Apple Inc. is, if Ming Chi Kuo is to be believed, working on a new 4 inch smart phone that it’ll show off in the first half of next year. The iPhone 7 C, as it’s being called across parts of the web, won’t be the best phone that the firm has ever released and, according to some, it’s not even going to be a real smartphone. Instead it’s going to be more of an ad for Apple products.
Ewan Spence, a contributor over on the Forbes network, reckons he knows how the smaller iPhone 7 will turn out. According to him the device will be under-powered, and it will be designed, very simply, to get more people to buy the pricier, higher margin iPhone 6S or iPhone 6S Plus. In short the 4 inch iPhone 7 will be an ad rather than a smartphone, at least in Mr. Spence’ view.
Apple charges for an ad
According to Mr. Spence, “Any smaller iPhone is going to be weak by design, and used to up-sell you to the larger models.” He reckons the perfect analogue for the smaller version of the iPhone 7 can be found in Apple’s already tight storage offerings. The 16 GB iPhone 6S is, in his view, useless, and it only exists to sell more expensive handsets.
“The 16 GB models are perfectly suited to selling the 64 GB model, and not much else. I’d struggle to recommend the 16 GB iPhone 6S (or 6S Plus) to anyone,” he writes. In his view the iPhone 7 will be the same. It will exist only to get people into stores or to get them their first iPhone.
Once they’re hooked by iOS, and already linked to its ecosystem, Apple will be able to sell them the iPhone 7 Plus with 128GB of storage that Wall Street loves to see get sold. Apple’s more expensive phones have much wider margins.
Apple sells things, so what’s the problem?
It could, of course, be argued that Apple only sells the iPhone 6S so that it can encourage you to buy apps on the app store, buy a license for Apple Music and pair it with an Apple Watch. Companies sell things, and they’d prefer if you bought more stuff from them rather than another firm.
Mr. Spence’s problem, it seems, is that Apple is good at this particular tactic. The firm is able to sell a device that is, in his view, on the very edge of being usable at all, like the iPhone 6S 16GB, and use its sticker price as a way to sell people on a more expensive version.
It’s not clear how Apple is going to sell a device that’s on the edge of usability, but there’s a couple of controls the firm could put on performance. With so many new apps being designed for the high RAM iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus, Apple could saddle the mini iPhone 7 with just 512MB of RAM.
That would, of course, save Apple very little money, but it would make advanced web browsing, with multiple tabs open, and newer apps less able to deal with the device.
Waiting for the mini iPhone 7 release date
We won’t truly know the mini iPhone 7 specs until Apple puts the device out for all to see. Until then we can’t really be sure whether the firm is going to offer something worth buying or not. Mr. Spence’ thesis appears to be about right, however. It fits in with the Apple operates, and the way the firm manages its other product lines.
The question is whether, as Mr. Spence suggests, there really isn’t anybody out there who can work with an iPhone 6S that only has 16GB of memory. There are quite a lot of off-iPhone storage options out there, including iCloud offered by Apple itself, that might for something of a stress reliever for those with the least expensive premium iPhone.
Mr. Spence, like many others out there, want a new, powerful Apple device that won’t have to manage with the massive screen of the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus.
“There is another way,” he writes after outlining his vision for the mini iPhone 7 as a sales tool, “Take the small form factor and pack in the same specifications that can be found higher up the portfolio. Match the memory and storage options of the larger models. Pack in the pixels from the same physical sheets of LCD panels so the PPI measurement remains consistent, and add in a millimeter or two of depth purely to boost the battery capacity.”
With the mini iPhone 7 likely coming out before the release of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, it seems that Apple will make a less powerful phone rather than a 4-inch with premium specs.
People are expecting that, but at some point there’s a line beyond which a phone is really useful. For Mr. Spence, and quite a lot of other people, a 16GB iPhone 6S may be of less use than a 64GB iPhone 5. One arbitrary constraint on the mini iPhone 7 spec sheet, like the size of RAM, could make the device very difficult to appreciate some months after the initial purchase.
Apple has been doing this with the iPhone 16GB for quite a while and, despite keeping the sticker price of the device fairly even over the years, it’s managed to drive the average selling price up and up. If there’s a line for many people, Apple simply hasn’t crossed it yet.
Tim Cook, and the rest of the firm’s team will likely be careful not to cross it with the mini iPhone 7 specs either. For power users it’s not going to be enough, and it’s not likely to be blazing fast 4 inch that so many desire, but it will be a functional device. At the same time it may drive more buyers toward the iPhone 7 Plus, something Apple shareholders will be thankful for.