If you follow any Apple rumors, then you have probably heard that Apple is allegedly preparing a new 4.7” iPhone 6, as well as a separate 5.5” iPhone. There are still question marks on the larger device, especially since we have seen leaked parts of the 4.7” model, but just mock-ups of the 5.5” variation. As we approach the fall, and the expected release of the next iPhone, the more this seems like a repeat of 2011. That was the year we expected the iPhone 4S, but tons of rumors came out that Apple was preparing a second iPhone, a teardrop iPhone 5 with a curved back, and larger screen that never came to be. Three years later, the rumor mill seems to be repeating its mistakes of two new iPhones, and going on analyst’s judgements on what Apple should do, rather than on what Apple is likely to do.
Apple has shown a very consistent pattern over the past few years when it comes to the iPhone, and 2014 should be no different. We expect to see the iPhone 6 with a 4.7” screen, A8 processor, improved camera, and thinner form factor. Apple will claim it’s “the biggest thing to happen to iPhone yet”, and they will show how well iOS 8 fits the new larger screen. Anything else, just doesn’t seem like something Apple will do, especially since they’re already balancing so many models. Apple tried the iPhone 5C last year which was essentially just a rebranded iPhone 5, and all it did was help up-sell customers to the iPhone 5S. It’s probably easy to see the iPhone 6 coming in at $199, iPhone 5S at $99, and iPhone 5C for free, all with two year contracts. Where would a bigger 5.5” iPhone sit?
If Apple does release the 4.7” iPhone 6, what would a 5.5” device be called? iPhone Pro, iPhone 6P (for Pro), iPhone Air with the 4.7” as iPhone mini? There’s not really much room to maneuver based on all of the products Apple already has, and how many screen sizes do they actually need to offer, as there’s already the iPad mini starting at 7.9”. If a 5.5” device is
included would it have to be $299 to compare to the $199 4.7” iPhone, and it’s also rumored to include distinguishing features beyond the screen size like optical image stabilization, and 128GB option. I can’t imagine Apple confusing customers with varying feature sets for varying screen sizes with four different models to choose from. There’s a reason that the 5.5” has only been mocked up, and not actually leaked, and it may just be this year’s teardrop iPhone.
One thing that Apple could do though, is change the way they sell old models. Granted, they likely wouldn’t since they turn a good margin on selling previous years parts with cheaper component costs, and further optimized supply chain infrastructure. Still though, Apple could potentially get rid of all existing iPhone models, and simply offer a 4”, 4.7” and 5.5” iPhone all using the same processor, camera, and components. It would be similar to the iPad Air, and iPad mini 2 with both identical outside of the screen size. It would be a great idea for Apple to offer three current generation iPhones with just different screen sizes to fit varying preferences, but that would forego the potential of selling a cheaper iPhone 5S, and even cheaper iPhone 5C with the backed up supply of the parts for the older models.
This September, we’re likely to see “the biggest thing to happen to iPhone yet” with just one new iPhone at 4.7”. Anything else you hear is pure speculation on what outsiders think Apple “should” do, but not what they “will” do.