In addition to planning cheaper models of the iPhone, as has been rumored before, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) also is considering producing iPhones with larger screens, according to a Reuters report.
The report, citing unnamed sources, including those in Apple's supply chain in Asia, said Apple is thinking about releasing at least two bigger iPhones next year, one with a 4.7-inch screen and one with a 5.7-inch screen. However, it's unclear if Apple will go through with the plans, even though suppliers have been approached about the possibility.
Apple declined to comment, according to Reuters. For the first time, last year Apple increased the screen size on the iPhone, to four inches, for the iPhone 5. Many high-end smartphones, such as Samsung Electronics' Galaxy S4 (5-inh display), the Nokia (NYSE:NOK) Lumia 925 (4.5-inch display) and HTC's One (4.7-inch), now have bigger screens, and the trend continues to accelerate.
The Reuters report said that Apple is expected to launch two new iPhone models this year, the iPhone 5S, which will include "new fingerprint technology," as well as a cheaper version in plastic casing that will ship in a range of colors. The report said Apple has considered a price point of $99 for the cheaper model, although that isn't final and the device might not launch this year.
In April, the Wall Street Journal reported Apple was still working on a cheaper version of the iPhone that could be launched as soon as the second half of this year, and which may use a different casing and different-colored shells. The Journal recently reported that Apple is shifting away from longtime contractor Foxconn to Pegatron to produce the cheaper variant, which analysts have urged Apple to introduce to go after emerging markets.
Apple CEO Tim Cook obliquely addressed the issue of multiple iPhone variants late last month at AllThingsD's D11 conference. "What our customers want is for us to weigh those and come out with a decision," he said. "At this point, we've felt that the Retina display that we are shipping is overwhelmingly the best. But that's why those trade-offs exist. So in a hypothetical world where the trade-offs didn't exist, you could see that be one of the things that differentiates."
Two recent Bloomberg reports have indicated slight changes that may be coming to Apple's strategy. One is a reported teaming with Brightstar on an iPhone trade-in program designed to get customers to turn in their older models to get the iPhone 5. The used iPhones collected in the United States by Apple and Brightstar would be resold in emerging markets, the report said. Another is a major new ad campaign that will focus on the quality and reliability of Apple's products, as well as the company's user-friendly content ecosystem, rather than specific features and functions. Apple has declined to comment on both reports.
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