iPhone 6 mini: Apple planning new four inch phone for October event?

Apple has moved to larger models with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, but it’s left a four inch sized hole in its lineup. Enter the iPhone 6 mini? Even as Apple has finally given some red meat for large phone lovers to chew on, it’s suddenly abandoned the four-inch form factor which has suited it well over the past two years. Even as the geeks and the Android converts celebrate the new 4.7 and 5.5 inch iPhone 6, those who have grown accustomed to Apple’s smaller form factor have begun to cry foul at the forced super sizing. And now Apple could be plotting to downsize its news big thing at its October event.

First, to be clear, the larger iPhones are a major hit. The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus have combined to break Apple’s sales records in their opening weekend. But they only outsold last year’s iPhone 5S and 5C opening launch by about ten percent. When you back out the number of people who just bought the iPhone 6 because it’s the first large-sized iPhone, which is likely at least a couple million people on opening weekend alone due to the longtime pent up demand, you realize that something is missing; existing iPhone users appear to be adopting the iPhone 6 at a slower rate than they did the iPhone 5S.

That points to existing iPhone users being displeased with the larger screens. And the reason is obvious enough: in an average sized hand, even the regular sized iPhone 6 presents a challenge for those who have grown accustomed to single-hand usage. Apple has offered the “reachability” feature, but adding the ability to tap to bring the top half of the screen lower in order to reach it merely suggests that the phone is too darn big to begin with. And that’s where the iPhone 6 mini comes in.

Apple is continuing to sell the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C, both four inch phones. But for users who want this year’s model and are being told they have to swallow technology from 2013 just to get their hands on a reasonable sized phone is fairly insulting. Because the people writing the tech headlines tend to favor larger phones to begin with, little coverage has been offered to this growing controversy. But the math, and any random sampling of average iPhone users, both say that Apple has a problem on its hands by failing to offer the iPhone 6 in a customary sized model.

Seeing how the market for four inch phones (iPhone 5S, 5C, etc) is whole number multiples larger than the market for 5.5 inch phones (Galaxy Note etc), it came as a surprise that Apple offered the 5.5 inch iPhone 6 Plus while not also offering a 4.0 inch iPhone 6. Apple may have done so in order to gauge reaction and to see if a smaller model would end up being necessary. But seeing as how the iPhone user base appears to be adopting the iPhone 6 more slowly even as switchers line up around the block, it wouldn’t be a shocker for Apple to launch an iPhone 6 mini this month. The catch is that it could create backlash among those existing iPhone users who grudgingly bought a 4.7 inch iPhone 6 because they believed it was the smallest version that was going to be available. But at this point that aggravation may be a small price to pay for the millions of potential iPhone 6 sales that Apple will leave on the table by continuing to fail to offer a four inch iPhone 6 model.

Phil Moore

Phil Moore

Phil covers tech for Stabley Times.