If you long for the days of palm-sized iPhones, Apple might be getting closer to bringing back the glory days of the iPhone 5s. The latest rumor has the Cupertino, Calif., company taking the wraps off a new 4-inch phone in March that will revive the smaller design of 2013 iPhones.
A new report from 9to5Mac says that the slimmer phone will be called the iPhone 5se, drawing a direct comparison to Apple’s iPhone release from more than two years ago. The phone is expected to debut at a March press event alongside an update to the Apple Watch, echoing a 9to5Mac report from last year.
Rumors about a 4-inch iPhone began heating up last year, especially after an early December research note from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo suggested that the new phone would include an NFC chip to support Apple Pay and run on the same A9 processor found in Apple’s current iPhone 6s and 6s Plus.
A purported leaked image of the so-called iPhone 5se seems to confirm the 4-inch display, and a more rounded silhouette as opposed to the iPhone 5s’ sleek, straight chamfered edges.
9to5Mac’s new report agrees on the Apple Pay support, but says the 4-inch iPhone could instead feature an A8 processor. That’s the same CPU in 2014’s iPhone 6. The new phone will also adopt the 8-megapixel rear and 1.2MP front cameras found on the iPhone 6, according to 9to5Mac.
In one of the more interesting details from the 9to5Mac report, the iPhone 5se would support Live Photos, the feature added to the iPhone 6s in which some video and audio is recorded along with still photos. However, the display won’t be pressure sensitive, the report says. That would square with an earlier report from analyst Kuo that said the 4-inch phone wouldn’t include 3D Touch functionality. That would help Apple set apart a smaller phone from its flagship models, while keeping a low price tag on the newer, smaller phone.
Kuo expects the 4-inch phone phone to cost between $400 and $500 — substantially lower than the $649 starting price of the iPhone 6s — as Apple looks to reach more customers.
Releasing a smartphone in the first half of the year would be uncharacteristic of Apple, a company that typically hosts one big iPhone launch every September. However, considering that the iPhone 5s is the only 4-inch iPhone left in Apple’s current handset lineup, it may be wise for Apple to release something more up-to-date for those who prefer smaller phones but want more up-to-date specs.
Apple may also want to have an early-year smartphone release in order to fend off a more aggressive Samsung. The Korean smartphone maker is rumored to be eying a March release for its Galaxy S7 smartphone. Mobile World Congress will be held the last week of February, with phone makers like LG already teasing smartphone announcements.
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