Could an 'iPhone nano' work?

Could an 'iPhone nano' work?

Summary: Woken up today to lots of chat about a possible 'iPhone nano' from Apple? But could a tiny iPhone really work?

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Woken up today to lots of chat about a possible 'iPhone nano' from Apple? But could a tiny iPhone really work?

First off, I'm not convinced that this rumor is anything more than just that - an attention-seeking rumor. I've been hearing rumors about an 'iPhone nano' for some time now, and after the iPad, a device which is four times as big as the iPhone, there's a certain poetry to the idea of a device half the size of the iPhone. But we need more than poetry to make this rumor work.

But could an 'iPhone nano' work? Well, the place to start with a project like this would be to shrink the screen. Given that Apple doubled the screen resolution of the iPhone 4 compared to the 3GS (up to 960x640 from 480x320), you could, theoretically, make a screen half the size and have apps run fine on it (apps that work on the iPhone 4 and 3GS at any rate). Sure, it wouldn't be a retina display (I'm reminded of Homer Simpson's "Picture so blurry, might as well rub dirt in my eyes" pout), but it's still a display.

Problem solved then, right? Wrong.

I don't know if you've looked inside an iPhone 4 (or alternatively taken a look at a teardown), but there's a lot of stuff inside them. A LOT. Even if you halved the size of the battery (something that's possible to do, but which has an adverse effect on how long the device can last between recharges), it might not be possible to halve the footprint of the remainder of the electronics without some radical re-engineering. Even then it might not be possible to get it all down that small. After all, it still has to be an iPhone and do everything that the iPhone currently does.

Let's assume that this miniaturization is possible. Job done, right?

Not so fast! What about the OS? Fist thing that comes to mind is the on-screen keyboard that Apple uses. It's already pretty small, so the idea of using it on a screen half the size of the current iPhone screen doesn't bare thinking about. I'd hope that Apple would provide us all with out own Apple-branded pinhead for driving the UI.

The rumor that Apple Insider has does mention 'voice navigation,' but the idea of doing everything via voice is far-fetched. No matter what size the screen, the UI would need to be usable. Voice is currently a long way off being usable on the iPhone.

The more I think about the 'iPhone nano' the more I feel that this is just one of those rumors that sounds good, but when you stop and think about it the only way that this would work is if the 'iPhone' in question represented a radical departure from what we currently think of an an iPhone. There's talk of it having only a small amount of internal memory and using the cloud for storage, which not only means a redesigned iPhone, but a redesigned way of using the iPhone.

[poll id="598"]

That could be an interesting experiment.

[UPDATE: 'iPhone nano' starting to sound a loke like the iPod nano now. I'm more confident that this rumor is just nonesense now.]

Topics: Smartphones, Apple, Hardware, iPhone, Mobility

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17 comments
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  • How about an iPhone "nano" and an iPad. Forget trying to do the same UI and

    aps as a full size iPhone, only what is appropriate with a much smaller screen. Could be a hit, as many want SOME of the features of an iPhone, but in a much smaller package.
    DonnieBoy
    • RE: Could an 'iPhone nano' work?

      @DonnieBoy isn't the current iPhone already small? just compare it with the Droid X or HTC Evo. Looks like a little kid.
      tatiGmail
  • RE: Could an 'iPhone nano' work?

    It can indeed be done, and done VERY well (just NOT by crApple). Take a look at the HP Veer:

    http://www.palm.com/us/products/phones/veer/index.html
    TheOfficeMaven
    • RE: Could an 'iPhone nano' work?

      @TheOfficeMaven You lost any sort of credibility when you started off on your "crApple" thing...
      athynz
      • RE: Could an 'iPhone nano' work?

        @athynz Why? According to your logic, then if I say "crApple is best company in the U.S. with the most innovative designs and products that disrupt the market", then I lost credibility for saying "crApple". Thus, it means that what I said is false?
        nomorebs
      • RE: Could an 'iPhone nano' work?

        @athynz Maybe he had an extra drink of Hateraide, lol. Wasn?t the Kin half the size of the iPhone, how well did that one sell?
        Rick_K
      • RE: Could an 'iPhone nano' work?

        @nomorebs You have - there IS no company called "crApple" - it's a middle school level insult some halfwit came up with to somehow stir up the Apple Zealots - just like the "windoze" crap... what IS "windoze" anyway? All the childish crap gets old.
        athynz
  • Great for Teens and Students

    If you subtract the space used on the iphone4 that currently is used by the home button and the front-facing speaker & camera the actual display size could remain identical to the current phone. That would eliminate 1/3 of the current phone size. If they made the battery slightly smaller, placed the front-facing speaker on the top of the phone between the power button and headphone jack, found someplace for the front camera, put 8GB of storage, used the current processor, and include the Siri assistant software they acquired, they would have a slightly smaller equally as powerful iphone that they could price for mere mortals. I bet this phone is not targeted to the current iphone loving masses. I'm certain this is for the other ??? million people that don't currently have any sort of smartphone (or a psuedo smartphone). This is probably Apple's version of Jitterbug, probably meant for networks like Boost, Cricket, etc. ;-)
    dalord
    • RE: Could an 'iPhone nano' work?

      @dalord
      I agree with you about the target demographic. But Apple should dictate terms to carriers saying they should not charge full data plan on this. Otherwise we will see another KIN. But that definitely is a good idea pushing the Nano as a feature phone with social integration and apps.
      Ram U
  • RE: Could an 'iPhone nano' work?

    Nope. The iPhone is small enough already - I could see an iPod Touch Nano possibly with a smaller battery and with the elimination of the cellular radio but not an smaller iPhone.
    athynz
    • RE: Could an 'iPhone nano' work?

      @athynz
      Isn?t the current iPod nano small enough?
      http://www.apple.com/ipodnano/
      How small can it get and remain functional?
      Rick_K
  • RE: Could an 'iPhone nano' work?

    I can't help but picture people talking on a device that has no screen, and just vibrates when a call comes in. Forget texting, or apps.
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • That would be called the iPhone Shuffle

      @Cylon Centurion 0005
      Interesting concept.
      kenosha77a
  • i think the cloud idea might be the most viable..

    i.e. remove all the storage memory except enough for caching and the OS (a la appleTV 2.0) an do everything via the cloud even app.. serve them in similar fashion to how onLive serves video games.. all processing is done on apple servers (maybe the reason for giant server farm), so you don't even need a fast processor just a good GPU and fast connection with low latency (LTE?)..

    crappy last gen processor and almost no RAM could drop the price quite a bit and reduce the size of the device considerably..

    barrier... reasonable data service needs to be present in order to sport the streaming of everything though.. running an app essentially becomes like playing a movie in terms of data requirements..
    doctorSpoc
  • RE: Could an 'iPhone nano' work?

    Bear, not bare.
    googam
  • RE: Could an 'iPhone nano' work?

    Apple succeeded with the iPad, not because they tried to cram OSX onto a smaller screen, but instead they made more capable iPod touch. Likewise, Apple will make and succeed with an iPhone nano, not because they try to cram iOS onto a smaller screen, but instead they will make a more capable iPod nano. I'm counting down the months to my wristwatch phone ;)
    MikeELL
  • RE: Could an 'iPhone nano' work?

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