In a world where smartphones only seem to get bigger, Apple has allegedly decided to go against the grain by reintroducing their compact 4-inch iPhone during an event on March 21. Not only is it rumored that Apple will release a new 4-inch iPhone, but a smaller 9.7-inch iPad Pro is said to make an appearance as well. Everything about this event is small, but hoping that it will do big things for Apple.
The 9.7-inch iPad Pro, assuming that it does indeed make an appearance, probably isn’t as big of a surprise. The real surprise came last year when Apple announced the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, increasing the screen significantly from the iPad’s normal 9.7-inch size. While the iPad Pro was no failure despite declining tablet sales (across the board, not just with Apple) there’s no real reason not to bring the other two headlining features of the iPad Pro – the Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard accessories – to smaller iPad variants. And although there have been no talks of either the Smart Keyboard or the Apple Pencil coming to the popular iPad Mini, it wouldn’t surprise me if that eventually came to fruition.
What most people seem to be most excited for is the return of the 4-inch iPhone, which has been dubbed “iPhone 5SE” or most recently “iPhone SE”, so as not to confuse people with older iPhone models. What remains to be seen is whether this excitement will be met with an actual renewed interest in modestly sized phones, or the sad realization that, much like BlackBerry phones, smaller screens are better left to nostalgia.
So with that, I have two theories on how this will play out. It will either go very well for Apple, because rumors say that this won’t be some half-hearted effort just to bring back small phones - which is what many “mini” or “compact” flagship variants ended up being; alternatively, it might just become apparent that leaving a larger screen is harder than it looks.
I’ll admit that recently I’ve started to realize the benefit of having a larger screen. After testing out the Galaxy Note 5 for 3 weeks or so, it became apparent that my “need” for one-handed usability wasn’t as dire as I had originally thought. Still important, but not impossible to live without. Adjusting to life with a 4.7-inch display once I returned to my iPhone 6 was also weird, but not impossible. A couple of days into it and I no longer really noticed.
Apple is diving into an aspect of the industry which most smartphone manufacturers – Apple themselves included – have all but abandoned. Even the non-flagship smartphones feature primarily 4.7-inch to 5-inch plus displays, so it really is an untapped market for the most part, especially since the smaller iPhone is said to share many of the same specs as the iPhone 6S. And while one could easily argue that Sony has already beaten Apple to the punch with a compact device with good specs, availability and marketing have proven to be an issue in gaining the Xperia Z Compact much traction here in the U.S. Both of these problems will be non-issues for Apple.
This event is said to be minor in comparison to Apple’s event later in the year where we expect to see the iPhone 7 make an appearance, but I still think it will be a big one for Apple as small devices were once a very prominent reason for people sticking with the iPhone in the first place.
Readers, what are your thoughts surrounding Apple’s upcoming event? Are you excited for the alleged return of a smaller iPhone, or do you think that Apple’s 4-inch iPhone will end up like BlackBerry’s physical keyboard design? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!