Last week Apple announced one of the most ambitious updates to the iPhone since the original unveiling by Steve Jobs at Macworld way back in 2007. Not only did they announce two new iPhone models for the second year in a row, but in doing so this year that did something far more interesting. This is the year they finally abandoned the 4-inch screen size format.
There, I said it. Sure they have the leftover year old iPhone 5C & 5S. That’s no big surprise. They typically keep last year’s model around at a discounted price-point for those who don’t upgrade their phones every year. What is interesting, though, is that by introducing a 4.7-inch and a 5.5-inch iPhone model this year_without_upgrading the form factor of the 5S they have essentially set a precedent for their focus moving forward. Apple went big. They even use it in their promotional material--Bigger than Bigger. I’ll say it again–this is the year they finally abandoned the 4-inch screen size format.
Does anyone really expect Apple to wait until next year to update the 4-inch model when they could have made a huge splash this year and cashed in on the stunning sleek new look of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus models? Doubtful. Seems like waiting a full year to update the 4-inch model would be a big mistake. Not only would it anger potential iPhone owners who wanted the updated look but not the larger screen, but they would miss out on bringing their whole mobile line-up under one unified “Apple” look and feel.
Right now the iPhone 5C & 5S look like outdated old tech from 5 years ago compared to the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, Retina iPad & Retina iPad mini. Sure there is usually a cheaper version at the bottom of the spec storage and update cycle for those late adopters and those who don’t want to pay higher subsidized prices, much less unsubsidized. However, with the direction mobile is headed with plans like AT&T’s NEXT program, there is little difference between the entry level iPhone 6 and the 128 GB iPhone 6 Plus because the cost of the phone is spread out evenly over 12 or 18 month plans.
This last week has been huge for Apple. However, I’m very curious to see what they have up their sleeves for next year. Next year they are going to have the opposite problem they have had for the last few years. Next year they are going to need to find a way to keep the 4-inch iPhone form-factor fans from jumping ship.