More on a 5-inch iPhone and scaling the interface

Just over a week ago I ran the numbers on a bigger screen iPhone, and presented several ways Apple could go, including just taking the current screen and stretching it out to almost 5-inches, which would give it the same 264ppi pixel density as the Retina iPad 4 screen. Since Apple used the iPhone density to make the iPad mini, using the iPad density to make the iPhone maxi has a certain symmetry to it.

But would stretching out the icons, buttons, text and other interface elements just make them look bigger, or would it make them look silly? Let's find out...

John Gruber of Daring Fireball said:

From an operations standpoint, they’d be re-using a component they’re already familiar with. From a software standpoint, existing apps would just run, and everything would just look bigger on screen.

Marco Arment of said:

By keeping the pixel dimensions the same as the iPhone 5, no app changes would be necessary. While the larger screen would hinder one-handed use, two-handed use would actually be easier because the touch targets would all be larger, and UIKit’s standard metrics and controls still work well at that physical size.

Here, again, is what it could look like relative to the original iPhone, iPhone 4, and iPhone 5.

Imagining a 5-inch iPhone (mockup)

And relative to other, larger screened phones on the market, including the Samsung Galaxy S3, the iPhone 5, the Nokia Lumia 920, the BlackBerry Dev Alpha, and the Samsung Galaxy Note 2.

Samsung Galaxy S3 vs iPhone 5 vs Nokia Lumia 920 vs. BlackBerry Dev Alpha vs. 5-inch iPhone vs. Samsung Galaxy Note 2

Still, the most consistent question I'm getting -- other than why or if Apple would do it, which I've speculated about twice already -- is how would the interface work. Going from 4-inches to close to 5-inches increases everything, every icon, button, ever bit of text, every pixel, by 20%. For people with accessibility issues, for whom buttons and text are too small on every iPhone released to date, that could be really welcome news. For others, it sounds overly, perhaps comically large.

This is exactly inverse the debate that preceded the launch of the iPad mini, where some feared the interface element size would be too small for comfortable use.

So what's the reality?

Let's fake a change in screen density and take a look. Note, the images below are scaled up to simulate 264ppi, then cropped to fit on the iPhone 5/iPod touch 5 screens and cleaned up a little. That means some icons, texts, and other stuff gets "lost" to make it all fit. None of that would happen on a 5-inch screen. The images below are only meant to show the size of buttons, text, etc., not completeness.

Just tap on these and view them full size on your iPhone (and tap and hold to save to Camera Roll if you want to experience them without the Safari chrome around them).

Here's the same thing for an iPad mini, without cropping, but with padding to fill the different pixel size and aspect ratio. Again, view them full screen.

For a full sized iPad, Marco made an Instapaper mockup you can try.

If you think of the iPad mini as a tablet that's using phone density, then the big iPhone is just a phone using tablet density. You have phone interface at high density, phone interface at less-high density, tablet interface at high density, tablet interface at less-high density.

Then, just like there's an 11- and 13-inch MacBook Air, and a 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pro, there's a 4- and 5-inch iPhone, and a 7.9 and 9.7-inch iPad.

Almost 9 out of 10 AT&T customers bought 4-inch or smaller iPhones last quarter rather than all big screen Android and Windows Phones combined, and roughly 6 out of 10 Verizon customers did the same. So aside from geeks who keep posting about how they really want it, and shoppers for whom bigger as a feature is always better, Apple might not feel any pressing, mainstream need to add another screen size to the iPhone product line. Yet.

But if and when they do, stretching the screen offers less complexity, and less impact on both iOS and developers. That's how you expand a product without expanding panel production or developer support headaches. It's an Apple-like solution.

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Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, ZEN and TECH, MacBreak Weekly. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter,, Google+.

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There are 94 comments. Add yours.

Avenged110 says:

Those mockup screenshots look silly. People need to stop complaining. It's a phone, not a tablet. Keep it that way.

Premium1 says:

They only look silly to the already small Iphone.

Avenged110 says:

The iPhone is appropriately sized. 5"+ is ridiculous. My friends make fun of people with Notes.

Premium1 says:

Make fun of them or not, but the added screen real estate just adds that much usability. But if they would go to a larger iphone, nobody is forcing you to buy it. Then again you would probably be the first in line although you "make fun of users with notes"

NetMage says:

There is no added real estate in Rene's solution: everything is just magnified. The Galaxy S3 does have a small bit extra real estate on its larger screen.

sangs says:

Well, I guess if your friends make fun of it, there's no market for it then. Jesus. "My friends make fun of (it)." What are we, 10-year-olds?

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KCMike says:

It's called "Someone's butthurt".

KCMike says:

Notes are epic. I'll take a larger iPhone any day.

