Apple rumored to increase iPhone screen size to 4-inches

Apple looks set to increase the next generation iPhone’s screen size to at least 4-inches according to information coming from people familiar with the situation. According to the sources, Apple has already placed orders for the larger screens from its Asian suppliers and they are bigger than the screens used on the current iPhone.

Production is set to begin next month for the screens, which measure at least 4 inches diagonally compared with 3.5 inches on the iPhone 4S, the latest phone from Apple, the people said.

The rumor states Apple has ordered the larger screens from multiple suppliers, LG, Sharp and Japan Display Inc. Production of the next iPhone is scheduled to start in June with it becoming available at a similar time to last year; sometime in October. We have already heard that Apple is slowing down production of the iPhone 4S in anticipation of the new model iPhone.

The latest rumor does line up with what we heard at the end of last week, namely that if the screen does indeed increase, it would be to a maximum of 4-inches but no larger. We heard Apple hadn't yet decided on a final design, but given both The Wall Street Journal and Reuters are reporting the 4-inch screen size today, that decision could now have been made.

If accurate, several questions remain. Will Apple reduce the size of the current iPhone bezel to allow for a bigger screen, or increase the size of the phone itself, or a bit of both? There's also nothing in these rumors that suggest an aspect ratio change from the current 2:3 to something closer to 16:9, which some other rumors have suggested. That kind of change would be far more problematic for developers than a simple increase in scale.

It would, however, reduce the density of what Apple's has marketed at the Retina display from 326 ppi of the current iPhone 4S and iPhone 4, down to 288 ppi, which is only slightly better than the new iPad's 264. Not only would buttons and other touch targets be physically bigger, its possible the pixels would once again be visible as well.

The alternative, to increase the amount of pixels, would force old apps to be letterboxed (like iPhone apps are on the iPad), and open the door for the creation of "bigger" apps that wouldn't really work on older iPhones. That's a level of fragmentation Apple hasn't been willing to allow thus far.

Until more information surfaces, or until Phil Schiller holds one up on an Apple event stage, we'll simply have to wait and see.

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Source: WSJ, Reuters