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New survey on screen size preference fuels smaller iPhone 6C rumors

Robert Nazarian

How much was the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone worth to the Federal Bureau of Investigation? Director James Comey let slip a hint, which Reuters used to calculate a ballpark amount well north of $1.3 million.

If the estimate is accurate, it is the largest ever publicly known amount paid for a hacking technique, beating out Zerodium, an information security firm that paid $1 million to an anonymous team of hackers to break into iOS 9.1 late last year.

Related: The hacked San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone doesn’t reveal any ISIS ties

The bureau paid professional “gray hat” hackers to unlock the iPhone 5C left behind by one of the San Bernardino shooters, Syed Farook. The phone sparked a month-long legal battle between Apple and the FBI, as Apple refused to create a special tool to provide access into the phone.

Apple feared that, in the wrong hands, the tool could be used against all of its customers, threatening their privacy and security. The Cupertino company’s sentiments were echoed by many other tech companies, privacy and human rights groups, as well as legal, tech, cryptology, and cybersecurity experts. The FBI dropped the case after the team of anonymous hackers successfully cracked the phone.

Related: Apple refused to hand over its source code to China

Comey was speaking at the Aspen Security Forum in London, when he was asked how much the FBI paid to unlock the iPhone. “A lot,” he said. “More than I will make in the remainder of this job, which is seven years and four months for sure. But it was, in my view, worth it.”

Reuters estimated that since, according to the FBI and the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, Comey’s annual salary as of January 2015 was $183,300, that amount will reach $1.34 million by the day his term ends.

The contents of the iPhone didn’t show any evidence of ties to ISIS, but it helped put to bed a few theories the FBI held about what happened during an 18-minute gap from when the shooters left the holiday party, after they killed 14 people. It’s still unknown what exactly happened during that time period.

It’s clear that most people prefer a large and in charge smartphone. We have seen screen sizes getting larger and larger to the point that some of them are too big to fit in your pocket.

While most manufacturers pushed the envelope to 6-plus inches, Apple waited until last year to go over the 4-inch mark. Once Apple obliged, sales for the iPhone went through the roof. However, not all consumers prefer to hold something larger in their hand. Keep it in your pants folks — we are still talking about smartphones.

Related: All the rumors and news about Apple’s 4-inch iPhone 6C

Investment firm Piper Jaffray conducted a survey that showed 20.3 percent of consumers yearning for a phone with a 4-inch display, which is the same size as the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C (pictured above).

Now as much as there are some people who have great eyes and prefer the smaller display, the survey of 1,077 U.S. consumers proved that most people want more screen real estate, which isn’t surprising. 31.2 percent of respondents feel the iPhone 6S (4.7 inches) is the perfect size, while 27.2 percent prefer the larger iPhone 6S plus (5.5 inches). The remaining 21.2 percent wanted something other than 4, 4.7, or 5.5 inches.

While this data is fueling rumors that Apple might offer a smaller iPhone 6C to cater to the 20 percent, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster doesn’t think it would have a positive affect on sales. He believes that most of the 20 percent who claim they prefer the 4-inch size haven’t upgraded to a larger iPhone yet. Munster thinks they will move to the “dark side” once the jump is made.

I wholeheartedly agree with Munster on this. I remember when I would tote around my larger Android phone, iPhone users would constantly say that they have no interest in a larger phone. Once Apple unveiled the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in late 2014, those same people magically loved the larger size.

Related: 10 great smartphones you can buy for $400 or less

With that said, smaller phones aren’t going away anytime soon. They service a niche, namely budget phones. The iPhone 6C might not set the world on fire, but according to Munster, it would be a lower-priced alternative for many consumers who want the Apple brand, but can’t shell out $600 plus for an iPhone. He believes an iPhone 6C could cost $450, which generally isn’t classified as “budget” by today’s standards, but it would be for Apple. The phone could launch next spring alongside a new Apple Watch.

Let us know in the comments what size you prefer — and yes, we are still talking about phones.

Also watch: Apple iPhone 6S Plus vs. Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge

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