I don’t usually talk rumors because most of the time they never amount to anything. Also some rumors are just repeating stuff it’s obvious Apple is working on.1 For any device Apple releases there are probably more than a dozen different prototypes at different sizes or attributes. Of course Apple is looking at bigger screens and smaller screens. Doesn’t mean there will be a product.
All those caveats out of the way I think there’s something interesting here. First I think we have to consider the Asian market — especially China. Right now Android is cleaning Apple’s clock in that market due to price points. I don’t think Apple will ever do a cheap low end device like all those horrible low end Android phones. However Apple could do a lower priced phone that is better than a 3gs. Lower speed, lower quality screen, plastic case but still Apple quality. That’s more than doable it’s actually pretty likely.
Even if Apple did this there’s no guarantee they’d release it in all markets. It might be purely targeting emerging markets. Honestly, it might not even make sense in the US market due to everyone buying subsidized phones.2 Around the world that’s not as common so price point matters more.
As for all the rumors, my guess is that they are mangling together different products. I bet Apple’s considering two devices. First an iPhone mini that is smaller than the current iPhone. Maybe 2.5″ – 3″ with non-retinal pixel size but will look better due to the smaller size. It used to be that everyone wanted smaller phones but since the iPhone phones have gotten bigger. And Android has just gotten ridiculous in size.
I next think we’ll see an iPad Mini with phone capabilities and maybe a slightly smaller size. (Which would be tricky, so I bet they’ll keep a similar form factor) That would compete with Android for those people who love the 5″ – 7″ form factor. Having played around with an iPad Mini I bet they could shave off a full inch without unduly affecting usability.
A lot of people are talking about a 5″ iPhone. I just can’t see this for a couple of reasons. First that’s too small for iPad apps. Second that’s too big for iPhone apps. At a minimum you’re talking about an iOS device with new screen pixel dimensions that really is in-between the iPad and iPhone ecosystems. That causes Apple to lose a lot of the strengths of the current lines. While it’s possible, I just don’t see Apple doing it.
Finally I bet we’ll see an iPad Mini with retinal resolution. Now that I’ve finally played with a Mini I have to say I really love the form factor — especially the weight. I still would prefer my iPad but I can see the smaller size being quite compelling. To me the current screen is just a bridge too far. I’m spoiled on the retinal display. I think it makes reading so much better and reduces eye strain a lot. However clearly many people just don’t care about the better screen. That’s why the Mini is selling so well and why the iPad 2 continues to sell well.
The biggest question of upcoming tech from Apple is the AppleTV space. I think Apple wants to do a lot there including possibly a streaming service. However so much rests upon the content providers rather than actual tech issues. I just don’t want to predict an AppleTV apps store for instance. My gut tells me there are big changes come for the AppleTV but my brain convinces me that too much is dependent upon other players to make a prediction.
- See this post of Dr. Drang’s for a nice slam on this topic. ↩
- That may be changing in the US with T-Mobile’s shift to lower data plans and unsubsidized phones. Verizon and AT&T are watching closely to see how successful it will be. My guess is that this marketing gimmick of T-Mobile will fail. Even though in some ways it’s a much better way to buy phones. ↩