While the rumored iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are anticipated to make up Apple’s 2016 flagship lineup, the iPhone 5se could be the year’s hottest model. Even though the device is believed to be a replacement for the current entry-level iPhone 5s, it could spur long-time iPhone users to make the upgrade to a more modern Apple smartphone.
Why? Well, the iPhone 5se will be one of the few modern smartphones with decent specs to launch with a non-phablet-sized display. The 4-inch form factor will be a great asset to the iPhone 5se’s design.
During Apple’s recent earnings call, CEO Tim Cook hinted the smaller display of the iPhone 5se may help convince 60 percent of the company’s smartphone users, who have not upgraded to Apple’s more recent 4.7-inch or 5.5-inch iPhone models, to purchase a new iPhone.
So why should you consider an iPhone 5se when roughly nine out of ten iPhone shoppers opt for larger, and pricier, iPhone models today?
Here are five big rumors about the iPhone 5se:
Chamfered edges are out. This year, the sharp, angular edges of the iPhone 5s are rumored to be replaced by smooth, curvier designs that Apple debuted on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. This would mean that Apple’s 4-inch iPhone 5se will be easier to hold, and the smartphone will share the same design as the iPhone 6, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6 Plus and iPhone 6s Plus.
Apple co-founder and late CEO Steve Jobs long argued that the 3.5-inch and 4-inch screens are the optimal sizes for a smartphone. The rationale is that a user can comfortably hold the phone in one hand and reach across from corner to corner with their thumbs. Larger screen sizes are a two-handed affair. Modern phablets try to overcome this single-handed usability limitation through clever software tweaks to shrink down the display, but it’s an incomplete fix.
A 4-inch iPhone will also be easier to fit into pockets, purses and bags. With an increasing number of smartphone owners carrying two phones with them, the iPhone 5se could also be an excellent second smartphone. Users could use a larger “phablet” to remain productive on the go, browse the internet or watch videos, and the iPhone 5se could be an easy device to carry for voice calls and messaging.
The iPhone 5se is believed to debut in the same Silver, Space Gray, Gold and Rose Gold hues as the current iPhone 6s range.
According to 9to5 Mac, the new iPhone 5se will come with more power, so it will feel faster and keep pace with more expensive flagships in the range. The publication notes that the iPhone 5se could debut with either an Apple A8 processor and an M8 motion co-processor for health data tracking, or even a more powerful A9 and M9 combination.
The A9 processor is the same chipset that debuted on Apple’s current iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus flagships. This means that Apple’s entry-level model for 2016 will have the same specs as 2015’s flagships. This would give it more power than competing Android smartphones with small screens, which often come with middling specs.
Other features include improved Bluetooth 4.2 support, Voice over LTE (VoLTE) and newer 802.11ac Wi-Fi chips from the iPhone 6s.
The iPhone 5se will get the same 8-megapixel rear and 1.2-megapixel front-facing cameras from Apple’s iPhone 6. Unfortunately, it lacks the higher 5-megapixel resolution front shooter for more detailed selfies from the iPhone 6s, so the iPhone 5se won’t be Kim Kardashian approved.
That said, the iPhone’s camera is one of the easiest smartphone cameras to use on the market, and improving the cameras on Apple’s entry-level model will inspire a whole new generation of mobile photographers.
9to5 Mac reports that the new cameras will support larger panoramas and autofocus for video recording. Additionally, the iPhone 5se will also be able to capture Live Photos, a feature that debuted on the iPhone 6s. Although Live Photos will be supported, Apple won’t bless the iPhone 5se with the more innovative 3D Touch display. If you want new gestures to control your smartphone, you’ll be forced to upgrade to a larger and more expensive iPhone model.
The only way to get Apple Pay on an iPhone 5s is to get an NFC-equipped Apple Watch, but that will change with the iPhone 5se. NFC, or the near field communications chip, will be native on the iPhone 5se, and when coupled with the Touch ID fingerprint reader, we’ll see Apple Pay make its way to Apple’s entry-level iPhone model.
This will help Apple increase adoption of its digital Apple Wallet service, and will allow users of Apple’s 4-inch smartphone form factor to ditch their wallets. Apple Pay lets you pay for goods at retailers that support NFC card readers.
Given that all four national carriers in the US have ditched two-year contracts, pricing will play a big factor into the cost of iPhone ownership. The move means that you won’t be able to purchase a base 16GB iPhone 6s, for example, for $199 with a two-year agreement. Instead, if you want the iPhone, you’ll either have to pony up $649 or finance the device over the course of two years, paying for the entire cost of the phone.
As the iPhone 5se is slated to replace the iPhone 5s from this year’s lineup, the device will be the most affordable iPhone model in Apple’s 2016 lineup. This year’s iPhone 5s starts at a more affordable $450 for the 16GB model, or $499 for the 32GB variant. Likely, the iPhone 5se will slot into these same price points.
The iPhone 5se will be the first new 4-inch iPhone model since September 2013. For the 60% of iPhone users who refuse to give up the small size, this alone is big news. Rumors suggest that the iPhone 5se could be announced as early as March, with availability by late-March or early April.