Replace iPhone SE With iPhone XR Mini

An iPhone XR Mini, center, should replace the discontinued iPhone SE, left. The photos are shown to scale, with an iPhone XS for comparison. (Photos, Apple; collage, Glenn Marston)

Series: Apple’s Absentees

Part 2 of 2

When Apple’s website reappeared after shutdown for the company’s Sept. 12 product event, it displayed a list of the new X-series iPhones.

Eliminated from Apple availability were the regular- and large-size iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s, which had been introduced in September 2014 and September 2015.

Also missing was a unique small phone, the iPhone SE. Based on the body of 2012’s iPhone 5, it had been the only remnant of the compact early iPhones.

One should not assume that Apple has sworn off small phones. They are favorites of smaller folks, plus a segment of women that eschews the grand purse and those of both genders who prefer to travel light with clothes tailored tight.

Apple might have intended no inference other than limiting new iPhones to those in the minimal-bezel, Face ID form of the X series.

With that in mind, Apple should produce an iPhone XR Mini as a follow-on to the iPhone SE.

An iPhone XR Mini could be a simple shrink of the iPhone XR. The XR, with a 6.1-inch LCD screen, was announced Sept. 12 for ordering Oct. 19 and delivery Oct. 26.

Compared to the XR, an iPhone XR Mini would have:

  • The same A12 Bionic processor.

  • The same improved, single cameras front and back.

  • The same Face ID.

  • An LCD screen of 4.9 inches.

By following the form of the iPhone X in comparison to the iPhone 8, the body and screen proportions would be similar. The only difference is the calculations would start from a smaller point, that of the iPhone SE.

The measurements work out as follows:

  • Body width: SE, 2.31 inches. XR Mini, 2.43 inches.

  • Body height: SE, 4.87 inches. XR Mini, 5.05 inches.

  • Screen, diagonally: SE, 4 inches. XR Mini, 4.9 inches.

Reasons for excluding an iPhone XR Mini from the Sept. 12 event could include a desire to concentrate marketing on the Big Three iPhone X series or a need to conserve A12 Bionic chips for the inaugural rush.

Announcement of an iPhone XR Mini would be reasonable during a second product event this fall, spring 2019 or in September 2019.

Expect a more expensive price, as with the upgrade from other traditional-form iPhones to the iPhone X series.

Compared to the iPhone SE’s starting price of $349 and the iPhone XR’s $749, one might expect a starting price of $549 or $599 for an iPhone XR Mini.


Part 1: Chip Shrink Could Dictate Apple Upgrades

Chip Shrink Could Dictate Apple Upgrades

Series: Apple’s Absentees

Part 1 of 2

At its Sept. 12 product event, Apple limited its major announcements to a redesigned Apple Watch and a Big Three iPhone X series.

An important part of production will focus on the A12 Bionic processing chip. This is the first chip Apple has designed for fabrication at a size of 7 nanometers.

Often, reductions in fab size result in production bugs that take time to work out.

The challenge is that Apple needs to reach full production right away, having begun before the Sept. 12 announcement. Such tight timing is required to meet demand for the new phones and to do so within the holiday season that ends with the year.

The production pressure makes a gap before announcing additional A12 Bionic devices wise.

It allows the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., which makes these chips for Apple, to work out any kinks that arise in early production.

Once TSMC can ensure production that meets iPhone demand, Apple will be free to introduce more new A12-based hardware.

The second-generation iPad Pros, above, were updated June 2017. Their processing chips are two generations behind those released Sept. 12 in new iPhones. Their Touch ID and bezels are more than a year behind the Face ID and minimal bezels of the iPhone X-series phones. (Apple)

The next new product with an A-series chip should be the iPad Pro in both sizes, with an expanded processor, the A12X Bionic.

Indeed, Guilherme Rambo found “iPad2018Fall” in a code string within the new iOS 12.1 beta when it was released Tuesday. Rambo reported his find on the 9to5Mac website.

Apple has much to upgrade on the iPad Pro, if only to bring it in line with features of the iPhone XR, iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max.