Premium1 says:

I just cant see apple keeping it the same and dropping so much in the PPI. I mean after all they were the ones to coin retina display and keeping the same resolution at an inch larger display would make the pixels be noticable for many. Not to mention people are choosing the 4" iphone because if they want an IOS device that is the only choice they have for a "large screen" I bet if apple released a larger iphone that wasn't just stretched out they would sell even more than the iphone 5 and sway even more users to IOS.

iandrewj says:

Cheaper iphone, bigger iphone ... No thanks, keep one device with different memory options. Apple doesn't need or want to head down the road of fragmentation.

mritalian76 says:

If and when Apple does put out a 5" phone the ui will be totally different.

Some Random Bloke says:

I think a larger screen makes sense and I'd certainly consider it (considered another platform for that reason before purchasing my iPhone 5). I'd prefer closer to 4.5", but more important is maintaining the integrity of the ecosystem and avoiding Android style fragmentation so I'd live with 5" if the form factor was right (i.e. not just a bigger iPhone 5).

Fraydog says:

Just wait until they can go to 528 ppi at 2272x1280.

Nemesisprimed says:

I seem to be the only one left who is content with my 4" iPhone. I find going larger doesn't really bring much to the table other than being larger, and I appreciate the overall size of the 5.

railstop says:

Apple is absolutely right in keeping with current size devices. Phones are just that, a phone. The next step is using the iPad mini as your "next" device. The size craze has gone to far, and will die.

Siggehandf says:

I think going larger screen carries very little inovation. 5" can be an option if there is some redesign of iOS that would make 5" very usable, could be a new type of keyboard or input feature. But with the current crop of iOS, I actually find the iPhone 5 almost too big. It's at time very difficult to reach the top left part of the screen with your thumb and I don't have small hands at all. Let the other companies try and out "grow" each other and call that "news". Apple should stick with usability and keep the current design, were a phone can be operated with one hand.

richard451 says:

"Almost 9 out of 10 AT&T customers bought 4-inch or smaller iPhones last quarter rather than all big screen Android and Windows Phones combined, and roughly 6 out of 10 Verizon customers did the same. "
*sigh* Rene, you really need to stop trotting out incorrect data in an otherwise great article (it's like putting Windows on a Mac or ketchup on a hot dog). I'm not sure if it's ignorance or an agenda, but please stop it.

iSRS says:

Maybe I drink from the same kool aid fountain as Rene, but what about his statement is incorrect? Those are the numbers reported by both Verizon and AT&T. And keep in mind, at least on Verizon (I don't recall the AT&T breakdown) just over half were iPhone 5, meaning nearly half we the 4/4S at 3.5"

richard451 says:

it's because Rene counts activations and sales as one and the same. Consider this scenario;

The AT&T store sells 10 iPhones.
The Apple store sells 10 iPhones.
Best Buy sells 10 iPhones.

How many iPhones did AT&T sell? How many iPhones did AT&T activate? See the difference?

For Rene to be correct, he is stating that retail chains like Apple sell no iPhones.

iSRS says:

Ok, fair enough. I see what you are saying. The thing is, from every article any site discussing their Q4-2012 numbers, all say the same thing. I, personally, take total sales of 10.2 million smartphones to be all sales through all carrier partners (Apple, best buy, etc) because those partners are selling AT&T inventory/product. What I guess it isn't counting is resales. Activations could be, but we don't know for 100%.

So you may be right, but I think the impact is not as great as you state.

However, he is correct about Verizon numbers. ACTIVATED 9.8 million smartphones. ACTIVATED 6.2 million iPhones, half of which we the larger iPhone 5.

So I will still give Rene the benefit of the doubt.

richard451 says:

"I, personally, take total sales of 10.2 million smartphones to be all sales through all carrier partners (Apple, best buy, etc) because those partners are selling AT&T inventory/product" . The only AT&T product in an iPhone is the SIM. Think about this; If what you are saying is correct, then Apple sells the majority of the iPhone outside the US. Jobs/Cook personally have refuted that statement over the years.

There is no possible way AT&T knows about about every iPhone sale in the US If I go to a street vendor and buy an iPhone, how does AT&T know about it? The primary retort I see to this is that AT&T must activate a lot of used phones and that is why they report two sets of data, but that seems like a pretty big stretch.

You are correct on the Verizon part, and my apologies to Rene for saying he was wrong on that. It is interesting to see how AT&T and Verizon differ in what they report (Verizon has no care for thier retail sales)

iSRS says:

Can you buy an AT&T iPhone without having a phone number assigned to it? Can you buy an AT&T iPhone without it even once connecting to the AT&T network even once? I am not talking resales, but new iPhone. There is also,I am certain, a way for them to know what is a new phone vs resale activation. Otherwise, it isn't on their network and not reported.

richard451 says:

yes to both (I've done it twice at the Apple store).

