Old Steve Jobs email finally confirms Apple was working on an “iPhone nano”

The back of the iPhone 12 mini
Enlarge / The iPhone 12 mini.

Samuel Axon

Final yr, the iPhone 12 mini flopped—a setback for lovers of small flagship telephones designed for one-handed use. However as anybody who has been following Apple for years is aware of, former CEO Steve Jobs was an advocate for small telephones. Now, because of an e mail penned by Jobs in 2010, we all know that Apple was at one time engaged on an “iPhone nano.”

This yr, Epic Video games and Apple have been locked in a authorized battle over the way forward for the iPhone’s app ecosystem. In the middle of these authorized proceedings, a number of emails despatched inside Apple over time have been made public. A lot of the press protection about these emails to date has centered on varied statements by Apple executives decrying sideloading, which we have hardly dug into right here as a result of, nicely, all of us knew Apple leaders’ emotions about that already.

However we truly realized one thing in regards to the firm’s one-time product plans in an e mail first found and analyzed this week by The Verge. Jobs wrote and despatched the e-mail, which is an agenda for an government assembly about Apple’s 2011 product plans, in 2010. This is the related excerpt, with an express reference to an iPhone nano on the finish:

three. iPhone – Joz & Bob
-2011 Technique:
– “plus” iPhone four with higher antenna, processor, digital camera & software program to remain forward of rivals till mid 2012
– have LTE model in mid-2012
– create low price iPhone mannequin primarily based on iPod contact to switch 3GS

– Enterprise & aggressive replace
– present Droid and RIM advertisements
– Verizon iPhone
– schedule, advertising, …
– iPhone 5 hardware
– H4 efficiency
– new antenna design, and so on
– new digital camera
– schedule
– iPhone nano plan
– price purpose
– present mannequin (and/or renderings) – Jony

Apple used the “nano” moniker for an ultrasmall variant of the iPod, so these final bullets apparently counsel the corporate was planning an iPhone even smaller than that yr’s flagship, the three.5-inch iPhone four. (It is unclear whether or not the “low price iPhone mannequin primarily based on iPod contact to switch 3GS” talked about earlier within the e mail is identical gadget because the iPhone nano.) The e-mail additionally appears to counsel that Apple design lead Jony Ive would present a mannequin or a render of the brand new gadget within the assembly.

There have been rumors within the press on the time a couple of potential iPhone nano, so this e mail appears to verify these rumors years later. Sadly, the e-mail does not embrace any perception in regards to the design or options of the gadget.

However the “nano” title makes clear that the telephone was anticipated to be smaller in some dimension or one other than the iPhone four. The iPhone four was already minuscule by as we speak’s requirements, with Apple’s iPhone 12 Professional flagships now measuring in at 6.06 or 6.68 inches. Even the iPhone 12 mini—the iPhone nano of 2020, you can say—has a 5.42-inch display. It goes to point out you ways a lot the smartphone panorama has shifted over the previous decade.

At this time, there are dependable reviews that Apple plans to discontinue the poor-selling iPhone 12 mini, although the lower-end iPhone SE (which is predicated on the design of the iPhone eight) is prone to keep. The market has spoken: one-handed flagship smartphones are lifeless. We’re simply curious if the iPhone nano was canceled as a result of Jobs noticed the place the winds had been blowing.