Apple looks at launching cheaper iPhone in range of colours
APPLE is exploring launching iPhones with bigger screens, as well as cheaper models in a range of colours, over the next year, said four people with knowledge of the matter, as it takes a cue from rival Samsung.
The moves, which are still under discussion, underscore how the California-based firm that once ruled the smartphone market is increasingly under threat from its aggressive South Korean competitor.
Samsung has overtaken Apple in market share through the popularity of its bigger-screen Galaxy "phablets" and by flooding the market with a range of products at different prices.
Apple is looking at introducing at least two bigger iPhones next year – one with a 4.7-inch screen and one with a 5.7-inch screen – said the sources, including those in the supply chain in Asia. They said suppliers had been approached with plans for the larger screens, but noted it was still unclear whether Apple would actually launch its flagship product in the larger sizes.
"They constantly change product specifications almost to the final moment, so you're not really sure whether this is the final prototype," said one source.
Apple declined to comment.
Apple's possible shift to offer the "phablets" – chunkier smartphones not quite big enough to qualify as tablets – comes as the long-time consumer and investor darling faces pressure to deliver more than one new handset model a year.
Critics say its pace of innovation has slowed since the death of legendary co-founder Steve Jobs.
The iPhone 5 launched last September was the first to veer away from the Apple phone's 3.5-inch screen, which Mr Jobs deemed "the perfect size for consumers" and had been used in every iPhone since the iconic device was unveiled in 2007.
The iPhone 5 has one of the smaller screens among the best-selling smartphones in the mobile market, where consumers spend more time browsing the web and streaming content.
Samsung's Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note 2 have 5-inch and 5.5-inch screens respectively.
For this year, Apple is expected to launch two new models, widely referred to as the iPhone 5S, with new fingerprint technology, and a cheaper version in plastic casing, supply chain sources have said.
Apple plans to dress up the cheaper phone in a range of five to six colours to differentiate it from the more expensive model that has traditionally come only in black and white.
The US firm has discussed a price of $99 (€75) for the cheaper phone.