It’s mid-January, so obviously rumours of the next iPhone model have started. Actually, I read iPhone 6 rumours the day after the iPhone 5s was announced.
I suspect some people spend their entire technology writing careers creating and propagating crazy Apple rumours.
Implausible rumours aside, the trend for bigger mobile phone screens continues, while Apple has retained the same form factor some quite a while (in technology terms). I’ll admit I was disappointed that the iPhone 5s was effectively a pretty minor upgrade from the iPhone 5 – though increased memory and finger print scanning were both welcome.
For some reason, I’ve had a thing for ‘phablets’ (a phrase I dislike using, but it seems to have stuck. To me, it sounds vaguely medical and not at all appealing). Those impossibly large mobile phones basically straddle the space between large mobiles and small tablets.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 3, the Sony Xperia Z Ultra and the Asus Fonepad Note FHD 6 fall into this category. Super-big bright screens and the potential for using a stylus rather than your finger. And I love them. The drawback fro me is they run Android and I’m firmly ensconced in the Apple iOS eco-system. Apps, music, films, TV shows, contacts, calendars… all the information and entertainment I use on a daily basis.
So I’ve been hoping that Apple will follow this trend – while simultaneously doing something interesting – and offer us a larger screen iPhone. Maybe it’ll be the iPhone 6. Maybe it’ll be a parallel iPhone model in addition to the iPhone 6. I don’t really care, as long as it has the following:
- A screen that’s *at least* 5 inches
- Retina display
- Improved battery life, as it’s going to be used to watch movies as well as function as a phone
- Optimised for use with a stylus (maybe even an Apple stylus)
- Some phablet-optimised apps to take advantage of the bigger screen (like the Samsung Note)
Are these in any way realistic? Well, there are several hurdles, based on everything Apple has said and done before now. For example, Steve Jobs is on the record as criticising the use of a stylus with a mobile phone.
Then again, he was on the record as saying people didn’t want to watch video on a mobile device.
A bigger screen would add complexity to the app eco-system in that apps would need to work on multiple displays (iPhone 4S, iPhone 5s and iPhone phablet). I don’t think this is beyond Apple, but would require cooperation from the app developers.
There’s the potential for an Apple phablet to cannibalise sales of the iPad Mini, but then again, does Apple care where the cash comes from, as long as it continues to roll in, tsunami-like?
To this amateur enthusiast, it looks like phablets are here to stay. Both phablets and larger-screen mobiles like the Samsung Galaxy S4 are incredibly popular. I seem to be surrounded by Samsung mobiles on the tube every day and I’m insanely jealous of the large, bright screens when I compare them to my iPhone 5S.
From that perspective, Apple isn’t innovating – it’s not even keeping up with the competition.
Would an Apple phablet replace my iPad Mini?
Nope. But I might not bring it with me as regularly when I leave the house. A larger screen phone could replace it for reading the news and watching video podcasts. But I’d still want it for reading books and taking on holidays instead of a laptop.
You see? I’ve essentially rationalised my use-case for an Apple phablet, which doesn’t require me to sell my iPad Mini. A skill I’ve finely honed since my addiction to consumer technology began in the 90’s.
Rumour’s aside, I think it’ll be extremely disappointing – even to the most die-hard of Apple’s fans – if they don’t do something interesting with the iPhone in 2014. “Interesting” to me would be a larger screen.
“Jaw-dropping” would be a combination of phablet and iWatch.
Take my money.