Apple should totally make an all-screen iPhone SE [Opinion]

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all-screen iphone 5
Who wouldn't want an all-screen iPhone SE?
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Years ago, somebody dropped my old iPhone 5, and the screen exploded into a crazed sheet of splinters. Yesterday I finally “fixed” it by sticking a glass screen protector over the whole mess. It still looks terrible, but at least now I can use it without glass shards lodging in my fingertips.

And, now that I can handle the phone again, I realize that I love it. And it got me thinking. Why doesn’t Apple make a phone sized like the old iPhone 5, or iPhone SE, only with an edge-to-edge screen like the iPhones X?

The beauty of a 5-inch iPhone

The iPhone 5’s screen is dull, and absolutely tiny in comparison to even the regular-size iPhone XS. But the size and shape is perfect. The flat edges are clearly the inspiration for the current slimline iPad Pro, and the small device fits the hand beautifully. It’s easy to see why the iPhone SE remained so popular even with larger, faster options available.

But if you kept, more or less, the same size and shape — and you loaded it with an edge-to-edge, round-cornered screen like in the current top-end iPhones and iPads — you could have an iPhone 7-size screen in an iPhone 5-size package.

iPhone 7 in an iPhone 5 package

I took out a ruler to measure things, and you could pack a 5-inch screen into this thing. That’s a hair bigger than the iPhone 7’s 4.7-inch screen. For reference, the iPhone 5/SE sports a 4-inch screen.

Imagine it. Those beautiful flat edges are likely to re-enter the iPhone’s design language soon enough. Add in the iPhone XR’s beautiful screen (only smaller, obvs). No Home button. Face ID. A single camera would be fine, as would a camera bump if needed. You’d probably have to remove the headphone jack, but I’d take that tradeoff.

It’s happened before

There’s even a (kind of) precedent for this kind of thing. When Apple removed the iPad Pro’s Home button, and went with the new narrow-bezel design, it made an interesting choice. The 13-inch iPad kept its screen size, and the surrounding body shrank to make it less unwieldy. But the smaller iPad Pro stayed the same size, and the screen grew to fill out the space left by the departing Home button and fat bezels.

I carry my iPhone in my pocket the entire time, like most people. But I rarely use it for anything other than snapping photos or quickly checking up on various things. If I want to read, or watch a video, I do that on my iPad. And for music, screen size doesn’t matter.

iPhone X mini?

A mini iPhone X, then, would be just perfect for me. And, judging by the number of iPhone SEs I see in use, it would be a perfect for plenty of other people, too.