It needs Face ID and the ability to unlock when in landscape mode, in addition to portrait mode.

Reducing the bezels in the manner of the X-series iPhones would allow a larger screen, say 11 inches, in a body the size of last year’s 10.5-inch iPad Pro. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro should fit in a more compact body.

If the third-generation iPad Pro follows precedent from previous generations, its A12X Bionic chip would have increased general and graphic processing power through an expanded CPU and GPU.

The June 2017 second-generation iPad Pro A10X chips use three high-power CPU cores and three low-power cores, versus two each in the iPhone 7’s A10. The GPU has 12 cores versus six cores in the A10.

TechInsights identified fabrication of the A10X as the first of Apple’s 10 nm chips produced by TSMC.

The first-generation iPad Pros — announced June 2015 at 12.9 inches and March 2016 at 9.7 inches — used the A9X chip. It had a dual-core CPU, as did the A9. It also had a 12-core GPU, compared to the six-core GPU of the A9 in the iPhone 6s. Apple increased memory bandwidth of the A9X to meet the demands of the large GPU.


For the Apple Watch, last year’s S3 processor was a system in a package. This modular housing of integrated circuits included a dual-core Apple application processor, as did earlier versions except the single-core processor of the original S1 SIP.

Apple limited its S4 information Sept. 12 to the fact that the processor is 64-bit for the first time. Apple said it doubled the processor’s speed without affecting battery life.

Unless Apple releases manufacturing or design details for the S4, or others such as TechInsights tear down the watch and find a different processing arrangement, there is no reason to assume that it contains a 7 nm TSMC chip, in the manner of the A12 Bionic.

As such, the Series 4 watch would not affect production of the A12 iPhone chip or rollout of additional A12-based products.


On the Sept. 13 episode of the “Upgrade” podcast (in Overcast player), Myke Hurley suggested an event Oct. 16 “because the iPhone XR ships on the 26th. So, I reckon they will have more products to ship on that day.”

Hurley’s suggestion fits well from a scheduling standpoint, five weeks following the iPhone event and one week before iPhone XR shipment.

The final determinant, however, is likely to be the state of TSMC’s A12 Bionic chip for the new iPhones. When production is strong-and-steady, the next stage of Apple product releases will have cleared an important requirement.


Part 2: Replace iPhone SE with iPhone XR Mini

Article Podcast — Tech Geek Fact

9to5Mac Needed iPhone-Scoop Sources

On Aug. 30, the long-running website 9to5Mac broke what it said was an exclusive find of a new iPhone photo and a new model name.

The Apple-enthusiast public took it as a scoop, along with a similar article about a new watch Apple is expected to announce today.

The iPhone article and photo have driven extended discussion among the Apple faithful since.

The enthusiasts should not have put great belief in the report.

The article contains a basic journalistic flaw of having no source. There is no “who,” “where” or “how.” Such facts are ground-floor requirements in a news article: They are who, what, where, when, why and how — the five W’s and an H.

On Aug. 30, 9to5Mac published an article saying that the photo above shows new iPhones to be announced today, without explaining how it knew the photos were accurate or how it learned the model name. The article provided no sources for the information.

In the article, “Exclusive: This is ‘iPhone XS’ — design, larger version, and gold colors confirmed,” Guilherme Rambo wrote, “We believe that the new 5.8-inch and 6.5-inch iPhones will both be called iPhone XS.”

Also, Rambo wrote, “we can report with certainty that iPhone XS will be the name, the OLED model will come in two sizes, including a larger version, and each will be offered in gold for the first time.”

Nowhere in the article did Rambo or the website say where the information was obtained or how. It was attributed to no person, no leak and no process of digging out digital details from computer code, for which Rambo is respected.

Rambo should have known better, as should the editors of 9to5Mac. Readers should have been more discerning as well.

John Gruber wrote on his Daring Fireball website, “I suspect Rambo, who is extraordinarily clever at finding things, somehow discovered them through a URL that was exposed publicly but should not have been.”

