Apple testing six-inch iPhone: report

Apple testing six-inch iPhone: report

Summary: A larger iPhone model may be in the works, according to a new report.

Photo courtesy Apple

A week before Apple will host a press event that industry insiders suspect will be the introduction of two new iPhone models, a new report suggests that the company is evaluating a different versions with resized—in some cases as large as six inches across, measured diagonally—displays.

The Wall Street Journal's Ian Sherr, Eva Dou and Lorraine Luk report today that Apple "has begun evaluating a plan to offer iPhones with screens ranging from 4.8 inches to as high as six inches," according to unnamed sources.

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That's quite different from the 4-inch display on the current iPhone 5 and the 3.5-inch display on iPhone 4 and 4S models still popular on the street. Indeed, six inches would make for one of the largest smartphones on the market.

The motivator? Growth. As Apple's nearly legendary decade of success begins to slow, the company is searching "for new engines of growth," the Journal writes. The stiff competition from rival Samsung certainly hasn't helped, either.

Apple typically tests various configurations before deciding upon the version it will take to production, though it is interesting that such an established and successful product would continue to evolve with regard to its dimensions—in this case, in the opposite direction that technology tends to move.

Will Apple follow the market, or set the benchmark for it? We'll find out.

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Topics: Mobility, Apple, iPhone, Smartphones

Andrew Nusca

About Andrew Nusca

Andrew Nusca is a former writer-editor for ZDNet and contributor to CNET. During his tenure, he was the editor of SmartPlanet, ZDNet's sister site about innovation.

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  • Apple testing six-inch iPhone

    That's what she said
    Evil Sandmich
  • Apple doesn't quite know what to do

    Apple is no longer the innovator in the smartphone space. Offering more form factors may help some, but the real issue is an aging inflexible OS -- and iOS 7 is NOT the answer.
    • Re: Apple doesn't quite know what to do....

      Actually such a device is not a new concept. Samsung have something similar on the drawing board as well. I guess this will raise questions of who came up with the concept first but we will leave that one to the trolls.

      As for iOS it is not aging and inflexible. iOS works no need for drastic change the same can be said of OS X as well. If it isn't broke don't fix it.

      iOS 7 is merely a refresh of a great platform.
      • I think you missed his point

        Apple didn't do the me-to thing. They chose their single design of phone, the imassiv lapped it up and told us that was all that was required, anything bigger was ugly. I'm sure I've even seen it quoted that jobs laughed at larger phones, rightly or wrongly, I don't care.

        Apple stood out as the company that stood up and said we have the phone you want, it's this one. Now, if (and for me it's a big if) this report is to be believed, they're admitting the rest of the market was right and a range of sizes is the natural offering. Part of the success of the iphone comes from people hearing "buy the iphone", "okay there is only one so I know to get that one". I honestly believe that offering a range a sizes may attract users wanting larger screens but will also make some people think "well if there's different iphones to choose from, I might as well look at what else is out there".
        Little Old Man
        • Offer too many phones and I can't decide

          I remember when Nokia was king of mobiles. I did not buy one though, I went into the shop and was bewildered by so many different models all basically doing the same thing. When the iPhone came out, you just had a choice of the one phone. It made it easy to choose and it was so easy to use. When I look at Android handsets from all the different manufacturers, with each manufacturer or mobile operator adding or tweaking the software, I come to the same stumbling block like Nokia gave me. Too many phones and I can't make a decision on which one to buy. I also don't like the OS that much. I have tried, but I still keep with my trustworthy iPhone.
          • Exactly

            You and I are almost polar opposite, I welcomed the plethora of phones to choose from, the specialities, the frailties, but at the same time I sent 3 back before I settled for the gs3.

            Yet I can totally see your point of view in respect of knowing that by choosing the iphone, it was right for you. No deciding whether the cheaper one would be better, the larger one would be spot on or the one with the better camera might suit. It's where I see a big downside with where samsung are taking the galaxy range. If someone was told a galaxy was the one to buy, when they get to the shop they'll find they can even get a galaxy camera. That will not help the brand at all. Some people just don't want that and I make no judgement on that.
            Little Old Man
          • LOL, Too Much Choice, I'm Scared.

            The typical iSheep in a nutshell.

            I don't buy iPhones BECAUSE of the lack of choice. If f they start offering choices, I will consider an iPhone.
          • that's sounds

            more like sheep. You don't buy iPhones because lack of choice... yeah right.
          • Re: Offer too many phones and I can't decide

            Offer too many cars and I can't decide!

