SAN FRANCISCO (USA Today) -- Apple plans to launch two larger iPhones
this year and will likely avoid using the plastic exterior design of
last year's 5c model, which has not sold as well as expected, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.
Apple is developing an iPhone with a display larger than 4.5 inches
measured diagonally, and a second version with a screen bigger than 5
inches, the newspaper said.
Both new models are expected to feature metal casings similar to what
is used on the current iPhone 5s. Apple is expected to scrap the
plastic exterior used on the iPhone 5c, the Journal added, citing
unidentified people familiar with the situation.
The phones, expected in the second half of 2014, won't include a
curved display, a feature recently introduced by rivals such as Samsung
Electronics. The smaller of the two models is being prepared for mass
production, while the larger-screen version is still in preliminary
development, the WSJ reported.
Apple spokeswoman Teresa Brewer declined to comment.
So far, Apple's largest phone has sported a 4-inch display. However,
Samsung and other rivals have made bigger phones, including so-called
"phablets," that have sold well, particularly in Asia, a region where
Apple is searching for growth.
"It's a product category that's been missing from, Apple so this is
good to see," said Alex Gauna, an analyst at JMP Securities. "I would
much rather have seen Apple first to market with larger-screen phones
rather than playing catch-up. That would have given me much more
Apple, which reports quarterly results on Monday, has been dogged by
concern about thinning profit margins and slowing growth as a wave of
cheaper smartphones running Google's Android operating system gained
market share in recent years.
Apple tried to tackle this last year with the iPhone 5c - a slightly
cheaper version of its main smartphone, but with a colorful plastic case
rather than the usual, more expensive aluminum body.
However, the 5c was still not cheap enough for developing markets,
such as Asia, while most consumers in the U.S. snapped up the high-end
"The notion that Apple may not use plastic casing for the new larger
phones is not a surprise," Gauna said. "The 5c has been a disappointment
to market watchers and Apple internally."
The analyst expects the larger iPhones will likely have aluminum
bodies and be positioned as a premium device, similar to Samsung's
Galaxy Note 3, which has a 5.7 inch display.
The larger phones will be particularly crucial as Apple tries to sell
more mobile devices in Asia. Bigger screens are popular in the region
for several reasons, according to Gauna.
A larger screen with a stylus is helpful for writing Asian
characters, such as Kanji. Bigger phones are also popular with less
wealthy consumers who cannot afford to buy a smartphone and a tablet,
the analyst said.
Finally, there are more commuters who use public transport in Asia,
and they prefer bigger screens for watching videos and playing games
while traveling to and from work, Gauna explained.