A Curious Thought: iPhone 5 Really a Small iPad or New iPod?

iPhone 5 or "mini iPad?Wired Magazine ponders the question: could the bigger-screened iPhone 5 rumors really be for a new iPod model? Or, how about a mini iPad? 

Speculation alert: there are no rumors, leaks, or actionable intel cited in this article. Just a fun postulation about the iPhone 5.

While browsing the latest iPhone 5 articles on the Google News search, I came upon a curious selection from Wired, entitled, “Could the Big-Screen ‘iPhone 5′ Be the iPad Nano?‎” Huh? Isn’t “Big-Screen” and “Nano” an oxymoron? Maybe not.

Wired writer Charlie Sorrel makes his case: “The iPod Touch is fantastic, but it lacks the always-on connectivity that make the iPhone such a great pocket computer. But iPod Touch buyers don’t want a cellphone contract. If they did, they’d buy an iPhone. What if Apple uses the iPad carrier model for the Touch, shipping two versions: Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi+3G? The Wi-Fi model would be just what we have now, only with a four-inch screen and lozenge-shaped home button, and the Wi-Fi+3G would come with a 3G chipset and GPS. Buyers could opt in and out of monthly data plans just like they do with the iPad Wi-Fi+3G.”

It’s an intriguing idea, and it also takes into account the fact that this is the time of the year when we typically get a new iPod model. Under Sorrel’s theory, all of the rumors we’re hearing could be at least somewhat correct: “What if they are instead mixing up an iPhone 4S (faster A5 chip, better camera) and a replacement for the iPad Touch?”

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The only thing that gives me pause in this line of thinking is that it would seem strange that Apple would offer iPod users a larger-screen than its iPhone users, especially considering that nearly all of the iPhone 5′s top tier competitors are sporting 4″+ screens. If Apple was to go this way, its customers may see it more as a cruel joke than cool innovation.

But another thought springs to mind: could a larger-screened device be a “mini iPad instead?”

Sporting a 5″ inch screen, a mini iPad would bridge the gap between the iPhone and the current 9.7″ iPad tablet — a pocket-sized tablet that would make typing, computing, and gesturing much easer. The 5″ tablet crossover is not a completely new idea, either: Dell offered its Streak series in a 5″ inch version. Of course, the Streak 5 was also a smartphone, and proved to be too big for most smartphone users. It unceremoniously bit the dust, with Dell learning its lesson and keeping the Streak tablets relegated to the 7″ variety.

But Dell is Dell and Apple is Apple: Cupertino might see a burgeoning market segment for tablets of this size. And in this way, those seemingly sketchy “iPad 3″ rumors, as well as the persnickety rumor that the next iPhone will retain the iPhone 4′s form factor, all could come true.

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By Michael Nace

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