Apple Tinkers With Larger iPhones, iPads

Apple has asked suppliers for larger prototypes of its smartphone and tablet, reports The Wall Street Journal.
 10 Best iPad Cases Cover Work, Play
10 Best iPad Cases Cover Work, Play
(click image for larger view)
Apple is weighing whether or not to add a larger iPhone and a larger iPad to its product mix. The company has asked suppliers to send it prototype devices with smartphone screens larger than 4 inches and tablet screens smaller than 13 inches, reports The Wall Street Journal. The move could be a response to intense market pressure from competitors such as Samsung.

As far as smartphones go, the Apple iPhone 5 is fairly small. It has a 4-inch screen, and is the first iPhone since 2007 to have a screen larger than 3.5 inches. The late Steve Jobs, former Apple CEO, favored the smaller screen for its ease of use. This is a sentiment that current Apple CEO Tim Cook has echoed several times over the past year.

The bulk of today's flagship smartphones, such as the LG Optimus G, HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4, have much larger screens (4.8, 4.7 and 5.0 inches, respectively). There's also an entire segment of devices, known as phablets, that have screens stretching well past the 6-inch mark. Handsets such as the LG Optimus G Pro and Samsung Galaxy Note II fall into the phablet category.

Monday's report from the Journal doesn't mean the next iPhone or next iPad will be bigger. It's also not all that surprising to learn that Apple is testing devices with various screen sizes. It would be more surprising to hear that Apple isn't testing devices with various screen sizes. While many people may want an iPhone with a bigger display, pushing the size of the iPad's screen past its current 9.7-inch diagonal would be an interesting move on Apple's part.

[ What do you think about new AT&T and Verizon upgrade options? See Smartphone Plans: 5 Ways To Avoid Trouble. ]

Few tablets on the market today have screens larger than 10.1 inches. There's a reason for this. Devices with large displays are heavier and bulkier to carry about, which negates some of the benefits of their mobility. Toshiba is one of the few companies to try with last year's Toshiba Excite 13, which had a 13.3-inch screen. It was awkward to hold and exceptionally heavy. Tablets this large are better suited for use sitting at a desk rather than when on the go. Apple has long taken pains to create the thinnest, lightest, most portable portables it can. Bulking up would have Apple moving in the opposite direction.

That's not to say Apple isn't working on iPads with various screen sizes. Perhaps it wants to add an option to its current lineup of tablets, which measure 9.7-inches for the iPad and 7.9 inches for the iPad Mini.

However, it would be prudent for Apple to spend more time crafting a larger iPhone than a larger iPad. Right now, the iPhone is among the smallest flagship devices on the market. The iPhone is still one of Apple's biggest money makers, but it has lost some traction in today's sea of big-screened smartphones.

Editor's Choice
Brian T. Horowitz, Contributing Reporter
Samuel Greengard, Contributing Reporter
Nathan Eddy, Freelance Writer
Brandon Taylor, Digital Editorial Program Manager
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing