With the rumored Galaxy S7 Mini, a compact, feature-rich version of its flagship smartphone, Samsung may be gearing up to challenge Apple's upcoming iPhone SE.
MWC 2016 Best In Show: Galaxy S7, LG's G5, More
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The generally accepted wisdom is that Apple is planning to expand its Mini range of products March 21 with the release of the iPhone SE, a smaller 4-inch smartphone that will have nearly all of the features of the iPhone 6s, except for 3D Touch.
However, Samsung could be planning a spoiler.
The spoiler would come in the form of the S7 Mini, a 4.7-inch version of the flagship Galaxy S7 Samsung recently launched. The more compact handset would feature a 720×1280 resolution display, 3GB RAM, and a 12-megapixel rear camera.
The device would most likely be powered by a Exynos 8890 or Snapdragon 820 processor, which would all be packaged in a body less than 10-mm thick, according to reports in a Taiwanese publication and picked up by the Samsung-centric blog SamMobile.
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The Galaxy S7 and its larger cousin, the S7 Edge, are waterproof, feature Snapdragon 820 processors with 4GB of RAM, and are equipped with 12-megapixel main cameras.
Those two smartphones cost $670 and $780.
However, while no official prices have yet been divulged for the rumored S7 Mini or iPhone SE, there is some indication of what Apple may charge. Specifically, the website MacRumors reports the iPhone SE may cost between $400 and $500.
Interestingly, while the two major players in the premium smartphone market are looking to entice consumers with smaller form factors, a recent IDC report indicated one in five handsets shipped during 2015 was a phablet -- a combination of smartphone and tablet -- and that number is going to climb to about one in three handsets by 2020.
The slowdown in mature markets will have dire consequences for makers of high-end hardware, including Apple and Samsung, according to IDC. Average selling prices for handsets was around $295 in 2015, but IDC predicts that will drop to $237 by 2020.
Anthony Scarsella, research manager with IDC's mobile phones team, wrote in a research note that consumers are still migrating upstream with regard to device size, especially as phablets continue to grow in popularity. For example, Apple's iPhone phablet sales will climb from 26% today to 31% in 2020.
Regardless of the size of the device, Apple will need to do more than just repackage its old iPhone 5s in order to boost smartphone sales that appear to be flagging.
While Apple had its most profitable quarter to date during its fiscal first quarter of Q1 2016, iPhone sales, which drove this quarter's success, are predicted to tumble for the first time.
That may be why the Cupertino-based tech giant has been rumored to be looking at advanced technologies, including wireless charging and a move to ditch the standard 3.5-mm headphone jack.
In its place Apple will provide headphones that connect through the iPhone's Lightning charger. This of course means that either headphone manufacturers will have to adapt their products, or consumers will be forced to buy Apple-designed headphones.
Nathan Eddy is a freelance writer for InformationWeek. He has written for Popular Mechanics, Sales & Marketing Management Magazine, FierceMarkets, and CRN, among others. In 2012 he made his first documentary film, The Absent Column. He currently lives in Berlin. View Full Bio
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