Monday, Rambo provided the source on Twitter — 12 days after his article published.

“So, about those marketing images: They came from the recap section of the special event website,” Rambo wrote. “I used the URL pattern from the last event and guessed the device’s names. Apple took them down immediately after we published.”

Regardless of whether every detail reported Aug. 30 proves correct during Apple’s product announcement today, Rambo and 9to5Mac were wrong to publish the Aug. 30 article without sources.

Glenn Marston has been a newspaper managing editor twice, editorial page editor twice and assistant editor three times, and is an author. He studied journalism at the University of South Florida, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in mass communications.

Article Podcast — Tech Geek Fact

New iPhone Numbers: What Makes Sense

Series: Sense of iPhones

Part 3 of 3

Apple is facing a crisis befitting a kindergartner.

It’s as simple as 1, 2, 3, except that the series has stretched into double digits and, worse, into Roman numerals with the iPhone X (say 10).

The solution is to do away with the old system and replace it with a familiar, sustainable model-year approach.

After all, the digit deviation stumps adults as well as 5-year-olds.

Apple should avoid Roman numerals and double digits when it announces new iPhones today. Three models are expected. Using names suggested by the first article in this series, Apple should use model years and names such as 2019 iPhone, 2019 iPhone L and 2019 iPhone Plus.

Apple should avoid Roman numerals and double digits when it announces new iPhones today. Three models are expected. Using names suggested by the first article in this series, Apple should use model years and names such as 2019 iPhone, 2019 iPhone L and 2019 iPhone Plus.

Enthusiasts and a few others know to say “10” when speaking of an iPhone X. Few are clued-in on the secret. They say what they read: “ex.” The haters say ex with a jubilant sneer.

Take the past four years. The larger iPhone 6 of 2014, led to the iPhone 6s, the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 8, each with a larger Plus variant. Apple skipped the iPhone 9.

The company should clear up the confusion by using the system employed by automakers and television programmers for decades.

When announcing the fall lineup, simply add the coming year as a prefix to the model name.

Today, Apple would be smart to call the iPhone X’s successor the 2019 iPhone. If not this year, then next, when extending the old numbering scheme would be even more confounding.

This provides a marketing advantage to Apple, as well, although the most valuable publicly owned company has plenty: Buyers in September through the end of the year would hear that they are buying next year’s iPhone.

Indeed, over a new model’s year, the bulk of its sale time would take place in 2019.

The system is simple, and people understand how it works. Apple should make a 2019 iPhone, a 2020 iPhone and so on, released the September before the designated year.


Part 1 — New iPhone Names: What Makes Sense

Part 2 — New iPhone Prices: What Makes Sense

Article Podcast — Tech Geek Fact


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New iPhone Prices: What Makes Sense

Series: Sense of iPhones

Part 2 of 3

Apple announced the iPhone X with a starting price of $999 one year ago today.

In so doing, the richest publicly owned U.S. company created a conundrum with the groundbreaking phone it designed for the iPhone marque’s second generation.

On one hand, the iPhone X was branded as starting a rush of thousand-dollar flagship phones from the large manufacturers.

On the other hand, its increased price brought more revenue to Apple at a time when iPhone sales have flattened overall. Each phone, on average, brought in more money.

Today, Apple is expected to announce three phones with improved iPhone X technology.

In particular, all three would use the Face ID system by which a three-dimensional camera and processors scan a user’s face to unlock the phone securely. No fingerprint or passcode is required during regular use, and no competitor has such an advanced 3D face-scanning feature.

The three expected iPhone X-inspired phones are an update of the 5.8-inch OLED-screen original and a 6.5-inch OLED sibling, joined by a lower-cost model with a conventional 6.1-inch LCD screen.

Using names suggested by the first article in this series, “New iPhone Names: What Makes Sense,” they would be the iPhone, iPhone L and iPhone Plus.

The following starting prices would strike a balance between the need both for strong reputation and income, when models and prices are announced today:

• iPhone Plus, $1,099.