"There is also,I am certain, a way for them to know what is a new phone vs resale activation. " I'm sure there is as well (imei number), but now you are reaching very far to justify your position. If AT&T was so dependent on second hand sales, they would say something to the shareholders. As for new sales, it's not legal for AT&T to report sales from other companies (such as Apple or Best Buy) as their own.

Rene Ritchie says:

What's incorrect about it?

richard451 says:

Let's just look at your original article on AT&T that you sourced (you can apply the same to Verizon). In your article, you had this nugget; "AT&T has announced their Q4 2012 financial results, and out of a record 10.2 million smartphones sold, a record 8.6 million were iPhones". Which is the basis for your statement of "Almost 9 out of 10 AT&T customers bought 4-inch or smaller iPhones last quarter". Now lets take a look at what AT&T really said, shall we?

"Record smartphone sales of 10.2 million..." <-- note it says sales.
"In the quarter, the company activated a record 8.6 million iPhones, with 16 percent new to AT&T..." <-- not, it says activations.

What AT&T does not tell you is the following; how many AT&T sales were the iPhone and how many total smartphone activations there were (or even total activations in general). They make it impossible to make any sort of analysis based on thier data (other than they sold and activated a lot of iPhones)

AT&T personally had to correct macrumors for the same issue, so it's not like you were alone in this.

They at least learned from their mistake. Can you?

demontooth says:

I guess not. He still hasn't corrected the article.

Spaz888 says:

Rene, looks like you've been burned by your post. I'd make the necessary changes or add caveats to your stats. richard451's post is spot on and accurate. Glad to see we have someone in this forum who understands stats. :)

demontooth says:

I guess he's not interested in factual reporting.

dalvik says:

The main reason why I have an iphone is exactly because of it's size. I tried to use GS3 and Google Nexus but these are way too big in my hand it feels as if i'm holding a shovel, very uncomfortable to hold and type with one hand. I mean come on, what's up with this "shovel" trend in android world? I'm an average man with average hands. I hope that if Apple will ever decide to release a "phablet" they will also keep the original iphone size without making it a budget low-end phone. There are many people who don't want large phones, I use NY subway to get to work and I'd say about 70% of people I see on the trains have iphones. Not mention almost everyone at my work too, with few exceptions..

Michael Scrip says:

Apple offereded one size iPhone for the first 5 years... then 1/4" taller on the iPhone 5.

So who knows what people will choose if they have the choice of a bigger iPhone?

You're right... a "phablet" isn't for everyone... but why not 4.5" or so?

dalvik says:

like I said, the bigger variety to chose from -the better, but look what's happening with android devices. The GS3 is the flagship of android world and then they made a mini version of it which surely looks very good and small enough to satisfy needs of those who skipped GS3 because of it's size (like me for example) but why, WHY Samsung had to turn this S3 mini into a budget low-end phone? what's up with this? Again, people like me will just skip the whole line of GS3 devices altogether. I actually really like the simplicity of iOS and it's skeuomorphic design but the size was number one important factor for me.

Linebarrel86 says:

But take note: that's YOUR case.

What about those that want a larger screen?

For people who think Apple can do little to no wrong, you all are very against the idea that Apple could simply make two devices. A big screened device and a smaller one.

The fear is justified though. If Apple were to this, they might just end up cannabilizing the smaller iphone and then....dare I say it....

You'll all be stuck with big iPhones! Oh no!

Or, in another scenerio, they could do as they do currently with the Mac and iPads: allow them to co-exist despite sales eating of one eating into the other.

Premium1 says:

Tell that to the 30+ million who like the size of the s3 or the 10+ million who bought a note, clearly it isn't too large for many people otherwise everyone would be making small phones like apple.

Spaz888 says:

I got tired of waiting for a substantially larger screen. I figured Apple will take another 5 years to increase it's size of their device. However, time will tell. Besides, I know one thing is for certain, Apple doesn't give a hoot about ticking off their existing customers. Look what they did with the iPad 3 and how they alienated their customers by eliminating it and focusing on the iPad 2 and iPad 4.

Linebarrel86 says:

I like how Rene generalized all people who ask for bigger screened phones as geeks.

You do realize that if Apple had given people a choice between a 5inch screened device and a 4inch device, and that there's a very good chance that most would have went with the larger one right?

Lately, I've noticed more and more the arrogance in your articles and frankly, it disgust me. Your writing was at one time more critical and though it always spoke of Apple as a great company, you expressed it in a humble way.

Now... Not so much.

These articles you write show how much Apple has to backtrack on things they have done to adjust to a changing market, one where they aren't always the leaders anymore. And you know what? That's cool. A smart company like Apple knows this has to be done unless they want to be in the position they were in over a decade ago.

But to sit and make it seem like their geniuses for figuring out how to make a larger screened iPhone is ridiculous.

They could just as easily make a new resolution as they did with the iPad and call it a day.

