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Apple Pencils In March 15 for 4-Inch iPhone Launch

Apple is planning an event to unveil a refresh of its iPhone 5s and its Apple Watch, as well as to introduce a new version of its iPad Air, 9to5Mac reported Tuesday. However, the event date could change, or the company could opt for an online announcement.

The 4-inchiPhone 5se reportedly will look similar to the 5s and sell at the same price point: US$450. However, it will have a faster processor, Apple’s A9 chip and support for Apple Pay.

“It’ll have the guts of a current phone but in a smaller size,” said Bob O’Donnell, chief analyst withTechnalysis Research.

4-Inch Display

“There are people who want that smaller size. It’s not going to change the world, but it’s a viable alternative for a certain segment of the market,” O’Donnell told TechNewsWorld.

“Some users are very comfortable with their old iPhone 5s and stick with it because of its small size,” said Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst atMoor Insights & Strategy.

“A new 4-inch display gives them a no-excuses reason to move to a new phone,” he told TechNewsWorld.

New iPhone Unlikely

While much has been made of the 5se’s screen size, there are other benefits to the phone, if the rumors about it prove to be true.

“It’s catering to people who don’t like a larger screen for sure, but it’s also a way to take a very successful product, the 5s, and put some features in it that will make that device more future-proof when it comes to operating system upgrades,” said Carolina Milanesi, chief of research atKantar Worldpanel ComTech.

“Apple will also be able to monetize more from it with Apple Pay and make it appeal to a larger audience with a lower price,” she told TechNewsWorld.

There’s reason to doubt that the 4-inch iPhone will be included in Apple’s March event, however.

With the iPhone 7’s release expected in September, any iPhone models launched before then would appear outdated in a very short time,Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said, according to a report in AppleInsider.

Not a Market Mover

The March event will focus on introductions of new versions of the Apple Watch and iPad Air, Munster reportedly said.

The new Apple Watch probably will be an “S” version of the wearable, with a design similar to the existing model, he predicted, but with improved components and battery life, as well as more watchbands.

The new iPad likely will be a refresh too.

“It’s the guts of an iPad Pro with the body of an iPad Air 2,” Technalysis Research’s O’Donnell said.

“It’s not going to breathe new life into the tablet market. The iPad Pro didn’t, and the iPad Air 3 is definitely not going to,” he added.

Still, “with the tablet market stagnant, a refresh of the iPad Air may be a good idea,” said Milanesi of Kantar Worldpanel ComTech.

“The iPad Pro is a niche product. It’s an enterprise professional user play. That talks more in terms of margins than it does sales volumes,” she noted. “So having a refresh of the very popular Air is something that might help Apple lift the product upgrade cycle with a lot of consumers who are still hanging on to previous versions of the iPad.”

Event-Worthy Lineup?

Do the rumored products have the pizzazz to warrant an Apple event?

“These are incremental things. That’s why there’s speculation as to whether there needs to be an event or just an announcement,” O’Donnell said.

“It’s what everyone has come to expect. It would be a letdown if we don’t have it,” Milanesi noted.

“I don’t know how big an event it’s going to be,” she said, “but you’ll quickly find out by where the location is going to be.”

John Mello is a freelance technology writer and contributor to Chief Security Officer magazine. You can connect with him on Google+.

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