Report: Apple testing iPhones and iPads with larger screens

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has asked its component suppliers to test iPhone and iPad screens larger than the ones currently available, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

The report, which cited unnamed sources at the company's suppliers, said Apple recently asked them to test prototype smartphone screens larger than the 4-inch screen of the iPhone 5 and tablet screens measuring a little less than 13 inches diagonally. The iPad has a 9.7-inch screen and the iPad mini has 7.9-inch screen.

It's unclear if the prototypes will be brought to market, but the timing of the tests suggests that they are not going to be used for models that will appear in the coming months. As the report notes, Apple regularly tests different designs for its products as they are developed.

Apple declined to comment, according to the report.

Apple CEO Tim Cook addressed the issue of larger screens for the iPhone in late May at AllThingsD's D11 conference, and the trade-offs that would be associated with such a move. He said there is clearly a market for larger-screened devices. "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."

This isn't the first time Apple has been reported to be working on devices with larger screens. In June, citing unnamed sources, including those in Apple's supply chain in Asia, Reuters reported that 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, the report noted, it's unclear if Apple will go through with the plans, even though suppliers have been approached about the possibility.

For the first time, last year Apple increased the screen size on the iPhone, to four inches, for the iPhone 5. Other smartphone vendors too have been increasing screen sizes: Samsung Electronics' Galaxy S4 sports a 5-inch display, the Nokia (NYSE:NOK) Lumia 925 offers a 4.5-inch display and HTC's One includes a 4.7-inch display. Concurrently, some vendors are traveling in the opposite direction: The Samsung Galaxy S4 mini and the recently announced HTC One mini both offer 4.3-inch screens.

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

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