It would be just as easy and would maintain Retina branding without justification. We already know developers would jump at the chance to be first out the gate with larger resolution apps just as case was with the iPad.

Again, this article is laughable.

I realize I could simply not read this article or not comment, but I really hope you return to how you previously wrote. Not this pompous guy who makes excuses for how Apple knows that change is inevitable and that if you don't make the appropriate moves at the right time, success can easily slip away.


iSRS says:

He actually said this.

"For people with accessibility issues, for whom buttons and text are too small on every iPhone released to date, that could be really welcome news."

Then said "and for shoppers whom bigger as a feature"

So, no, he didn't call them all geeks.

Remember, Apple rarely listens to what customers say they want.

Linebarrel86 says:

So aside from geeks who keep posting about how they really want it, and shoppers for whom bigger as a feature is always better, Apple might not feel any pressing, mainstream need to add another screen size to the iPhone product line. Yet.

So... Yeah. Rene did refer to some people as geeks.

Skandalous010 says:

Some people ARE geeks. Probably most of the people in this thread. But that's not what you originally called him out for:
"I like how Rene generalized all people who ask for bigger screened phones as geeks."

You got it wrong, then when corrected, you changed your tune--missing his point every step of the way.

iSRS says:

I think it's called denial. Clearly, a bigger screen is wanted by some people. Some of those people are probably "Geeks" but don't want to be labeled as such. Some of that group might read imore and see the word geek and get myopic in their denial of being a geek.

Linebarrel86 says:

Generalized as one or the other right? I corrected myself when I pasted his exact words.

So what was his point?

Rene is simply hedging his bets now to cover what may happen in the future.

It's funny how soon the tune will change should Apple make a bigger screened phone.

iSRS says:

It very well could, but you would be missing the point.

Those who are fans of Apple products are so because they have earned it. They may not always be first, but when they do, it is usually done in a way that impresses. When they do a larger iPhone, it won't be just because everyone else is doing it, and not be just so they can improve battery life, (the main driver at the beginning to the larger screen size). It will be because it truly adds to the the experience.

For instance, I am intrigued by the new Z10 and BB10. Looks like a solid phone/OS. I like the newer Motorola phones. However, on the flip side, it baffles me that Samsung is the "gold standard" for Android phones, when they aren't the best.

Linebarrel86 says:

Well... We can both agree to being baffled as to why Samsung is the gold standard.

I use a Droid DNA and it's far better than any Samsung phone.

I believe it really just comes down to marketing. Apple and Samsung have put in the arresting dollars and it has paid off.

iSRS says:

Yes, marketing has a lot to do with it. But not all. Apple has brand loyalty and Samsung has Verizon pushing it (and gently against Apple?)

The DNA looks like a nice phone. And the Droid Razar Maxx HD is a great phone, too.

Spaz888 says:

Are hot, sexy, fashionista girls geeks to? Look at how many are sporting a Galaxy 3 or another large cell phone? These are the same females who said they can't imagine having anything bigger than an iPhone. It's too bad that Ritchie can't write an article where he doesn't blow it and says something that makes himself appear like a fool or ignorant.

CORYK333 says:

You opened your comment with "Are hot, sexy, fashionista girls geeks to?" and say that Rene "makes himself appear like a fool or ignorant"......come on B, really?? smh

j8298c says:

I honestly hope they come out with a bigger iPhone give us more of a choice but everyone on here is oh that's to big I wouldn't get it its a phone not a tablet weren't you the sane people saying 4 inches was to big and 3.5 was the sweet spot and let me guess 4 inches is now the sweet spot lol you guys make me laugh if apple comes out with a phone bigger than the note 2 you will be all over it saying oh yea 6.5 inches now that's the sweet spot everything apple does is not perfect and sorry to say but just extending the screen half an inch really didn't do it for me I'm just going to stick out with my "sweet spot" 3.5 inch 4s and pray they come out with something bigger maybe 4.2 and a little more width and keep the narrow one for you one handed guys

Corel8 says:

My first IPhone is the 5. I came from the Android camp and it wasn't an easy decision. If it wasn't for my iPad experience I most likely wouldn't have switched, but I'm so glad I did. Funny thing, I thought that I really wanted the larger phone but I now realize that I didn't. I love the one handed usage (which I strangely didn't do on my Galaxy - I assume that there is some Apple brilliance going on here!) and when I see someone talking on a Note I think it looks ridiculous. And besides, my pockets are full now! Where would I put one of these monsters.

