Why Apple still needs a 4-inch iPhone

The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are great, but Apple still needs a smaller iPhone

When Apple released the iPhone 6 and 6 plus, many people were overjoyed that they could finally get a bigger iPhone. Some iPhone users had waited years for a bigger screen, so it's understandable that they would be so excited over the larger iPhones.

But there's another group of iPhone users that weren't very happy when they found out that the iPhone 6 only came in 4.7 and 5.5 inch versions: the folks that prefer a 4-inch iPhone screen. Yes, there really are folks out there who like smaller screens on their smartphones.

I spent some time thinking about the needs of these users, and came up with five reasons why Apple should make a new 4-inch iPhone:

1. Some people use the iPhone mainly as a phone - I suspect that there's one big difference between those who prefer smaller phones, and those who prefer larger ones. I think that the folks who want smaller phones probably use them more as phones and less as portable computers. This is a different mindset from the users who like larger screen phones and use them as computers more than they do phones.

This would explain why some users simply don't care about having a larger screen. Their phone is just that, a phone. Whatever computing tasks it does are very much secondary to that single, primary function. So it's quite understandable that they would be frustrated by Apple not offering a 4-inch version of the iPhone 6.

2. Very small hands can more easily hold a 4-inch iPhone - Some people have smaller hands that make using an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus significantly more difficult than the iPhone 5S, for example. For these users the larger screen iPhones are more of a headache and frustration than anything else.

They have to continually wrestle with a larger screen iPhone and can't seem to get a comfortable grip on it. And it doesn't matter to the folks with very small hands if they are using two hands or one. The bigger iPhones just don't seem to fit their hands well enough to use comfortably each day.

3. A 4-inch iPhone would be significantly lighter - In addition to size, weight can also be a reason for people to prefer smaller phones. The bigger the phone, the heavier it is going to be and that can make it annoying or cumbersome for some people to carry around with them each day. A new 4-inch version of the iPhone would be a big help for the folks that prefer a lighter smartphone.

4. The pocketability of a 4-inch iPhone would be better - Another reason that some people would like a 4-inch iPhone is the ease of pocketing the phone. The iPhone 6 (and 6 Plus especially) can be a bit harder to stick in a shirt or pants pocket than the iPhone 5S. Being able to easily and comfortably carry a phone in a pocket is very important to some users, and it's something that Apple should certainly take into consideration.

5. One-handed use is much easier on a 4-inch iPhone - The ability to comfortably and easily use a phone one-handed is very important to some users. The iPhone 6 isn't too bad in that regard, but the iPhone 6 Plus is really beyond the ability of a lot of folks to use one-handed. And that's where a 4-inch iPhone comes in handy. It's the absolute best option for one-handed use for many people, and it's one of the biggest reasons why Apple should make such a smaller phone.

Is Apple really going to make a new 4-inch iPhone?

It's very unclear right now if Apple is preparing to make a new 4-inch iPhone. The media has been rife with rumors about an iPhone 6C. But there is no conclusive proof that Apple is working on one, so take all of the rumors you see with a huge grain of salt.

While my own preference is for the iPhone 6 Plus these days, I actually think it's a good idea for Apple to release a new 4-inch iPhone. I believe that there is a sizable niche of iPhone users who long for such a device, and some iPhone 5S users may have held off buying the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus because they simply don't want a larger screen.

A 4-inch iPhone should match the tech specs of its larger siblings

One problem with the rumors about a 4-inch iPhone 6C is that some indicate that it may not have the same tech specs as its larger siblings. I think that would be a very bad idea on Apple's part if they release such a phone. Some folks who want smaller phones do not want a less capable version of the iPhone. They want and should get the same processor, RAM and other technical features of the larger iPhones.

I can also understand the view that a smaller iPhone could be a budget entry into the iOS ecosystem, but Apple already has the iPod Touch for that need. A 4-inch iPhone that is crippled by lesser hardware is just going to make Apple look bad, and runs the risk of angering users who want such a phone.

A new 4-inch iPhone should also be available with the same aluminum case as the larger iPhones. Yes, it's fine for Apple to release one with a plastic case, but not everybody wants to walk around with a plastic iPhone. So Apple needs to offer a 4-inch phone with the same case design as the larger iPhones, as well as a plastic version.

Stay tuned to see if Apple releases a new 4-inch iPhone

Rumors aside, I think we're just going to have to wait and see if Apple releases a new 4-inch iPhone. I have faith in the company, however. Apple tends to have a pretty good idea about what its customers want and need, and the iPhone is its single most important product right now.

So I suspect that Tim Cook and his team of executives have already considered the question of a 4-inch iPhone, and have probably taken steps to deliver one. This is just a guess on my part, I have no inside knowlege about Apple's plans. But Cook has proven to be an amazingly canny CEO and I doubt he'd ignore the segment of the smartphone market that prefers a smaller phone.

And having a new 4-inch iPhone would also plug one of the holes in Apple's smartphone lineup. It would give Apple three sizes: The iPhone mini (4-inch screen), the iPhone (4.7-inch screen), and the iPhone Plus (5.5-inch screen). That would make sure that all of Apple's customers can get the size phone that they want and need.

I'll leave you with this neat 4-inch iPhone concept video by Set Solution. It's a hypothetical ad for a new 4-inch iPhone that they dubbed the "iPhone Air." It shows what might come to pass if Apple decides to release one:

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Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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