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Apple killed the iPhone 5, but the iPhone 4s lives to fight another day

Steve Jobs loved the 3.5-inch screen size of the iPhone 4, and once famously claimed that "no one's going to buy" the larger smartphones that were competing with the iPhone back in 2010. Now here we are with 2014 fast approaching and a pair of new 4-inch iPhones on the horizon. But while the iPhone 5 has proved to be a success despite -- or perhaps thanks to -- its gorgeous 4-inch display, Jobs was undoubtedly right about one thing: A 3.5-inch smartphone is the sweet spot for many, many users.

Today, Apple showed the world the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c, while at the same time putting an axe in the original iPhone 5. If you want a 4-inch Apple smartphone you'll soon have to choose between a polycarbonate-bodied device in a wacky color (or white, I suppose) or the new top-of-the line 5s model. And yet when Apple showed off its new smartphone lineup today, the iPhone 4s remains.

The iPhone 4s is free with a new two-year contract through many mobile carriers, and that has helped give new life to the years-old device while other similarly aged smartphones have the relevance of paperweights. When was the last time you heard about continued worldwide demand for the HTC Thunderbolt or Motorola Atrix? But the iPhone 4s remains one of the world's best-selling smartphones, and even managed to outlive its successor. That's quite an accomplishment.

On top of that, the iPhone 4s continues to be supported with updates from Apple, and the much-anticipated iOS 7 update will still be supported on the aging device.

Now, this isn't the first time we've seen an Apple device continue on even after its immediate heir has been usurped; Apple pulled the same trick with the iPad line in late 2012. When the fourth generation of the iPad was announced, the third-gen model (which had just been released eight months prior) was sent out to pasture, but production on the 16GB iPad 2 continues even today.

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