Spaz888 says:

I am on both sides (Android and Apple). Android OS even with a pure interface on the Android Asus 7 leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to lagging and customer service. I don't intend to get another Android device for at least another 5 years. Maybe then Google will realize fragmentation has got to stop and provide a lag free OS.

siriusnoodles says:

I get no such lag on my Nexus 4, though it may be because the processors get a break from multitasking due to a ridiculous 2 GB of RAM. You're right about Android not taking advantage of its available resources fully, and I hope that one day, the Dalvik VM becomes so lightweight that it does virtually nothing to performance. That said, my Nexus 4 is comparable to the iPhone 5 in terms of smoothness, and it costs half as much full retail. I think that was reason enough to choose a Nexus, especially since Google manages both the hardware and the software with that brand.

Spaz888 says:

Glad to hear your lack of lag is the exception, not the norm and that your Nexus 4 is comparable to the iPhone 5 in terms of smoothness. I was seriously thinking of ordering the Nexus 4; however, having it used it myself I decided not too. Once again, I do not share the same experience as you.

Pontavignon says:

What might interest me is if a 5" iPhone ran iPad rather than iPhone apps. Could that be done? If so, the added functionality of iPad apps on a phone would offset the inconvenience of a two-handed phone, at least for me.

Launching the very first "PhonePad" in the world would better fit the company's innovator image than just another UpSize phone.

DrBit2011 says:

Why dont make a widder iphone, keeping the tall?, i dont think like a good idea making it taller, will be impossible to reach with one hand the extreme corner, i thibk half of inche wider will be better.

gregg37 says:

I want this badly. When you get 40+ and the eyes go to hell, the iPhone 5 starts to lose a little of it's usefulness at 3am when your glasses are in the other room.

pappy53 says:

I would love for Apple to add text wrapping, which refits the text to fit the screen without side to side scrolling when you zoom in. I don't know why they haven't already done this, as it has been on Android for forever.

kch50428 says:

They should just add the phone hardware & app to the iPadMini & call it the iPhoneX.

Paulyboy says:

I have a couple friends with large-screen Android phones like the Samsung Galaxy S3 and the Motorola Atrix. Some of them have tablets and some of them don't but wanted one. However since they started using these large-screen Android phones their usage of their tablets decreased significantly and those that didn't have a tablet but wanted one no longer want one. Their phones are with them everywhere they go and the screen size is big enough that they can do some things comfortably on it that just can't be currently done with an iPhone. Heck they hardly even use their computers anymore either. They basically do everything on their phones.

Now I'm not saying I would prefer a larger screen iPhone, and I could never give up my Mac or iPad, but based on what I've experienced with some of my friends it seems pretty clear to me that there's definitely a market for this type of thing.

Charlf says:

I havent read all the comments but, Consider this Apple has only one mobile phone device that is the 4" iPhone 5, the 3.5" screens on the iPhone 4 ('s) is going to get phased out sooner or later... So I think if Apple do decide to add a 5" iPhone model to its range & bring the mobile phone range of their company up to 2 devices then it would make good business sense as I do online trading and work on my iPhone 5 when I'm on the go (which is always) but always get frustrated when I feel I definitely needed a wider and maybe little bigger screen. I know there is an iPad mini tablet available (for the trollin' posters) but why do I need to carry 2 different devices if I just had the option of a little more usable screen space to be happy!

I am sure I am not the only one who would think that to have a 4" iPhone for average users and 5" iPhone for the power users in Apples mobile phone range would make a lot of market share sense?!

dnjgeary says:

I find it a little difficult to understand the sometimes passionate advocacy for one size or the other. I think Apple should be offering both phones, so people can take the one that works best for them. The whole point is to give the consumer a choice.

jdevenberg says:

The Windows Phone in your comparison shot is a Lumia 900, not a 920. It has the old Wndows logo, not the new Windows 8 logo. And the 900 has a 4.3" screen while the 920 has a 4.5" screen.

van_Eyck says:

Well, I guess I'm just sticking to the iPhone 4S/5. If I wanted a bigger phone, I would've bought the Samsung Galaxy S3 or a Note already. To be honest, I don't think there's really anything Apple can do (aside from adding NFC chips, better battery lifes or making their phones waterproof) in order to get me to buy their next models. Unless they stop offering iOS updates to the older models or something.

SockRolid says:

Re: "... Apple might not feel any pressing, mainstream need to add another screen size to the iPhone product line. Yet."

Not in the U.S. But in Asia, giant phones are quite the rage. But, again, today's raging fad may become tomorrow's has-been cliche. (Anyone sick of Gangnam Style yet? Uh-huh. Thought so.)

Re: "But if and when they do, stretching the screen offers less complexity, and less impact on both iOS and developers."

And it would also create a whole lot more interior volume, given the same thickness. And that extra volume could be used to either add more battery or to create empty space. Why the empty space?

To make manufacturing easier and faster. Tolerances would be larger, making it easier to assemble the "iPhone maxi" faster than the iPhone 5 (or 4S or 4) can be assembled. That would help to bring down the production costs a bit, but more importantly it would allow for higher volume production.

