Apple’s set to release two larger iPhone 6 models in September, and, as was the case with the release of the first-generation iPad Mini, analysts worry about the sales of the iPad.
What complicates the matter is that Apple’s recent earnings report shows that iPad sales are down from the same quarter in 2013. It’s been said that iPad Mini sales have cannibalized larger iPad sales, seeing that a number of consumers find that the 8-inch tablet is ideal for gaming, travel, and portability. The iPad Mini has had its success, it’s true – but the large iPad (now known as the iPad Air) has also gained its share of adherents, who want a larger display with a tablet that still lives by the “thinner, lighter, and faster” mantra that’s come to characterize Apple products.
With the introduction of a 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and 5.5-inch iPhone 6 models reduce the number of iPads? The answer is more complex than either “yes” or “no.”
Factors surrounding the iPhone 6 / iPad cannibalization question
Sure, we can be honest and admit that some individuals may prefer a larger iPhone 6 than an iPad, and many may find the iPhone 6 display to be more comfortable than reading experiences with iPhones in the past.
At the same time, however, the size of the iPhone is nowhere near the size of Apple’s iPad Mini and iPad Air. Even if Apple does release the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 (which seems probable at this point), a 4.7-inch screen is still not as comfortable as, say, the 7.9-inch Retina iPad Mini or the 9.7-inch iPad Air. There’s a large gap between a 4.7-inch and a 9.7-inch display, namely 5 inches across – which allows the iPad Air to do things (gaming, for one) that doesn’t seem as comfortable on a 4.7-inch screen.
Some of us here at Inferse own Samsung’s 5.7-inch Galaxy Note 3 as well as the 5-inch Nexus 5 – and neither display, no matter its size, is comparable to the gaming experience we’ve had with the third-generation iPad. Even if you take a game such as FIFA 14, soccer players on the five-inch smartphones are still too tiny, and the controls are too difficult to maneuver. The iPad’s gaming experience has been effortless and continues to be (two years in).
There’re some things that smartphones can do better than others, and smartphones may have greater portability – but they can’t best the gaming experience on a tablet, no matter their size. There’re some significant size differences in both the display and body that make tablets the better gaming device than smartphones. We’re not afraid to go out on a limb and say that the iPad Air and iPad Mini are the better devices for even watching movies.
Yes, sometimes, we’ve reached for our smartphones to watch a YouTube or Netflix feature when our iPad battery is on empty; we’ve enjoyed watching the movies up-close, and smartphones make better devices when watching videos and getting screenshots. Still, however, the iPad Air and iPad Mini are the better devices, even weighing more than the iPhone 6 will weigh because their size provides more enhanced user experience.
This isn’t to say, however that we’re not aware of how manufacturers are starting to bridge the gap between what smartphones and tablets can do. Tablets today are being used to make phone calls, have video chats, and send emails and documents (just like smartphones). Pretty much everything you can do on a smartphone can be done on a tablet (and vice versa), but the issue boils down to size. The iPhone 6, even at 4.7 and 5.5 inches across, is still a smaller device than an iPad Mini or iPad Air.
And there’s one final factor to keep in mind: tablets provide a better visual experience because everything is magnified. We’ve had times where reading an email on a 4-inch screen is difficult because the display is too small. Even reading emails on a five-inch display can prove to be difficult at times when emails come in small print because we’ve found ourselves having to manually zoom on the screen to get emails to appear in a print we can read.
Some say that you can simply adjust the font size and get on with it, but near-sighted, visually impaired readers tend to prefer larger screens because they’re easier on the eyes. Larger displays provide larger words and better visual experiences because, in a word, they’re larger. It’s no different than saying that having more money provides a better shopping experience because, with more money, you can buy more items. In some cases, bigger is truly better.
At the same time, however, we realize that consumers have their own preferences, and some may prefer a larger iPhone to eliminate their iPad Mini or iPad Air dependence. We can’t blame them for this, but we still believe that Apple’s iPad Air and iPad Mini tablets will always surpass the on-screen experiences of the iPhone 6 (both sizes), in the same way that we believe the 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch iPhone 6 models will surpass the on-screen experience of the 1.6-inch and 1.8-inch iWatch models that’ll arrive in September.
With that said, the iPhone 6 will have its user base that uses it as a substitute for the iPad Mini and iPad Air – but not to the extent that it will cannibalize sales. Major factors responsible for cannibalization concern the portability of the iPad Mini (that’s more portable than the iPad Air) but also the 3-year-update cycle, price, and the desire to upgrade the iPad experience annually. Most consumers don’t see the point in buying the iPad Air last year, then buying the iPad Air 2 this year.