How Big Will the iPhone 5 Be?

It's a foregone conclusion that Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) iPhone 5 will be big when it rolls out in a few weeks. FBR Capital Markets analyst Craig Berger turned heads earlier this month by forecasting that Apple may sell as many as 250 million units during the iPhone 5's lifetime.

Okay, but how big will it really be?

Screen size has become a battleground.

It may not seem that way to iPhone owners. They seem to be perfectly fine with the trendsetting smartphone's 3.5-inch touchscreen. However, given the success of Samsung's 4.8-inch Samsung Galaxy S III -- and yesterday's introduction of the 5.5-inch Galaxy Note II -- it's clear that size does matter.

One of the reasons why Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) Android has grown so quickly as the mobile operating system of choice -- going from a global market share of 43.4% to 64.1% over the past year -- is that the open-source nature of the platform frees handset manufacturers to perpetually push the envelope. Yes, Samsung's the one that came up short last week in Apple's patent case, but the flow of fresh Android gadgets still provides a sharp contrast to Apple's annual updates.

It's not just Android phones getting bigger, of course.

Samsung also became the first company to officially introduce a phone running Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) Windows Phone 8 yesterday. Beating Nokia (NYSE: NOK  ) to the punch by a few days -- though the devices will probably hit the market at the same time -- Samsung Ativ S will come packing a 4.8-inch display.

Some speculate the Apple's iPhone 5 will be bumped up to a 4-inch screen, but that may not be enough. There's a much bigger display size difference than what's suggested by 3.5, 4, and 4.8 inches.

It's understandable if Apple doesn't want to play the "phablet" game; going as big as the stylus-saddled Galaxy Note II would be too big a gamble for Apple. However, we're clearly no longer living in a "one size fits all" world. The speculation that Apple will crank out smaller iPads and larger iPhones won't die until either the company gives the market what it's expecting, or consumers decide that size really doesn't matter.

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The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Microsoft. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Microsoft, Apple, and Google. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a synthetic covered call position in Microsoft. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a bull call spread position in Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not 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.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz calls them as he sees them. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story. Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.


Read/Post Comments (4) | Recommend This Article (5)

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  • Report this Comment On August 31, 2012, at 7:18 PM, raquetman wrote:

    You know, I use to read many articles from the Motley Fool, but this is the first one I have read in a long time. Why, you ask? Because you never have anything good to say about Apple. And I am sorry I read this one. I was hoping after a long time of not paying attention to your articles, that something would change your attitude. An attitude that is pure and simple anti-Apple.

    I am not a big investor. I do not work for any tech company. I trade stocks for my own retirement savings. I am unemployed and have been for 2 years now. Rolled my 401k over to an IRA and the first stock I bought was Apple. I have tripled my retirement in these 2 years mostly buying and selling Apple stock.

    I am tired of your negative attitude toward the stocks that I invest in. If you want to beat down on a stock, then go after international stocks that steal away our American jobs.

    By the way, I am not alone. There are many on the web that feel the same way. So, if you wonder why your Motley Fool profits are decreasing, it is because we are fed up with your negative articles about American stocks.

    Steve

  • Report this Comment On August 31, 2012, at 9:39 PM, techy46 wrote:

    One of the great things about open software and hardware is that you can get the same software on almost any screen size you desire. My Lumia 900 4/4" screen is great but some people like 3.5, 4 or 4.5 or 4.8" screens. OK, just go buy another Nokia Lumia model or even one of Samsungs. Apple can't do that because their profit would go down.

  • Report this Comment On September 01, 2012, at 12:57 AM, techy46 wrote:

    I bet it'll be a patented rectangle with a glass face.

  • Report this Comment On September 04, 2012, at 2:17 PM, KingOfPizza wrote:

    This comes eleven months after the iPhone 4s announcement. What is so wrong with these phones that they have to release a new one every year?

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