But whatever. I prefer the 4" screen size to anything larger. I wear shrink-to-fit Levi's 501s and that left front pocket is pretty cramped with an iPhone 5 and a wallet jammed into it.

ShameerMulji says:

"To make manufacturing easier and faster. Tolerances would be larger, making it easier to assemble the "iPhone maxi" faster than the iPhone 5 (or 4S or 4) can be assembled. That would help to bring down the production costs a bit, but more importantly it would allow for higher volume production."

So according to your theory, the so-called lower-cost phone & larger-screen phone may end up being the same product? Interesting.

ArgonNJ#CB says:

Bigs phones are the rage here too. The GS3 and now the Note 2 are huge successes. With the exception of Apple, no one is putting out a small screen phone.

SockRolid says:

Just a thought on having two separate "new iPhones." Apple and their touchscreen hardware partners have spent a lot of time, money, and effort on the current LCD technology. Wouldn't it make sense to keep amortizing that expense over a few more years? To take advantage of the trailing edge of the cost vs. time curve? I think so.

On the other hand, Apple can and will use next-gen touchscreen technology when it's mass-producable and when it's cheap enough. So, sooner or later, we just might see iOS devices with some sort of advanced OLED technology. (And Apple and Sharp have the technology and assembly process patents to have exclusivity on that advanced OLED technology.)

So, given that Apple may soon be able to choose from two screen technologies, old and new, wouldn't it make sense to use the old trailing-edge LCD technology on a bigger, cheaper iPhone? That technology has been refined, and production has been streamlined enough to keep yields high and costs low.

And wouldn't it make sense to use the new leading-edge technology (possibly OLED) on the normal-sized high-end 4" iPhone 6 and later? Because that's where every cubic millimeter counts. An OLED screen would eliminate the need for LED backlights, and could reduce battery size requirements. Because OLED pixels plus IGZO conductors should be dramatically more efficient than LCD plus amorphous silicon.

If Apple does ship a bigger iPhone, and if Apple does develop new technology for a next-gen normal iPhone, I think it makes sense to use different screen technologies on the two. Older, high volume, trailing-edge technology on the big iPhone. Because the larger screen could allow for internal volume large enough to add battery capacity. Newer, leading-edge technology on the conventional 4" iPhone. Because slimness is a top design priority.

Doesn't that dual-technology approach make sense? At least until the Apple / Sharp OLED technology comes down in price enough to be used across all iPhones and iPod touch.

ShameerMulji says:

You make many good points & I, for one, am not against a bigger iPhone. The only problem I have is Apple going "backwards" to 264ppi for the rumored bigger iPhone while the Android camp is marching towards 400+ ppi. Granted, content will be easier to read on a 264ppi screen because pixels will be bigger but you lose out on information density.

Personally, I prefer Apple go to a 4.5" screen with a 1280x720 resolution and still retain the 326ppi pixel density. Yes, that does mean, in the short term, current iPhone apps will have to run in a stretched-mode but developers have shown that they will adapt - especially on a platform that generates the vast majority of money for developers.

Dark_Blu says:

Apple does a 5" iPhone, I'm in.

Spaz888 says:

I have fantasized about a 5 inch iPhone but since I am locked in a contract for three years because the carriers in Canada have manipulated the government to allow them to do whatever they want, I can't justify a $700 price tag on a phone.

ShameerMulji says:

You're not alone. I'm in the same boat as you. I just keep telling myself imagine the cool phones that will be for sale once my contract is up.

Spaz888 says:

But will our phones survive to the end of our contracts?

ArgonNJ#CB says:

Big screens are in, if they weren't the other OEMs wouldn't making and selling lots of them. As long as Apple continues to cater to women, teen girls and skinny jeans wearing hipsters, they are doomed to continued loss of market share.

CORYK333 says:

I'll take profit over market-share any day....they are a BUISINESS

9thWonder says:

i wouldn't buy a 5 inch iphone of any kind. I don't like big screen devices.

clyde anderson says:

As a bifocal wearing, bluetooth using, iPhone and iPad toting mobile professional trying to go paperless, this looks like it has a lot of merit. Bluetooth means I don't have to hold a ridiculously sized phone up to my ear for extended periods. A hip holster means it would comfortably go anywhere like my iP5. And it promises it would do 70% of what my current combo does; the iPad may stay in the office or car unless I know I'll have to show documents or files at length to somebody else. I'd just keep my iPad3 until it literally dies (and switch off the mobile data plan in the meanwhile) and use the cheapest iPad or other tablet as a document and book viewer using dropbox.

