Rumors of an iPhone Mini are buzzing around along with a ton of commentary on the possibile device. In the world of pundits and Apple critics you’ll hear both praise of the idea and tons of complaints as to why it shouldn’t be made.
The most prominent complaint is that an iPhone Mini/iPhone Nano’s screen would be too small to be usable, and that by creating another iPhone screen resolution Apple would further complicate UI development for the entire iOS platform. If you listen to the Apple critics, this would somehow lead to Android style fragmentation of the iOS world.
I don’t think that’s going to happen though, and here’s why… I think an iPhone Mini will use a screen very similar if not identical to the current iPhone 4. Let’s review the iPhone Mini reports and we can see evidence suggesting this to be the case.
Here’s a quote from Bloomberg (emphasis mine), saying Apple will use parts from the existing iPhone 4:
Apple would sell it at a low price mainly because the smartphone will use a processor, display and other components similar to those used in the current model, rather than pricier, more advanced parts that will be in the next iPhone, the person said. Component prices typically drop over time.
And here’s a quote from the Wall Street Journal citing the edge-to-edge screen:
The person who saw the prototype of the new iPhone said the device was significantly lighter than the iPhone 4 and had an edge-to-edge screen that could be manipulated by touch
“Edge-to-edge” to me means a smaller border and no home button, I don’t think we’ll see a screen literally touching all of the phones edges.
Finally, here’s a quote from the well-connected John Gruber who seems to agree with this point:
As for the smaller iPhone, I doubt the screen will be much smaller than 3.5 inches diagonally (if at all). I’m guessing it’s just thinner and with a smaller chin and forehead. …It’s unclear what “half the size” means, but surely it doesn’t mean a 1.75-inch diagonal screen.
Gruber likely hits the nail on the head with this, that the iPhone Mini will simply have a smaller chin and forehead. In the mockup I threw together above, the iPhone Mini has the same size screen as the iPhone 4 but everything else is smaller. This is how you get a device that is ‘half the size’ and significantly lighter, without creating another resolution for app developers to contend with.
So anyway, this is only speculation combined with Photoshop, but I think it’s entirely possible that the iPhone Mini, if it is released, will use the same screen dimensions and resolution as the existing iPhone 4 model. As Bloomberg says, component prices drop over time, so producing the screen must be getting cheaper for Apple. The iPhone 4’s screen is amazing and still one of the best on the market, why not roll it into a new model iPhone?
Now, regarding ditching the home button, which some people have claimed would be impossible from a usability standpoint, this is simply not true, as evidenced by the current iPod Nano:
You could describe the iPod Nano as having an edge-to-edge screen too, couldn’t you? Why wouldn’t the iPhone Mini take design cues from the iPod Nano while maintaining parts from the iPhone 4? And, taking this a step further, why shouldn’t the iPhone 5 and even iPad 2 do this too?
Just some food for thought.