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Four-Inch iPhone Tipped for Spring 2016

iPhone-5cRumors of a new 4″ iPhone have been circulating since shortly after the iPhone 6 debuted in 2014, and now they’re finally coming true.

9to5Mac’s Mark Gurman reports that Apple’s next iPhone is being readied for a launch in March or April:

The new device is internally codenamed “N69,” but the launch name will likely be the “iPhone 5se.” The “se” suffix has been described in two ways by Apple employees: as a “special edition” variation of the vintage 4-inch iPhone screen size and as an “enhanced” version of the iPhone 5s. Indeed, the upcoming “5se” features a design similar to 2013’s flagship but upgraded internals, software, and hardware features that blend the old design with modern technologies from the past two iPhone upgrades.

The new iPhone 5s model will have a faster CPU, an NFC, chip, improved Wifi and Bluetooth, and the same 8MP rear camera and 1.2MP front camera from the iPhone 6 (and 5s).

Just about the only thing that won’t change on the new iPhone is the screen, which will have the same resolution as on the iPhone 5s (and the iPod Touch). It will not be pressure sensitive. The current 5s will likely be discontinued, according to 9to5Mac, and the “5se” will take its price point.

Edit: And now there’s a photo of the new iPhone, next to the current iPhone 5s:


Do you know what most interests me about this story?

It’s the fact that many assumed Apple would retire its 4″ iPhones after launching the iPhone 6 in late 2014, but instead Apple kept selling the iPhone 5s for all of 2015. That tells me that there is a bigger market for it than some pundits expected (including me).

Really, the news today is less that Apple is launching a new iPhone model than that they are refreshing one of their standard iPhone sizes with a better CPU, new shell, and other improvements.

So is anyone planning to replace their iPhone 5s?

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Kevin January 23, 2016 um 9:04 pm

Yep, this phone-size thing has been really puzzling to me. It seems so obvious that different folks have different wants/needs for phones so of course different sizes are needed. However, there has been a long history of "There is only 1 optimum size and it is …" With Apple/Jobs insisting that the ideal size was one in which the phone could be used with 1 hand, it was astonishing the amount of derision dished out by tech writers about phablets that had become so popular in Asian and elsewhere. It was only when even Apple was confronted with the fact that a good number of potential customers went to Android to get a bigger phone (and Jobs died) that Apple reacted to the market and got other sizes out. And then tech writers came around with a constant series of articles about how, once they got used to the bigger size, they never wanted to go back to the smaller size. This resulted in a definite opinion trend towards "So all phones should be big", which seems equally dogmatic. Some people want/need big phones, and some want/need small ones. Why is it so hard for Apple and tech writers to accept that?
For me, an even bigger screen than the 5.5″ iPhone 6 Plus would be welcome. A size equal to a 6″ kindle would finally solve the problem about deciding what to read ebooks on in my morning train ride. And I’m quite happy to accept that some people don’t want such a big phone, and would rather have a small phone they can use with 1 hand.

Nate Hoffelder January 23, 2016 um 9:56 pm


That’s more or less the conclusion I reached in late 2014, and as we can see from the continued sale of the 5s it is true.

jjj January 23, 2016 um 9:17 pm

They are desperate for sales and being stupid. If this device exists,one of the key upgrades must be LTE cat 6 but going 4 inch for anything above 50$ is plain idiotic and will have close to no positive impact on sales. It’s another failed attempt to offer a cheaper model, what they need is very different from this device but they don’t understand the market. Someone would have to be out of his mind to buy a 4 inch iphone for 450$ – they shouldn’t be allowed to operate a wallet.

The best budget phone right now is the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 Pro with SD650 (2xA72 @1.8GHz plus 4xA53), 5.5 inch 1080p , 2GB RAM, 16GB NAND, 13/5MP, big battery, fingerprint,metal body at 152$ China prices. The perf is great for this little (beats high end devices from last year) but ofc someone else will have a better one soon enough. 50$ nowadays gets you 5inch 720p and quad A7….

Nate Hoffelder January 23, 2016 um 11:08 pm

@ jjj

I don’t know that you can point to the new iPhone and call Apple desperate; Apple has been selling that screen size all along. They’re simply refreshing one of their standard models.

Now, if they had dropped it, and brought it back, that would be different.