That's why I can't see Apple doing this. It doesn't just want to sell me a subsidized phone every two years; it needs to sell me a phone AND an unsubsidized tablet. And if sales of either device level off or drop, it will be more severely savaged by Wall Street and investors than it is now.

easyrun99 says:

Whether the stats Rene states are correct or not, they may not indicate that people prefer a 4" phone to a larger device, it may (and likely) means people prefer iOS to Android and WP8. There is nothing wrong with that, but those numbers don't say anything about how well a 5" iOS device would (or would not) sell. The iPad was/is selling just fine. Despite this, there is clearly a market for a smaller device. The fact that so many have expressed their opinions on both sides of the 5" iPhone topic indicate there is in fact a market for it. Apple knows how to avoid fragmentation and will do if (when) a larger iPhone comes out.

Spaz888 says:

Many of us, myself included wished the iPhone 5 was actually a 5 inch device. It would solve my needs and many others too. I find it hard to believe that Apple didn't have the insight to anticipate that people will actually flock to a 5 inch device. Why did they not come out with a 5 inch phone back in September?

I am very confident a lot of folk who switched to Android would jump on or back to Apple if they had a 5 inch phone. I here them frequently imply, "mine is bigger than yours" and how awesome their pictures are on their 5 inch smartphone.

Many people miss the mark that a phone is now secondary to carrying their portable computer around. If my now (antique) small flip phone that fits in the palm of my had wifi and tethering ability I wouldn't care less about having a smartphone. I'd just tether it to my iPod Touch. Of course, I wish my Touch had a GPS chip.

mondaygroove says:

WHAT IF?.... they just used an 1024x768 resolution and ran iPad apps along iPhone with borders. I think it would make more sense to run iPad apps at 5-inches, and I'd prefer that myself.

K Sec says:

I agree with most of your points. Except

"Almost 9 out of 10 AT&T customers bought 4-inch or smaller iPhones last quarter rather than all big screen Android and Windows Phones combined, and roughly 6 out of 10 Verizon customers did the same. So aside from geeks who keep posting about how they really want it, and shoppers for whom bigger as a feature is always better, Apple might not feel any pressing, mainstream need to add another screen size to the iPhone product line. Yet."

This is again, typical of American where the world, or heck even the Universe means US and US only. If you look at else where, or Asian Market ( Where Apple said they hope China to be their biggest Market ), the numbers would be exactly the opposite.

Oliver Michalak says:

Adding another option to the iPhone size mix (see and how about taking the original screen dimension (320*480) of an iPhone with the iPad 4 screen density of 264ppi?

Et voila: iPhone Mini

IMHO there is a huge market for a basic (read, cheaper) phone without the über-fancy tech-geek features (no 4g, no retina, no A6) for people just wanting to (surprise, surprise) phone with their pals. They're currently left behind with clumsy, limited, crippled plastic handset of the last century.
After reducing the screen size according to the maths, the hardware was moved in place except for the hardware buttons reduced to 80%.
A green indicator visualizes a 44px sized finger for which the keyboard was adjusted in remembrance of the "original" T9 physical keys.
To give you an idea of the "real" size I've added the famous SE T610 and Kirks Communicator to the mix (speculative iPhone Mini, current iPhone 5, speculative iPhone Plus).

SockRolid says:

Re: "Then, just like there's an 11- and 13-inch MacBook Air, and a 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pro, there's a 4- and 5-inch iPhone, and a 7.9 and 9.7-inch iPad."

Except for one huge difference. The larger MBA and MBP have the same pixel density as the smaller ones. The larger iPad has a higher pixel density than the iPad mini. And, of course, the larger MBA, MBP, and iPad are more expensive than the smaller ones. Makes perfect sense.

But the 5-inch iPhone would have a lower pixel density than the 4-inch iPhone. So Apple couldn't justify a higher price for the bigger phone. The 5-inch iPhone would have to be cheaper. And a larger iPhone that's cheaper than the smaller Retina iPhone would go against all other Apple product line pricing tiers.

I'm not a marketing guy, but it just seems unlikely to me that Apple would position a bigger anything, iPhone or not, at a lower price than a smaller anything. They've trained us to expect that bigger = better.

Unless, of course, the 5-inch iPhone isn't for us fully indoctrinated Westerners. Maybe the 5-inch iPhone is for China Mobile only. And because China Mobile uses an oddball variant of 3G, that 5-inch iPhone won't work on any other network. And therefore there would be zero gray market for 5-inch iPhones outside of China, hence zero cannibalization of the 4-inch Retina iPhone. I think it could work in that scenario.

