If rumors are true, Apple is gearing up to again reach out to a more budget-conscious buyer with a new iPhone due to be announced in March . But things would be different this time.

Back in September 2013, alongside the iPhone 5S, Apple released the iPhone 5c. Its internals were very similar to the previous-generation iPhone 5. But instead of the glass and metal look that had become a hallmark of the iPhone line the 5c came in glossy polycarbonate exteriors. These were so reminiscent of Nokia's colorful Lumia line that the company mockingly thanked Apple for imitating it. (Apple, though, had the last laugh.)

In any case, many lauded the device as attracting a younger demographic to the iPhonewhich tends to skew older in appeal due to its premium price. And while it indeed cost than the high-end 5s launched alongside it, it was not a budget phone designed to compete with the cheapest Android models. Because of this, many thought it wouldn't help Apple in making inroads in the huge but competitive Chinese market. The iPhone, though, would go on to do very well in China recently.

Now, amidst slowing iPhone sales, Apple may again introduce a new model that trails the specs of the presumed iPhone 7. This iPhone 5se, as rumors label it, would feature much technology from the iPhone 6 series, but with a 4" display that Apple has since supersized. Unlike the iPhone 5s, the 5se would allegedly be available in the "grown-up" metallic shades of space gray, gold and rose gold that now define Apple's iPad and iPhone line as well as its latest MacBook.

Like the 5c, the 5se almost certainly wouldn't be inexpensive enough to compete with the budget Android devices such as those from BLU or ZTE. However, in an age where installment plans make the prices of phones transparent, it could help Apple's position. Apple wouldn't be the first to deliver a smaller version of a flagship. HTC, for example, came out with a smaller version of its HTC One. More recently, Alcatel Onetouch made a similar move with a smaller Idol 3 smartphone. However, even the smaller versions of these phones had screens that were 4.5" or larger.

Apple has had much success through the years selling smaller versions of its products (iPod mini, Mac mini, iPad mini). Indeed, it still has a 4" iOS device in its current lineup -- the latest generation of the iPod touch. The 5se would be a great upgrade option for kids or tweens updating from that device to a smartphone or for just anyone who prefers a more compact yet current phone. If you're among them, you may soon have a chance to relive those days when Apple eschewed supersized smartphones.

Published on: Jan 30, 2016
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