Is Apple getting ready to release up to two new iPhones this year, including one with a 4.8-inch screen? Rumors of such new products are swirling though the Apple community.
Some observers are contending that, in order to compete with the ever-diversifying range of smartphones, Apple needs to diversify its iPhone product line, as it has begun to do with the iPad. The recent instability of Apple stock prices lends fuel to the argument that the company could begin to fall from its pedestal.
One diversification path is reported in the China Times, which said Apple was already lining up component makers for a new model with a 4.8-inch screen, compared with the iPhone 5's 4-inch display.
The report also said the name of the new product, which reportedly will be released in the 2013 holiday season, will be the iPhone Math. Unless Apple is going in a different direction than simply a new model number for the iPhone, this clunky and unappealing moniker may be the result of bad translation of the China Times, or it could simply be a working prototype name.
In addition to the iPhone Math, so to speak, there are also reports of an iPhone 5S that is an updated version of the current iPhone 5 and could be unveiled in early summer. Traditionally, Apple only releases one new iPhone each year, so it's unlikely that both rumors are correct. On the other hand, the smartphone market that the iPhone helped ignite is moving quickly, and Android is achieving such a dominant position, that the Cupertino, Calif.-based technology giant may have decided for a more frequent iPhone product release.
Two noted analysts, Peter Misek of Jeffries and Brian White of Topeka Capital Markets, have been presenting the case that an iPhone with a substantially larger screen makes sense for Apple. But Current Analysis analyst Avi Greengart disagrees, saying that he has a "tough time seeing Apple working on a product that is dramatically wider than its existing models."
Greengart said Apple's "whole philosophy" about smartphones has been that they needed to be "pocketable," although he noted that there were "trends toward larger and larger displays" among other smartphone lines.
Another challenge for a large display on an iPhone, Greengart said, is that it should keep resolution and aspect ratio comparable to recent models, so that it can run the many thousands of apps designed for the iPhone. Both the iPhone 5 and iPhone 4S, for instance, have width resolution of 640, which Apple considers an optimal size for thumb-based navigation. One rumor suggests that Apple is looking to replace its physical Home button with an on-screen one, thus allowing a larger screen.
Greengart said the rumors he was hearing indicated Apple was readying a "less expensive model aimed at China." He added that the company "may be looking to attract customers who are looking for more affordable iPhones," but he would not expect them to release "a super inexpensive model." One way that Apple could lower the price is to make the casing out of plastic instead of aluminum.
One other, juicy Apple rumor floating around: the iPhone 6 will feature a hardware fingerprint sensor for identity detection.