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Apple developing new iPhone form factors, close to release?

updated 08:30 am EDT, Wed October 6, 2010

Supply checks suggest candy-bar ‘nano’ iPhone

Analyst Shaw Wu has stated that supply chain checks indicate signs of new form factor iPhones under development, including both larger and smaller touchscreens than the iPhone 4's current 3.5-inch screen size. According to Kaufman Bros sources, the new models could be both a new high-end addition and a new low-end model. While noting that Apple traditionally ships new iPhone models on an annual cycle, Wu speculates that the models under development could ship much sooner.

If Apple would make such a move, it could follow the strategy that it has adopted successfully with its iPod line where it has employed a 3-tier strategy addressing entry-level, mid-range, and the high-end users. With Google's Android rapidly increasing its market share, Wu argues that such a strategy, if indeed Apple were to adopt it, could allow it to address a much wider market. This strategy, coupled with a multiple carrier approach, would position Apple to better counter Android's growth.

The supply chain checks, along with ongoing rumors of a CDMA Verizon iPhone has Wu boosting Kaufman Bros price target for Apple shares to $374 and to reiterate its current 'buy' rating.

By Electronista Staff
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  1. Lifeisabeach

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: May 2010


    Gimme one free of a mandatory data plan.

    I'd really love a smaller iPhone that is relatively basic with a calendar, alarm clock, and address book that syncs with my Mac, and no data plan. As much as I like my iPhone as it exists, the data plans are just too much dang money for my needs.

  1. JeffHarris

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Oct 1999


    Buy one Unlocked


    Go to Europe and buy an unlocked iPhone for about $799. Some friends just got a few in Switzerland.

    Unfortunately, here in the States we're shackled to our cell service providers.

  1. facebook_Chris

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Oct 2010


    Switzerland? Try Canada

    Just come up north and buy one here - we sell 'em unlocked as well.

  1. Lifeisabeach

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: May 2010



    It'd do me no good here since AT&T will still add a data plan, like it or not. With the rates being the same, contract or no, that'd be a lose-lose situation. Heck, for $800, I may as well have a subsidized model and pay the data plan. Same diff. That's why I'd like to see a more basic model that is much cheaper w/o a mandatory data plan.

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001


    Re: @Jeff

    BTW, without a data plan, visual voicemail won't work.

  1. Cadaver

    Addicted to MacNN

    Joined: Jan 2003


    Apple has to move quickly

    I believe Apple has to move quickly to hit other price points and other carriers to prevent Android from reaching critical momentum where it becomes impossible to stop. While traditionally Apple hasn't gone after marketshare with their computers & Mac OS X, they sure have with the iPod line, commanding over 70% of the MP3/media player market. And if they want to keep the iPhone market dominance, they'd better come up with a good plan for competing against Google/Android. Because right now Apple's on a downward slide while Android (being on virtually every carrier at multiple price points) is set to become the defacto standard Smartphone OS.
    ...Assuming Apple even cares.

  1. Inkling

    Senior User

    Joined: Jul 2006


    New iPhones?

    I'm not sure we'll see iPhones with screens that are more than a trifle larger. A cell phone has to be held in a hand close to your head and the current model is about as wide as most hands can hold easily. Make it much larger and it'd be hard to hold without looking silly.

    What would make sense would be a low-end iPhone with less sophisticated hardware, leaving out the GPS, the fancy screen and game-oriented sensors to reduce costs and leave room for a larger, longer-lived battery. It's primary selling point would be as a phone with a well-designed UI not a do almost everything gadget. It'd compete with the Droid low-end like the Nano and Shuttle now compete with low-end music players. And it'd have a version for every cellular provider, reducing Droid penetration into other markets.

    What would also make sense for those larger screens being rumored would be a product that'd blend an iPod with the iPod touch. A productivity and gaming device doesn't have to be held up to the head. It's held out horizontally in one hand, so a larger screen size is a plus, making the gaming, writing, and reading experience better.

    Rumors suggest an iPod with a 7-inch screen that'd be about the same form factor as my Kindle 1. Unfortunately, that makes it too large to fit anyplace but a large men's coat pocket. Once a gadget reaches the size where you have to carry something to carry it it, then its portability and utility diminishes enormously. A 7-inch iPod has the same nuisance factor as the current 10-inch model except for the fact that it makes a poorer laptop substitute. It can only compete by being a bit cheaper.

    That leaves a 5-inch form factor. It's small enough to fit in most men's pockets, some women's pockets, almost all purses, and to fit unobtrusively n the gadget pockets of most bags. It has the carry everywhere advantage of the iPhone/touch, but with a screen that's easier to read and use.

    The negative is that the screen probably wouldn't be large enough for a iPod UI, it'd be more like a iPhone/touch. But that isn't necessarily bad. My main gripe with my iPhone 3G and iPod touch is that the screen is too tiny for my big, clumsy fingers. A 5-inch screen would be almost ideal for a pocket office or a gaming device. Call it the Goldilocks size. Not too small like the current iPhone. Not too large like a 10-inch or even a 7-inch iPad. Just right. And a 5-inch form factor would have the room to offer a low-end with a larger battery and a high-end with a flexible cellular data plan like the iPad.

    And yes, this doesn't get around the two-gadget problem. Would someone really want to carry about two gadgets: one small enough to answer calls on without looking silly and the other with a large enough screen to be useful. I'm not sure about that, but I am sure that there's no other way to reconcile the small size for a cell phone with the larger screen needed for other uses. And there is an advantage to having the same UI on both and the same synched data.

    For the latter, Apple could astonish the world and confound their competitors by including a slide-out thumb keyboard, giving that 5-inch screen the usability of a 7-inch device.

  1. charlituna

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Sep 2009


    Wu is a joke

    My five year old can analyze and predict as well as he can.

    Wu basically just reads the rumors and repeats them claiming sources told him the info. All so he can say 'buy buy buy' and have the stock value go up. I wouldn't be shocked if he's got a few shares himself.

    Comment buried. Show
  1. coffeetime

    Senior User

    Joined: Nov 2006



    Especially for WP7, Apple need to do something about it to prevent crowds switching over.

  1. Fast iBook

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Mar 2003


    Design vs ship date.

    The iPhone models are worked on for about 2 years before release, so anything now would likely be for 2011 or later.

    Also, i like the iPhone 4's design, i don't want an aircraft carrier in my pocket!! People with those massive screen android phones look ridiculous, especially with the back of the phone that tends to be uneven and lop sided.

    - A

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