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There's One Very Good Reason The Next iPhone Might Be Bigger AND Cheaper

Nicholas Carlson

Lots of people think Apple has to make a cheaper iPhone, to compete with Samsung for the lower-end of the market, now that the higher end is saturated.

Lots of people think  Apple has to make a bigger iPhone, to compete with Samsung's Galaxy Note and Galaxy SIII, which have big screens and have sold millions of units.

So that's two phones everyone thinks Apple is going to make.

But what if it's actually just one?

Splat-F's Dan Frommer speculates:

What if these two phones are the same device? What if the big iPhone is the cheap iPhone?

The cost-size curve isn’t straight in computer hardware, because miniaturization is also a cost factor.

  • There is a point where making a MacBook bigger costs more, and a point where making an iPad smaller costs less. The 15-inch MacBook Pro costs more than the 13-inch, and the iPad mini costs less than the big iPad.
  • But there is also a point where making an iPhone smaller costs more — in component efficiency, battery life, R&D, different materials, etc. That’s one reason why the iPhone 5 costs (very roughly) about the same to build as an iPad mini, which is much larger.

You might assume that a bigger iPhone would be a more powerful one; that the iPhone+ (or whatever it’s called) would be an “iPhone Pro” of sorts. Maybe so. But maybe it’s also cheaper than a smaller iPhone, because weight, size, and efficiency aren’t the primary design goals. For example, the battery could be bigger. Or maybe it could contain older, cheaper, more-plentiful, less-efficient components.

To be sure: This is just an idea. I lack Tim Cook’s knowledge of the component market. It’s possible this is totally incorrect logic. Maybe the “cheap iPhone” will be a small, fat, plastic thing like the old iPhone 3G. (I hope not!) Maybe the big iPhone will be a $900 iPhonePadPro. Who knows.

But it is good to remember that there can be a bigger cost to making things smaller.

Want more in-dept Apple analysis? Go to Splat-F >>

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