Apple’s decision to bump the screen size of its iPhones to 4.7 and 5.5 inches last year has certainly paid dividends, allowing the company to field handsets in what most would consider mainstream and phablet categories. Apple also offers the two-year-old iPhone 5s as the budget model but it continues to underserve one key demographic: those that want a modern (fast) smartphone without the big screen.
Rumors have persisted that Apple is indeed working on a 4-inch iPhone to cater specifically to that demographic and based on the latest rumblings, a smaller iPhone may become a reality sooner than you think.
In his latest research note, renowned KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said he believes Apple will release a 4-inch iPhone early next year. The device will reportedly resemble an upgraded iPhone 5s with a metal chassis that’ll be offered in a few different color schemes.
Rather than take the budget route, the new smartphone will reportedly be powered by the same A9 SoC from TSMC and Samsung that drives the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus. It’ll also include NFC to enable Apple Pay and the same 8-megapixel rear and 1.2-megapixel front-facing cameras found in the iPhone 5s (that’s a bit of a letdown). What's more, it won’t have 3D Touch, the pressure-sensitive technology found in the latest batch of iPhones.
The phone likely won’t set any sales records with Kuo estimating full-year shipments to hit just 20 million units. The analyst expects Apple will price the smartphone somewhere between $400 and $500 which would make it roughly $150 $250 cheaper than the base model iPhone 6s.