MWC New Smaller SmartPhones – New iPhone Form Factors?

Beyond the new OSes, MWC is usually a parade of new devices from a myriad of  vendors. And we have seen various iPhone candybar sized designs at the Windows Phone Series 7 launch and the Bada OS Wave phone.

One of the more interesting changes were several smaller smartphones which moved away from the current iPhone/Droid/Nexus One form factor size.

The first one is a HTC HD Mini which if it wasn’t a WinMo 6.5 phone (or dead phone walking) might generate some sales from folks looking for a smaller form factor.

The second one is the Sony Xperia X10 Mini. Running Android with a heavily reworked GUI skin, this 2.5 inch screen phone comes in two versions, X10 Mini and X10 Mini Pro. The Xperia X10 Mini Pro unit is pictured here with the slide out keyboard.

Now could Apple decide to build a cheaper/smaller iPhone?  It could be easy to imagine a $49/or free iPhone that was smaller in size with 8 or 16 GBs of memory. Before the initial iPhone 3g release, there were rumors of a smaller  iPhone being launched due to the images captured by iLounge of prototypes iPhone cases.

This infamous 2.8 inch screen iPhone image turned out to be false, but rumors of a iPhone Nano just won’t go away. In addition, there are now alleged photos from iResq of the next generation iPhone which has a slightly  bigger screen at 3.7 inches.

Does a bigger iPhone allow Apple to create a small iPhone? Apple clearly could expand their iPhone lineup and while Apple likes to keep a simplified lineup mainly using storage as the key differentiator, screen size also fits Apple’s MO in terms of making things easy for the customer in terms of choice. Now, the key and most plausible argument against any lineup changes like this is of course application development. But, Apple is clearly creating the ability for App Store developers to both scale up applications for the iPad, so you have to wonder if Apple will create the ability for an iPhone application to be created once and work on a smaller screen iPhone, bigger iPhone, and then be modified to run on the much bigger iPad screen. It’s probably unrealistic to keep the iPhone at the 3.5 inch screen forever. The Palm Pre has a 3.1 inch screen and that screen real estate is not a huge issue on that phone. So there’s room for perhaps two versions of the iPhone separated by screen size and price.

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