Report: Apple prepping larger-screened iPhone, will scrap plastic casing

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is working on two iPhone models with larger screen sizes than the current 5s and 5c models, according to a Wall Street Journal report, the latest to indicate that Apple is thinking of increasing the screen size of its phones to compete with large-screen devices from Samsung Electronics, Nokia (NYSE:NOK), LG Electronics, HTC and others.

The report, which cited unnamed sources, said that Apple is planning an iPhone version with a 4.5-inch screen and another model with a display larger than 5 inches. The 5s and 5c both have 4-inch screens.  The report also said both new models are expected to feature metal casings similar to what is used on the current iPhone 5s, with Apple expected to stop using the plastic exterior used in the 5c.

Additionally, the report said the phone, which Apple is expected to release in the second half, won't include a curved display. However, the report cautioned that Apple's plans weren't final and that the company could change designs. The smaller of the two models is further along in development, and is being prepared for mass production, while the larger-screen version is still in preliminary development.

Apple declined to comment, according to the Journal.

Of course, this isn't the first time reports have merged about Apple developing larger-screened phones. In November, Bloomberg reported Apple was developing new iPhone designs that featured larger screens with curved glass and enhanced sensors that can measure different levels of pressure. That report said the phones would have screens of 4.7 inches and 5.5 inches.

Apple asked its component suppliers to test iPhone and iPad screens larger than the ones currently available, according to a July 2013 Journal report. Additionally, Reuters reported in June 2013 that, according to unnamed sources, including those in Apple's supply chain in Asia, Apple is thinking about releasing at least two bigger iPhones in 2014, one with a 4.7-inch screen and one with a 5.7-inch screen.

"Apple definitely needs a larger-screen smartphone soon, particularly to address the demand in the emerging markets," Canalys analyst Jessica Kwee told the Journal. Canalys estimated that nearly one-fourth of smartphones shipped worldwide in the third quarter, about 60 million phones, had displays that were 5 inches or larger.

Larger screen sizes have long been popular both in smartphones running Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android as well as recent phones from Nokia using Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Phone software. Larger screen sizes have generally correlated with more video consumption and data usage.

For more:
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this The Verge article
- see this GigaOM article

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