Jack Murphy, III January 23, 2016 um 9:43 pm

I’ve been using Android smartphones since 2010, and I plan on making the switch to the iPhone with the upcoming iPhone 5se. Android smartphones have just gotten too big for me. I "upgraded" to a LG G3 last year, but it’s just too big. I have very small hands, and they actually begin to hurt if I use the LG G3 for more than ten minutes or so at a time. Unfortunately, the smallest Android flagship smartphones these days seem to be 5.2″, with many 5.7″ or larger. Before the rumors of the new 4″ iPhone began, I was actually seriously considering going back to a regular "dumb" cell phone. As much as I don’t want to make the switch from Android to iPhone, the Android smartphone manufacturers have given me very little choice.

R January 24, 2016 um 12:22 am

Yes, why should we being forced to use big phones? You can make your choice to buy a very big phone. But some others like to use 4 inch phones. I can "operate" my wallet as I like.

jjj January 24, 2016 um 2:15 am

@ Nate
I haven’t said that this proves or is a sign that they are desperate. I simply stated that they are since explaining why would be futile , people should know that already.
But i could have been wrong in assuming this is about increasing sales at a lower price point. This one might only exist because the iphone 6 gets retired in Sept when the 7 arrives. They likely don’t want to drop the price further for that one and will force buyers to go for the 6s or 7 if they want bigger than 4 inch. So they update the 5s a bit, including cat 6 LTE since it matters in China and a few other key markets and that’s that.
W/e, the key this year for them is the 7 , analysts are all so sure that 7 will fix sales but they fail to ask the most important question, can Apple deliver with the 7? They haven’t done so in a while with any new product. They could go 4k but that’s unlikely, they won’t go curved or better and a radical new design has been a risk they refused to take lately even if that would be the easiest hook (they need 2-3 of those for sales to be very good).In software or services it’s even harder, there are a few cool things that can be done but i don’t want to give them ideas.
Oh and this is not about size options , this is about the price point. They simply don’t want to offer more since a bigger screen would harm sales for costlier models.If they wanted to offer options they would do a 7 mini or classic with all the features of the new models and sell it at 600$. That strategy would be better from a financial point of view, higher ASP, more marketing appeal.

Mary January 24, 2016 um 7:11 am

I have an iPhone 5s which I purchased in October, 2013 and thought I would get a new phone last October, but kept putting it off. I really, really like the size of the 5s and was quite discouraged reading recently that the 7 would have no plug for earbuds. I don’t WANT to use bluetooth all the tie, just something else to drain the battery. And when given the choice of thin or longer battery life, I will chose battery any time. I was so excited to read about the possibility of the 5se and hope it is for real and does not turn out to be vaporware.

aus January 24, 2016 um 10:03 am

I recently went from a Moto G 2nd Gen and an Energy Sistem Pro to an LTE iPad mini 2 and an iPhone 5. iPad mini bought on a contract with 5GB data for €25 per month and the iPhone for €150 second hand. Both running the latest version of iOS flawlessly.

iPad for use at home/work and the iPhone for when out and about. True, I have two devices, but they both have different uses – I can read PDFs comfortably on the iPad mini and it’s great for technical books from safari books online. I would never consider doing either of these on the iPhone just as I wouldn’t consider satnav on the iPad mini.

In conclusion, for me, the iPhone 5 size is perfect in conjunction with the iPad mini.

Kevin January 24, 2016 um 6:04 pm

@aus: Yes I have a similar arrangement. I want to believe that a large-enough phone can be used as both an ebook reader and a mobile phone so a 1-device future is right around the corner. However, it could be that this wish is just not going to pan out. Maybe the 2 use cases (phone + ebook reader) really require 2 differently-sized devices and always will.
Or maybe the "ebook reader" idea needs further refining. I think light novels (e.g., SF) are OK on a large-screen phone even now (especially for bus/train commutes) but, like you, I’ve come around to the view that tech books (with diagrams and tables etc.) are simply better on devices with quite large screens. Or on paper! Thanks to recent ebook price gouging by large publishers, after years of reading technical works in ebooks, I’ve gone back to reading them on paper. This format is superb for random access, is extremely easy to search, and allows extensive addition of colored marking and note writing! And it’s becoming cheaper than ebooks!
It could be that the wish for 1 device that can be used as both a phone and as a general ebook reader is just wishful thinking.

Nate Hoffelder January 25, 2016 um 9:10 am

And now there’s even a photo showing the new iPhone (scroll up).

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