The Next iPhone Might Be Bigger After All

Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) next iPhone may not be huge, but it still might be bigger.

Those rumors in March were spawned by a questionable South Korean news outlet that no one's ever heard of before, and I quickly shot down why the iPhone simply wouldn't sport a 4.6-inch display. I had concluded with the admission that rumors of a 4-inch screen are more believable.

Those 4-inch rumors are back, and this time we have the reputable Wall Street Journal throwing its hat into the rumor ring, saying that Apple is boosting its screen real estate from the current 3.5-inch flavor up to 4 inches. The report says Apple is currently working with a handful of display makers, including LG Display (NYSE: LPL  ) and Sharp.

Samsung's smartphones have taken off in popularity lately, with both researchers IDC and Gartner naming it as the top phone maker in the world. Sammy has been pushing the envelope with screen sizes, like the 4.8-inch Galaxy S III, the 4.65-inch Galaxy Nexus, or the monstrous 5.3-inch Galaxy Note. Those dimensions suggest that maybe consumer tastes are trending larger.

A side note of interest to Universal Display (Nasdaq: PANL  ) investors, like myself, is that all three of those recent Sammy smartphones feature AMOLED displays, further evidence that OLED is the next generation of display technology. Don't expect Apple to adopt OLED quite yet, but a Fool can dream of a distant future, can't he?

The iPhone has carried a 3.5-inch display for the past five generations, so a change may be in store, and I think this has a very good chance of happening. The biggest question will be how Apple handles the screen resolution. Introducing a new resolution and keeping the pixel density the same would threaten to fragment iOS, which is Apple has always pegged as Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) Android's weakest link.

I think Apple would choose to keep the same 960 x 640 resolution but will need to reduce the density from 326 pixels per inch, or ppi, to 288 ppi. That would still be higher than the third-generation iPad's 264 ppi, although Apple's "Retina" marketing approach there was that the iPad is typically viewed from a further distance.

Apple's marketing department has worked wonders before, so I expect it will still come up with some way to still call a larger screen with the same pixel density "Retina."

Everyone wants a piece of The Next Trillion-Dollar Revolution, including Apple and Sammy. Another company is also trying to ride the wave of mobility from the inside. Grab yourself a free copy of this report to find out more.

Fool contributor Evan Niu owns shares of Universal Display and Apple, but he holds no other position in any company mentioned. Check out his holdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of Universal Display, Apple, and Google. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Apple, Universal Display, and Google and creating a bull call spread position in Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.


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  • Report this Comment On May 16, 2012, at 11:23 PM, hunglk wrote:

    I think the screen resolution of the larger iphone may be 1024 x 768 (compatible with ipad 2) and the screen resolution of the smaller ipad can be 1920 x 1280 (twice the current 3.5" iphone)

  • Report this Comment On May 17, 2012, at 2:18 AM, skippywonder wrote:

    @hunglkl, I have assumed the same thing about the new iPhone, and I think your guess about the iPad mini (or whatever) makes sense. Regarding the phone... if you take 1024x768 at 326 pip you end up with a display that is 2.35 inches by 3.14 inches and a diagonal of 3.92. Sounds like a 4" display to me. And they get to keep a native resolution.

  • Report this Comment On May 17, 2012, at 2:20 AM, skippywonder wrote:

    pip should be ppi of course. spell checked.

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