there's more evidence - preferably from Apple itself - that a new 4-inch iPhone is on the way.
But it's clear that there really is demand among Apple's customers for such a phone. Many people have held on desperately to their iPhone 4s and 5s models, waiting for an updated smaller iPhone. And if it is released, Apple will no doubt see a big wave of upgrades from those customers.
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