Apple plans larger phones, no plastic exteriors: WSJ

3:46 PM, Jan 23, 2014   |    comments
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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 expected to scrap the plastic exterior used in 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 including 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 been 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 have much rather have seen Apple first to market with larger screen phones rather than playing catch-up. That would have given me much more comfort."

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 have gained market share in recent years.

Apple tried to tackle with last year with the iPhone 5c, which was a slightly cheaper version of its main smartphone, but with a colorful plastic case, rather than the usual, more expensive aluminum body.

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