The murmur of an entry-level "iPhone Nano" is not new. It has been rumored since Apple first launched the iPhone in 2007. This year again, the talk of a cheaper iPhone variant seemed to gain momentum when China Times came up with a new report on Monday saying that the Cupertino tech giant was working on a low-cost iPhone for this year.
Citing unnamed sources within Apple's supply chain, the China Times report said that Apple wants expand its position in the low-end smartphone market, and its $375 iPhone 3GS is too pricey to compete with entry-level Android smartphones. The report also stated that Apple has plans to release the low-end "iPhone Nano" sometime later this year, "possibly at or around the same time the sixth-generation flagship iPhone hits the market," according to BGR.
The "iPhone Nano" rumor has surfaced at a time when speculations are rife that Apple may introduce an "iPad Mini" later this year. However, the question still on everyone's mind is: Does Apple really need to release an iPhone Nano?
Yes, many Apple products are still out of reach of the average consumer, and there's no sign yet of prices coming down. The MacBook is hundreds of dollars more than other notebooks, but the company is still charging high prices with annual profits growing exponentially, Redmond Pie reported.
From another angle, as iDownloadBlog pointed out, "just because it (Apple) doesn't need to, doesn't mean it won't." The report explained:
"Remember, Apple's worldwide smartphone market share is still extremely low compared to other platforms. Android, for example, accounts for close to 50% of all smartphones... And to gain marketshare, Apple has to either increase the iPhone's availability and/or lower its entry-level price point. Well, it's already working on availability - the iPhone 4S recently launched on 5 new carriers here in the US. So we wouldn't be surprised to see it lower its entry-level price at some point - although it'd more than likely happen with an existing handset, rather than an all-new one."
"As we saw with the iPad 2, while Apple continued to produce it they updated the processor to theoretically improve battery life and closer match the New iPad," said a report in Motoring Crunch. "So in this instance, they could just rebrand the iPhone 4S as the 'iPhone nano' and stick in some of the new guts found in the New iPhone '5'."
iPhone Nano: Why Apple Shouldn't Bother About It
Eric Zeman of InformationWeek said that "bringing an iPhone Nano now would be a mistake for Apple." He gave four reasons to justify his point.
1. Screen Size Matters: If an iPhone Nano does become a reality, it would of course be a smaller device with a smaller screen. But the current 3.5-inch display that comes with every iPhone model until now is "at the bottom of the smartphone barrel when it comes to size."
Given that many rival smartphones (both Android and Windows phones) are coming with displays measuring more than four inches, it's time for Apple to make the upcoming iPhone bigger, rather than scale things down, Zeman wrote.
2. iPhone 3GS Matters: As mentioned in the China Times report, one of the main reasons for introducing the iPhone Nano was that it would allow the company to tighten its grip on the lower-cost device markets. But Apple has also constantly dropped the price of the older iPhone models. In the case of the three years old iPhone 3GS, it is still available and is offered for free by AT&T.
"The one question is how much cheaper could Apple make the iPhone 4/4S once the iPhone 5 ships?" Zeman wrote.
According to Motoring Crunch, Apple usually keeps the closest predecessor in production to serve as a cheaper alternative in the market. During the release of the iPhone 4S, Apple took hold of the $199 starting point and dropped the iPhone 4's price down to $99. Considering that, the same is expected once the iPhone 5 launches later this year.
3. Lower Margin Isn't Apple's Way: Its ability to keep comparatively high margins for its products has helped Apple top its rivals. To make it cheaper, the iPhone Nano would have to be priced closer to the cost of materials. Depending on the advertising cost, it's likely that the device would have narrow margins, and according to Zeman, "this simply isn't in step with Apple's proven track record."
4. iPod Touch Matters: Apart from making calls, the iPod Touch is capable of performing almost all the functions found in the iPhone, from running all the iOS apps to playing around with the iCloud. That said, if Apple considers introducing an iPhone Nano, it could have a negative impact on the iPod Touch, which can be purchased for just $199.
Zeman, however, didn't entirely ignore the possibility of an "iPhone Nano" and said that Apple might follow a path, completely different from what people currently have in mind. "I'd believe Apple will offer a low-cost version of the iPhone 4 before I'd believe Apple will bring a smaller-screened device to market," said Zeman.
Top Rumored Features of iPhone 5
Home Button Alternative, All-Screen Model: Last week, Rene Ritchie of iMore came up with a report in which he seemed concerned about what he called "a confluence of events (that) led some to speculate that Apple could go wider instead of just bigger," which would be closer to 16:9 than the current 3:2.
"We haven't heard anything about a 16:9 iPhone, but we have heard Apple is (perhaps still) discussing or experimenting with alternatives to the current Home button," said Ritchie. "Could these experiments come together into an almost all-screen iPhone?"
May be, but here's the glitch. Ritchie explained:
"It raises the kind of problems for developers and apps that Apple has thus far avoided by retaining the same aspect and pixel ratio in iPhones since they first introduced the original iPhone. Given how long Apple is leaving older devices on the market as well - for example, the 2009 iPhone 3GS is still sold as new - it would be a long-lasting problem as well. Boxing 3:2 apps, like Apple does with iPhone apps on the bigger iPad screen, wouldn't create the premium phone experience Apple is known for."
4-Inch Screen Display: Matthew Panzarino of TNW said that the next iPhone may get a 4-inch screen, but it probably won't be widescreen. The current 3.5-inch screen is comfortable to use with one hand and a 4-inch screen will also work fine.
"An iPhone 5 with a 4″ screen would be a nice bump in size and I don't think that it would affect usability as much as one even a quarter of an inch bigger," Panzarino said.
Brian White of Topeka Capital Markets also said the next-gen iPhone could sport a 4-inch display, contrary to earlier reports of a large 4.6-inch and 3.5-inch screen. Some other sources also said that the device would sport Quantum Dot LED curved glass edge-to-edge display with 1280 x 720 resolutions (367ppi).
Processor, RAM: 9to5mac recently reported that Apple had internally seeded a prototype next-generation iPhone with the iPhone 4 design. "The actual next-generation iPhone is specifically said to not include the iPhone 4/4S design, but Apple is testing these new devices in older casings to throw off leaks," said the report.
According to the report, the iPhone prototypes had "a variation of the A5X's S5L8945X architecture" and like the new iPad, they were also "packing 1GB of RAM."
Earlier reports suggested that the sixth generation iPhone would feature an A6 processor. It was expected to be a superfast 1.2 to 1.5 GHz processor with 1GB or more of RAM to offer amazing processing capabilities to the smartphone.
Other Features and Specs: As far as the other likely features are concerned, the upcoming iPhone model includes an 8 megapixel (or even higher) camera with the ability to take pictures in the panorama mode, a 2 megapixel front-facing camera for video chatting, iOS 6, 4G LTE technology, Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, improved Siri and a much-improved battery life.
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