Apple iPhone Mini: 4-Inch iPhone Reportedly In The Works

The Apple iPhone has, since the iPhone 6, come in two sizes: big, and bigger. But it wasn’t always like that for the tech giant. The iPhone technically started life as an extension of the Apple iPod, the portable music player that put Apple back into the mainstream, and the miniaturized versions, the iPod Mini (later reworked as the iPod Nano) were some of Apple’s most successful devices ever released. In fact, for some, the smaller screens available on some iPhone 5s were one of the major selling points of the device.

Now, reports are saying that Apple is intending to return to its roots and has plans to release a 4-inch iPhone, dubbed the iPhone Mini. According to a report from the Motley Fool, a respected analyst for KGI Securities, Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple is preparing to launch the iPhone Mini in the first half of 2016.

This report might be considered to have rather more credence than a simple rumor, considering that Kuo has been heralded as the best Apple analyst in the world, according to Cult of Mac and Business Insider, and his ability to predict future Apple releases is unparalleled. Last year, he successfully predicted that some models of the Apple Watch would retail over $1,000 USD, among other things.

Even the mid-tier Apple Watch can run over $1,000. The gold Apple Watch Edition retails for $17,000. Even the mid-tier Apple Watch can run over $1,000. The gold Apple Watch Edition retails for $17,000. [Photo by Spencer Platt / Getty Images]Kuo is now saying that Apple will bring out the 4-inch iPhone Mini sometime before Q3 2016, and that it will resemble an “upgraded iPhone 5s” and featuring a metal case, rather than the easily-damaged plastic casing of the iPhone 5c, also a four-inch model. Kuo also suggests that the phone will have a brand new A9 processor, rather than the older A8, to ensure that iOS 9 will run smoothly on the iPhone Mini. Finally, he predicts that, in order to differentiate the device further, it will not include the 3D Touch feature first featured on the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus.

Meanwhile, not everyone is enthusiastic about the report. As Forbes points out, when Apple released the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus (which were 4.7 and 5.5 inches, respectively), the smaller 6s also had lower specs in other areas — a shorter battery life and smaller pixel density, for instance. Forbes notes that Apple loves the idea of triples in their marketing, and that they follow a “good/better/best” philosophy — this is certainly true of the Apple Watch, which released in three variants, each better (and far more expensive) than the last. Apple’s goal is generally to sell the smaller, cheaper version to new customers and then upsell them to the better devices during the next release cycle.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t sit especially well with people who just want a smaller smartphone, and there are lots of them. Not everybody is inclined to carry a brick around in their purse or pocket all day, and not everyone has the large hands required to make such a device comfortable to use. As TIME noted last year, there are many smaller-screened smartphones on the market right now, none of them are made by Apple, and many people prefer them.

The under-performing Apple iPhone 5c was Apple's last attempt at a 4-inch smart phone. The under-performing Apple iPhone 5c was Apple’s last attempt at a 4-inch smartphone. [Photo by Sean Gallup / Getty Images]Of course, that’s Apple’s prerogative, and they’re certainly doing all right, controlling 43.1 percent of the American smartphone market on the strength of the iPhone alone. They’re missing out on a significant market, though — those who want a high-end smart phone that’s still more comfortable for them to use or carry (have you noticed many pockets in women’s business wear lately?)

Given that they have the money and power to make a smaller but still powerful smartphone, hopefully Apple will step up to the plate. In the meanwhile, the iPhone Mini will reportedly be out within the next 8 months, sporting a 4-inch screen, and will hopefully perform up to snuff.

[Photo by Cole Bennetts / Getty Images]