Apple to launch larger-screen iPhones this year
Apple is reportedly planning to launch iPhones with 4.5-inch and 5-inch displays later this year, amid growing demand for larger-screen smartphones – particularly in Asia.
People familiar with the situation told the Wall Street Journal that the new iPhones are due for release later this year. The smaller of the two models is already being prepared for mass production, while the larger-screen version is still in preliminary development, the people said.
Both new models are expected to feature metal cases, similar to what is used on the current iPhone 5S. However, they will not include a curved display – a feature recently introduced by rival smartphone makers including Samsung.
The plans for larger iPhones come as Apple is losing market share to rivals who offer bigger screens, which are deemed to be better for playing games, watching videos and surfing the web.
Samsung's 5-inch Galaxy S4 and 5.7-inch Galaxy Note 3 are among its best-selling models, and Nokia, HTC and Sony also offer smartphones with 5.6-inch displays or above (known as phablets).
High-tech analysts, Juniper Research, predict that over 120 million 'phablets' will be shipped by 2018, rising from an estimated 20 million in 2013.
The devices will be particularly popular in East Asian territories such as South Korea – with gamers who desire a larger surface to play on, and China – where content streamers will benefit from a higher quality screen.
Although the rumoured iPhones do not fall into the phablet category, they would be noticably bigger than the iPhone 5, which has a 4-inch display. Apple last changed the display size of the iPhone in 2012, increasing it to 4 inches from 3.5 inches.
Canalys analyst Jessica Kwee told the WSJ: "Apple definitely needs a larger-screen smartphone soon, particularly to address the demand in the emerging markets."