China Mobile-only, lower-cost, lower resolution, bigger screen.

jlb21 says:

As I get older and my eyes age (I turn 47 in May), I find that it does get harder to see certain types of text in the current size (of my iPhone 4). Forgetting about the likelihood that my next pair of glasses will likely be bi-focals, I would welcome the possibility of a larger iPhone than the 5. We've been playing upgrade musical chairs in our fam so my next upgrade won't be until Feb 2014. By then, surely the next iteration or 2 might be out. I anxiously await what may come......

claustin says:

I don't get the assumption that the screen would simply be stretched and thus the UI would be scaled up. They added pixels to the iPhone 5 to get the bigger screen size, I don't see why they wouldn't do that to get a wider phone as well. Now this could allow for rows of 5 icons wide, but an option to make the UI elements bigger for those with less than stellar eyesight would be good too. I don't see the point of a larger screen (other than the benefit to those with poor eyesight) if it isn't going to lead to more content being capable of being displayed.

jonshf says:

Good point. A 5" screen with the same pixel density as the current iPhones would actually allow an extra column of icons on the home screen as well as an extra row of icons. That's a possibly overwhelming 35 icons compared to the iPhone5's 24.

Then there could be the option to stretch the UI for those who are currently squinting at the iPhone. The option would return to 24 icons on the home screen but the icons would be bigger. The retina resolutions enables this with minimum blurring, at least for the squinters.

The same thing can be applied to apps that were designed only for the smaller 4" screen. A setting could decide whether the app should be stretched to fill the 5" screen (again, little blurring) or view the app in original pixel-perfect size with black bands on all sides.

jtemple33 says:

Rene, a 4" to 5" is actually a 25% increase, not 20%.

jonshf says:

We should really be talking about screen area (square inches) because that's what really counts. That means a 56% increase.

Spaz888 says:

Has Rene left this thread? Will he ever return? The answer to these questions may never be known. Too bad the fox ran away with his tail between his legs, lol.

Papimike1 says:

I think it is not a big difference but still a very great product. Some new features added not as impressive as the ones that for example the 3g brought. But I do own one and I am really in love with it.

WillyB63 says:

Apple put a lot of thought and care into coming up with an appropriately sized device that can adequately be used one-handed. For one-handed use, Apple nailed it in my opinion.

Just curious here, how often does everyone use their iPhone one-handed? Me personally? Hardly ever. There is certainly a market for larger devices. I would prefer a slightly larger iPhone with a larger, easier to use buttons. I helped my nephews and sister-in-law with their Galaxy S3's and the one thing that I took away was I didn't find that the size was a problem like I thought it might be. It went in and out of my pocket just fine – even in an otter box.

Don't get me wrong, I love my iPhone, but I'd love a slightly larger one more. I think adding a larger iPhone to their stable would be a hit. (I'm not sure about 5 inches though)

For those who like the size of the current iPhones, that's great. The fact remains that clearly many people with money in their pockets are choosing other devices for the simple reason that they want a larger device. I think this market is too large for Apple to ignore.

jrssms97 says:

"Almost 9 out of 10 AT&T customers bought 4-inch or smaller iPhones last quarter rather than all big screen Android and Windows Phones combined, and roughly 6 out of 10 Verizon customers did the same. So aside from geeks who keep posting about how they really want it, and shoppers for whom bigger as a feature is always better, Apple might not feel any pressing, mainstream need to add another screen size to the iPhone product line. Yet."

The question here is why those 9/10 and 6/10 bought the 4" iPhone rather than the larger alternatives, IMO. For those of us loyal to the Apple world, there is not a compelling enough reason to change brands...yet. So, my argument is that they bought that form factor because there is no alternative. I think a 5" iPhone would be an ideal size, but not the stretched form factor mentioned in the article. Make it not only longer, but wider. I don't care about being able to do something one handed on my phone, I'd rather have the larger form factor. I currently own an iPhone 5 and an iPad mini, and like both. However, a 5" iPhone, with an improved iOS7 would be the ideal.

tracy08 says:

I would not buy it. I don't like big screen smartphones.

Fooey606 says:

I always check out this website for iPhone alternatives - - My personal favourite is the Nokia Lumia because of the camera and speed of the operating system.

igorsky says:

I honestly don't understand this phenomenon of someone purchasing an iPhone 5, then complaining about the size when there are bigger phones available. Seems like you've made a silly, uninformed purchase.

isopepper says:

Scaled up interface size is what I need on my next phone. Will it be an iPhone? Hope so.

All you 'no, just no' folks need to take a breath and get into someone else's needs for a second. Maybe this slightly caustic post will get your attention. I don't hate you.

You will still have the finger size iPhones for your tiny fingers and fighter-pilot eyesight. No one is saying that will go away or be taken away. You can still accurately hit 1111 for your PIN (if you have one at all) and no one is saying you have to look at your iPhone before you have your morning coffee or get out of bed.

Me, I have to turn off simple passcode. So, I have a qwerty keyboard to stare at when alerts go off that I have to answer in the middle of the night. Also, I've been relying on Apple products longer than some of you 'no phablets, they're so embarrassing' folks have been alive. This means my eyesight ain't that hot and those 6 point fonts in a lot of the apps, content and interface are making my iPhone less delightful.

So, when my 4s contract runs out, I'll be getting a phone with a larger interface. You can point and laugh at me, but I'm hoping my larger phone is an iPhone.