Apple is said to be looking into possibilities of launching iPhones with bigger screens and introducing cheaper models in a range of colours to ward off rival Samsung.
According to well-informed sources, Apple would like to introduce at least two bigger iPhones next year, one with an 11.9cm screen and the other with a 14.5cm screen. Suppliers have reportedly already been approached with these plans but no final decision has been made yet and Apple has declined to give an official statement.
"They constantly change product specifications almost to the final moment, so you're not really sure whether this is the final prototype," said one source with direct knowledge of the matter.
California-based Apple has recently been overtaken in market share by Samsung and its bigger-screen Galaxy ‘phablets’. It is said that Apple, whose slowing-down in innovation after the death of Steve Jobs has been criticised by many, is now also considering to move to larger smartphones to defend its position in the market.
Apple's iPhone started out in 2007 with a 8.9cm screen, once referred to by Jobs as being the "perfect size" for consumers. Last September, with the iPhone 5, Apple adjusted the screen size for the first time. In spite of that, the current iPhone 5 still has one of the smaller screens among the top-selling smartphones in the market.
This year, Apple is expected to launch two new products, referred to as the iPhone 5S, introducing new fingerprint technology, and a cheaper version in plastic casing, insiders have said. The cheaper iPhone might be offered in a range of five or six colours to differentiate it from the more expensive model that has traditionally come only in black or white.
Discussion has supposedly been underway about the pricing of the cheaper iPhone, with a possible price tag of $99 mentioned. Insiders say that production of the newly planned devices might start as soon as next month in order to meet the September launch target.
"Trial production was originally planned to start in June, but the mixing of colours is taking longer than expected as Apple has very high and idealistic standards," said one source in Asia, adding that 20 million plastic iPhones are expected to ship in the October-December quarter.
Analysts say Apple needs a cheaper device in order not to lose out in the Chinese and Indian markets and to be able to compete with the pushy Samsung. Chinese smartphpone market is the biggest smartphone market in the world and is expected to grow by 48 per cent this years – for comparison, the global market is only forecasted to experience a 31 per cent growth.