There are just a few days to go until CES 2015, where we’ll likely see a bunch of new high-end Android handsets announced. Even so, we’re already hearing some rumorsabout Apple’s purported iPhone 6s plans for this year. Specifically, investment companies say Apple’s iPhone 6s family will also include a brand new 4-inch iPhone 6s mini version, targeting consumers looking to purchase smaller iPhones.
Even though there’s nothing confirmed about Apple’s 2015 iPhone 6s plans, it makes plenty of sense to see Apple announce a brand-new 4-inch iPhone this year for people who prefer one-handed smartphone operation above all else.
The main reason to think Apple will take the plunge here is that one of the company’s best marketing tools is the way iOS delivers a similar user experience across devices. The company keeps saying that all its iOS customers update to the latest software version much faster than users of competing mobile operating systems and that most of them have access to the same device features.
But by simply keeping the iPhone 5s in stock next year, that won’t exactly be true. Sure, the 2013 iPhone 5s is still a formidable device, and it’s likely going to offer a great iOS 9 experience, but the device already lacks a major new iOS feature when compared to the iPhone 6 models: Apple Pay, which needs a special internal chip to work. The iPhone 5s has a fingerprint sensor, but lacks NFC connectivity.
Some of those people looking to buy 4-inch iPhones later this year will also be interested in using Apple Pay, which is growing more and more popular in the U.S., and is expected to further expand to other regions of the world this year. And not all of them will want to settle for pairing an Apple Watch to their old iPhone 5s to make it happen.
When comparing the iPhone 5c with the iPhone 5s and iPhone 6 models, things are even bleaker, as the iPhone 5c has a slower processor, less storage, and lacks a fingerprint sensor.
The same argument goes for health and fitness iOS features, as both existing 4-inch iPhones can’t match the iPhone 6 versions when it comes to a certain health-related sensors.
For Apple, both Apple Pay and Health are major iOS features that the company will likely significantly expand in the coming years.
Apple might also want to future-proof its new 4-inch iPhones by including an A9 chip, increasing on-board storage — especially considering the increased storage requirements for iOS — and improving cameras and displays.
Not to mention that 2015 iPhones might also pack additional internal components that aren’t even found on 2014 iPhone 6 versions, let alone older models.
In addition to preventing fragmentation, there’s also one other aspect Apple takes very seriously, and that’s design. Just look at the images above, taken from Apple’s iPhone comparison online page, and you’ll notice there’s a stark difference in design between the iPhone models Apple is currently selling. The iPhone 5c looks like a device that doesn’t even belong in that picture, and Apple might surely want to offer buyers a 4-inch iPhone 6s that’s just as thin, light and round as the bigger versions.
Finally, there’s also revenue to consider. Apple wants to keep making lots of money from iPhone sales, and it surely knows plenty of buyers prefer 4-inch devices and would pay top dollar for smaller iPhones that are as powerful as the bigger models. Unlike with the iPhone phablet though, which Apple waited for years to launch, the company already knows how to make 4-inch iPhones.
While analysts believe a 4-inch iPhone 6s mini would be much cheaper than the iPhone 6 models, that’s probably not going to happen, as Apple has proven more than once that it doesn’t want to chase market share that way.
Thus, the 4-inch iPhone 6s would be slightly less expensive than the 4.7-inch model, but far from being the bargain iPhone some people might be dreaming of. The iPhone 5s will likely become the least expensive new iPhone customers can buy later this year but don’t expect it to to be cheap.