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Does business need a giant Apple iPhone?

opinion

May 30, 20235 mins

AppleGenerative AIMobile

Is a 7-inch iPhone Ultra really on the Apple road map, and is this the gadget mobile professionals need?

When is an iPhone not an iPhone? When it’s almost as big as an iPad mini. Is a 7-inch iPhone Ultra really on the Apple road map, and is this the gadget mobile professionals need?

A computer, a tablet, a smartphone

The story so far is that Apple may not ship an improved iPhone SE until next year. Also next year, reputable speculation mongers claim, the company intends to launch a larger model iPhone, the 6.9-inch iPhone 16 Ultra. They also say the company will increase the size of the basic iPhone 16 Pro from 6.1 inches to 6.3 inches.

That’s just a few fractions of an inch smaller than the 7.9-inch display size of the first five generations of the iPad mini, which became a popular tablet for everyday use. The resolution, of course, is higher, making for more actual viewing space.

Size isn’t everything, of course, but the company must surely have plans to ensure these larger iPhones are actually useful. This suggests that Apple may trim even more from the iPhone bezel to help make use of the space, so the devices may not seem that much larger than the current models, despite the additional display size. But we don’t know that.

What we think we do know is that the phones will be larger and probably heavier than the current top-of-the-range models. That also suggests larger batteries, which promises longer battery life when combined with the 3nm Apple Silicon chips the company is expected to pop inside these phones.

What will it do for you?

What will this vast increase in display space mean to users?

Current rumors claim Apple wants to give this year’s pro iPhones an improved always-on display equipped with vastly improved Home screen widgets.

This will turn America’s favorite enterprise smartphone into a glanceable, stainless steel super-advanced monitoring system for your professional and personal digital lives.

This may be quite useful in the context of work, as it means enterprise professionals can keep monitoring key communications while remaining focused elsewhere.

But that’s not all you can anticipate. The larger screen size and more powerful processor may also make it possible to bring some of the best multitasking and collaboration improvements in iPads across to the iPhone.

Multitasking and Universal Control

I can’t help but wonder if this extends to Stage Manager. It should. It makes a lot of sense to make it simpler for enterprise professionals to switch and work between apps and groups of apps.

It’s also easy to imagine Apple Pencil support for this Ultra model iPhone, letting you use the smartphone as a drawing tablet with a Mac. And, once you’ve vaulted that speculation, support for Universal Control also makes sense, just as it does with iPad.

If I’m right about that and not just dreaming feverishly in a post-public holiday fugue, then you can argue that Apple is prepared to take the best of the iPad and put that inside the top-of-the-range iPhone, while also introducing unique features that build on the smartphone’s inherent strengths.

Machine intelligence

One of the biggest of those is photography.

Apple will of course introduce big improvements in iPhone camera sensors, including a periscope display. For some professions, this will be transformative — we will see many, many more films and TV reports filmed in the wild on these devices, all supported by the company’s machine vision intelligence tools.

Imaging professionals will pull their giant iPhone out to build ideas with help from the generative AI that will be available in the iPadOS version of Photoshop.

A powerful business tool?

In retail stores and restaurants, it’s quite plausible to imagine we will see staff equipped with these giant iPhones.

After all, they are likely to be manufactured using recycled aluminum, may be almost completely waterproof due to use of wireless charging, and may well have the toughest ever smartphone display to come out of the advanced tech labs at Corning.

Protected by Apple Business Essentials, even small retailers will understand the advantage of using these tough but highly useful devices as payment terminals as well as minicomputers to handle much of their business. Health, education, warehousing, and other professionals may opt for iPhone, rather than iPad, for mobile tasks.

Or a green flag for consumer aspiration

But while the business advantages of these grand devices will exist, the key market, at least in year one, will be the C-suite executives Apple will try to convince to purchase these devices. I anticipate that once the company does introduce its highly sophisticated yet giant iPhone 16 Ultra next year, we’ll see consumer sentiment shift in the same way it did with Apple Watch Ultra — even people who don’t actually need this much power will want one.

So that’s the giant iPhone. A computer, a tablet, a smartphone. Can you see what it is yet? It’s all of those.

Jonny Evans

Hello, and thanks for dropping in. I'm pleased to meet you. I'm Jonny Evans, and I've been writing (mainly about Apple) since 1999. These days I write my daily AppleHolic blog at Computerworld.com, where I explore Apple's growing identity in the enterprise. You can also keep up with my work at AppleMust, and follow me on Mastodon, LinkedIn and (maybe) Twitter.

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