Newest Apple iPhone is expected to target fans of smaller gadgets – Los Angeles Times

SAN FRANCISCO — When Apple in 2014 released its largest-ever iPhones — the 6 and 6 Plus — it followed a trend set by Samsung and other Android phone-makers.

Since then, big has become the new normal.

But with the rumor mill buzzing about Apple’s supposed plans Monday to unveil a new, lower-cost iPhone measuring just 4 inches diagonally — 0.7 inches smaller than the iPhone 6 and 1.5 inches smaller than the 6 Plus — app developers and analysts suspect a change of course is underway.

If the hype is accurate, Apple’s new direction will be one that almost any customer can grasp.

“While people like the bigger phones, there are devotees of the smaller phones simply because of different-sized hands and pockets,” said Frank Gillett, a Forrester Research analyst.

With each new phone, Apple has abandoned support for an earlier model. And as iPhone screens grew to keep pace with Samsung — which had won a younger crowd with phones so big they could be tablets — the Cupertino, Calif., tech giant did away with the 3.5-inch screens from the iPhone 4 and earlier models.

The increasingly outdated iPhone 5 line, which measures 4 inches and dates from 2012, is now Apple’s smallest phone. With the iPhone 7 expected to launch later this year, presumably with dimensions similar to the iPhone 6, the 4-inch iPhone could have gone the way of the Macintosh or PowerBook.

But just because Apple added bigger phones doesn’t mean everyone has chosen to upgrade. Mobile advertising agency AppLovin parsed through its user data in February and found that 37% of iPhone users still use smaller-screen devices.

That’s a problem for Apple because it suggests customers aren’t buying new phones and are instead holding onto devices ancient by tech standards.

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