• iPhone, $949.

• iPhone L, $799.

• iPhone 8 Plus, $669.

• iPhone 8, $549.

• iPhone 7 Plus, $549.

• iPhone 7, $449.

• iPhone SE, $349.

The models and starting prices followed since September 2017 are:

• iPhone X, $999.

• iPhone 8 Plus, $799.

• iPhone 8, $699.

• iPhone 7 Plus, $669.

• iPhone 7, $549.

• iPhone 6s Plus, $549.

• iPhone 6s, $449.

• iPhone SE, $349.

Sensible iPhone Prices for September 2018

Note: Uses model names suggested in “New iPhone Names: What Makes Sense.”

iPhone Prices Set in September 2017

Article Podcast — Tech Geek Fact

New iPhone Names: What Makes Sense

Series: Sense of iPhones

Part 1 of 3

Originally, iPhone names were simple. The first model, in June 2007, was iPhone.

Today, with Apple expected to announce three new top-end iPhones, their names have been the subject of rapidly evolving rumors, speculation and purported leaks.

All the names suggested — including iPhone Xs, iPhone Xc and iPhone Xs Max — would mar Apple’s history of relatively straightforward names.

Apple should follow the spare approach it uses in design for naming as well, if not this year then next.

Call the regular-size phone with 5.8-inch OLED screen the iPhone.

This would keep the iPhone X a one-year special, celebrating 10 years of iPhones and future approaches to the signature smartphone.

Name the extra-large, 6.5-inch OLED version the iPhone Plus. The Plus name fits the size.

The likely lower-cost model, with 6.1-inch LCD screen and only one rear camera, should be called the iPhone L — for LCD.

These suggestions solve an even larger problem: what to do for new phone names in September 2019. An iPhone X2, followed by an iPhone X2s a year later? That would be a greater mess.

The XS Nightclub at the Wynn hotel in Las Vegas implies “excess,” which could be undesirable with the suffix for an iPhone Xs, should Apple release a model with that name.

John Gruber, writer of the Daring Fireball website, pointed out additional problems with the iPhone Xs name on his podcast, “The Talk Show.” He spoke Sept. 4 on Episode 229 at about 45 minutes and 35 seconds (in Overcast player). Those who pronounce the X as the letter rather than the Roman numeral are likely to pronounce Xs as “excess” rather than “10 S,” Gruber said.

“I don’t think they want people calling it the iPhone Xs or I would think they wouldn’t,” Gruber said. “There’s a nightclub in Las Vegas at the Wynn. I’m not a nightclub person, but you can’t go to the Wynn and not see the ads for it, called XS. The whole reason they named the night club XS is because it sounds like ‘excess,’ which is what they want associated with their expensive, crazy, big-name DJ nightclub.”

Additionally, writer and podcaster Jason Snell says that those who do pronounce the X as “10” would be just as likely to call a Xs the “tennis.”

The older models used a naming rationale that could be understood easily.

The June 2007 original was iPhone.

June 2008 brought the iPhone 3G, denoting its ability to receive 3G cellular data.

The iPhone 3GS came in June 2009, with the S standing for speed brought by faster components within.

The next year was simpler with the iPhone 4. A numerical cadence seemed apparent.

However, in October 2011, the new phone was called the iPhone 4S. Every other year would bring an S phone.

The low-cost, plastic-body iPhone 5C joined the 5S when they were released in September 2013. The C stood for color, a variety of which were available.

The iPhone 6 brought larger sizes. The iPhone 6 was a regular-size phone but larger than its small iPhone 5S predecessor. The extra-large version was the iPhone 6 Plus.

The clearly named iPhone SE succeeded the iPhone 5S, with essentially the same phone housing and updated-and-faster processing parts inside.

Keep it simple, Apple. There should be no need for a deep understanding of the Roman numeral system, or convoluted combinations of letters and numbers.


Part 2: New iPhone Prices: What Makes Sense

Part 3: New iPhone Numbers: What Makes Sense

Article Podcast — Tech Geek Fact