Commentary
11/4/2015
12:05 PM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman
Commentary

Is Apple's New 4-Inch iPhone Coming In 2016?

An analyst predicts a smaller, less-expensive iPhone will debut early next year due to strong demand for compact iPhones.



9 iPhone Apps Perfect For 3D Touch
9 iPhone Apps Perfect For 3D Touch
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

Apple was more or less the last smartphone-maker to adopt big screens. When it did, sales skyrocketed. The iPhone 6 has been stealing back marketshare from Android since its debut last year. Not everyone enjoys big screens, however, and Apple may revive the smaller form factor.

KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is back with another prediction: Apple will release a new iPhone, with a 4-inch screen, that resembles the iPhone 5s. It will launch during the first half of 2016.

"As there is still demand for a 4-inch iPhone, we believe Apple will upgrade this product line," wrote Kuo to investors, according to the Mac Rumors website. "Because the iPhone 5s is more popular than the iPhone 5c, we think Apple is likely to launch an upgraded iPhone 5s. We predict Apple will mass-produce this new 4-inch iPhone in [the first half of 2016] with metal casings. In order to make the current iOS 9 or next-generation iOS 10 run smoothly, Apple may adopt an A9 chip for this new phone."

Apple still sells the 2013-era iPhone 5s, which stands in the company's lineup as its "value" device.

The 5s costs significantly less than the iPhone 6 or 6s ($450, $550, and $650, respectively). The 5s has aged well, but two years is a long time in the smartphone space. Kuo's belief that Apple will upgrade the processor makes sense. The iPhone 6s uses the A9, which is two generations of processor beyond the iPhone 5s's A7 processor.

(Image: Bulgac/iStockphoto)

(Image: Bulgac/iStockphoto)

The upgraded iPhone 5s won't go full tilt with all the new features found in the 6s, however, because Apple wants to be sure the products are differentiated enough. For example, Kuo says the new 4-inch iPhone won't have 3D Touch, a core feature of the iPhone 6s. Kuo thinks there is enough demand in the market for such a device that Apple could sell 20 to 30 million of them before the end of 2016.

[Read how the iPhone is driving the smartphone market.]

Beyond the smaller iPhone, Kuo told investors he believes Apple will debut the iPhone 7 with an A10 processor in September as the company has the past few years. The company will probably keep the 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch screen sizes used by the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, but the models will differ in terms of RAM.

The smaller of the two will include 2GB, while the larger will see an increase to 3GB.

If you're curious about Kuo's track record of predicting Apple's strategy, look no further than what he said about the iPhone 6s in May. He nailed almost every feature.

Eric is a freelance writer for InformationWeek specializing in mobile technologies. View Full Bio
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