Analysts claim itty bitty iPhone Mini to land next year

Damn the trends, say pundits, new Apple mobe will be SMALLER

The next Apple iPhone won't be a larger handset, but rather a budget-priced miniature model, according to industry analysts.

A note from Zacks Equity Research suggests that the Cupertino giant is readying a lower-priced, 4-inch version of the iPhone 6 for release next year. Target sales for such a phone, Zacks reckons, are a minimum of 10 million devices sold per year.

This is hardly the first time we've heard rumors about a so-called iPhone Mini. Similarly, industry pundits have been buzzing that Apple will release a budget iPhone almost as long as we can remember – until the iPhone 5c dashed those hopes, that is.

But the rhubarb about a smaller iPhone has intensified ever since Apple chose to go large with the phablet-like iPhone 6 Plus, and Zacks is only the latest to chime in with a prediction that a mini model will launch in 2015.

"We believe that the launch will cash in on the market buzz created by strong sales of the new iPhones. Since the Sep 2014 release, the iPhones created record demand far exceeding that of the previous versions of iPhone," Zacks writes. "Apple intends to sell the new iPhones in approximately 115 countries in the near term, marking it the fastest roll-out in the history of the device."

Apple currently does not offer a small-screen option with its newest line of iPhones. The iPhone 6 sports a 4.7-inch Retina display, while the iPhone 6 Plus has a 5.5-inch screen. Apple's budget line consists of the last-generation iPhone 5s and the low-end iPhone 5c, both of which have 4-inch displays.

A new mini model would presumably also have a 4-inch display but would introduce the slimmer, rounded case design of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, both of which are skinnier than either the iPhone 5s or 5c.

There are a few points that could make the predicted launch much less of a sure thing, however.

While there could be a spot in Apple's lineup for a smaller iPhone model, there might not be much of a market for one. A recent report from analytics firm Flurry placed small-screen phones at just 2 per cent of new devices activated during the Christmas week.

The launch of an iPhone Mini could also signal a shift in sales strategy from Apple. The iThings maker currently flogs last year's model as the value-priced option in the line, a strategy that would likely change if the company moved the Mini into the low-end spot. ®

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