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An Apple Phablet really wouldn't be Phab

A recent rumour has come out that Apple is working towards it’s next line of iPhone (no surprise there). However, after what some have argued as a relatively minor upgrade from the iPhone 5 to 5s (really? A breathtaking new camera and 64 bit processor, a motion sensing processor built in and a completely new home button that scans your finger are small upgrades?) but the iPhone 6 (though I’m sure the naming system will have to change and you’ll see why in a second) looks to be a radical departure from the current design and features of the previous iterations like the change from the iPhone 3GS to the iPhone 4.

The rumours are that the screens will have a curved bezel (like the lumia 625) which will allow for an even smaller bezel. This is perhaps the key factor that Apple have been waiting for to increase the screen size of the iPhone.

One of the key points made at the launch of the iPhone 5 which lengthened the screen but didn’t widen the iPhone screen, is that it should be operable in one hand. Lengthening the screen allowed for this to continue, whereas widening the screen would at best result in a worse experience in operating with one hand and at worse result in users relying on two hands. However, a curved bezel that goes fully to the edge of the screen would allow for a wider screen whilst keeping the device operable in a single hand.

Two New Screen Sizes?

As such we may be seeing an iPhone with a 4.7 inch screen, putting it into the territory of the Nexus 4 and HTC one and Samsung S3 but smaller than the more recent Android releases of the S4 and Nexus 4. An interesting development that will result in a very different device than is currently out there. However, more shockingly, there may be a second iPhone size.

Along with the rumours of a 4.7 inch screen there are rumours of a…wait for it….5.5 inch screen. That’s full on Phablet size and the same as the Galaxy Note 2 to give you some idea of the proportions that this device would hold. Having previously owned the Note 2 I thought the device was great…until I had to use it as a phone.

It was just too large to send messages one handed and looked ridiculous next to my head. Using it as a tablet was okay for reading (especially on flights as it easily fitted into my pocket) and to show pictures or videos but it still wasn’t great and anymore than two people was just as difficult as with a smaller phone. After getting hold of the iPad air I stopped using my Note for any tablet like functions and it isn’t pleasurable to use for the phone functions. Basically it’s a poor phone and a poor tablet. It makes much more sense for a user to have a good phone and a good tablet rather than a device which fails in both camps.

If there’s a company that can manage to get the formula right it’s apple but I worry that they are pursuing a niche they really shouldn’t. The note followers are becoming increasingly entrenched and hostile to all things apple and so persuading anyone away will be difficult for Apple, providing a larger screen will not be enough.

[As for stylises, every note owner I know barely uses theirs, pretty much exclusively for playing draw something.]

Air And Pro All The Things!

Interestingly this potential move raises questions about the pricing model and branding of the new iPhones. They can’t possible just have the iPhone 6 name, they’d need to at least add on an ending. With the rebrand on the new iPad, the iPad Air (which hints at a potential iPad Pro) I wonder if a new naming system of the iPhone air (for a smaller screen) and the iPhone Pro (for a larger and perhaps more business oriented model) could be the root forward…but what will then happen to the new direction with the iPhone 5C? Will they abandon the plastic shell options all together?

A Bunch Of Rumours

Really these are just rumours (though they were leaked from a “reliable source” ) and so there is no telling how much truth there is here or how much these are just Apple R&D experiments.  Having personally gone from a overly super screen to a smaller and more comfortable screen, I like that Apple are looking at users interests in larger phones and seem to only be pursuing it when the technology is there to avoid the main compromises of necessitating two handed use. However, an Apple phablet just doesn’t seem to fit in with this line of thinking. It seems to be a compromise in both the phone and Tablet department and in general The note line seems to be the only popular Phablet line (and even that is niche). Apple has never chased consumers but lead them, I’m sure the next iPhone line will continue this tradition.

[Featured Image iPhone 6 concept by Nikola Citrovic]

About Chris Wilson

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