VP & Principal Analyst Frank Gillett on why Apple would consider a new “small” iPhone, and why other smartphone makers should do too:
“Smartphones started out small and pocketable in 2007. Today, the biggest phones have displays nearly double in size, and they’re barely pocketable (1). But tech news sites report persistent rumors that Apple is about to launch a “small” iPhone, as a successor to the iPhone SE, discontinued in 2018 as the last in a series that started with the iPhone 5 in 2012. With large phones very popular, why would any phone maker do this? It turns out that a persistent set of US and global phone users want small phones, especially those who use personal devices for work.
We looked at results from the Forrester Analytics Consumer Technographics® North American Technology, Media, and Telecom Benchmark Recontact 1 Survey, 2019 to find out about consumer preferences. In 2019, 21% of US online adults report that they have a smartphone with a display less than 5 inches in size, and 15% want their next phone to have a display less than 5 inches in size. Nearly half of those with a small smart phone today want their next phone to be the same size.
Among US information workers, those who use a smartphone, tablet, or PC for work an hour or more per day, there’s a much stronger preference for small phones. We looked at the Forrester Analytics Global Business Technographics® Workforce Benchmark Survey, 2019, to learn about information worker preference. In 2019, 53% of US information workers who use a smartphone for work, currently use a smartphone with a display of less than 5 inches, and 39% overall want their next work phone to be small. Almost two thirds of US information workers with a small work phone want their next phone to be the same size.
From a quick scan on the GSMArena website, the only phones at 5 inches or less introduced since the start of 2018 are basic budget Android phones. There’s a market opportunity for Apple, Samsung, Huawei, and other phone makers to serve a significant chunk of the market, especially given that information workers are likely to spend more on their phones. After the expected Apple announcement, watch for Samsung and others to launch small, mid-price phones to compete for this segment. For web and mobile experience designers, this means that they need to keep their experiences manageable on smaller screens, until smartphone makers push displays on these phones all the way to the edge, the way they have on the premium, flagship phones.”