A smaller iPhone -- through Verizon? It could happen. Computerworld reports:

Apple Inc. will launch a smaller "worldmode" iPhone next year that will be ready for Verizon Wireless to sell in the third quarter of 2010, according to an analyst report citing unnamed handset maker sources in Taiwan.



I'm skeptical about the validity of this report for a few reasons. But even if it is true, I just don't see the point.

An iPhone Nano?

There has been much talk about the introduction of a sort of iPhone "nano." Some people find the iPhone a bit bulky, so a smaller version might have some appeal. But I'm not convinced. The central reason most people love their iPhones is because of its incredible functionality. A fair portion of that would have to be sacrificed if made smaller.

For starters, how would you have a keyboard large enough to use? According to the report, the smaller iPhone would have a screen size of 2.8 inches (diagonal), compared to 3.5 inches on the current phone. The iPhone's current keyboard is about as small as it can be while still retaining some sense of functionality -- particularly for an on-screen keyboard. Surely, an iPhone would need a keyboard, but I'm not sure how it could have one if much smaller.

What about all of the other features? Video is already a bit small at 3.5 inches. The smaller screen would make that and applications harder to use. In short, an iPhone nano would be more of a traditional phone than a robust smart phone. That ignores the essence of what separates an iPhone from the pack, and I'm not sure which consumers this would really appeal to.

Verizon?

What makes this report stranger is the claim that Verizon would be the carrier. There has been much speculation that Apple may abandon its decision to have AT&T the sole iPhone carrier in the U.S. and turn to Verizon to increase its iPhone sales and customer satisfaction. But if that's the route Apple is going, why limit it to the smaller iPhone only? That would almost seek to penalize the customers purchasing the more expensive full version by forcing them to stay with AT&T.

Then there's the question of why Verizon would be running anti-iPhone ads if it is really in talks with Apple about carrying an iPhone. I wrote about this a few weeks back. Criticizing a product wouldn't make a whole lot of sense if you're in talks to carry it next year. It also probably wouldn't make those talks progress more favorably.

So could the rumor be true? It seems hard to believe, but it's not impossible. If it is true, however, I'm not sure if the move makes a whole lot of sense for Apple. Even if I'm wrong about the potential success of an iPhone with a much smaller screen, I can't see only allowing a subset of iPhone users use Verizon as their carrier.

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