Apple released two large smartphones in 2014, but in 2015, the tech giant may return to a more familiar design. Apple may introduce a new 4-inch smartphone with its next lineup, which could be called the “iPhone 6s mini,” according to Cowen and Company analyst Timothy Arcuri.
Currently on the market are the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus, but the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c are also being sold. Both the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c have 4-inch displays and likely appeal to iPhone fans who aren’t enamored of large screens, but the devices may be phased out of Apple’s offerings as it launches new devices in 2015. To satisfy all consumers, Apple may release up to three devices of different sizes, Arcuri said in a recent research note, according to Apple Insider.
Apple’s 2015 lineup may include successors to the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus, in addition to the iPhone 6s mini, which would essentially replace the iPhone 5c. Arcuri says the smallest 2015 iPhone may include "purpose-built low-cost components," making it a more affordable option, similar to the iPhone 5c.
Introducing a smaller, less powerful version of a flagship device is very reminiscent of Samsung’s product strategy, Tech Times notes. Samsung has released mini versions of its Galaxy S series smartphones for several years. The Korean manufacturer may not release a mini version of its rumored Galaxy S6 smartphone, however, which is expected to launch this spring.
After suffering from abysmal smartphone sales in 2014, Samsung has plans to cut its product portfolio by 30 percent in hopes of rejuvenating consumer interest in its smartphones in the coming year. Devices to get the ax may include Samsung’s many niche devices that cater to a very specific interest, IHS senior analyst Wayne Lam said in early December.
So far, expanding its product lineup hasn’t hurt Apple. The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus sold over 10 million units during their launch weekend, and several mobile carriers are still shipping backlogged preorders of both devices. While the new iPhones (the iPhone 6 Plus, in particular) have been very popular with consumers, there is still a considerable market for smaller smartphones. “The bulk of the growth [has been] in the below 5-inch screen [sector],” Kantar Worldpanel analyst Carolina Milanesi said in September.
Arcuri has had a hit-or-miss track record with his predictions, Apple Insider notes. If his suggestions were to prove accurate, however, it would be the first time Apple launches three smartphones in one year.