            How do I choose which car to buy? There are too many models to choose from! Internal-combustion engines are too fragmented!

            This whole motorcar business will never take off until the market consolidates down to just one or two models!
        • Yes and that's the problem!

          Apple had one of those we were wrong moments with the iPhone 5 and the aspect ratio change. Then they had another one with the iPad Mini (of course the the claim is that 7.9" is not 7" but, the principal is there).

          Bottom line, Jobs either opened his mouth too much or these guys needed to back him up and stick by his words because right now they're showing everybody else that Samsung, HTC, Asus, and the like were right about the correct phone and tablet dimensions and that's never going to work.

          As for iOS, it is hugely dated and being in denial about it is going leave Apple in the same shape they were in back in the mid 90s. Of course, the Apple fanatics are just as much in denial now as they were back then and it isn't surprising given how quickly they jumped into this whole Apple Ecosystem.
          • You're still assuming all these rumors are accurate

            Personally, I'll wait and see for myself because I honestly don't believe the majority of the rumors.
          • It's kind of funny...the fringe people - like yourself

            who want to be part of Apple but for economic reasons do not sign up always talk the demise of Apple. I think Apple really doesn't care about you guys, the "authors" here have said the past Apple/Mac's were like the Penthouse, Windows was like the Suburb's and Linux/Other were like the farm's. I guess that would make Android like East LA.
      • I just hope . . .

        . . . that if Apple decides to market a larger phone for the kids, that they also keep the current 4S-dimensioned phone for the rest of us. I can't keep a SGSIV in my front pocket and sit down - and I won't go "pants on the ground" to get that functionality!
    • I agree and disagree

      Apple is no longer the innovator. I would say, in many aspects they never were innovative. Most of the same functionality of the first iPhone was available earlier on phones like the Treo, Blackberry, or others. What Apple excels at is industrial design. They created a beautiful device that gave people extremely simple access to the same functions that were clumsy and mostly inaccessible on previous smart phones. Adding form factors isn't innovation, either. By offering more form factors, they will really only be catching up with the competition, not innovating.

      The part I disagree on is whether iOS is the problem. In my opinion, iOS doesn't need to scrapped or even changed drastically. Software wise, the only truly useful thing they could add to iOS is live information gadgets. Just making the things already present in iOS work better would be another improvement. For example, take Siri. It's mostly useless in anything but a dead silent room and 80% of the time, it responds with "I don't understand."

      The iOS devices are much further behind on the hardware side than on the OS side. Their cameras aren't even in the top 5 in quality of photos anymore. The screens aren't 1080p, so making a 6 inch version would be a waste. It took them forever to finally add stereo speakers to a tablet and their phones still don't have it.

      In a nutshell, the hardware has remained largely unchanged for years. We get minor tweaks to screen resolution and a slight bump in CPU power each time, but nothing groundbreaking or terribly exciting. Meanwhile, the best Android phones blew past the iPhone by leapfrogging the hardware in every way. If you want a 1080p display on your phone, Android is the only game in town, right now. The best camera is on a Nokia.

      Apple wasted a lot of money and time paying artists to redraw icons for iOS 7, which were already perfectly usable. What they should have done was pay programmers to add gadgets and hardware engineers to make real improvements to the hardware. They need to scratch their way into the top 5 again. Sadly, all they're actually doing is trying to catch up to everyone else.
      • What are you on?

        Of course the iPhone was innovative. Nothing really looked or worked like it before its release. I had many smartphones years before it was put on the market. They were Windows based and so clunky and horrible to use. You had to use a pen too, not your finger.
        • What are you on?

          Wow! You just described Windows 8 phone! Nice of you to show appreciation when it's due... Oh, right- you didn't intend to compliment Microsoft, but you did- perhaps you should give Windows Phone a try with the actual smartphone models- this is not 2005, anymore.
          • Good job, xplorer.

            You just confused pre-Windows Phone 7 devices with Windows Phone 7 and later.


            marcandsebe was describing Windows Mobile, and also did a good job at describing Palm and the Apple Newton at the same time.
        • Re: Nothing really looked or worked like it before its release

          Go look at the LG Prada, first shown publicly 6 months before the Iphone.

          But Apple had the superior PR machine back then, which is why nobody remembers it.
          • PR and other things

            LG made/makes phones? News to me...

            PR is just part of it. It's also infrastructure. Apple put the app builds out there and had the store already established as well as a process of writers to create their own apps.
          • Re: LG made/makes phones?

            One of many that has recently built up a successful, thriving, profitable Android business.