Supply chain rumor contradicts claims of new 4-inch iPhone in 2015The likelihood of a new or revised 4-inch iPhone remains uncertain, as even rumors from Apple's supply chain disagree about whether the company will continue to build new devices in the smaller form factor.
Last week, analyst Timothy Arcuri of Cowen and Company said he was told that Apple was working on a new 4-inch iPhone to debut later in 2015. His sources suggested the device could be a repurposing of the iPhone 5s with a tweaked outer design, in much the same way the iPhone 5c was a revision of the iPhone 5.
But on Monday, another rumor cropped up in direct response to Acuri's claims. Citing alleged sources from Apple's supply chain, the Wei Feng Network suggested there is no indication that Apple plans to release a new 4-inch iPhone in 2015.
The supposed supply chain sources reportedly said that Apple has not tasked any of its suppliers with new orders for a revised 4-inch iPhone. The report, which was first discovered by G for Games, suggests that Apple may be content to stick with the 4.7- and 5.5-inch screen sizes of its current flagship iPhone 6 lineup.
At this point, with so far to go before Apple is expected to debut its 2015 iPhone lineup in its usual September timeframe, it's difficult to place stock in any such rumors. Scattered supply chain rumors tend to become more accurate and consistent with one another as a product's launch approaches.
For example, last year almost everything was known about the look and feel of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus before they were unveiled in September. Even Arcuri, the source of the 4-inch 2015 iPhone rumor, correctly revealed a number of details about the iPhone 6 back in January of 2014, though he also incorrectly claimed the iPhone 6 Plus would have a more powerful processor.
Apple currently offers two iPhones with its legacy 4-inch screen size— the iPhone 5s for $99 with a two-year service contract, and the iPhone 5c, which is free on contract.
If Apple were to stick to its usual release strategy in 2015, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus would see $100 price cuts and occupy the company's mid-tier lineup, the iPhone 5s would take the low-end, and the iPhone 5c would be discontinued. That would leave just one 4-inch iPhone in the lineup next year.
For years, Apple touted its smaller screen sizes as an advantage over competitors, as the 4-inch form factor allowed users to operate the device easily with one hand. But with consumers showing a preference for larger displays, Apple made the change this year to larger screens, and included a new "Reachability" feature to aid in one-handed use.