I’m not holding my breath for an ‘iPhone mini’

In a note to clients — as noted by AppleInsider — KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is predicting a 4-inch Apple smartphone will be unveiled in 2015. However, I’m dubious we’ll see an “iPhone mini,” “iPhone nano,” or “iPhone shuffle.”

The well-regarded analyst thinks demand is still present for a smaller Apple handset. He expects a 4-inch iPhone with 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, Kuo says. 

Even if Apple were to introduce a low-cost iPhone the IDC research group (www.idc.com) believes the price will struggle to compete with Android devices that are focused on portfolios aimed at price points of $200 and less. 

"Since Apple finally delivered a larger screen smartphone with the iPhone 6 Plus, the demand for large screened devices among consumers has been at a record high," says Anthony Scarsella, research manager with IDC’s Mobile Phones team. "Smartphones featuring display sizes from 5.5 inches to 6 inches are forecast to grow 84% in 2015 compared to last year, while  phablets overall will make up over 71% of shipments by 2019.”

I think Apple will keep the iPhone 5s in its line-up for those who don’t want the larger iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus. Besides, the latest rumors of an iPhone mini aren’t the first.

In January 2013, the Strategy Analytics research group predicted that Apple would introduce a smaller, cheaper “iPhone mini” for users of lower-end smartphones. In June 2013, DigiTimes said Apple would soon release an inexpensive smartphone with a plastic chassis.

Obviously, neither of those happened. And I don’t foresee a 4-inch iPhone in the works for 2016. However, others disagree. 

In February BrightWire, a global investment newswire, said a smaller iPhone may come with a new technology for crash resistance. Cowen analyst Tim Arcuri thinks Apple is planning a 4-inch iPhone (along with current iPhone sizes). Purportedly, the “iPhone mini” would resemble a “shrunken” iPhone 5S.

Arcuri’s report follows a similar one  from Taiwan’s Electronic Times, which said in December that Apple plans to launch a 4-inch iPhone in the second half of 2015.

The smaller form factor still has its share of loyalists, and arguably has contributed heavily to the iPhone’s success in Japan, argues Seeking Alpha. Depending on their pricing, new 4-inch iPhones could also help Apple better compete against mid-range Android phones without heavily cannibalizing sales of high-end 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch models, the article adds.

 The graphics accompanying this article are courtesy of ExtremeTech.com and Forbes.